|Live Services||“On the Wire”|
|Editorial||A Falling Away in Our Time?|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||How are we to view Hebrew Poetry in the Bible? (Part 1)|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
A Falling Away in Our Time?
by Norbert Link
Paul was inspired to warn the Church of God that the Day of Christ’s return would not come, unless “the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). He continued that the “mystery of lawlessness” was already at work at his time (verse 7; compare Galatians 1:6–9; 2 Timothy 2:17–22; Jude 3–4; 2 Peter 2:1–3), but he also explained that the final fulfillment of this prophecy was still in the future (compare 2 Thessalonians 2:8). Paul cautioned us in this context not to be deceived by any means (verse 3).
Why is it then that many are being deceived today and made to believe that the falling away from the truth has already taken place at the time of Paul or subsequently, or that it does not even apply to the Church of God, but to some other powerful Church organization, which did not have the truth to begin with? Did not Paul say very clearly that these two events—the falling away and the revelation of the man of sin—would occur at approximately the same time, leading to the return of Christ? He most certainly did!
Not just Paul, but also Christ Himself warned of a falling away of His people in these end times—just prior to His return. He said in Matthew 24:12-13: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
Christ talked about the love of God (“agape” in the Greek), which was poured out into the hearts of God’s disciples by the Holy Spirit which was given to them (Romans 5:5). But because of rampant lawlessness (which is sin, 1 John 3:4), God’s love (the keeping of His law, 1 John 5:3) would wax cold in many of His disciples, and they would fall away—just prior to the end.
Don’t be deceived by thinking that the falling away could not relate to you. That would be the attitude of the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:17) whom Christ will spew out of His mouth, unless they repent (verse 16).
What are we to watch for? An obvious answer is the trap of lawlessness or sin—the transgression of God’s law. If we have become complacent regarding sinful conduct in our lives, we are in great danger. In addition, the New Testament warns against the embrace of false doctrines (2 Timothy 4:3; 1 Timothy 1:10), including those ideas which justify sin by either claiming that the law has been done away with, or that belief in Christ and grace is all we need. These wrong concepts will lead to the falling away from the truth and “sound” teaching (Titus 1:9; 2:1). In the past, we experienced that many fell for false doctrines, but we should not think that similar developments could not happen again. According to the words of Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul and others, they will occur just prior to Christ’s return.
Are there indications that the mystery of lawlessness and of erroneous teachings is already at work in the Church of God—TODAY? Just look around you. Some have revived, in a slightly different mantle, the demonical teaching of a secret or not-so-secret rapture—the false idea that Christ will come back twice—first “for” His disciples to take them to the third heaven, and then “with” His disciples to establish God’s Kingdom on the earth. Others have come close to teaching wrongly that the Holy Spirit is a person. Some have questioned the correct concept that God IS a Family, or that we are NOT already born again when we receive the Holy Spirit. Then there are those who have no problems with voting in governmental elections or serving on a jury, while forgetting that true Christians are only ambassadors for Christ and God’s Kingdom and merely aliens and strangers in this rotten evil world of Satan’s devices.
Some have become lax in keeping all of God’s Holy Days, or they have developed “alternative” dates. Others have become somewhat indifferent in their observation of the Sabbath. Some are even confused about the commission of the Church, thinking that the gospel does not have to be preached anymore, or that it is more important to “do good works.” This is another critical mistake, since only AFTER the gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD has been preached in all the world as a witness, the end of this present evil age can come (Matthew 24:14). Others keep setting dates for Christ’s return, even though Christ commanded us not to do this.
Can you see how these “subtle” and “not-so-subtle” changes and attitudes can become an avalanche, which will bury those who embrace them? Similar developments happened in the past, and our free booklet, “Are You Already Born Again?” describes them in great detail.
Don’t be deceived! A falling away from the truth is still to occur in the Church of God. Christ warns you not to accept error, but to hold fast what you have. If you think that you stand, make sure that you are not already in danger of falling.
