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Herbert Armstrong and His Legacy
by Norbert Link
On January 16, 1986, Herbert W. Armstrong died.
Who was Herbert Armstrong? Many of you know that he was the late founder of the Worldwide Church of God and many other national and international organizations. But many may also know that he has been described and labeled in just about every way imaginable.
He has been viewed as a prophet, an apostle, the Elijah to come—a saint with almost superhuman insight who spoke and wrote under godly and unalterable inspiration. Some have actually given him a God-like status, just falling short of worshipping him.
Others have condemned him as a false prophet, a wrong teacher who perverted the gospel. They have accused him of the most gruesome personal sins and shortcomings.
Who was Herbert Armstrong?
When they received the news of his death, political leaders and dignitaries from around the world responded and called him “a giant man” who did “an important work,” and whose “good deeds were felt in many corners of the world.” He was described as a “great spiritual leader” and a “great man of vision” who “led a life of benevolence, altruism and the drive for better understanding among peoples.” He was referred to as a man “truly dedicated to the cause of serving humanity” whose death constituted an “irreplaceable loss for the world at large.” He was especially called, among others, a friend of Israel, Thailand and China.
Some accused him of being “in it for the money” and of ulterior motives–of being a racist who advocated war, not peace.
Prior to his death, the King of Belgium gave him a special watch to honor him as one of four individuals who “had made the most significant contribution toward world peace.” He was called “an ambassador for world peace” and “a builder of bridges between the nations.” At one time, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
So who was Herbert Armstrong?
The answer is simple. He was a man with “a nature like ours” (compare James 5:17). He made mistakes. He sinned, repented and received forgiveness from God. However, he was not guilty of any of the accusations alluded to in this Editorial, which have been launched by ill-informed or malicious people who distort and lie about the truth. Yet, Herbert Armstrong was no superman and most certainly not a God-like being (he himself thundered against that notion in sermons, hitting the desk with his fist for emphasis)—but he was also not a false prophet or a wrong teacher.
Rather, he was an “apostle”—one who “was sent” to preach powerfully “this gospel of the kingdom” “in all the world as a witness to all the nations” (Matthew 24:14). He did not speak or write with godly infallibility, and he was willing to change when proven wrong, but he restored—as no other individual during his lifetime—fundamental truths and biblical values to the Church of God.
In a member letter, dated January 12, 2006, I wrote the following about Herbert Armstrong:
“Mr. Armstrong was a remarkable man. I remember how he encouraged all of us in one of his last sermons to continue learning and overcoming… Those who think and teach that the fullness of God’s truth was restored to the Church during Mr. Armstrong’s life refuse to follow one of Mr. Armstrong’s most fundamental instructions—that of CHANGE when one is found to be wrong…”
But I also wrote this:
“Mr. Armstrong would be the first to dismiss, with his thundering voice, the concept that the Church should ever refuse to continue to preach the gospel into all the world…”
Where does this leave us, today? The Work which God began in these end times through Herbert Armstrong must be continued by God’s true servants. But Mr. Armstrong warned the brethren before his death that a falling away from the truth would occur in the Church. It has occurred, as we all should know, but it’s not over yet.
I would like to close with these concluding words from the January 2006 member letter, and pray that those who mislabel Mr. Armstrong in any way might begin to uphold and follow what Christ led him to do:
“Mr. Armstrong is dead, but Christ is very much alive (compare Isaiah 63:16)… the truth that was revealed continues to be taught and grows among those who are faithful to the Head of the Body—Jesus Christ! It is the living Christ who cleanses His Church and prepares it for His Coming (Ephesians 5:25-27). Those who follow Christ (Revelation 14:4) will have made themselves ready, when He returns (Revelation 19:7).”
We begin with ongoing troublesome developments regarding Obamacare and the American healthcare system, which will, without doubt, contribute to America’s economic downfall; address again the issue of Marijuana and bring you telling reports from some of our readers about the dangers of this addictive drug; continue with further health-concerns regarding mislabeled or contaminated food and controversial actions by the NRA; pose the question as to the real murderers of John F. Kennedy; and point out that our meddling with the Mississippi River might only increase frightening problems and concerns.
Turning to Europe, we report on the ongoing controversy between the EU and Britain, and address the decision of France to go to war with Islamists extremists in Mali, while American attempts to bring peace to that country have failed miserably. Germany was quick to support France, but might get involved in an unpredictable and lengthy endeavor. Most recent events in Algeria might confirm this concern. While Europe’s fight with Islamists will continue, its ongoing “fight” against Jews should not be overlooked.
We conclude with articles on superstition in India and Greece, and a report on the fate of ancient Shiloh, the spiritual capital of the house of Israel.
This Week in the News
The Trouble with Obamacare
Newsmax reported on January 14:
“Health insurance costs will rise as much as 100 percent under Obamacare, Merrill Matthews, resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation, and Mark Litow, a retired actuary, write in The Wall Street Journal. ‘The reason: the congressional Democrats who crafted the legislation ignored virtually every actuarial principle governing rational insurance pricing,’ the duo states. ‘Premiums will soon reflect that disregard — indeed, premiums are already reflecting it.’
