Update 640


Who Will Listen?

On May 24, 2014, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “Who Will Listen?”

The live services are available, over video and audio, at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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On Time

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

Do you have a problem with time keeping? If you do, maybe you think it’s not that important or that it’s not top of your “to do” list of those things that you need to improve on. We do have to remember that poor timekeeping can be an irritant to many other people, and we shouldn’t want to cause any offence to anyone unnecessarily.

This is something that I have had to battle with and have failed so many times and so I am speaking from the heart! Years ago, as a senior manager, trying to get a quart into a pint pot was something that I used to try and do so often when I had a very busy schedule of appointments. For example, with a spare five minutes before my next appointment I would often try and squeeze a short telephone call in which usually lasted several minutes thus making me late for my next appointment!

I recall being on a management course and the question of timekeeping and punctuality arose. The lecturer said that we should always start meetings on time even if there were people missing. He said that if we waited until everyone arrived that would send out the wrong signals and would reward the latecomers and penalise those who had played by the rules and had arrived on time. I thought this was an extremely good strategy and have tried to implement this wherever and whenever possible unless there was some extenuating circumstance.

If anyone feels that this is too pedantic, then they may just want to consider that God’s punctuality is perfect. He calls people at exactly the right time. He intervened when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac at exactly the right time. And He will send His Son, Jesus Christ, back to the earth at precisely the right time in order that man will not blow himself off the face of the earth. Christ will return on time.

In just over two weeks, we will be keeping the Feast of Pentecost. We see in Acts 2 that the disciples were there together “in one accord” when the Day of Pentecost came. They were there waiting for the day and were rewarded with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Had they turned up on the wrong day or had been late, they would have missed this event.

Shouldn’t we take these examples and try to emulate them? After all, it would be a courtesy to others too.

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We begin addressing the basically unrealized importance of the ever-growing cooperation between Russia and China, which will be ultimately perceived by Europe to be a threat, as prophesied in Scripture. Among others, we quote especially from one lengthy insightful article in the Huffington Post, which is definitely worth reading. The book of Daniel describes terrible end-time events, following the beginning of developments occurring in front of our very eyes, but sadly, most people are completely indifferent and ignorant as to their true meaning.

At the same time, more and more NATO countries begin to recognize their complete helplessness in regard to Russia’s aggressions, and some propose, as a response, the creation of a strong and unified military Europe—while not realizing that the Bible predicts that such a development will lead to terrible disaster.

Focusing on the Roman Catholic Church and the pope’s visit to Israel, we point out the increasingly important role the Church will be playing on the world scene, while it may even be willing to change some of its traditions to appease the masses of Catholic followers and to attract Protestant and other non-Roman Catholic groups to become again part of their “mother church.”

We conclude with a series of articles on diverse topics, including, but not limited to, California’s wild fires; the mysterious death of 70,000 fish; heavy floods in the Balkans; and the find of the fossils of several huge dinosaurs… the biggest creatures ever unearthed so far, if we can believe the scientists.

All of these articles include some prophetic significance: While there are terrible fires in one part of the world, another part is plagued with devastating floods. We hear more and more about the biblically predicted destruction of marine life; and we are again confronted with the find of huge dinosaurs which confuse adherents to the evolution concept and certain “conservative” Christians who believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old, as all of them reject the record of the Bible.

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Russia’s Cooperation with China at All-Time High

The website of cntv.cn wrote on May 19:

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country’s cooperation with China has reached its all-time best and that the two sides were ready to expand ties in numerous spheres… China is currently Russia’s largest trading partner, with the trade volume between the two countries nearing 90 billion U.S. dollars in 2013. The two countries aim to raise the trade volume to 100 billion dollars in 2015 and to 200 billion dollars in 2020… Moscow and Beijing have also been cooperating closely to reduce trade reliance on the external market, Putin said, adding the two sides were now implementing 40 major projects worth 20 billion dollars…

“Speaking of 2015 when Russia and China will jointly celebrate the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis, Putin said that the two countries are unanimous in opposing attempts to distort the World War II record… ‘Next year, we will organize a series of events to jointly celebrate the 70th anniversary of victory in both bilateral form and within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,’ he said, adding the two sides would focus on engaging the young people into the activities.”

One needs to ask who is distorting the World War II record, when Russia is still celebrating mass-murderer Stalin as one of their war heroes.

The China-Russia Alliance

The Huffington Post wrote on May 19:

“A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass — at the expense of the United States. And no wonder Washington is anxious. That alliance is already a done deal in a variety of ways: through the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Asian counterweight to NATO; inside the G20; and via the 120-member-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

“Trade and commerce are just part of the future bargain. Synergies in the development of new military technologies beckon as well. After Russia’s Star Wars-style, ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense anti-missile system comes online in 2018, Beijing is sure to want a version of it. Meanwhile, Russia is about to sell dozens of state-of-the-art Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters to the Chinese as Beijing and Moscow move to seal an aviation-industrial partnership.