We report on hostile national and worldwide reactions to America’s domestic and international politics, including the disastrous Obamacare legislation and “implementation” and the US Middle Eastern position; speak on US politicians’ failing trust in God and Catholic criticism against the pope; address the German army’s new-found self-confidence; and conclude with frightening natural disasters in India, the Philippines and South Dakota.
This Week in the News
End to Fiscal Impasse?
The New York Times wrote on October 16:
“Congressional Republicans conceded defeat on Wednesday in their bitter budget fight with President Obama over the new health care law, agreeing to end a disruptive 16-day government shutdown and extend federal borrowing power to avert a financial default with potentially worldwide economic repercussions.
“With the Treasury Department warning that it could run out of money to pay national obligations within a day, the Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday evening, 81 to 18, to approve a proposal hammered out by the chamber’s Republican and Democratic leaders after the House on Tuesday was unable to move forward with any resolution. [According to] the Senate plan… the government [will be funded] through Jan. 15 and… the debt limit [will be raised] through Feb. 7.”
The House approved and the President signed the bill. And what will happen when these dates will come?
Der Spiegel Online commented on October 17:
“The United States has temporarily avoided federal default… But no one should be happy, because the debacle has exposed just how broken the American political system truly is… America’s 237-year-old democracy is approaching its limits…
“The once civil political discourse in Washington has long since turned into a fight of bitter rivals trying to inflict the worst possible wounds. One is no longer respected as a worthy opponent, but attacked like an enemy… Adding to this is the almost unlimited flow of campaign contributions… as the system limps along, the next crisis already has a deadline: Jan. 15, 2014, when the bill agreed to on Wednesday expires.”
The Losers in the Recent Developments
The Washington Post wrote on October 16:
“Everyone — and we mean everyone — acknowledges now that the rollout of Obamacare’s health-insurance exchanges on Oct. 1 has been a total disaster. But, because of the shutdown, those stories have been pushed off the front page and the lead of the newscasts. The problems with the rollout would have been massive news — and all of it bad for the White House and Democrats — if not for the shutdown. That fact is the single greatest Republican strategic miscalculation – amid many — of the shutdown. Downside for Obamacare: With the shutdown now – almost — over, there will be a bright light on the rollout and its problems…
“John Boehner… failed, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Time and again he tried to walk the fine line between appeasing the most conservative wing of his party and passing legislation that would have a chance of winning Senate approval. In the end, Boehner’s greatest failing might have been in hoping that he could forge consensus within a conference where that simply is not possible. Boehner survived this fight and probably even strengthened his hand among tea party Republicans. But, the political costs were too high…
“The GOP brand: By the end, nearly three-quarters of Americans disapproved of how congressional Republicans had handled the budget showdown in a Washington Post-ABC poll. Congressional Republicans hit new lows in overall approval and, according to most polls, lost the blame game for the shutdown as well. The best news for Republicans is that this all happened in the fall of 2013, not the fall of 2014, meaning they have a year to rebrand themselves in a more favorable way in the eyes of the public.
“Our system of government: Does anyone think this is how our government should work? Does anyone think we won’t be right back in this mess early next year? The government has proven over and over in the last few years that it is simply incapable of doing big things or, if we are being honest, even medium things.”
Even though the Democrats have also lost support of the American people, the Republicans were clearly the big losers. They gained nothing. They capitulated and surrendered. There is not even a hint that would show that their “fight” was of any value or benefit to the American people.
Barack Obama Opposed Raising the Debt Ceiling… in 2006
On November 16, the Washington Times published in its editorial a speech of Senator Barack Obama to the Senate, dated March 16, 2006. Some key statements stand out: “Raising the debt ceiling is a sign of leadership failure. It shows our government’s reckless fiscal policies. It weakens us domestically and internationally”… and so on. Now President Barack Obama supports raising the debt ceiling. What has changed, Mr. President?
