Update 516


Corporal Punishment—Right or Wrong?

by Norbert Link

In Update #427, dated January 15, 2010, we made reference in our Preaching the Gospel section to a StandingWatch program, which was posted on YouTube, titled, “Never Spank Your Child?” In the program, a British paper, The Telegraph, was quoted, stating in its article of January 3, 2010, that occasional proper spanking of children up to the age of eleven has positive results. This, of course, angered children’s right campaigners.

Recently, a graphic video from 2004 was posted on the Internet, showing a Texas judge beating his 16-year old daughter with a belt for illegally downloading music from the Internet. This sad video was used by many as welcome support for their position that corporal punishment of children is wrong under any circumstance. One “expert” was quoted by Time Magazine (in its November 4, 2011, edition) as saying that spanking is “absolutely not” a good way to deal with misbehavior. He continued: “It does not contribute to positive behavior or development of self-control [in children]. It contributes to aggression — kids spanked are more likely to hit others, both peers and adults. It’s very confusing for kids to be hit by their parents because they think that they’re loved by their parents, yet they’re being hurt by those parents. It’s emotionally conflicting and can result in depression and emotional anxiety.”

This sweeping allegation may only be true, to an extent, if at all, if the spanking of a child is administered wrongfully, without proper motivation, or excessively. However, to say that it is always wrong to spank a child is not only unsupported by the scientific evidence—it also shows how far our Western society has moved away from the clear instructions of God in His inspired Word, the Holy Bible.

In our free booklet, “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families,” we state the following about spanking and corporal punishment:

“There is nothing biblically wrong with punishing a child if the child behaves wrongly and deserves punishment. The punishment must never be excessive, however, but it must be administered in a consequent fashion, as corresponding to, and fitting the infraction. We read that Christ ‘rebukes and chastens’ (Greek, ‘paideuo,’ i.e. educates, trains, disciplines) everyone whom He loves (Revelation 3:19). He does it because He loves us. So we, as parents, must do it because we love our children. But even then, we must never forget to be merciful and forgiving.

“…we have to make it clear to our children what they did wrong. It’s not good to punish them for wrongdoing, without explaining to them what they did and WHY it was wrong… There is never a justification for physical abuse. On the other hand, to totally ban spanking and define it as physical abuse only shows how liberal and anti-biblical our Western society has become… As parents, we must be aware, though, that in certain countries, spanking is illegal, and could result in the authorities coming in and taking away our children. And even in countries where spanking is not illegal, many governmental officials look at such practice with great disfavor…

“Note what the Bible clearly teaches in regard to corporal punishment in Proverbs 13:24, ‘He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who LOVES him disciplines him promptly [or early].’ Since using the rod is compared with prompt or early discipline, it is clear that this passage includes the concept of spanking, where and when appropriate. Of course, we don’t spank a teenager or an adult, so the spanking needs to be done early in the life of the child. But note, again, we discipline our children, because we LOVE them. If we discipline our children for any other reason, or because of any other motive, we do NOT follow God’s instructions. Spanking should never cause physical injury to a child…

“Proverbs 19:18 says, ‘Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction.’… The Ryrie Study Bible comments, ‘[D]o not neglect child discipline and thereby bring on your son’s death.’… What is the connection between lack of child discipline and the death of the child? Let’s note Proverbs 22:15, ‘Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.’

“Foolishness, if not overcome, can have terrible consequences. The discipline of a child must be administered by the parents with the desire and motivation to HELP the CHILD to get rid of foolishness. If we get angry with our kids and lock them up in their rooms because we ‘can’t’ deal with them right now, then we have missed the entire point of child rearing. Rather, as concerned parents, we must try to do whatever we can do to see to it that the foolishness in the child disappears…”

The New Testament confirms the principles stated in the book of Proverbs. Christ warned that those who sin knowingly will be punished with many stripes, while those who sin and commit things “worthy of stripes,” without fully understanding what they are doing, will be punished with just a few stripes (compare Luke 12:47-48). And Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:5-8 that God chastens and scourges us when we deserve His punishment, and he asks this question: “…what son is there whom a father does not chasten?” (verse 7). In Paul’s mind, appropriate corporal punishment of children was a self-evident, proper way of dealing with unacceptable conduct.

Whom do we want to believe? Do we trust God’s inspired and timeless Word—the Bible—or do we place our confidence in the teachings of self-proclaimed “experts” who are being trained in the ignorant and far-too-often agnostic or atheistic philosophies of this God-defying, Satanically-inspired world? You must answer this for yourself, but remember that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (compare 1 Corinthians 3:19).

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The situation in the Middle East seems to be slowly reaching a climax. Israel appears to be more and more determined to use military means to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons project, and Benjamin Netanyahu might strike without prior notice to Israel’s allies. A mysterious deadly explosion at an Iranian missile site fuels rumors and suspicions about Israeli involvement, while Iran continues with its propaganda as portraying itself as an innocent, misunderstood victim of unfounded American allegations.