“This week should provide the first real fireworks in the celebration of a new Eurasian century-in-the-making when Russian President Vladimir Putin drops in on Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. You remember ‘Pipelineistan,’ all those crucial oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing Eurasia that make up the true circulatory system for the life of the region. Now, it looks like the ultimate Pipelineistan deal, worth $1 trillion and 10 years in the making, will be inked as well. In it, the giant, state-controlled Russian energy giant Gazprom will agree to supply the giant state-controlled China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) with 3.75 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas a day for no less than 30 years, starting in 2018. That’s the equivalent of a quarter of Russia’s massive gas exports to all of Europe.

“China’s current daily gas demand is around 16 billion cubic feet a day, and imports account for 31.6% of total consumption… If you want to know why no key country in Asia has been willing to ‘isolate’ Russia in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis — and in defiance of the Obama administration — look no further than Pipelineistan…

“And then, talking about anxiety in Washington, there’s the fate of the petrodollar to consider, or rather the ‘thermonuclear’ possibility that Moscow and Beijing will agree on payment for the Gazprom-CNPC deal not in petrodollars but in Chinese yuan. One can hardly imagine a more tectonic shift, with Pipelineistan intersecting with a growing Sino-Russian political-economic-energy partnership. Along with it goes the future possibility of a push, led again by China and Russia, toward a new international reserve currency — actually a basket of currencies — that would supersede the dollar (at least in the optimistic dreams of BRICS members).

“Right after the potentially game-changing Sino-Russian summit comes a BRICS summit in Brazil in July. That’s when a $100 billion BRICS development bank, announced in 2012, will officially be born as a potential alternative to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank as a source of project financing for the developing world. More BRICS cooperation meant to bypass the dollar is reflected in the ‘Gas-o-yuan,’ as in natural gas bought and paid for in Chinese currency. Gazprom is even considering marketing bonds in yuan as part of the financial planning for its expansion. Yuan-backed bonds are already trading in Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and most recently Frankfurt…

“The Russia-China gas deal is inextricably tied up with the energy relationship between the European Union (EU) and Russia. After all, the bulk of Russia’s gross domestic product comes from oil and gas sales, as does much of its leverage in the Ukraine crisis. In turn, Germany depends on Russia for a hefty 30% of its natural gas supplies…

“There’s a consistent rumble in Brussels these days about the possible cancellation of the projected 16 billion euro South Stream pipeline, whose construction is to start in June. On completion, it would pump yet more Russian natural gas to Europe — in this case, underneath the Black Sea (bypassing Ukraine) to Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Greece, Italy, and Austria.

“Bulgaria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have already made it clear that they are firmly opposed to any cancellation. And cancellation is probably not in the cards… Nonetheless, such EU threats, however unrealistic, only serve to accelerate Russia’s increasing symbiosis with Asian markets. For Beijing especially, it’s a win-win situation. After all, between energy supplied across seas policed and controlled by the U.S. Navy and steady, stable land routes out of Siberia, it’s no contest…

“In April, when President Xi Jinping visited the city of Duisburg on the Rhine River, with the largest inland harbor in the world and right in the heartland of Germany’s Ruhr steel industry, he made an audacious proposal: a new ‘economic Silk Road’ should be built between China and Europe, on the basis of the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe railway, which already runs from China to Kazakhstan, then through Russia, Belarus, Poland, and finally Germany. That’s 15 days by train, 20 less than for cargo ships sailing from China’s eastern seaboard. Now that would represent the ultimate geopolitical earthquake in terms of integrating economic growth across Eurasia…

“The Pentagon has its own version of this, directed not so much at Russia as at China, which, its think tank on future warfare claims, is already at war with Washington in a number of ways. So if it’s not apocalypse now, it’s Armageddon tomorrow…

“Russia runs a sizeable trade surplus. Humongous Chinese banks will have no trouble helping Russian banks out if Western funds dry up. In terms of inter-BRICS cooperation, few projects beat a $30 billion oil pipeline in the planning stages that will stretch from Russia to India via Northwest China. Chinese companies are already eagerly discussing the possibility of taking part in the creation of a transport corridor from Russia into Crimea, as well as an airport, shipyard, and liquid natural gas terminal there. And there’s another ‘thermonuclear’ gambit in the making: the birth of a natural gas equivalent to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that would include Russia, Iran, and reportedly disgruntled U.S. ally Qatar.

“The (unstated) BRICS long-term plan involves the creation of an alternative economic system featuring a basket of gold-backed currencies that would bypass the present America-centric global financial system. (No wonder Russia and China are amassing as much gold as they can.) The euro — a sound currency backed by large liquid bond markets and huge gold reserves — would be welcomed in as well.