“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies. Over the past five years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is ‘trillion’ with a ‘T.’ That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next five years, between now and 2011, the president’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion. [Today, it is almost $ 17 trillion.] …
“If Washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we would see an effort to reduce our national debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies… the Senate continues to reject a return to the common-sense pay-go rules that used to apply. Previously, pay-go rules applied both to increases in mandatory spending and to tax cuts. The Senate had to abide by the common-sense budgeting principle of balancing expenses and revenues. Unfortunately, the principle was abandoned, and now the demands of budget discipline apply only to spending.
“… we must remember that the more we depend on foreign nations to lend us money, the more our economic security is tied to the whims of foreign leaders whose interests might not be aligned with ours. Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally… America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”
Building a De-Americanized World
Fox News reported on October 13:
“China’s official news agency is calling for a ‘de-Americanized world,’ in a blistering editorial characterizing the United States as a ‘meddling’ and ‘hypocritical’ nation that introduces chaos into the world for its own ends. ‘As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world,’ writes the Xinhua News Agency.
“‘Meanwhile, the U.S. government has gone to all lengths to appear before the world as the one that claims the moral high ground, yet covertly doing things that are as audacious as torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders… Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated, and a new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing,’ writes Xinhua.”
Even though China is most certainly a country which is guilty of hypocrisy, it is interesting that even those countries find the audacity to attack the US of actions which they are guilty of themselves… and worse.
“The US Is Losing Control of the Internet”
The website wired.co.uk published this article, dated October 12, with wide-reaching consequences:
“All of the major internet organisations have pledged, at a summit in Uruguay, to free themselves of the influence of the US government. The directors of ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board, the World Wide Web Consortium, the Internet Society and all five of the regional Internet address registries have vowed to break their associations with the US government… In another part of the statement, the group ‘expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance’.
“Meanwhile, it was announced that the next Internet Governance Summit would be held in Brazil, whose president has been extremely critical of the US over web surveillance. In a statement announcing the location of the summit, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff said: ‘The United States and its allies must urgently end their spying activities once and for all.’”
Everyone seems to be ganging up on America. And severing Internet ties from the US government could have wide-ranging and terrible consequences for the USA.
Mideast Allies Bewildered by US Policy
The Times of Israel wrote on October 15:
“Finally, a reason to celebrate. Not only because, starting Tuesday, Iran will participate in negotiations in Geneva with the P5+1 over its nuclear program, but also because Tehran agreed to hold direct talks with representatives of the American government. This stands in stark contrast to the familiar Iranian policy that shirked any official contact with representatives of the ‘Great Satan.’… The End of Days must be upon us.
“And yet, as Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi’s words Monday night made clear, there has been no substantive change in Iran’s nuclear position that would alleviate concerns over its intentions to produce a nuclear bomb or to become a ‘threshold state.’ Indeed, Araqchi made clear that Iran ‘will not agree to cease the enrichment of uranium, even for one day.’
“Regarding the enriched uranium stores Iran already possesses, including quantities enriched to 20%, Araqchi, who is also the deputy head of Tehran’s nuclear negotiating team, was adamant that ‘we will not agree to transfer even one gram of enriched uranium out of Iran.’ He added that his country would be ready to negotiate over the level of uranium enrichment in the future, but Tehran repeatedly makes clear that the talks are contingent on the partial removal of Western sanctions as a goodwill gesture.
“Why the West needs to show goodwill toward Iran is not clear. Tehran may hint that it is ready to show some flexibility on its nuclear program, but that flexibility is not enough, or shouldn’t be — not for Israel and not for other countries in the West and in the Arab world. The persistent storing of enriched uranium, even at the 3.5% level, while Iran maintains its enrichment capacity through advanced centrifuges, combined with Tehran’s dubious record regarding supervision of its nuclear facilities, leave serious suspicion that Iran will try to secretly produce a nuclear bomb in the future.
“And still, some American media outlets have evidently been mesmerized by President Hassan Rouhani’s smile. The New York Times seems to be directing a campaign against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said sanctions on Iran must not be removed and warned about the Islamic Republic’s true intentions. Certain Western journalists are possibly driven by the hope — and, perhaps, some degree of naivety — that the crisis will not require the use of force.