Turning to Syria, the Arab League suspended Syria and Jordan’s king is asking for al-Assad’s resignation.

Focusing on Europe, the recognition of the existence of a two-speed Europe, causing friction with Britain, and the desire for further economic and political integration is being expressed. The resignation of Silvio Berlusconi as prime minister “who dominated the country’s politics for 17 years and became Italy’s longest-serving post-war prime minister,” and the appointment of respected banker Mario Monti (called the “Italian Prussian”) has been described as “the most dramatic moment” of Italy’s recent history.

However, the sweeping political changes in Greece and Italy raise uncomfortable questions about the lack of democratic processes. Especially Germany’s and France’s attempts to save the euro at all costs are reasons for concerns. As USA Today put it, “Greek political leaders appointed former European Central Bank vice president Lucas Papademos as prime minster… [and] political leaders in Italy nominated former European commissioner Mario Monti to replace Silvio Berlusconi. The political classes in Greece and Italy are moving ahead without elections or referendums on what the people think… the people aren’t being asked for the approval of measures that would result in a loss of sovereignty…”

At the same time, Greece is still buying more German weapons than any other country, while Germany does not allow the use of some of its gold reserves to help indebted eurozone countries. In addition, stunning revelations about right-wing terrorism in Germany has shocked the country.

We conclude with the announcement that the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the Obamacare health care law in early 2012, with the decision being “likely to be handed down in late June, right before the Republican and Democratic conventions for the 2012 presidential election.”

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“Israel Refuses to Tell US its Iran Intentions”

The Telegraph wrote on November 13:

“Israel has refused to reassure President Barack Obama that it would warn him in advance of any pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear capabilities, raising fears that it may be planning a go-it-alone attack… The US leader was rebuffed last month when he demanded private guarantees that no strike would go ahead without White House notification, suggesting Israel no longer plans to ‘seek Washington’s permission’, sources said.

“The disclosure, made by insiders briefed on a top-secret meeting between America’s most senior defence chief and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s hawkish prime minister, comes amid concerns that Iran’s continuing progress towards nuclear weapons capability means the Jewish state has all but lost hope for a diplomatic solution… If Israel is to attack Iran, many in the country believe time is running out. Last week’s report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) highlighted Iran’s apparent determination to build a nuclear warhead, but did not indicate how long it might take. Some in Israel, however, believe it is very close.

“… a strike would also have a ‘serious impact’ on the region. Iran could blockade the Straits of Hormuz, through which 25 per cent of the world’s oil exports are shipped, sending energy prices soaring. US military assets in the Gulf could also come under attack from Iranian Scud missiles. Iran would almost certainly fire its Shahab ballistic missiles at Israeli cities and press Hizbollah and Hamas, the militant Islamist groups it funds and equips, to unleash their huge rocket arsenals from their bases in Lebanon and Gaza…”

Haaretz added on November 13 that Benjamin Netanyahu said that Iran is much closer to building the bomb than most people realize.

Israelis Wonder About Deadly Iranian Missile-Site Explosion

The Los Angeles Times wrote on November 13:

“Israelis are taking a keen interest in the deadly explosion Saturday at a weapons facility in Iran that killed 17 people… Iran has said the explosion was an accident, not sabotage or an attack. But Israel’s top-three dailies put the ‘mysterious explosion’ on their front pages Sunday…

“Conspicuously absent from much of the local coverage is the question that nearly everyone here is asking: Did Israel secretly play a role in the explosion? Israel has previously been accused of sabotage against Iran, including assassinating scientists involved in the nuclear program and helping to unleash the Stuxnet computer virus. Israel never confirmed or denied a role in such efforts, and the government is not commenting on the latest incident.

“But Seattle blogger Richard Silverstein says a source he didn’t identify told him the explosion was the work of Israel’s Mossad, working with Iranian opposition groups… Israel Radio on Sunday quoted an Arab businessman who recently returned from Iran and said several of his colleagues were leaving Iran out of fear that an Israeli attack might be imminent…”

Iran’s Ongoing Propaganda

On November 14, 2011, Der Spiegel Online published an interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. We are bringing you the following revealing comments, setting forth Iran’s propaganda and their continuing denial of the evidence, as well as their determination to fight a fierce war with the West:

“‘… we are prepared for everything… We won’t give up our independence… there’s no longer any point in making additional concessions. The nuclear question is simply a pretense for weakening us by any means possible… What is it that gives some nations the right to use computer viruses against us and murder our nuclear scientists…

“‘From its creation to the present day, the Islamic Republic of Iran has never given in to those who wanted to force it to do something… Those beating the drums of war are the same people who want to slow our progress. Iraq under Saddam Hussein forced us into an eight-year war. We don’t want another war… But if we are attacked, we do know how to defend ourselves. Every attack, of any kind, will meet with retaliation. Immediately, without a second’s hesitation…

“‘The entire thing was staged by Washington…  it provides the US with a diversionary tactic to distract from the financial crisis. The US government is presumably also hoping to destroy relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, two brother nations in Islam. Don’t forget, the US also justified its war against Iraq with falsified evidence… All of these measures are part of an American strategy of tacit warfare against Iran. They want to present us to the world as evildoers, while distracting people in the West from their own terrorist activities, such as murdering our scientists and waging cyber war.’”