“Obamacare requires that health insurers accept everyone who applies, that they can’t charge more based on serious medical conditions, and that they pay for some uncovered medical conditions… The guaranteed acceptance drives people to wait on buying insurance until they get sick. Obamacare includes a financial penalty to keep people from doing that. But, ‘it is too low to be a real disincentive,’ Matthews and Litow say. ‘The result will be insurance pools that are smaller and sicker, and therefore more expensive.’
“They feel confident making that projection because eight states enacted similar requirements in the mid-1990s and ‘wrecked their individual health insurance markets,’ the pair states. ‘Premiums increased so much that Kentucky largely repealed its law in 2000.’ States that will likely experience the biggest insurance price increases under Obamacare are Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, and Virginia — between 65 percent and 100 percent, Matthews and Litow write… The Health and Human Services Department estimates that health costs will surge 7.8 percent in 2014, when Obamacare is due to be fully implemented, and 6.2 percent a year on average for the decade thereafter.”
The Washington Times added on January 16:
“President Obama is using the national debate over gun violence to push for further action on his health care law, including insisting on the kind of mental health coverage states must provide under their Medicaid programs… The president also will lay out the mental health coverage that all insurers will be required to provide under his signature-achievement law.”
The Associated Press reported on January 16:
“A southwestern Pennsylvania hospital will stop delivering babies after March 31 because its obstetricians are either leaving or refocusing their practices, and because hospital officials believe they can’t afford it based on projected reimbursements under looming federal health care reforms…”
If President Obama and his supporters had taken advice from economic experts who knew what they were talking about, and if they had only been willing to learn from the mistakes of the past, instead of repeating them, then the entire Obamacare experiment, in its present form, would have never seen the light of day. Now all Americans will pay dearly for such ill-conceived action, which constitutes another piece of evidence that we are facing irreversible economic disaster. In this context, please read the next article which tells you what costs some insurance companies [are forced to] incur, “necessitating” them in turn to raise the premiums of the customers.
Two States Insist on Transgender Health Coverage
The Associated Press reported on January 11:
“Regulators in Oregon and California have quietly directed some health insurance companies to stop denying coverage for transgender patients because of their gender identity. The states aren’t requiring coverage of specific medical treatments. But they told some private insurance companies they must pay for a transgender person’s hormone therapy, breast reduction, cancer screening or any other procedure deemed medically necessary if they cover it for patients who aren’t transgender…
“Advocacy groups said the action is a major step forward in their long battle to win better health care coverage for transgender Americans… Officials in both states said the new regulations aren’t new policies but merely a clarification of anti-discrimination laws passed in California in 2005 and in Oregon two years later.”
Transgender procedures are an abomination to God and prohibited in the Bible, but it seems that our so-called Christian societies could not care less about God’s Word.
Marijuana Dispensaries Welcome
The Los Angeles Times wrote on January 13:
“At the order of newly elected Mayor Bob Filner, the city is dropping all legal efforts aimed at forcing marijuana dispensaries out of business… Filner, a Democrat, also plans to revisit an issue the City Council has shown little eagerness to tackle: the creation of zoning rules to permit marijuana businesses…
“The marijuana issue is an indication of the differences in policy and governing style between the more assertive Filner and his predecessor, Jerry Sanders, a Republican and former police chief. Sanders supported the city attorney’s legal action against the marijuana dispensaries. Although Filner’s action ends the city’s closure campaign, U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy continues to order dispensaries to cease operation or face the prospects of criminal charges and asset forfeiture.”
In response to our reports on marijuana use in our last two Updates, we received the following comments:
“I’ve heard that marijuana is not addictive, but I must say that if it weren’t, why do those who smoke it spend so much time doing whatever they can to get it? From the time they get up, the goal is to get high. They’d be friends with people they don’t really like, just in case they can get weed from them. [Here are some experiences with those who consumed marijuana:] I’ve had my jewelry stolen even when I was home, because it was someone I know and wouldn’t expect them to steal. I’ve had over a thousand dollars taken from my bank account, one time 300 overdraft fees. My apartment was ransacked because someone in my house owed them money. I’d buy a cell phone and it would be gone within a week.”
“I have to say from experience and in light of my present situation: This stuff is absolutely dangerous and harmful. I consumed marijuana for many years and have to live now with the consequences. There are mainly psychological problems which plague me. It is difficult for me to work or to be motivated; I am chronically tired and can’t concentrate for more than half an hour. I am glad that God got me out of this self-destructive way of life of drug addiction, but I still need to be freed from the resulting damage, which will take time.”
Contaminated and Mislabeled Food
On January 15, 2013, popsci.com reported the following:
“The Irish version of the FDA, called the FSAI, has found distinctly non-beef animal protein in ground meat labeled ‘beef,’ in some supermarkets. Meat from two Irish processing plants has been found to contain substantial portions of pig and, curiously, horse DNA. Of 27 samples analyzed, 23 were found to contain pork, and 10 were found to contain horsemeat. In one sample collected from Tesco–a major supermarket chain all over the UK–approximately 29% of the meat was found to be horsemeat. Looks like it’s not just seafood that isn’t quite what it claims to be.