“It’s no secret in Hong Kong that the Bank of China has been using a parallel SWIFT network to conduct every kind of trade with Tehran, which is under a heavy U.S. sanctions regime. With Washington wielding Visa and Mastercard as weapons in a growing Cold War-style economic campaign against Russia, Moscow is about to implement an alternative payment and credit card system not controlled by Western finance…

“On the other side of the Atlantic, President Obama and his top officials show every sign of becoming entangled in their own pivoting — to Iran, to China, to Russia’s eastern borderlands, and (under the radar) to Africa. The irony of all these military-first maneuvers is that they are actually helping Moscow, Tehran, and Beijing build up their own strategic depth in Eurasia and elsewhere…

“Whatever Washington may want or fear or try to prevent, the facts on the ground suggest that, in the years ahead, Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran will only grow closer, slowly but surely creating a new geopolitical axis in Eurasia…”

An economic and military alliance between China and Russia and other countries, including, apparently, Iran, is prophesied. Current Events show the steady fulfillment of this prophecy, which also predicts the downfall of the USA and the rise of Europe.

Russia and China Sign 30-Year Gas Deal

Deutsche Welle reported on May 21:

“Russia has signed a long-term deal to supply natural gas to China. The agreement comes after more than a decade of negotiations that had repeatedly stalled over the price. Gazprom said on Wednesday that the Russian gas company had inked a long-awaited 30-year contract to supply natural gas to China. Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov confirmed the deal had been signed, but he declined to give any further details. China’s state news agency, Xinhua, described the supply contract as a ‘multi-billion dollar deal.’ The gas deal is a financial and diplomatic boost for Moscow, which has been targeted over the Ukraine crisis.”

The Washington Post added on May 21:

“Announced after meetings between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin at an Asia security conference, the 30-year deal is worth an estimated $400 billion, according to comments in Russian media by Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller… On a symbolic level, the deal also provided China and Russia a chance to reaffirm their strategic alliance against the United States, their shared global rival.

“Putin called it a ‘watershed event’.… ‘This is the largest contract in the history of the gas industry of the former USSR and the Russian Federation,’ he told reporters in Shanghai…”

Prince Charles: “Putin Behaves Just Like Hitler.”

Mail Online wrote on May 21:

“Prince Charles has sensationally likened Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. In a withering verdict on the actions of the Russian president in Ukraine, he told a woman who lost relatives in the Nazi Holocaust: ‘And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler.’

“The prince’s extraordinary intervention is certain to cause international controversy. It is likely to be seen as a criticism of the West for failing to confront Mr Putin over his seizure of Crimea. The annexation was the first by a major power in Europe since 1945. Observers have compared the crisis in Ukraine with Hitler’s takeovers of Czechoslovakia and Poland…

“Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton sparked uproar in Washington recently when she said very much the same as the heir to the throne. Lashing out at Moscow’s plan to issue passports to ethnic Russians in Crimea, she said: ‘Now, if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the 1930s.’”

Europe’s Far Right and Far Left Admire Russia

The New York Times wrote on May 20:

“While the European Union has joined Washington in denouncing Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the chaos stirred by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Europe’s right-wing populists have been gripped by a contrarian fever of enthusiasm for Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin… Pro-Russian sentiment remains largely confined to the fringes of European politics, though Mr. Putin also has more mainstream admirers and allies on both the right and the left, including Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, and Gerhard Schröder, the former German chancellor…

“Even among far-right groups, the sympathy for Russia and suspicion of Washington are in part tactical: Focused on clawing back power from the European Union’s bureaucracy, they seize any cause that puts them at odds with policy makers in Brussels and the conventional wisdom of European elites. But they also reflect a general crumbling of public trust in the beliefs and institutions that have dominated Europe since the end of World War II, including the Continent’s relationship with the United States. ‘Europe is a big sick body,’ said Alain de Benoist, a French philosopher… de Benoist said Russia ‘is now obviously the principal alternative to American hegemony’…

“Some of Russia’s European fans, particularly those with a religious bent, are attracted by Mr. Putin’s image as a muscular foe of homosexuality and decadent Western ways. Others… are motivated more by geopolitical calculations that emphasize Russia’s role as a counterweight to American power… Ms. Le Pen has also expressed admiration for Mr. Putin and called for a strategic alliance with the Kremlin, proposing a ‘pan-European union’ that would include Russia. Something like what this could be leading towards [what] happened in 1939 with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which allowed the USSR and Nazi Germany…

“This convergence has pushed the far right into a curious alignment with the far left. ‘Russia has become the hope of the world against new totalitarianism,’ Mr. Chauprade, the National Front’s top European Parliament candidate for the Paris region, said in a speech to Russia’s Parliament in Moscow last year. Russia offers the prospect of a new European order free of what Mr. Chauprade, in his own speech, described as its servitude to a ‘technocratic elite serving the American and European financial oligarchy’…

“The view that Europe has been cut adrift from its traditional moral moorings gained new traction this month when Conchita Wurst, a bearded Austrian drag queen, won the annual Eurovision Song Contest. Russian officials and the Russian Orthodox Church bemoaned the victory — over, among others, singing Russian twins — as evidence of Europe’s moral disarray. At the National Front’s pre-election rally, Mr. Chauprade mocked the ‘bearded lady’ and won loud applause with a passionate plaint that Europeans had become a rootless mass of ‘consumers disconnected from their natural attachments — the family, the nation and the divine.’”