These provocative, Goebbels-like words don’t dismiss the facts that the Iranian government has denied the Holocaust and has stated repeatedly that it wants Israel eradicated from the map.

Jordan Calls for Resignation of Syria’s al-Assad

The New York Times wrote on November 14:

“King Abdullah of Jordan added his voice on Monday to the growing pressure on the president of Syria to relinquish power, becoming the first Arab leader on Syria’s doorstep to call for a change in government to end the increasingly bloody political uprising there. The Jordanian monarch’s remarks… came as Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, was still smarting from the Arab League’s unexpectedly strong rebuke over the weekend with its decision to suspend Syria’s membership…

“Other countries in the region with historically close ties to Syria, notably Turkey and Iran, have warned Mr. Assad that he should take steps to satisfy the demands of protesters in the eight-month-old uprising… But the public comments about Mr. Assad by King Abdullah — who has faced some Arab Spring protests in his own country — went beyond what others have said…

“The United Nations said this month that at least 3,500 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising started in March…

“The European Union, meanwhile, sought to intensify pressure on Syria, imposing additional sanctions against some of the country’s citizens and restricting investment. But foreign ministers meeting in Brussels said there were no plans to take military action against Mr. Assad’s government in Damascus similar to the campaign that led to the overthrow and death of Colonel Qaddafi…

“The E.U. said it would keep the funds of 19 companies and institutions in Syria frozen. A European embargo on Syrian oil already devastated that sector, reducing oil production by as much as 75 percent. Syria’s oil exports represented anywhere from 15 percent to 35 percent of the state budget, and more than 90 percent of those exports went to Europe.”

In light of these interesting developments, you might want to review our Q&A on the future of Syria. Please also note the reference in Daniel 11:41-43 to the future of Jordan, biblical Ammon. For more information on Jordan, see our Q&A, mainly discussing the future of Egypt and its allies.

A Two-Speed Europe

The Economist wrote on November 11:

“Nicolas Sarkozy is causing a big stir after calling on November 8th for a two-speed Europe: a ‘federal’ core of the 17 members of the euro zone, with a looser ‘confederal’ outer band of the ten non-euro members…

“Mr Sarkozy’s comments are… worrying because, one suspects, he wants to create an exclusivist, protectionist euro zone that seeks to detach itself from the rest of the European Union… At 27 nations-strong, the European Union is too big for France to lord it over the rest and is too liberal in economic terms for France’s protectionist leanings…This chimes with the idea of a Kerneuropa (‘core Europe’) promoted in 1994 by Karl Lamers and Wolfgang Schäuble, who happens to be Germany’s current finance minister…

“Such ideas appeared to have been killed off by the large eastward enlargement of the EU in 2004… But the euro zone’s debt crisis is reviving these old dreams… But done wrongly, as one fears Mr Sarkozy would have it, this will be a recipe for breaking up Europe. Not two-speed Europe but two separate Europes. The first steps toward integration, the idea of holding regular summits of leaders of the 17 euro-zone countries, has already caused early friction with Britain…

“Mr Sarkozy’s words seem to have caught the attention of Joschka Fischer, elder statesman of Germany’s Green party and a former foreign minister, who said that the EU at 27 had become too unwieldy. ‘Let’s just forget about the EU with 27 members—unfortunately,’ he told Die Zeit, a German weekly newspaper. ‘I just don’t see how these 27 states will ever come up with any meaningful reforms.’ Indeed, some think the euro zone itself might be smaller than the 17 members…”

Merkel Ally Accuses Britain

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 15:

“A senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats(CDU) said on Tuesday that Germany’s budget restraint had become a model for other EU nations and accused Britain of being too focused on defending its own national interests in its dealings with Europe. ‘Suddenly Europe is speaking German,’ Volker Kauder, who holds the powerful post of conservative parliamentary group leader, told the CDU’s annual party conference in Leipzig, in a remark that may fuel fears in some countries that Germany is becoming too dominant in the euro crisis.

“Kauder accused other euro-zone member states of having only just now understood what Merkel has been claiming for a long time: that the euro crisis wasn’t caused by financial market speculators, but by a lack of budget discipline… Kauder said the United Kingdom, as a member of the EU ‘also carries a responsibility for the success of Europe. Just looking for their own advantage and not being prepared to contribute — that cannot be the message we accept from the British,’ Kauder said, referring to Britain’s opposition to the financial transaction tax that Germany has been lobbying for in order to raise revenue for future bank bailouts… If Britain continued to resist the tax, the 17-member euro zone would have to introduce it on its own, he said.’”

The Daily Mail added on November 16:

“‘British people will be horrified by what is going on in Europe,’ said Philip Hollobone, a Eurosceptic Tory MP. ‘Foreign policy going back to the time of Henry VIII has been to try to prevent conglomeration of power on the continent of Europe which would be against British national interests. Here we are in the 21st century with a German attempt to create a single economic and political bloc. This is Britain’s golden chance to get out of the European quagmire and set ourselves free.’”