“Now, none of the samples were found to be unsafe for human consumption in any way, and it’s likely that many would have no objection to eating pig or, even, horsemeat. (Horse is a traditional meat in some areas of France, among other places.) The pork can be explained away by the fact that both pork and beef are processed at the same plant, though nobody seems to have any idea how a significant amount of horsemeat made its way into the ground beef.
“But there are two major concerns here. The first is for people with dietary restrictions: neither pig nor horse is kosher, and pig is not halal. The second is that, even though these samples of meat are safe, it does not speak very highly of the regulation in place for meat processing, especially in the UK, which has had the worst experience with BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease, of any country in the world. In response, all products from those suppliers have been withdrawn, and the FSAI is investigating to see how this could have happened.”
The Local reported on January 16:
“Lidl did not act fast enough in 2009 when the Listeria bacteria were discovered in its Harz cheese, a product of Austrian company Prolactal, said Heilbronn Administrative Court on Tuesday. The state prosecutor said four customers fell ill with listeriosis after eating the cheese, one of whom later died as a result of the food poisoning. Listeria is a bacterium – usually eliminated in the pasteurization process – which causes serious infections in humans and can be life-threatening for people suffering from other illnesses, pregnant mothers or new born children.
“On hearing that the bacteria had been found in the product, Lidl said it had asked Prolactal for an inspection – and received negative test results. The supermarket removed the cheese from its shelves but failed to recall the product until Austrian authorities issued a warning in late January 2010… The court ruled that Lidl should have not only withdrawn the product earlier – by the end of 2009 at the latest – but also should have issued an immediate recall, and fined the supermarket €1.5 million for failing to meet its legal obligations.
“Four company employees were also singled out to pay fines of between €27,000 and €58,500. However, the court found that Lidl did not bear any legal or criminal responsibility for the illnesses or death caused by the food poisoning… The ruling came on the same day as Irish authorities said they had found horse meat in burgers sold in several supermarkets in Ireland and Britain – including German discount supermarkets Lidl and Aldi.”
According to Der Stern Online, dated January 16, companies and stores under investigation in Ireland regarding horsemeat in hamburgers include “Aldi, Lidl, Iceland, Tesco und Dunnes Stores.“ Der Spiegel Online reported on January 16, that beef products in Germany often times include other meat, and while the impression may be given that it is 100% beef, it may only be 40% beef. In addition, calf and poultry sausages contain many times meat from other animals as well.
NRA’s Perceived Hypocritical Actions
The Atlantic Wire wrote on January 14:
“One month ago today, 20 first graders were killed at their elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Ever since, the National Rifle Association has blamed old-school video games and years-old Hollywood movies for the shootings, and the gaming industry is very much trying to defend itself.
“Well the NRA may have put itself back on its lobbying heels, because they introduced a crude new first-person shooter of their own for the iPhone and iPad last night, which the NRA’s mobile developers — and Apple — say is appropriate for children ages four and up… [It] includes virtual assault rifles for purchase within the app… [and a] MK-11 sniper rifle, which, along with an AK-47, is available as an in-app purchase, should you need to ‘upgrade’ your weapons within the game…
“Now, fine, you could argue that you’re just using your sniper rifle to hone those deer-hunting skills. But there are no deer in this game, and the set of targets… do have red areas around the human head and heart… Don’t expect… the organization’s perceived hypocrisy to rattle anyone in the NRA…This isn’t the first time the NRA has entered the gaming industry under the auspices of education…”
Who DID Murder John F. Kennedy?
The Associated Press reported on January 13:
“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is convinced that a lone gunman wasn’t solely responsible for the assassination of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, and said his father believed the Warren Commission report was a ‘shoddy piece of craftsmanship.’… [His] uncle was killed on Nov. 22, 1963, while riding in a motorcade through Dallas. Five years later, [his] father was assassinated in a Los Angeles hotel while celebrating his win in the California Democratic presidential primary…
“[Robert H. Kennedy Jr.] said his father had investigators do research into the assassination and found that phone records of Oswald and nightclub owner Jack Ruby, who killed Oswald two days after the president’s assassination, ‘were like an inventory’ of mafia leaders the government had been investigating. He said his father, later elected U.S. senator in New York, was ‘fairly convinced’ that others were involved.”
The evidence which has been produced over the years makes it rather certain that Oswald, a communist trained in Russia, was not acting alone, and that Ruby, who suffered from terminal cancer and who shot and killed Oswald, while in police custody, did not act alone either. The big question has been for all these years: Who was REALLY behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy?
Man’s Meddling with Mississippi River Only Enlarges Problem
On January 14, popsci.com reported the following:
“Wracked by the worst (and longest) droughts in memory, the Midwest and the river [Mississippi] are critically short on water, so short that the shallowest stretch of the river between Cairo, Ill. and St. Louis could become unnavigable in the next month, and the Corps of Engineers is just about out of geoengineering options to mitigate the problem…
“The Army Corps of Engineers has been building and managing the complex and sprawling system of levees, locks, dikes and spillways along the length of the Mississippi River for decades now, bending the river–which periodically wants to change its course, top its banks, and otherwise be, you know, a natural flowing body of water–to its will. Meanwhile, human development along the river offers the Corps a smaller and smaller envelope in which to err.