Interesting developments…

Russia’s Acquisition of Massive Fortunes

The New York Times wrote on May 17:

“When Russia seized Crimea in March, it acquired not just the Crimean landmass but also a maritime zone more than three times its size with the rights to underwater resources potentially worth trillions of dollars.

“Russia portrayed the takeover as reclamation of its rightful territory, drawing no attention to the oil and gas rush that had recently been heating up in the Black Sea. But the move also extended Russia’s maritime boundaries, quietly giving Russia dominion over vast oil and gas reserves while dealing a crippling blow to Ukraine’s hopes for energy independence.

“Russia did so under an international accord that gives nations sovereignty over areas up to 230 miles from their shorelines. It had tried, unsuccessfully, to gain access to energy resources in the same territory in a pact with Ukraine less than two years earlier.”

We are told in Scripture that when the modern Medes (Russia and Ukraine) will invade Europe, they will not care for modern Babylon’s gold (Isaiah 13:17)—apparently, because they will have enough themselves. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Biblical Prophecy—From Now Until Forever.” 

NATO Helpless

Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 19:

“If Russia were to engage in military aggression in the Baltics, NATO would be unable to defend the region using conventional means…

“At its core, the Western defense alliance consists of a promise that the 28 member states make to each other in Article 5 of the NATO treaty: An attack against one or several members is considered as an attack against all. The article states that if the so-called mutual defense clause is applied, each member state, to the best of its ability, must rush to the aid of the NATO partner under attack. Most recently, Turkey considered invoking Article 5 and requesting assistance after several rocket attacks from neighboring Syria in late 2012. Since then, two German batteries of Patriot air defense missiles have been stationed in Turkey as protection.

“So what happens if the Baltic nations invoke Article 5? What if Russia attempts to destabilize the Baltics with threatening military gestures? And what if it violates its borders with Estonia and Latvia?…

“Elmar Brok, a member of Germany’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and a longstanding expert on European Union foreign policy, puts it… directly: ‘When the Baltic countries were accepted into NATO, Russia did not pose a military threat. The alliance complied with the agreement with Russia and did not station any troops east of the Elbe River. But now that Putin’s policy seems to be changing, NATO must come up with a response. At present, the alliance could not protect the Baltic countries with conventional military means.’

“That is the most important sentence, and officials at the German defense and foreign ministries in Berlin agree…”

The Bible predicts that a powerful Europe will emerge and that its leader—the “beast”—will feel threatened by Russia and China and other Far Eastern nations. “But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many” (Daniel 11:44).

Push for Strong European Military Presence

The Telegraph wrote on May 17:

“The European Union must pull closer together and establish a strong military presence, so it can act as a ‘moral anchor’ to the United States, the economist Kenneth Rogoff has warned. Speaking ahead of next week’s European elections, Mr Rogoff, a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, said the EU should strive to become more ‘like a single country’. ‘For the sake of the world we need Europe to integrate, to counterbalance the United States, to be able to step in in geopolitical terms,’ he told The Telegraph.

“‘You can’t just depend on the US to do everything, especially as China rises, as Russia rises.’ He also argued that the EU needed its own military capability, adding: ‘The events in the Ukraine are kind of frightening from that point of view.’… Mr Rogoff, who now teaches economics and public policy at Harvard, added: ‘By becoming more integrated, Europe has more weight in the world, and that is a good thing for everyone.’”

Sadly, Mr. Rogoff, as so many others, seem to have no clue as to what they are talking about. Europe will indeed become a strong military power, but this is most certainly not good for everyone.

The Chinese Spy on Spying America

BBC News wrote on May 19:

“The US has charged five Chinese army officers with hacking into private-sector American companies in a bid for competitive advantage… China denied the charges and warned the case would harm US-China relations… The US acknowledges that it conducts espionage but says unlike China it does not spy on foreign companies and pass what it finds to its own companies… China has already announced the suspension of co-operation with the US on an internet working group. And once it has had time to digest this loss of face, it is likely to consider more serious retaliation…

“In Washington on Monday, Mr Holder said a grand jury had laid hacking charges against the Chinese nationals, the first against ‘known state actors for infiltrating US commercial targets by cyber means’. He identified the alleged victims as Westinghouse Electric, US Steel, Alcoa Inc, Allegheny Technologies, SolarWorld and the US Steelworkers Union… It’s no coincidence that four of the six groups named in the prosecution are in the metal industry, business figures say.”