“But the anti-Netanyahu campaign misses (or ignores) the fact that the wary Israeli government, not surprisingly, enjoys the support of many Arab countries — including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE — which are not naive about Iran.
“On Sunday, the Saudi-owned newspaper a-Sharq al-Awsat published an editorial calling for Iran to be barred from enriching uranium altogether. Numerous WikiLeaks documents dealing with the Gulf States suggest that, with all due respect to the Palestinian question, what truly keeps Arab rulers awake at night is the fear that Iran will acquire a nuclear weapon, and will undermine their rule with terror attacks and orchestrated demonstrations. ‘Cut off the head of the snake,’ as Saudi King Abdullah reportedly put it.
“These are not paranoid visions or the brainchild of Netanyahu. These are real concerns of past and present American allies in the region, who gaze with wonder and bewilderment upon Washington’s foreign policy and struggle to understand why the US president rushes to telephone the president of Iran while almost simultaneously announcing that military aid to Egypt will be frozen. The voices from these states express concern again and again in light of the lack of coherence from the United States and what they perceive as its lack of understanding of what is really happening in the Middle East.
“How is it possible that precisely when Egypt’s government declares war on radical Islam, on terror, Washington prefers to flirt with its enemies — Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood? For Cairo, Riyadh, Amman and other capitals, the Obama administration — in negotiating with Iran and suspending aid to Egypt — is shooting itself in the foot, and wounding its allies in the process.”
America’s foreign policy is a disaster, but so is its domestic policy. Its downfall is inevitable, as clearly prophesied in Scripture. At the same time, Iran’s ambitions will lead to a rude awakening for many Western nations.
Breitbart wrote on October 15:
“Constant ‘glitches’ keep people from logging into the exchanges. Humiliating live video of reporters normally favorable to Obamacare simply giving up in frustration because they cannot sign up. Consumers who are lucky enough to get through the system are stunned to learn that their premiums have skyrocketed by thousands of dollars. One Pennsylvania mother says that she can either pay her increased premiums or pay for her kids to eat, but she can’t do both.
“Extremely personal information has already leaked from the system in Minnesota. Software security experts from McAfee predict millions of identity theft victims. And one of the healthcare exchanges was forced to acknowledge that information collected from patients will be shared with law enforcement…
“The rollout has been such a nightmare that it is abundantly clear now that members of Congress really did not, as then-Speaker Pelosi admitted, even read the Obamacare bill before they passed it. In fact, the program’s launch has been such an unimaginable disaster that it raises an alarming new question that would have been unthinkable amid the exaggerated claims of health utopia from three years ago: Did President Obama even read this legislation before he signed it into law?
“This is the single most complex piece of legislation in U.S. history, and we citizen-patients have a right to know. Did anyone in the notoriously cozy establishment Washington press corps even ask him this basic question? Obamacare is a disaster and the American people know it…
“Which begs the question: where are the Republicans anyway?… Why aren’t Republicans telling the very real human stories of people losing their jobs and their doctors because of Obamacare? The president guaranteed that by 2013 the average family would see premiums reduced by $2,500. In reality, the average family has seen their premiums jacked up by $2,900, an eye-popping $5,400 miscalculation. What other predictions will prove to be horribly off?…
“When this debate began, President Obama guaranteed Americans that if we like our current insurance policies, we can keep them. If we like our current doctors, we can stay with them. Since then, millions have been kicked off their company insurance. More than 750,000 New Jersey residents have been notified that their former policies no longer meet new government mandates and will be discontinued… almost one-third of doctors report their unwillingness to accept patients from newly expanded governmental programs.
“Meanwhile, Obamacare supporters continue to call it ‘universal’ coverage. And the media is totally complicit. The fact is, the massive new bureaucracy will extend coverage to only 27 million of the 56 million uninsured under current official government projections for 2020. Ultimately, Washington is going to take over 1/6 of our economy to try to fix less than half of the total uninsured problem. This is madness…”
The government’s incompetency regarding the “Affordable Care Act” is stunning, mind-boggling and truly appalling at the same time.