“Usually when the Corps of Engineers finds itself in a jam along the Mississippi, the culprit is heavy rainfall and flooding, which test the strength of decades-old levees and dams designed to keep the river in (as they did as recently as 2011). But right now, the Corps is scrambling to deal with precisely the opposite–even after tapping reservoirs all along the Upper-Midwest, there’s simply not enough water to be had. With options dwindling, the Corps is once again trying to engineer its way around a natural calamity, calling into question whether or not our continued meddling with the natural flow of the Mississippi is simply digging us a bigger hole in the long run.”
Every time man fools around with “nature,” he will end up paying a high price.
“Obama Replaces Anti-Gay Inaugural Pastor with Pro-Gay Episcopal Priest”
On January 16, theatlanticwire.com published the following article:
“In an about face [sic] on gay rights and the church, Obama’s inaugural team has found a replacement for Pastor Louie Giglio, who dropped out of the January 21 benediction last week after his sermons on ‘ex-gay therapy’ surfaced. The new pick is Rev. Louis León, an Episcopal priest from St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., also known as the ‘Church of Presidents’ and a gay-friendly parish. ‘León’s benediction will mark his second appearance on the inauguration stage. In 2005 he delivered the invocation for the President George W. Bush’s second inauguration,’ reports CNN.
“The choice is an about-face from Giglio, but also from the man who gave the inaugural benediction in 2008, Rick Warren, who at the time was so anti-gay marriage as to equate it with incest. Warren has since changed his stance on gay people…Luis is a departure from that. As Think Progress notes, Luis’s ‘parish is known to welcome gay members in addition to the other inclusive positions of the Episcopal Church, including blessing same-sex unions and ordaining non-celibate LGBT priests,’ and his church shows up on a database of gay-friendly churches in the country.”
Breitbart added on January 17:
“It’s more than a little troubling to know that… Louie Giglio was ousted from President Obama’s Inauguration over a sermon he gave on the sin of homosexuality sometime in the nineties. We expect the ‘tolerant-oppressives’ on the Left to attempt to smear Christianity as de facto bigotry; it’s just another weapon in their never-ending crusade to destroy religion. But the media and our White House taking an active role in such a thing marks a new era for Christians and Christianity, and, I fear, not a good one.
“We have now officially reached a point where the elite media and a sitting president not only believe Christianity is bigotry, but that this bigotry is worthy of ostracizing from public life those who believe in the teachings of the Bible.
“The context is important here, as well. As far as we know, Giglio gave one sermon over a long, varied and respected career. Moreover, he kept his remarks where they belonged, on behavior, not humanity… But Giglio never came close to crossing those lines and even talked about how ‘we must lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community.’
“Many Christians, like myself, believe this is how most personal sins should be approached. This even includes, yes, sins committed by those who are not gay. And, yes, the Bible also contains a whole host of sins surrounding the sexuality of heterosexuals.
“What we’re seeing with the left and the media, though, is that believing in the teachings of the Bible, and more importantly, espousing and professing those beliefs, is now treated as though it’s hate speech, bigotry, homophobia, or worse… something seismic happened at the beginning of this week: as a country and culture we’ve crossed a Rubicon. And that’s something worth taking note of.”
Britain vs. the EU
The Guardian wrote on January 11:
“David Cameron’s entire European strategy has been thrown into doubt less than two weeks before his landmark speech on the European Union as Germany backs away from initiating negotiations that would give Britain a chance to claw back some powers from the EU. Amid growing German rhetoric against British Eurosceptics – including a warning that they are seeking to ‘blow up’ the EU’s single market – diplomatic sources said Angela Merkel was abandoning plans to call for a major revision of EU treaties.
“The chancellor’s move will come as a blow to the prime minister, who is expected to say in his long-awaited EU speech, due to be delivered in the Netherlands on 22 January, that he would use a major treaty revision to renegotiate the terms of British membership. In common with every member state, Britain would have a veto in the negotiations which Cameron would use to create a new settlement. He would then put this to the British people in a referendum if he won the general election in 2015…
“Germany is showing growing irritation with Britain. Georg Boomgaarden, the German ambassador to London, dismissed the Eurosceptics’ belief that Britain faces a choice between ‘pick-and-choose or out’. The ambassador told the Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland: ‘This is really a choice between out and out … If you pick and choose you blow up the single market.’”
Actually, Mr. Cameron was scheduled to give his “landmark” speech on Friday, January 18, but due to the events in Algeria (see reports below), he postponed his speech.
According to Reuters, January 17, “Britain will drift out of the European Union and the European project will fail unless the bloc tackles three serious problems it faces, British Prime Minister David Cameron had planned to say in a postponed speech on Friday… He had been expected to spell out his plans to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the 27-nation bloc and to promise a rare referendum on any deal he struck… Cameron had been planning to say that the EU faces three major challenges: the euro zone debt crisis, faltering competitiveness and declining public support, particularly in Britain… he intended to say there was growing frustration about the widening gap between the EU and its 500 million citizens and that the status quo was untenable.”
The European project will not fail, because the Bible says so, but it is true that Britain will not be part of the European core nations, leading Europe.