Reuters reported on May 20:

“China summoned the U.S. ambassador after the United States accused five Chinese military officers of hacking into American companies to steal trade secrets, warning Washington it could take further action, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday… The indictment is likely to further roil relations between China and the United States… China’s Ambassador to the United States… also ‘made solemn representations’ to the State Department on Monday… China’s defense ministry summoned the American military attaché on Tuesday to protest…

“China is the United States’ biggest foreign creditor. As of February, China held $1.27 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds, according to Treasury Department data… The majority of China’s Internet users are now furious because they think the United States has ‘double standards’ on spying…

“Skeptics said U.S. authorities would not be able to arrest those indicted because Beijing would not hand them over. Still, the move would prevent the individuals from traveling to the United States or other countries that have an extradition agreement with the United States…”

When we misbehave towards others, we ought not to be surprised when they misbehave towards us.

Catholic Women Plead with the Pope for Abolition of Mandated Celibacy

The Telegraph wrote on May 18:

“A group of 26 Italian women who claim to be having affairs with Catholic priests have written a joint letter to Pope Francis begging him to end the Catholic Church’s ban on priests having sex and getting married. The women, who met through a Facebook campaign, wrote to the Pope requesting a meeting to put forward their case, claiming they were just ‘a small sample’ of the many partners of priests ‘living in silence’…

“Debate is growing on the merits of ordering priests to abstain from sex and marriage, which is designed to allow nothing [to] interfere with their close relationship with God. Some 6,000 parish priests who have left the priesthood to wed now live in Italy, compared to a total of 33,000 parish priests currently in service.

“Pope Francis has previously supported the tradition of celibacy, but has suggested his position might waiver… He has argued that celibacy is more Church tradition than hard and fast dogma, pointing out that up until 1100, some priests choose it while others did not…

“In one example supporting the anti-celibacy campaigners a prior at a Cistercian abbey near Milan has told how he was advised by his fellow monks to keep an affair he was having under wraps when he revealed he was in love with a woman…”

It is interesting that the pope admits that mandated celibacy for priests is Church tradition and not a “dogma.” In fact, the Bible nowhere commands it.

The Pope’s Anticipated Visit to Israel

The website of thelocal.it wrote on May 18:

“Pope Francis will take part in an unprecedented joint prayer in Jerusalem next weekend with representatives of all the main branches of Christianity in a bid to put aside old rivalries. The ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre — venerated as the place of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection — is seen by the Vatican as the highpoint of the papal visit to the Middle East…

“But there are also pitfalls — as shown by recent protests and anti-Christian vandalism by Jewish religious nationalists over rumours about a deal with the Vatican for the management of holy sites. The Shiite Hezbollah movement has also complained about a planned trip by Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai to Jerusalem to see the pope since Lebanon and Israel are still officially at war…

“In the city [of Jerusalem], [the pope] will meet Patriarch Bartholomew I — a key Orthodox leader who also attended Francis’s inauguration last year — and the two will attend the joint prayer with other Christian clergymen. ‘There has never been a public ecumenical prayer in a central place for the Christian faith,’ Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said at a briefing. ‘It’s a historic event.’ On May 26th, the pope will visit the Temple Mount and meet the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein…”

The Financial Times added on May 18:

“A plan by Pope Francis to celebrate mass in a Jerusalem room believed by Christians to have hosted the Last Supper has brought criticism, controversy and conspiracy theories worthy of a Dan Brown novel. The pope’s first official visit to the Holy Land this month was meant to showcase interfaith tolerance and the improved ties between Israel and the Holy See. But the plan to hold mass in the room, known as the Cenacle, has sparked an ugly disagreement that is threatening to undermine the visit.

“The Cenacle is on the upper floor of a Crusader-era building that is holy to all three monotheistic faiths. Not only was it a mosque in Ottoman times but it is also directly above the site revered by some Orthodox Jews as the burial place of King David.

“This has led to protests from some Jews, who say the planned mass would contravene an agreement in place since the days of the British Mandate under which different faiths have access to the site, but are mostly barred from holding religious rituals there.”

On May 19, Israel National News wrote the following:

“Palestinian Authority (PA) and Arab Christian sources are already celebrating Pope Francis’s visit to Israel starting next Sunday, saying his choice to begin the trip directly in PA-held Bethlehem is meant to ‘recognize Palestine’ and ‘oppose the occupation.’… The claims that his trip will begin in a ‘recognition of Palestine’ comes amid reports from February by Rabbi Sergio Bergman, a member of the Argentinian parliament and close friend of Pope Francis, who said that the pope intends to define himself as the ‘Che Guevera of the Palestinians’ and support their ‘struggle and rights’ during his visit.”

Pope Picks Jordanian Baptism Site

The Washington Post wrote on May 21:

“Christians believe that Jesus was immersed in the waters of the Jordan River by John the Baptist, who wore a cloak of camel’s hair and lived on locusts and honey in the desert wilderness. But the Gospels are not precise about which side of the river the baptism took place on — the east bank or the west. Although it might not matter much to a half-million annual visitors who come to the river for sightseeing or a renewal of faith, it matters very much to tourism officials in Israel and Jordan, who maintain dueling baptism sites, one smack-dab across from the other, with the shallow, narrow, muddy stream serving as international boundary.