Politicians Have Turned Their Back on God
Newsmax reported on October 14:
“Franklin Graham tells Newsmax that the nation is ‘in a mess’ because politicians ‘have turned their backs on God.’ ‘Our country is in a mess, no question, and it seems like we’re just in an ever-tightening spiral downward, and it doesn’t seem as if anybody is listening to what is happening,’ Graham said Monday on Newsmax TV.
“‘We, as a nation, we’ve turned our back on God. Politicians have turned their backs on God. They have taken God out of our schools, out of just about everything you can imagine, and now we find ourselves in great danger,’ said Graham, son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham.”
Who should be surprised about man’s departure from the true God when “even” the pope proclaims that atheists can go to heaven, as he did recently. Also, please see the next article for more reactions to the pope’s non-traditional views.
Catholic Conservatives Question the Pope
The Washington Post wrote on October 14:
“Rattled by Pope Francis’s admonishment to Catholics not to be ‘obsessed’ by doctrine, his stated reluctance to judge gay people and his apparent willingness to engage just about anyone — including atheists — many conservative Catholics are doing what only recently seemed unthinkable: They are openly questioning the pope…
“During the previous three decades, popes John Paul II and Benedict shared a focus: Make orthodox teachings crystal clear so Catholics don’t get lost in an increasingly messy, relativistic world… Some Catholics feel Francis is resurfacing fights that followed the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s. Conservatives felt liberal Catholics misinterpreted the Council’s intention and took ‘open’ too far.
“The last two popes seemed to agree, making a priority of establishing ‘Catholic identity’ among people and institutions by emphasizing the importance of crystal-clear doctrine… Conservatives who perceive too much ambiguity in Francis’s remarks were heartened to note that the pope in recent weeks excommunicated a priest who spoke in favor of women’s ordination, gave some of his most anti-abortion comments and called a rare Synod on the Family, which they believe will be a vehicle for reinforcing orthodoxy . But so far they have not garnered the same kind of attention as the pope conversing with an atheist.”
Still, the pope will not deviate from Catholic core doctrines—and from the Catholic Church’s long-held historic position of allegedly being the “Mother Church” wanting to bring most Christian and also some non-Christian religions into its fold.
Germany’s Armed Forces
Der Spiegel Online wrote on October 15:
“In Afghanistan, dangerous combat has helped post-war Germany’s reluctant armed forces gain self-confidence and expertise… The German military entered Afghanistan over a decade ago as a peacekeeping force tasked with aiding in the reconstruction and development of infrastructure and civil society. Today, it leaves the country as a combat force that engaged in deadly warfare.
“The evolving role of the Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces, in the conflict has helped to dramatically reshape it as a more experienced and capable fighting operation… ‘Afghanistan has been the most important experience for the German armed forces. It was the first time since World War II that the German military was involved in real combat action,’ says retired General Harald Kujat, the former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr from 2000-2002 and former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 2002-2005. Kujat says the Afghanistan experience has created a new generation of young officers with personal combat experience, contributing to a ‘more self-confident’ Bundeswehr. The expertise gained by many of these soldiers has made the Bundeswehr a more educated military, better able to weigh the pros and cons of war and what it is capable of contributing to a given mission, explains Kujat…
“The Bundeswehr’s development in Afghanistan into a ‘real fighting force’ has had a significant impact on recent reforms implemented by the Defense Ministry, says Christian Mölling, an international security associate with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). The ministry, Mölling explains, is working to streamline the Bundeswehr and make it a ‘highly deployable force.’ …
“Germany — the third-largest contributor to the US-led coalition in Afghanistan and the country responsible for Regional Command North — has lost 54 soldiers since 2002, 35 of whom died during attacks or fighting…
“Despite German reluctance to engage in future military endeavors, it is likely Germany will be called on to assist with future international armed missions, says Patrick Keller, an expert on foreign and security policy… ‘It may not be too far-fetched that we will have to be prepared to act’ in potential conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa region or in central and eastern Europe, argues Keller…
“But how much responsibility is Germany actually willing to bear? The question comes back to the broader issue of Germany’s hesitation to play a leading role in European Union and global affairs. ‘Germany has a great difficulty in taking on leadership. We don’t want to be in a leadership position,’ be it about security issues or the euro-zone crisis, says Stefani Weiss, a European foreign and security policy expert at the Bertelsmann Stiftung. Similarly, SWP’s Mölling says Germany could play a ‘significant and positive’ role within NATO and the EU on defense issues given its central location in Europe, if it were not for a lack of political will…
“But parliamentarian Kiesewetter suggests Germany should begin to take on a greater leadership role in helping Europe develop a cohesive security policy and a shared military apparatus… ‘There is a need for leadership within the EU,’ he says. ‘Germany could be a partner to create synergy between EU states … to take over responsibility where others are not willing to.’”