Germany: “Don’t Blackmail Us” vs. Britain: “Europe Must Change”
The Local wrote on January 12:
“Britain’s finance minister George Osborne told a German newspaper on Friday that the European Union must change the way it deals with its member states if it aims to keep Britain in its ranks. ‘I hope very much that Britain remains a member of the EU,’ the Chancellor of the Exchequer told daily Die Welt in remarks published in German. ‘But for us to stay in the European Union, the EU must change.’ He indirectly criticised a German drive for closer coordination within the 27-country bloc as part of efforts to get at the root of problems behind the eurozone debt crisis. ‘We welcome the euro being strengthened but we also want the rights of the countries that are not part of the euro to be protected under these changes,’ Osborne said.
“Britain has belonged to what is today called the EU since 1973 but has not joined the 17-nation eurozone. British Prime Minister David Cameron is due to give a long-awaited speech later this month in which he is expected to offer a referendum after general elections in 2015 on taking back powers from the 27-member bloc. On Thursday a senior member of parliament from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party said a referendum could ‘paralyse’ Europe and said any attempt at ‘blackmailing’ other EU nations would backfire on Britain. ‘Britain would risk being isolated. That cannot be in Britain’s interests,’ Gunther Krichbaum, the chairman of the Bundestag’s European affairs committee, told reporters as he led a cross-party delegation to London. ‘You cannot create a political future if you are blackmailing other states. That will not help Britain.’
“Osborne’s German counterpart Wolfgang Schäuble had already warned Britain in a newspaper interview last month against ‘blackmailing’ its EU partners in a bid to bring powers back home from Brussels…
“The German legislator’s warning came a day after an unprecedented intervention on the issue from the United States, which is Britain’s closest international ally. US assistant secretary for European affairs Philip Gordon told reporters at the American embassy in London on Wednesday that Washington wanted an ‘outward-looking EU with Britain in it.’ German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Friday he also hoped that Britain would not leave the EU fold… ‘The European house of the future, as before, will have various levels of integration but we would like to see a closer and better EU, of 27, with Britain,’ [he said].”
The general opinion of the British people seemed to be that the USA intervention wasn’t very helpful, as it was giving Britain a push to stay within Europe, which the majority of the British don’t want. Politicians are anxious to tread a very careful line, since they don’t want to alienate core voters. It’s more about politics than it is about personal conviction—whatever it may be, assuming, there is any. Note the next article.
Britain Out—a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?
Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 14:
“Growing ranks of euroskeptics in the UK have Prime Minister Cameron scrambling to adjust his country’s relationship with the EU. And diplomatic warnings from Germany and the US against such measures have only further encouraged anti-EU voices there… Douglas Carswell, a parliamentarian with Prime Minister Cameron’s Conservative Party, said that Britons ‘don’t want to live a life directed by Germany’…
“The German government has already said multiple times that Cameron shouldn’t expect much accommodation… Granting the British additional special rights, it argues, would prompt other countries to make similar demands… ‘Europe isn’t some event at which everyone can do whatever they feel like,’ says one senior government advisor. ‘In the end, the British have to decide whether they want to remain in the European Union or not.’…
“There is growing concern in Germany that Cameron won’t be able to keep Britain in the EU despite his own desire to prevent an exit. His plan to renegotiate the country’s position within the 27-member bloc is an attempt to mollify an increasing number of euroskeptics who are becoming more radical. ‘There is a great danger that Great Britain’s exit from the EU will become a self-fulfilling prophecy,’ says Barbara Lippert, the SWP’s director or research…
“Last Wednesday, Germany received clear and unexpected support for its position. Philip Gordon, the United States’ assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, used a visit to London to make it clear what Washington thinks about Britain’s plans. ‘We want to see a strong British voice in (the) European Union,’ Gordon said, adding that this would also be the best thing for the ‘special relationship’ between the British and the Americans. Still, it’s doubtful whether Germany’s refusal to compromise or US interventions will succeed in influencing sentiments in the UK. Warnings by the country’s partners seem to have had little influence on the anti-European press. ‘How Dare the US Lecture Us about Staying in the EU’ read the headline for one outraged commentary in the tabloid Express…”
Mali–French Had Enough With American Policy
The New York Times wrote on January 13:
“French fighter jets struck deep inside Islamist strongholds in northern Mali on Sunday, shoving aside months of international hesitation about storming the region after every other effort by the United States and its allies to thwart the extremists had failed. For years, the United States tried to stem the spread of Islamic militancy in the region by conducting its most ambitious counterterrorism program ever across these vast, turbulent stretches of the Sahara. But as insurgents swept through the desert last year, commanders of this nation’s elite army units, the fruit of years of careful American training, defected when they were needed most — taking troops, guns, trucks and their newfound skills to the enemy in the heat of battle, according to senior Malian military officials…
“Then an American-trained officer overthrew Mali’s elected government, setting the stage for more than half of the country to fall into the hands of Islamic extremists. American spy planes and surveillance drones have tried to make sense of the mess, but American officials and their allies are still scrambling even to get a detailed picture of who they are up against. Now, in the face of longstanding American warnings that a Western assault on the Islamist stronghold could rally jihadists around the world and prompt terrorist attacks as far away as Europe, the French have entered the war themselves.