The German media has responded with anger towards Britain’s “anti-German” articles. Mass tabloid Bild Online and the California Staats-Zeitung of November 12, 2011, accused the Daily Mail of libeling Angela Merkel, allegedly calling her a Nazi. Whether those comments were actually made or misconstrued, it is becoming evident that the German population becomes more and more upset with portions of the British media. Please note also the next article.

Germany’s and Britain’s Different Visions of Europe

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 17:

“British Prime Minister David Cameron is visiting Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday in Berlin, but the timing could hardly be worse. British euroskeptics are furious about a claim by a key Merkel ally that Europe is ‘speaking German,’ and speeches by the two leaders have made it clear just how different their visions of Europe are… ‘Merkel: More Europe, Cameron: Less Europe,’ was how Benedict Brogan, deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph, pithily summed up the speeches…

“The British are watching in alarm as Continental politicians push for further integration of the euro zone right before their eyes. The Cameron government faces a dilemma. On the one hand, they want to keep the greatest possible distance between Britain and the euro crisis. At the same time, they are insisting on their right to have a say. After all, what’s being discussed is a change in the very nature of the EU, and the UK is still one of the big three in the bloc.

“Britain’s special status was one of the anomalies in the old EU. Germany and France made many concessions to the British, who were determined to preserve their independence. Again and again, exceptions were made when the battle lines hardened. But, this time around, it’s hard to see how a compromise can be found…

“The debate in Britain is being almost completely dominated by the euroskeptics… Cameron… appears to be increasingly influenced by the euroskeptics. Indeed, he and George Osborne, his chancellor of the exchequer, bear some of the blame for the fact that the euroskeptics within their party’s ranks have been able to show more and more confidence. In recent weeks, they have repeatedly said that the euro zone was responsible for the fact that British economy is not growing. They have used the debt chaos on the other side of the English Channel as a scapegoat in order to dispel doubts about their own cost-cutting policies…

“Cameron, for his part, is in a rather tight spot. He’s hardly in a position to deny Merkel’s wish flat-out because Britain also has an interest in having a functioning euro zone. And he clearly doesn’t have an alternative vision of Europe except the status quo, which is untenable…”

Berlusconi’s Resignation “Most Dramatic Moment”

The New York Times wrote on November 12:

“With his country swept up in Europe’s debt crisis and his once-mighty political capital spent, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resigned on Saturday, punctuating a tumultuous week and ending an era in Italian politics… His resignation came just days after the fall of Prime Minister George A. Papandreou in Greece. Both men were swept away amid a larger crisis that has threatened the entire European Union… 

“‘This is the most dramatic moment of our recent history,’ Ferruccio de Bortoli, the editor of the Milan daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, said Saturday…. The events in Greece and Italy this month raised concerns across the Italian political spectrum about the growing power of financial markets to shake governments…”

Mario Monti Italy’s New Prime Minister– High Hopes for the “Italian Prussian” in Rome

BBC News reported on November 13:

“Technocrat Mario Monti has been asked to form a new Italian government… Mr Monti, an ex-EU commissioner, said he wanted a return to growth for Italy and a return to pride for Italians… Mr Monti, a well-respected economist, is exactly the sort of man that the markets would like to see take charge at this time of crisis, says the BBC’s Alan Johnston in Rome…”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 14:

“There are those who would argue that, at its core, the European Union isn’t facing a currency crisis at all. Rather, the primary problem facing the continent is a dearth of adequate political leadership. It is a position which would appear to have received a boost on Monday, as markets across the world have reacted positively to the prospect of respected banker Mario Monti in Rome taking the place of Silvio Berlusconi, who resigned as Italian prime minister on Saturday. Not only did stock indexes in both Asia and Europe initially trend upwards on Monday morning, but the interest rate on Italian sovereign bonds fell to 6.4 percent, well below last week’s dangerous high-water mark of above 7 percent…

“Monti is widely respected in both Italy and Europe, having made a name for himself as a strong European Competition Commissioner… Monti, 68, quickly gained the nickname ‘Super Mario’ in Brussels. At home in Italy, however, he is more often referred to as the ‘Italian Prussian.’ ‘I have always been considered to be the most German among Italian economists, which I always received as a compliment, but which was rarely meant to be a compliment,’ Monti said last week during a panel discussion in Berlin.”

Deutsche Welle wrote on November 17:

“Monti said… his new technocrat cabinet would implement austerity measures that would be balanced by ‘growth and equity,’ and stressed that Rome could not risk being considered Europe’s ‘weak link’ any longer. The former European commissioner said the bloc was living through ‘the most difficult years since World War II’ and warned that the European project ‘could not survive the collapse of the monetary union.’