And Germany will…
Powerful Cyclone Hits India
The New York Times reported on October 13, 2013:
“A powerful cyclone whose spinning arms engulfed much of the Bay of Bengal weakened Sunday morning as it crashed into India’s eastern coast, flooding homes and roads throughout the region and disrupting electricity and communications. The authorities evacuated about 800,000 people, one of the largest such evacuations in India’s history. The storm’s maximum sustained winds… were approximately 124 miles per hour when the storm made landfall about 9 p.m. Saturday…”
NBC News reported on October 14:
“A deadly cyclone which slammed into the coast of India has caused the loss of $4 billion worth of crops across an area the size of Delaware, local media reported Monday. Cyclone Phailin hit the state of Orissa on Saturday and is the most destructive to affect the subcontinent in 14 years.”
Terrible natural disasters prior to Jesus’ return are prophesied. Also note the next two articles.
Powerful Earthquake in the Philippines
NBC News reported on October 15:
“A magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck in the central Philippines on Tuesday morning, killing 82 people and severely damaging some of the country’s most hallowed churches, authorities said. The earthquake hit at 8:12 a.m. (5:12 p.m. Monday ET) less than a mile from the town of Carmen in Bohol province, the U.S. Geological Survey and Philippine emergency authorities said. Carmen is in a remote region across the Cebu Strait about 40 miles from Cebu City.”
Storm In South Dakota Kills 100,000 Cattle
Fox News reported on October 13:
“Ranchers in South Dakota fear they may lose everything after a freak storm dumped up four feet of snow in parts of the state last week, killing as many as 100,000 cattle. Matt Kammerer, a 45-year-old rancher whose family has operated in South Dakota’s Meade County since 1882, told FoxNews.com that he lost 60 cattle in the storm, or one-third of his entire herd…
“Kammerer painted a gruesome scene north of Rapid City, where a record 23 inches of snow fell… ‘There are cattle that are 8 or 9 miles away from the pasture they were in, just lying dead. And within that whole stretch, it’s just dead cow after dead cow, where they’ve gotten caught in dams, streams, fences, you name it. They’re dead everywhere.’ Carcasses of mature cows as well as calves were floating downstream local waterways in droves, Kammerer said, stoking fears of a potential outbreak of disease…
“Most ranchers in the state lost anywhere between 50 to 75 percent of their herds… Aside from the economic losses… the unprecedented storm has left an ‘incredible emotional burden’ on the state’s ranchers…”
How are we to view Hebrew Poetry in the Bible? (Part 1)
The Old Testament of the Bible contains Hebrew Poetry, but it is not to be compared with the kind of today’s poetry which rhymes at the end of each verse. Rather, Hebrew Poetry is designed to express more clearly and by emphasis certain aspects of the truth. It is important to realize when and how Hebrew Poetry is used, so that we do not misunderstand the intended meaning of a particular passage.
In this series, we will discuss in depth the beauty and wisdom of inspired Hebrew poetry. It can be generally described as PARALLELISM. In Hebrew, the rhyme is the repetition of thoughts or the extension of similar thoughts.