“First, they blunted an Islamist advance, saying the rest of Mali would have fallen into the hands of militants within days. Then on Sunday, French warplanes went on the offensive, going after training camps, depots and other militant positions far inside Islamist-held territory in an effort to uproot the militants, who have formed one of the largest havens for jihadists in the world.
“…with its attention and resources so focused on other conflicts in places like Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, the Obama administration has rejected such strikes in favor of a more cautious, step-back strategy: helping African nations repel and contain the threat on their own. Over the last four years, the United States has spent between $520 million and $600 million in a sweeping effort to combat Islamist militancy in the region without fighting the kind of wars it has waged in the Middle East… American Special Forces trained its troops in marksmanship, border patrol, ambush drills and other counterterrorism skills.
“But all that deliberate planning collapsed swiftly when heavily armed, battle-hardened Islamist fighters returned from combat in Libya. They teamed up with jihadists like Ansar Dine, routed poorly equipped Malian forces and demoralized them so thoroughly that it set off a mutiny against the government in the capital, Bamako… Islamists pushed south toward the capital last week. With thousands of French citizens in Mali, its former colony, France decided it could not wait any longer, striking the militants at the front line and deep within their haven.”
What an indictment against American foreign policy.
Germany Backs France
Deutsche Welle reported on January 14:
“Berlin is giving political backing to the French military intervention in Mali and investigating how it can help… Unlike its opposition to military intervention in Libya in March 2011, this time Berlin is not about to break ranks with its allies and partners. Germany backs France’s decision to send intervention forces to Mali. German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the federal government ‘was informed in advance of France’s actions in Mali and gave it its full support.’ The German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the whole of Europe ‘has a common interest in Mali not becoming a safe haven and a stronghold for terrorists on Europe’s doorstep.’…
“There is little enthusiasm among German politicians for a German combat mission to Mali… Christian Democrat MP and foreign affairs expert, Andreas Schockenhoff, is one of the few German parliamentarians who will not rule [out] a German combat mission… The German federal government is not sending troops to Mali because the European Union also believes that it would not be the right thing to do. France, acting on its own, was a different matter, according to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Siebert.
“France was intervening ‘because of its tradition, history, and relationship with this part of Africa,’ he said. ‘France already has troops stationed in Mali’s neighboring countries,’ he added explaining that this was the reason why France had been called upon for help and not Germany. Defence Minister de Maiziere added that France was the only nation capable of stopping the Islamist rebels and also take control of northern Mali…”
Nobody is suggesting that the USA could or should have helped. Confidence in US leadership is all but gone. And even when France was anxious to state that the USA was supporting them in their current activity, the USA was anxious to quickly deny that they were supporting France. Subsequently, they did make some half-hearted statements of support.
France With Colonial Ambitions?
Deutsche Welle reported on January 16:
“… more is at stake than the risk of terrorist attacks. ‘In the long term, France has interests in securing resources in the Sahel – particularly oil and uranium, which the French energy company Areva has been extracting for decades in neighboring Nigeria,’ [some critics claim.]… Africa expert Delius [noted] that when it came to military involvement in Libya, many countries had an interest there, especially in oil… sending troops to Mali represents a tightrope walk for France. The country may be out to defend its political and security interests, but there’s a danger of seeming neo-colonialist… French President Francois Hollande must keep an eye on promises made domestically, as well. During his election campaign in 2012, he promised to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and bring soldiers home. Now he may suffer a loss of credibility by sending French armed forces to Africa…
“France does not want to operate alone in Mali and has urged a multilateral intervention in which African troops are sent to the front. The UN Security Council has already approved the military intervention, and the EU has promised to train Malian soldiers. Those are both important points for Paris because they signal shared responsibility within Europe and support from Brussels.”
The charge that interests in oil were at the heart of America’s invasion of Iraq was also heard at the time. How true are the statements in James 4:1-2: “Where do wars and fights come from among you?… You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war…”
Mali–a Risky Endeavor?
Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 14:
“The country is in a state of war, even if government officials in Paris are reluctant to call it that. They prefer to talk about an ‘intervention’ at the request of the government of Mali. But the facts tell a different story. The pilot of a French attack helicopter died and more than 100 people are reported to have been killed since Friday. The situation on the ground is unclear… The French government has put a time limit on its military assistance. ‘The intervention will be a question of weeks,’ said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. That’s rather a bold prognosis.
“No one can give a realistic estimate of how long France’s military action will go on… It’s a risky venture for French President François Hollande. The view of most policymakers in Berlin is that he should receive help, but it’s a tightrope walk for Germany. In nine days the two close allies will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the German-French Treaty of Friendship with a grand ceremony in Berlin attended by the members of the two nation’s governments and parliaments… It’s clear that Merkel’s government wants to avoid deploying German combat troops. Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert has categorically ruled that out. The main opposition party, the Social Democrats, agree…
“But even if Germany doesn’t send ground troops, its involvement in Mali is fraught with risks. By assisting France, Germany would in effect be taking part in an attack against radical Islamists with close ties to al-Qaida who are already threatening Paris and all nations taking part in the operation with revenge attacks, even outside Mali. Besides, experience shows that once a nation offers logistical help, it could quickly be asked to get more involved. In the end, Germany could be drawn into [a] very lengthy conflict.