“On Saturday, on his first trip to the Holy Land as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis will visit the baptism site at Bethany Beyond the Jordan — on the eastern, or Jordanian, side of the river. Jordanian officials are hoping to capitalize on Francis’s trip and highlight Christian pilgrimage sites across their country to market Jordan as ‘the other Holy Land.’… Francis will be the third pope to visit since 2000, when John Paul II made the first modern papal pilgrimage to the baptism site as part of a jubilee tour, signaling the Vatican’s blessing upon Bethany Beyond the Jordan as the likely site of Jesus’s baptism.

“Yet Jordanian officials grumble that… Bethany languishes in the shadow of Qasr al-Yahud, or the Castle of the Jews, a better-known, more popular and Israeli-marketed site across the river, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The Israeli Tourism Ministry describes Qasr al-Yahud as ‘the traditional spot where the New Testament narrative of the baptism of Jesus took place.’

“Saar Kfir, the manager of the site for the Israeli parks agency, believes it more likely that Jesus was baptized on the west bank, as he arrived here from Nazareth…

“The Israeli site may be more popular because entry is free and it’s an hour’s drive from Jerusalem or Bethlehem. Going to Jordan requires some travelers — including Americans — to obtain a visa… Also, unrest in the region, especially in Syria, continues to discourage Western tour operators from venturing to Jordan…

“In addition to the baptism role of the Jordan River, tradition says this is where the Jews crossed into the Land of Israel and where the prophet Elijah ascended to heaven. Sleuths searching for the baptism site who favor Jordan point to pilgrim diaries dating to the early church, Roman road markers and a 6th-century mosaic map on the floor of St. George’s Orthodox Church in Madaba, Jordan.

“Jordanian archaeologists say the definitive evidence linking Bethany to Jesus’s baptism came in the form of a 4th-century monastery devoted to Elijah, which may have been commissioned by Helena, mother to Roman emperor Constantine, to mark the site of the baptism… ‘We have over 36 sacred Christian sites and 2,000 years of pilgrimages as our credentials,’ says Nidal Qatamin, Jordan’s tourism minister, pointing to Mount Nebo, the summit where Moses is said to have gazed upon the promised land, and Machaerus, the castle where John the Baptist is said to have lost his head to an angry King Herod.

“Through the efforts of King Abdullah II, Jordan is awarding free plots of land along the river to Christian denominations to encourage the country’s budding pilgrimage industry. This year saw the completion of a cavernous Russian Orthodox guesthouse and a Lutheran church and pilgrimage center, adding to the Coptic, Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox churches already there. A centerpiece will be a Catholic church set to be one of the largest in the region when it opens in 2016…”

Pope Faces Serious Health Issues

Newsmax reported on May 22:

“As Pope Francis begins a trip to the Holy Land on Saturday with a rigorous schedule that could be challenging even for the healthiest person, Vatican insiders are raising questions about the pontiff’s health. Some in the Holy See are beginning to openly discuss concerns about Francis’ condition… Less than two years into his papacy, the 77-year-old Pope has been on a remarkable whirlwind of activity that a man half his age might find difficult to keep up with. But close observers are noting that the Pope’s physical body may be failing to keep up with his youthful energy and vigor, especially considering he only has one fully functioning lung…

“Some close to the Pope have said they notice he has difficulty breathing, and during the 14 months of his papacy has gained a significant amount of weight, perhaps as much as 20 pounds. ‘It’s a very serious condition,’ Dr. Peter Hibberd told Newsmax in discussing the Pope’s single lung. ‘If you are 20 years old and have one lung, you wouldn’t notice it because all humans have a large reserve capacity in their lungs,’ said Hibberd, a 30-year hospital and emergency medicine specialist who writes for Newsmaxhealth.com.

“Hibberd noted that as they age, people ‘lose lung function,’ which in turn makes the extra or ‘reserve’ capacity of the lung more critical in keeping the blood well oxygenated while allowing the body to exchange gases. ‘His repeated fatigue reports and weight gain suggest he may be slipping into a form of chronic heart failure common among victims of significant lung disorders such as COPD,’ Hibberd suggested… He noted that patients with chronic lung conditions require an inhaler and nighttime oxygen to breath comfortably.”

Israel Strives for Less Dependency on Europe

The Jerusalem Post wrote on May 18:

“The [Israeli] government on Sunday approved a three-year NIS 50 million plan to strengthen its economic ties with at least five Latin American countries, meant to help Israel decrease its dependency on Europe as the primary trading partner. The plan focuses on Costa Rica and the four countries that make up the Pacific Alliance – Columbia, Mexico, Chile and Peru…

“‘We are making a very concentrated and focused effort to vary our markets, from our previous dependence on the European market, to the growing Asian and Latin American markets, in which Israel needs to take a small market share and bring about growth, employment and social welfare in the State of Israel,’ Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.”

Military Takeover in Thailand

The Washington Post wrote on May 22:

“On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry released a sternly worded statement on Thailand’s military takeover, explicitly labeling it a coup. Here’s how it began: ‘I am disappointed by the decision of the Thai military to suspend the constitution and take control of the government after a long period of political turmoil, and there is no justification for this military coup.’