In this Q&A, we will show biblical examples of the concept of Synonymous Parallelism. In subsequent Q&A’s, we will discuss additional concepts within Hebrew Poetry.
“Synonym” describes the idea that one word has the same meaning as another word. Synonymous Parallelism means, that the second line repeats the idea expressed in the first line. In this Q&A, we refer to such occurrence as being “equal” or “identical” thoughts.
We need to further distinguish between Identical Synonymous Parallelism and Similar Synonymous Parallelism. Identical Synonymous Parallelism repeats in the second line identical thoughts which were expressed in the first line. In Similar Synonymous Parallelism, one thought in the first line is repeated in the second line, while something else is added.
Let us begin with reviewing several examples of Hebrew Poetry, which contain IDENTICAL SYNONYMOUS PARALLELISM—the repetition of identical thoughts:
“You sit and speak against your brother;
“You slander your own mother’s son.”
Two identical thoughts are expressed, but different words are used. “Sit and speak” in the first line is identical with “slander” in the second line; likewise, “your brother” is identical with “your own mother’s son.” The devastating and cowardly concept of “slander” is emphasized here—one just sits there and speaks evil, and that against his own brother, the son of his own mother.
“The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness,
“The world and those who dwell therein.
“For He has founded it upon the seas,
“And established it upon the waters.
“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD,
“Or who may stand in His holy place?”
These verses contain several examples of identical synonymous parallelism or the expression of identical thoughts. In verse 1, the “earth” is equated with the “world,” and “its fullness” with “those who dwell therein.” In verse 2, we read that God “founded” the world “upon the seas”; that is, He “established” it “upon the waters.” In verse 3, the “hill of the LORD” is equated with “His Holy Place,” and “ascending” is identical with “being able to stand.” When one ascends to the holy hill of God (Jerusalem, see Isaiah 2:2-3), then he will stand there.
“LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
“Who may dwell in Your holy hill?”
Here, “abiding” equals “dwelling,” and God’s “tabernacle” describes “His holy hill.” Ultimately, God the Father will even dwell with us on the new earth, and His tabernacle will be with immortal men (Revelation 21:1-3).
“He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
“The LORD shall hold them in derision (NIV: “scoffs at them”; Tanakh: “mocks at them”).”
The LORD is the one who sits in the heavens, and He laughs or scoffs or mocks at His enemies, knowing that their fight and rebellion against Him are futile and vain.
“Why is light given to him who is in misery,
“And life to the bitter of soul?”
Light and life are described as equal, and misery and bitterness of soul are identical as well.
“Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;
“A stranger, and not your own lips.”
The identical parallelism might be clear in this example, but we need to carefully see the beautiful nuances here. “Another man” is equated with a “stranger,” so that the praise will be genuine and flattery will be excluded. “Your own mouth” is of course identical with “your own lips.”
“Adah and Zilla, hear my voice;
“Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech.
“For I have killed a man for wounding me,
“Even a young man for hurting me.”
Here we find another example of identical synonymous parallelism. “Adah and Zilla” are identified as the wives of Lamech (apparently, polygamy started with Lamech, and it is associated here with murder), and he states that he killed a man (who is then identified as a young man) for wounding or hurting him.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
“Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem.
“… Lowly and riding on a donkey,
“A colt, the foal of a donkey.”
This passage, prophesying events to take place in the life of Jesus, equates “rejoicing greatly” with “shouting,” and “Zion” with “Jerusalem.” Also, the “donkey” is identified with a “colt, the foal of a donkey” (compare John 12:14-15).
“… Come, curse Jacob for me,
And come, denounce Israel!”
“Cursing” equals “denouncing,” and Jacob is equated with Israel.
“He has not observed iniquity in Jacob,
“Nor has He seen wickedness in Israel!”
Again, Jacob is identified with Israel, and iniquity is the same as wickedness.
“For there is no sorcery against Jacob,
“Nor any divination against Israel.”