“Monti set a 2013 goal for eliminating Italy’s budget deficit (incidentally a promise Berlusconi failed to keep) and stimulating economic growth, and said changes to the country’s rigid labor market would be one of the main areas of focus. The euro rose after his statement, reaching $1.3525 after having fallen to $1.3440…

“Italy’s two biggest political parties – Berlusconi’s conservative People of Freedom party (PDL) and the center-left Democratic Party – have both said they will back Monti. A centrist grouping has also promised its support. Monti’s cabinet, which consists mostly of academics and experts and contains no political party representatives, was sworn in on Wednesday.”

“Need” for Closer European Political Union

Reuters reported on November 14:

“Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel described the ongoing euro zone crisis as the continent’s ‘toughest hour’ since World War II… saying she feared Europe would fail if the euro failed and vowing to do anything to stop this from happening… In a one-hour address, Merkel called for closer European political union…”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 14:

“As a first step, [German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble] want to amend EU treaties to allow notorious debtors in the euro zone to be placed under mandatory supervision by Brussels… As a second step, Merkel and Schäuble want the EU to move towards becoming a political union. This entails transferring more sovereign rights to the EU — and it would mean amending Germany’s constitution. This could either be accomplished under Article 23, requiring a two-thirds majority in Germany’s federal parliament, the Bundestag, as well as the Bundesrat, the upper legislative chamber that represents the states.

“A more challenging alternative would be to change Article 146 of the constitution via the direct participation of the population. According to this scenario, the Germans would drop the Basic Law and embrace a totally new constitution. This may all seem somewhat far-fetched, but there are members of the German government who are openly speculating this may happen. Schäuble believes that a national referendum on the German constitution would be an essential step in reforming the EU — and with good reason, since the constitutional judges in Karlsruhe have now made it clear on a number of occasions that the constitution leaves little leeway to relinquish more power to Brussels.”

The Local added on November 14, 2011:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a party congress of her conservatives on Monday that Europe was in perhaps its worst period since World War II but the crisis could offer a chance to make it stronger. [She said] that if Europe did not flourish, Germany would also suffer. ‘We need Europe because it is the basis of our well-being. Sixty percent of our exports go to the European Union, nine million jobs alone depend on it,’ Merkel said.

“… she said just as Germany had vowed to emerge stronger from the 2008 financial crisis, ‘now we must see to it that Europe comes out of today’s crisis stronger’… As the world’s number two exporter after China, Germany is Europe’s biggest economy and the paymaster for the eurozone’s rescue fund, which has already helped bail out Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

“But as anger simmers at Berlin shouldering the biggest burden, members of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union are putting forward a resolution at the congress to allow for struggling countries to exit the eurozone without leaving the EU… Delegates are also expected to face a motion on overhauling the balance of power within the European Central Bank to give Germany a greater say. Some CDU members want votes at the ECB’s policy-setting governing council to be weighted according to a country’s economic size and importance, rather than each of the 17 eurozone members having an equal say, as is currently the case meaning Germany has no more weight than tiny Malta.

“A poll for public broadcaster ZDF released Friday suggested that Merkel’s approval rating in her handling of the euro crisis had risen to 56 percent from 45 percent at the beginning of October.”

From Arab Spring to Mediterranean Fall?

USA Today wrote on November 14:

“More democracy or less? That’s the question Europe faces as it wrangles with a spiraling debt crisis that has cost the Italian and Greek leaders their jobs… Some wonder whether this move to bypass voters and politicians to pass tough changes will really work…

“Greek political leaders appointed former European Central Bank vice president Lucas Papademos as prime minster last week to shepherd a European rescue plan and impose steeper spending cuts to prevent the country’s default. Sunday, political leaders in Italy nominated former European commissioner Mario Monti to replace Silvio Berlusconi. The political classes in Greece and Italy are moving ahead without elections or referendums on what the people think. They are trying to impose belt-tightening measures and permit European Union inspectors to have oversight of the budget immediately to bring down their debt. It’s an arrangement many people find distasteful… Some analysts say it’s especially ironic that in the cradle of democracy, the people aren’t being asked for the approval of measures that would result in a loss of sovereignty…

“The problem for the eurozone is bypassing the voters… Some… say it is easy for Brussels, or Germany and France, to dictate to others what to do but more difficult to actually implement those measures on the ground… Greek voters, and possibly Italians, will probably have to settle for less of a say along with their dose of fiscal medicine, some financial experts say. ‘Earlier this year, we had the Arab Spring,’ said Marco Elser, an investment banker at Advicorp’s Rome office. ‘Now it’s looking like we are on our way to a Mediterranean Fall.’”

While especially Germany and France are trying to save the euro, no matter what the costs or methods, it should be realized that democracy and the sovereignty of individual member states are suffering in the process. The Bible makes it clear that ultimately, ten core European nations or groups of nations will arise out of the Eurozone, and they will, to an extent, surrender their sovereignty by giving their authority to an autocratic economic, political and military leader, called “the beast” in the book of Revelation. At that time, the concept of democracy in Europe will only be a distant memory. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.” 