“That’s a remarkable contrast to the considerable lengths Kerry went to avoid describing last year’s military takeover in Egypt as a coup. Remember the comments he made… shortly after it happened? ‘The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descendance into chaos, into violence. And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgment so, so far. To run the country, there’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy.’

“The Obama administration ultimately side-stepped the decision on whether Egypt was a coup or not entirely. There seems to be a disconnect there, and it clearly wasn’t lost on reporters at Thursday’s State Department briefing

“So what exactly is different about Thailand and Egypt? According to Jay Ulfelder, an American political scientist who focuses on political instability, not as much as the State Department hopes… ‘Under all the major definitions used by political scientists, both today’s events in Thailand and last summer’s events in Cairo qualify as successful coups. So based on the facts alone, there’s no coherent way to conclude that the two cases wind up in different categories.’…

“There’s another big factor here of course: Foreign aid. Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act says that the U.S. is required to suspend foreign aid to nations that undergo a military coup, though the language of that law leaves it open to interpretation. Thailand is a major non-NATO ally for the U.S., but receives nowhere near the $1.5 billion in foreign aid that Egypt does…”

Questionable Egyptian “Justice”

Deutsche Welle reported on May 21:

“Egypt’s deposed president, Hosni Mubarak, has been convicted on corruption charges by a Cairo court, being sentenced to three years in prison. His two sons have also been found guilty on the same charges… They were all accused of embezzling more than 100 million Egyptian pounds (around 10 million euros) earmarked for the maintenance of presidential palaces. Instead, the money was spent on upgrading the family’s private residences…

“Mubarak had been under house arrest at a military hospital since August pending retrial in a case of complicity in the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that ended his rule. It was not immediately clear if the three years Mubarak and his sons had already spent in jail would count toward this latest sentence and, if not, whether Egypt’s former president would return to hospital or be sent to prison.”

Ridiculous Texas “Justice”

Breitbart reported on May 20:

“On Thursday 19-year-old Jacob Lavoro made his first court appearance for allegedly making and selling pot brownies… Lavoro is being charged with a first degree felony, which in Texas is a, ‘Crime which results in severe body harm to a victim and possibly death.’

“If convicted, the punishment for a first degree felony according to the Texas penal code is a, ‘Jail term of no less than five years, and no more than 99.’ According to Sullo & Sullo LLP, in Texas, other crimes that carry a first degree felony charge are, aggravated sexual assault, solicitation of capital murder, and trafficking of children under the age of fourteen.

“It is unclear whether anyone was harmed by eating the brownies. However, the Huffington Post reports that [there] are no known instances of a marijuana related death. Additionally, a smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times the amount of THC found in a joint in order to risk death.

“KHON 2 reports the brownies were made with hash oil, a concentrated form of cannabis that can be used for cooking. While the alleged amount of THC used to make the brownies was well within a misdemeanor level, the state allows prosecution to count the weight of all the other ingredients including sugar, butter, and cocoa to determine the weight of the drug. By this logic, beer could be considered 100% alcoholic if hops and barley were counted as alcohol in the measurement.

“Lavoro’s attorney, Jack Holmes, a former police officer with 22 years of legal experience, told KHON 2 reporters, ‘I was outraged…I’ve never seen anything like this before.’ The report adds that the 19 year old defendant has a clean record, and that both Lavoro and his attorney are, ‘Prepared to fight.’”

55 Percent of Americans in Favor of Gay Marriage

The Washington Times wrote on May 21:

“Support for gay marriage is hitting record-level highs, with fully 55 percent of Americans saying it’s quite OK for homosexuals to trade government-sanctioned wedding vows. The Gallup poll said the… level of approval is… the highest since the question was first posed, back in 1996.

“Those in the under-30 crowd were the most likely to support the same-sex unions, with 78 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 saying they’re on board. And 42 percent of those age 65 and older support gay marriage, too. Back in 1996, the figures were switched: 68 percent opposed gay marriage…

“The South, however, still stands somewhat steadfast in its opposition to gay marriage. That’s where “traditional marriage advocates still hold a majority of support,” Gallup found…”

Californians Ought to Prepare for One of Its Worst Wildfire Seasons

ABC News reported on May 18:

“All evacuation orders were lifted Sunday as firefighters gained the upper hand on the remaining four of nearly a dozen blazes that tore through Southern California last week — while the governor warned the state was gearing up for what could be one of the drought-stricken region’s worst wildfire seasons…

“Unusually high temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds set conditions last week for the string of wildfires that broke out in San Diego County, causing more than $20 million in damage… The first blaze started Tuesday and was caused by a spark from construction equipment, according to state officials. It could take months to get to the bottom of the most damaging fires.”