“No one in Berlin wants a second Afghanistan. That’s why both Merkel’s coalition government and the political opposition have been so cautious in their reaction… But how far should Germany’s logistical help go? Will German Transall transport aircraft also be used, for example, to carry African troops with the Ecowas mission to the country? Current plans envisage setting up a force of 3,300 soldiers comprised of troops from Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Benin, Togo and the Ivory Coast… German bases could… face retaliatory actions.”
The confrontation between Europe and Islamists is bound to continue. At the same time, we must not overlook the ongoing hostile anti-Semitic feelings against Jews and the state of Israel which is far too often identified as being run by “Zionists.” Our free booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy” will explain in detail where all these current developments are leading. See also the next article.
The Algeria Debacle
Mail Online wrote on January 17, 2013:
“Two British workers were reported tonight to be among the dead following a botched Algerian military raid to free hostages at a desert gas plant. Thirty hostages, including at least seven foreigners, were killed when Algerian forces stormed a BP desert gas plant seized by Islamist militants, an Algerian security source said.
“He told Reuters that among the dead hostages were eight Algerians, two Japanese, two Britons and one French national. The nationalities of the other dead were not clear… The report came shortly after Prime Minister David Cameron said the country should be ‘prepared for the possibility of further bad news’ and multiple deaths after Algeria’s botched rescue of oil workers in the Sahara…
“Earlier Downing Street announced that Mr Cameron had cancelled his landmark speech on Britain’s role in Europe tomorrow to focus on the ‘difficult and dangerous’ situation… A backlash among Western governments was growing against Algeria after it took the extraordinary decision to act alone – and kept Britain in the dark about the dangerous rescue mission it was attempting.”
The Euobserver added on January 17:
“The operation came after militants seized the facility – which housed workers from EU states as well as Japan, Norway and the US – following French air strikes on Islamic extremists in neighbouring Mali… Malian foreign minister Tieman Coulibaly… said the Mali rebels and the Algerian militants are linked… The rebels in Mali are a mixed bag of Islamic extremists, drugs and arms traffickers and Touareg separatists…
“The EU ministers agreed to speed up the deployment of a 450-man-strong EU military training mission to Mali. They appointed a French brigadier general, Francois Lecointre, to lead it and said that a ‘technical team’ will go to Bamako in the ‘next few days’ to lay the groundwork… EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton also noted that ‘several’ EU countries said they might contribute soldiers to the French war effort, on top of earlier pledges of logistical support…
“ [The] press in Brussels [is] drawing comparisons between Mali and Afghanistan in saying the disparate rebel forces might prove impossible to defeat…”
The Washington Times reported on January 17:
“… the attackers [in Algeria] identified themselves as being loyal to Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a former regional commander for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb… who broke away last year. The group said the attack was carried out in retaliation for the French intervention in Mali, where internationally backed efforts are under way to expel al-Qaeda-linked extremists from the country’s vast northern desert.”
The confrontation between Europe and Islamists is bound to continue. At the same time, we must not overlook the ongoing hostile anti-Semitic feelings against Jews and the state of Israel which is far too often identified as being run by “Zionists.” Our free booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy” will explain in detail where all these current developments are leading. See also the next article.
Anti-Semitism in France
The Times of Israel wrote on January 14:
“Anti-Semitism could destroy the history of French Jewry, the leader of France’s Jewish communities said. ‘Not long ago, the notion that resurgent anti-Semitism could endanger the presence of Jews in France would have been considered absurd,’ Dr. Richard Prasquier, president of the Jewish CRIF umbrella group, said Sunday in Paris at the organization’s annual national conference. ‘This has changed’ due to ‘parties and groups which are at times explicitly racist, and at other times ultra-secular [and in opposition to] ritual slaughter and circumcision,’ he said. ‘There is new anti-Semitism, and it complements the old.’…
“The March 2012 murder of four Jews in Toulouse by a Muslim extremist and the explosion of anti-Semitic incidents that it triggered dictated that the emphasis this year be placed on the growing threat of anti-Semitism, Prasquier said… In the first eight months of 2012, SPCJ, the security unit of French Jewish communities, counted 386 of what it called ‘anti-Semitic acts,’ representing a 45-percent increase compared to the corresponding period in 2011, when SPCJ counted 266 such incidents. SPCJ said the figures correlated to official data by French authorities. France has a Jewish population of some 500,000, according to the European Jewish Congress.”
Superstitious India’s Mass Gathering—The Kumbh Mela Festival
BBC News wrote on January 14:
“Several million people have been bathing at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers at Allahabad in India, on the opening day of the Kumbh Mela festival. At least 10 million pilgrims are set to do so by the end of the day. The event, every 12 years, is billed as the biggest gathering on Earth. More than 100 million people are expected to attend the 55-day festival.
“Hindus believe a festival dip will cleanse sins and help bring salvation… The Kumbh Mela has its origins in Hindu mythology – many believe that when gods and demons fought over a pitcher of nectar, a few drops fell in the cities of Allahabad, Nasik, Ujjain and Haridwar – the four places where the Kumbh festival has been held for centuries.