Greece Still Buys a Lot of German Weapons

On November 12, 2011, The California Staats-Zeitung wrote the following:

“The small, crisis-hit nation [of Greece]… buys more German weapons than any other country. Some Greeks want to know why it is that France and Germany are demanding cut in pensions, salaries and public services, but the buying of arms is allowed to continue unabated… Greece is the highest military spender, in terms of percentage of GDP, in the EU… the US is the major beneficiary of Greek military expenditure…

“Greece’s defense budget is historically high due to the perceived threat from neighboring Turkey… critics in Greece argue that, as an EU member, Greece should be guaranteed protection from Turkey by its more powerful allies. Although the EU is not [yet] a military alliance, common sense suggests that Greece could reasonably expect support if it was attacked by Turkey…”

German Gold Untouchable

The California Staats-Zeitung wrote on November 12:

“Germany will not allow gold reserves held by its central bank, the Bundesbank, to be used to bolster the rescue fund for indebted eurozone countries, Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said… ‘German gold reserves must remain untouchable,’ Roesler said…, rejecting a proposal reportedly put forward by France, Britain and the United States.”

Right-Wing Terrorism in Germany

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 14:

“Germans have been shocked to learn in recent days of the existence of a right-wing terror cell in their midst… The failure of Germany’s security authorities to solve a string of racist murders committed by a neo-Nazi group since 2000 has triggered accusations that they have underestimated the far-right threat… German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that the case is a ‘disgrace for Germany’…

“Racist attacks on immigrants and their property, commonplace especially in the former communist east of the country ever since unification triggered economic upheaval and social dislocation, have routinely been dismissed as isolated incidents committed by thugs. Now, however, evidence discovered by chance has uncovered a well-organized, well-armed network of killers, bombers and bank robbers …

“Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘… for years, a racist terrorist gang was able to rampage through Germany and execute immigrants. They were able to plan attacks, build and throw bombs. They were able to do all that because police, intelligence authorities and state prosecutors largely excluded racist motives. The crimes weren’t deemed to be acts of terrorism… Xenophobic crimes have too often and for too long been minimized… For decades, left-wing extremists in Germany were seen as intelligent and dangerous, right-wing extremists as stupid and therefore harmless…’

“Conservative Die Welt writes: ‘…the scandal is that the investigating authorities (and the public) didn’t detect the pattern of crimes or perhaps didn’t want to detect them. Nine strikingly similar crimes were dismissed as local disputes…’

“Tabloid Bild writes: ‘The cowardly criminals and their neo-Nazi views were known to the authorities in a different context. Despite all the informants available, they weren’t stopped. Were the domestic intelligence agents and police blind to the far-right risk? This question must be answered very quickly. The credibility of the police and the domestic intelligence authority are at stake.’”

For the future of Germany, please read our free booklet, “Germany in Prophecy.” 

“St. Martin’s Day” and Carnival in Germany

The Local wrote on November 11:

“Each November 11, Germans celebrate St. Martin’s Day…  It’s officially a Catholic holiday, but in recent years the lantern processions have become widespread even in Protestant areas of Germany. So just like Santa Claus has little to do with the birth of Christ, these days St. Martin Day’s is probably better known for the luminous procession than the [supposedly] saintly history… November 11 is the beginning of Advent fasting and hardcore Catholics get a last chance to feast before they abstain from greasy food and booze until Christmas… [Some] simply celebrate the beginning of carnival, as it starts on November 11 as well.”

The Local added the following in an accompanying article on November 11:

“Each year at 11:11am on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Germany marks the beginning of the traditional ‘Fifth Season’ ahead of ‘Karneval’ celebrations. Particularly in the Rhineland, revellers take to the streets to welcome in a tradition rich in history, superstition and imbibing… The real celebrations, however, don’t get fully underway until next February on the run up to Lent… Some say eleven is a foolish number, others consider it to be lucky…

“The idea of 11 being lucky is also one of the superstitions driving loved-up couples to registry offices [that] have been experiencing a rush of couples wanting to get married on the seemingly auspicious date 11/11/11… Elsewhere in Europe, however, the eleventh of the eleventh has less festive connotations, particularly in the United Kingdom, where two minutes silence is held at 11am in memory of soldiers who have died in combat. The United States also marks Veterans Day on November 11.”

Our “Christian” world celebrates many “holidays” and engages in many practices, which have no origin in the Bible, but in paganism. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible?–Man’s Holidays and God’s Holy Days.” 

Canada Will Sell Huge Oil Reserves to China Instead of USA

The Associated Press reported on November 14:

“Delays in building the $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline project will force Canada to sell its huge oil reserves to China instead of the United States, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has bluntly warned President Barack Obama. The White House has put off a decision on the 1,700-mile pipeline from Alberta to Texas until after the 2012 election so a study can be carried out into its impact on an environmentally sensitive area in Nebraska…

“But any delays, Canadian officials said, could mean up to 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day that would have eased the American energy crisis will be diverted to the Far East. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates it will also cost 20,000 jobs… Canada now has the third-largest deposits of extractable oil in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. It is already the biggest supplier of American oil and is preferred over most other exporters because of the closeness to the United States and the long-standing friendship between the two countries.”