The same identification of Jacob and Israel is used, but another interesting aspect is emphasized: “Sorcery” is the same as “divination.”
“How lovely are your tents, O Jacob!
“Your dwellings, O Israel!”
Jacob and Israel are equal, and so are “tents” and “dwellings,” reminding us that our abode in this life, even though we should enjoy it, is only temporary.
“I see Him, but not now;
“I behold Him, but not near;
“A Star shall come out of Jacob;
“A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
“And batter the brow of Moab,
“And destroy all the sons of tumult.”
This statement is filled with identical synonymous parallelism. “Seeing” equals “beholding”; “not now” is the same as “not near.” The “Star” is the same as the “Scepter” (describing Jesus Christ, the Morning Star, who will have power and rule over the nations, and it possibly also refers to the star of Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s First Coming); “come out” is the same as “rise”; and “Jacob” is again identified as “Israel” (Jesus Christ was a Jew, descending from Israel through the virgin Mary, a descendant of King David). “Battering” equals “destroying,” and the “brow of Moab” identifies them as “all the sons of tumult.” Jesus Christ will return and make an end to all rebellion against God. When Moses received this prophecy, Christ’s First and Second Comings were not near then, but by now, His First Coming occurred about 2,000 years ago, and His Second coming is now very near.
Let us now look at two examples of “SIMILAR SYNONYMOUS PARALLELISM” — which does not describe totally identical thoughts, but expresses one thought in the first line, which is repeated in the second line, while another thought is being added in the second line.
“Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens;
“Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.”
Both God’s mercy and faithfulness reach the clouds and the heavens; however, mercy and faithfulness are not necessarily identical, but they are related.
“The heavens declare the glory of God;
“And the firmament [expanse of heaven] shows His handiwork.”
The heavens and the firmament declare God’s glory and His handiwork, but God’s glory and His handiwork are not identical. However, they are related, as one can see God’s glory IN His handiwork.
When reviewing the different devices in Hebrew Poetry, we need to understand that they were never used just for the fun of it—Hebrew Poetry in the Bible, although clearly an art form, was never used for art’s sake. Rather, as commentators have pointed out, it was used for teaching, prophesying or worship. The style of Hebrew Poetry was ideally suited for such tasks, since important ideas were repeated in different ways—and in such variety that it was art in the truest sense of the word. The poetry of the Old Testament was never tiresome, but a delight to read and recite, and even in translation, it can give us keys for the understanding of a particular statement, when properly analyzed and perceived.
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new Member Letter has been written, and this is from all of the ministry. We have reports from the US and Germany for the recent observance of the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day. Special note is given to remind us of the tremendous job that is ahead of us in preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God as we look forward to the next year of God’s annual Holy Days. Also, with this letter, copies of our newest booklet, “The Ten European Revivals of the Ancient Roman Empire,” are also being mailed.
“Neu! Jesus: ‘Ich bin Gott der HERR,’” is the title of this week’s new German sermon. The title in English is: “Jesus: ‘I am God the Lord.’” It discusses Jesus’ seven sayings of “I am…” in the gospel of John; His seven miracles in the gospel of John; and His last seven sayings on the cross.
“The Fall of the USA and the Rise of Germany,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
The Bible predicted thousands of years ago that America would fall and Germany would rise just prior to Christ’s return. What we are seeing today is in direct fulfillment of these prophecies. American news articles speak of America’s decline and the end of US democracy; religious leaders speak of America’s sea of immorality; international politicians demand a de-Americanized world; and all major Internet organizations want to free themselves of the influence of the US. At the same time, foreign policy experts speak of German influence in Europe and the world and predict a new Holy Roman Empire under German leadership. All of this has been prophesied in your Bible. But how reliable are biblical prophecies? To be sure, please read our free booklet, “The Authority of the Bible.”
“Gottes Heilige Jahresfeste,” is the title of our most recent German booklet. This is a translation of our English booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days,”
In addition, a German member letter was sent out via email, including a translation of Norbert Link’s Editorial in this week’s Update.
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