“Although the gathering is held every 12 years, this year’s festival is what is known as a Maha Kumbh, which only occurs every 144 years and is always held at Allahabad. It will last for 55 days, a period of time determined by an astrological calculation…”
In an accompanying box, BBC News explained:
“The Kumbh Mela is a mass pilgrimage in which Hindus gather in specific locations along the holy rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical river Saraswati. There are three different kinds of kumbh: an ardh (or half) kumbh is held every six years at two set locations; a purna (full) kumbh is held every 12 years at four set locations. The 2013 gathering is a Maha Kumbh and that only ever happens after 12 purna kumbhs every 144 years – and it is always held at Allahabad. Astrology determines most aspects of the festival, including its exact date and length. Where the festival is held also depends on the position of Jupiter, the sun and earth.”
We can look forward to the time with great joy, when such superstitions and false worship are a thing of the past.
Superstitions Not Only In India… Look at Greece
On January 5, Greece.greekreporter.com reported the following:
“Customs and traditions dating back to ancient times will come once again to life on Jan. 6 during the Theofania (also Epiphany or Fota) celebration taking place across Greece. Religious sentiment meets exhilaration and joy for the day commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist, according to the Orthodox Church, and the banishing of the mischievous Kalikantzaroi (goblins) back to the hollow earth for another year round, according to popular belief.
“In all Greek cities and villages the priests bless the waters with the Holy Cross on that day, while many brave swimmers jump into the icy sea or river waters despite the cold weather to catch the Cross and get the priest’s blessing for the year… People in Kastoria and Kozani… put on their symbolic and scary painted masks in order to exorcise the evil spirits from the city. The masked men beg from passersby for their rewards for casting the evil spirits away. The same custom is also found in villages near the city of Drama, northeastern Greece. There it is called the rokatzaria and people wear scary masks and make deafening noises with the bells they are carrying while walking around.”
Whether these superstitions and traditions are called “Christian” or “pagan,” they are all unbiblical and will disappear, to be replaced by the righteous worship of the only true God.
Whatever Happened to Shiloh, Ancient Spiritual Center of the House of Israel?
The Jewish Times wrote on January 14:
“Recent archaeological findings in Samaria shed light on the incompletely recounted story of the destruction of Shiloh, the ancient capital of Israel. An uncovered broken clay pitcher lying in a layer of reddish ashes complete the story of the devastation of Shiloh where the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, was placed during the period of the Judges, and essentially served as Israel’s capital and in the 13th century BCE during the First Israelite commonwealth. Shiloh served as the spiritual center in Israel for 369 years until its destruction. The Bible does not inform us of the story of its ruin, but these archaeological discoveries shed light on the capital’s tragic demise.
“The book of Samuel tells us of a battle between the Philistines and the Israelites, during which the Philistines prevailed, and during which the Holy Ark was captured by them. After hearing the news of the defeat from a messenger, Eli the High Priest, the leader of his time, who lost his two sons in the battle, fell back and died. This is all we learn of the defeat from the Book of Samuel. We know that Shiloh was destroyed shortly after. We know from the book of Jeremiah that Shiloh was destroyed by the Philistines. These new archaeological findings tell us of how it happened. After the battle, which took place at Even Haezel, near modern day Rosh Ha’ayin, the Philistines moved on to destroy Shiloh, with the objective of obliterating the capital. The ashes found attest to a devastating fire [that] occurred on the site. The dating of the clay pitcher, 1050 BCE, correlates with the dating of the events depicted in [the] Book of Samuel.
“Avital Selah, director of the Tel Shiloh site, told Tazpit News Agency that these findings were discovered during a massive dig of Tel Shiloh, the site of ancient Shiloh, in which some 1000 youth volunteers from across Israel participated. Similar findings were discovered some thirty years ago, including leftovers of food, and their dating is also set at 1050 BCE, but the recently discovered layer of ashes completes the story… of the destruction of the ancient Israelite capital, Shiloh.”
Please make sure to read our corresponding Q&A in the next issue on the contents of the Ark of the Covenant.
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
“Should a Christian Smoke Marijuana?” is the title of our compelling new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is the summary: Some U.S. states allow the use of Marijuana for medical reasons; others allow it also for recreational reasons. Under Federal law, Marijuana use for any purpose is illegal. Whom should a Christian obey? What is the common reaction when using Marijuana? Is it addictive? Listen to some of those who have had first-hand experiences, and be warned.
This program will also be broadcast on radio, beginning Sunday, February 10, 2013.
“Wie sich die Zehn Gebote und das Vaterunser Ergaenzen” is the title of this week’s new German sermon. The title in English: “How the Ten Commandments and the Model Prayer Complement Each Other.”
A law firm in Germany has been contacted to help with Church registration matters, bank accounts and tax exemptions. Establishing ourselves formally in Germany will take time and effort, and the process will be somewhat costly. We hope to have initiated the process when Norbert and Johanna Link travel to Germany for the 2013 Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread (Passover will be observed on the evening before March 25th–Sunday evening; Unleavened Bread will be observed beginning on March 26th through April 1st.)
Our Church Conference for 2013 will begin on Friday, April 12th, and last until Tuesday, April 16th. This year, meetings will be conducted in Fort Collins, Colorado.
New copies of our booklet, “Europe in Prophecy,” have been printed, and our newest booklet, “Biblical Prophecy–From Now Until Forever,” is being finalized to be sent to the printer.
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