Supreme Court Will Hear Dispute on Obamacare in 2012

USA Today wrote on November 14:

“The Supreme Court’s announcement Monday that it will hear challenges to the Obama-sponsored health care overhaul opens the most important chapter in the legal battle over the law, amid the tumult of election-year politics. A ruling in the case would determine the federal government’s power to address the most pressing social problems, specifically how to ensure medical coverage nationwide. The decision is likely to be handed down in late June, right before the Republican and Democratic conventions for the 2012 presidential election. The main question in the dispute, likely to be heard over two days in March, is whether in requiring most Americans to buy insurance by 2014 [or face a tax penalty], Congress exceeded its power to regulate interstate commerce. The justices also will address whether or not the entire law is doomed if that insurance mandate falls…

“The health care law, signed by President Obama in March 2010… extends insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans… Monday’s order scheduling 5 1/2 hours of oral arguments — a modern record for arguments on a single dispute — makes clear that the justices want to take a comprehensive look at the law. Yet, it offers no new signal on how a majority might rule…

“Four U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals already had ruled on the law. Two (the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit and the Washington, D.C., Circuit) declared it constitutional. One (the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit) deemed it unconstitutional. And one (the Richmond-based 4th Circuit) said no challenge could be brought until a person was forced to pay the tax penalty.”

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Would you please explain the order of events, as depicted in the 24th chapter of the gospel according to Matthew?

In order to properly understand what Christ is telling His disciples, as recorded in the account of Matthew, we need to also review other passages in the parallel accounts of Mark and Luke, as well as passages in the book of Revelation.

When John was on the island of Patmos, he saw in a vision events which would take place in the future. As we explain in the 8th chapter of our booklet, “Is That in the Bible?—The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation,” John saw how God the Father gave a scroll with seven seals to Jesus Christ, asking Him to open it, as no one else was able to do it (compare Revelation 5:1-9; 6:1). We need to turn to Jesus Christ’s Words in order to understand the seven seals. The first six of the seven seals are all recorded in Revelation 6, and they are explained, as we will see, in the accounts of Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21.

When Christ opened the first four seals (compare Revelation 6:2–8), John sees in the vision the famous four horsemen of the Apocalypse. When comparing Revelation 6:2–8 with Christ’s sayings in Matthew 24:4–7 and Luke 21:8–11, then the meaning of the four horsemen or the first four seals becomes clear.

Turning to Matthew 24, let us note what Christ tells His disciples.

In verses 1-2, Christ pointed out that the glorious Jewish temple would be destroyed. This actually happened in 70 A.D., when the Romans conquered Jerusalem. Beginning with verse 3, four of His disciples (compare Mark 13:3) asked Him privately when these things would be; what would be the sign of His coming, and of the end of the age.

Christ responded, in verses 4 and 5, by warning them against deception, stating that many would come in His name, proclaiming and admitting that He was the Christ, and still deceive many. This deception began shortly after Christ’s resurrection and the birth of the New Testament Church. The apostle Paul would later say that many, at his time, preached another gospel and another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6)—one who had come to do away with the law of God. By the time of the destruction of the temple, much of the truth had been lost due to false deceptive teachings which had entered the Church. Subsequently, John needed to emphasize that anyone who would proclaim God and refuse to keep His law would be a liar, and no truth would be in him (1 John 2:4).

The religious deception which Christ warned against would continue. Even in the end time, just prior to and during the Great Tribulation (see below), religious deception would abound (verses 11, 24; compare Mark 13:22). And so, turning to the book of Revelation, we realize that the first seal in Revelation 6:2, describing a rider on a white horse, who has a bow and a crown and who goes out to conquer, identifies false religion, claiming that it professes Christ, while deceiving the many. The true Christ is later on described, in Revelation 19:11-12, 15, as One who has many crowns, and He has a sharp sword. He is riding a white horse as well, showing that the representation of the false Christ will have some resemblance with the true One – otherwise, no one would be deceived—but the differences are striking. First, the true Christ will return after the Great Tribulation, while the false representation of Christ will already have conquered many before that time. Then, the true Christ has a sword and many crowns, while the false representation of Christ has a bow and just one crown.

Religious deception began in the early New Testament Church, but it was to continue throughout the ages and reach the beginning of its culmination when the first seal is broken and the first horseman of the Apocalypse begins to ride (compare Matthew 24:3–5; Luke 21:8).

In Matthew 24:6-7, Christ continues to warn of wars and rumors of wars (as well as commotions, compare Luke 21:9), with nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. This is depicted in Revelation 6:3-4 as the second seal—when the rider on a fiery red horse goes out with a great sword to take away the peace from the earth, and when people kill each other. Even though wars and commotions and rumors of wars have existed throughout the ages, Christ intends to point out that the wars would become bigger and more all-encompassing—from nations fighting against nations to kingdoms fighting against kingdoms. We have experienced two World Wars in the 20th century, and the Bible shows that in the not-too-distant future, another terrible and most destructive World War will engulf the entire globe.

Turning again to Matthew 24:7, we note that Christ warned of famine next. The third seal in Revelation 6:5-6 depicts famine as well: A black horse begins to ride, and the rider has a pair of scales in his hand, indicating scarcity of food, measuring small quantities of food for comparatively huge amounts of money. While there still is some wheat and barley available for a high price, oil and wine are not to be “harmed” or “touched.” The People’s New Testament states: “Oil and wine, though common foods, are entirely prohibited. An age of war, mourning, calamity and famine is certainly symbolized.” The Ryrie Study Bible adds: “A severe shortage of food is indicated.” The parallel account in Luke 21:11 adds that at that time, earthquakes will increase in frequency and magnitude as well.

The third horse of the Apocalypse (mainly famine) is followed, according to Revelation 6:7-8, by a pale horse, and the rider’s name is “Death,” and “Hades” or “the Grave” follows him. Christ says in Matthew 24:7 that famines will be followed by pestilences [see also Luke 21:11].

As we stated in our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible?—The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation: “Oftentimes religious deception leads to wars, directly or indirectly. Wars, in turn, lead to famine and diseases. Historically, the Black Death alone killed upwards of one-third of the people living in Europe in the 14th century. The Spanish flu pandemic lasted from March, 1918, to June, 1920, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. While older estimates put the number of those who were killed at 40 to 50 million people, current estimates are that 50 to 100 million people worldwide died, possibly more than what succumbed to the Black Death.”

So, the fourth horse of the Apocalypse describes pestilences or disease epidemics, but not exclusively. Christ also speaks in Matthew 24:7 of earthquakes in various places. We see then that earthquake activity will continue and increase throughout that time. (Luke 21:11 adds that at that time, fearful sights and great signs from heaven will be observed. This is primarily a reference to the heavenly signs which will follow after the beginning of the Great Tribulation, but it is possible that some of these frightful signs will begin to occur right after the pestilences will be spread throughout the earth.).

Revelation 6:8 adds that one-fourth of mankind will be killed by the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, and that these killings will be carried out with the sword (political and also religiously-motivated wars), with hunger (a result of famine), with death (resulting from pestilences), and also with the beasts of the earth. Many times, contagious diseases are communicated by sick animals carrying deadly viruses (remember the Ebola virus, the bird flu or the mad cow disease).

In addition, note the following comments by Barnes’ Notes on the Bible.

This commentary points out that the four horsemen will “kill with sword – In war and discord… And with hunger – With famine – one of the accompaniments of war – where armies ravage a nation, trampling down the crops of grain; consuming the provisions laid up… and shutting up the people in besieged cities to perish by hunger. Famine has been not an infrequent accompaniment of war; and we are to look for the fulfillment of this in its extensive prevalence…

“And with death… This would well denote the pestilence – not an infrequent accompaniment of war. For nothing is better suited to produce this than the unburied bodies of the slain; the filth of a camp; the want of food; and the crowding together of multitudes in a besieged city; and, accordingly, the pestilence… has been often closely connected with war…

“And with the beasts of the earth – With wild beasts. This, too, would be one of the consequences of war, famine, and pestilence. Lands would be depopulated, and wild beasts would be multiplied… Compare Ezekiel 14:21, ‘I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence…’”

Christ continues to warn that following these events, an organized and worldwide martyrdom of true Christians will occur next. Matthew 24:9-13, 21-22 describes this time in vivid terms (compare also Mark 13:11–13; Luke 21:12–19). These events are identified as the “Great Tribulation,” and they are also described as the fifth seal in Revelation 6:9-11. (The vision of the souls under the altar in Revelation 6:9-11 is more fully explained in chapter 8 of our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible?—The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.” This vision makes clear that religious persecution has occurred throughout the history of the true Church, compare verses 9-10, but that in the end time, a terrible and unparalleled persecution will happen once again, compare verse 11).

Following the beginning of the Great Tribulation, Christ warns in Matthew 24:29 of heavenly signs, when the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from heaven, and when the powers of the heavens will be shaken. The parallel account in Luke 21:25-26 adds that at that time, there will be distress of nations on this earth, with perplexity, and the sea and the waves will be roaring, and men’s hearts will fail them for fear and the expectation of those things which will be coming on the earth, because the powers of heaven will be shaken.

All of these events are depicted by the sixth seal in Revelation 6:12-14, picturing “heavenly signs” or cosmic disturbances, which are introduced once again by a great earthquake (Revelation 6:12–14). These cosmic disturbances precede the “Day of the Lord,” the seventh seal of the book of Revelation. Revelation 6:17 refers to the Day of the Lord as the “great day of His wrath,” culminating in and leading to the return of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:17, 30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27).

(To Be Continued).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new German sermon was posted on YouTube, titled, “Die Auferstehung zum Gericht” (“The Resurrection to Judgment.”). It is the first part on the resurrections, covering foremost the second resurrection.

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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