70,000 Fish Turn Up Dead

The Website of nbclosangeles.com reported on May 19:

“Authorities are trying to determine what caused tens of thousands of fish to turn up dead in the waters off Marina del Rey over the weekend… The first report came in just after 9 p.m. Saturday at the A-Basin in the 13000 block of Tahiti Way, officials said. When Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrived, they discovered an estimated 70,000 dead anchovies floating in the water, along with other sea life, including sting rays and angel sharks… On Sunday afternoon, workers hauled away about 175 garbage bags worth of fish, weighing an estimated 7,000 pounds.”

Hosea 4:3 comes to mind: “… Even the fish of the sea will be taken away.”

Honesty to Be Admired

The Local reported on May 21:

“A 66-year-old man has been praised by police after he found €18,000 on the street and handed it in. The man came across the cash in a bag on a street in Stuttgart (Germany) on Monday at 12.15pm and headed straight to the police station with it. Later on that day a 33-year-old tradesman phoned to say he had lost €18,000. He had left the bag with the money inside on the roof of his car and drove off without realizing he had lost the cash. Police described the 66-year-old man as an ‘honest finder.’”

Severe Balkans Floods

Deutsche Welle reported on May 19:

“Flooding and landslides are the major problems being tackled by rescue teams and volunteers as the Balkans struggle with the consequences of the worst flooding in southwestern Europe in more than a century… Russian cargo planes carrying boats, generators and food joined rescue teams from around Europe and thousands of local volunteers in evacuating people and building flood defenses after the River Sava, swollen by days of torrential rain, burst its banks…

“In Bosnia, there are growing concerns over the possible outbreak of disease as temperatures rise. There is a lack of drinking water and electricity, water is polluted and dead animals lie on flooded land… infectious diseases such as enterocolitis, typhus, and hepatitis were the major threats in stricken areas. The towns of Doboj and Samac were particularly badly flooded. Access to some areas can only be made by air as landslides and sinkholes have closed dozens of roads in Bosnia.”

The EUObserver added on May 20:

“A dozen EU countries have sent equipment to Bosnia and Serbia to help them deal with ‘the incredible force of nature’ of springtime floods… The member states offering assistance include: Austria; Belgium; Bulgaria; the Czech Republic; Croatia; France; Germany; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Slovenia; and the UK. The US and Russia have also sent help… Heavy rainfall in the region began on 13 May, with the two Balkan states formally filing for EU assistance four days later.

“The flooding has affected 1 million people in Bosnia and 300,000 in Serbia, with some 500,000 evacuated from their homes and at least 47 killed. In Serbia, the water also threatens to damage the country’s biggest power plant, the Nikola Tesla complex near Belgrade. Bosnia is said to have about 120,000 unexploded landmines in more than 9,400 sites dating from its 1992 to 1995 war. Many of them were buried near river banks and have already killed some 600 people and wounded 1,110 in accidents over the past 20 years. ‘Water and landslides have possibly moved some mines and taken away mine warning signs … [people] must be extremely cautious when they start cleaning their houses, land, or gardens as the remaining mud could hide mines and other explosive devices brought by rivers,’ Sasa Obradovic, from Bosnia’s Mine Action Centre told AFP.”

Divine Punishment?

The Telegraph wrote on May 23:

“… several church leaders have now claimed the recent devastating flooding across the Balkans, which was the worst in a century and left over 50 people dead, was ‘divine punishment’ for [bearded transvestite] Conchita [Wurst’s] victory [at the Eurovision 2014]. ‘This [flood] is not a coincidence, but a warning,’ Patriarch Amfilohije of Montenegro said… ‘God sent the rains as a reminder that people should not join the wild side.’

“Patriarch Irinej, the spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Serbs, reportedly said the floods were ‘divine punishment for their vices’ and that ‘God is thus washing Serbia of its sins’. The Russian Orthodox Church has previously described Conchita as an ‘abomination’ and that his victory was ‘one more step in the rejection of the Christian identity of European culture’”.

Huge Dinosaur Found

CNN wrote on May 19:

“They may be the biggest boys on any block — any block, ever. In fact, the dinosaurs unveiled Saturday by Argentina’s Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio may be the largest to grace the Earth. At about 130 feet (40 meters) long and 180,000 pounds (80,000 kilograms), it’s no wonder, then, that these colossal creatures are dubbed titanosaurs — titan being a nod to the giants of ancient Greek mythology. ‘It’s like two trucks with a trailer each, one in front of the other, and the weight of 14 elephants together,’ said Jose Luis Carballido, a dinosaur specialist at the Argentinian museum who played a big part in the discovery…

“These herbivores dated back to about 95 million years ago, in the late Mesozoic Era. In 2011, scientists exploring a remote swath of Argentina’s Patagonia some 160 miles (260 kilometers) from the city of Trelew came across a site with 200 fossils — a find that the museum characterized as ‘a dinosaur cemetery.’…

“According to a news release from the museum… experts were able to piece together seven specimens of titanosaurs out of this. The belief is that they died together there, perhaps from dehydration or being stuck in the mud.”

The German magazine Focus added on May 18 on its website that the remains had to be covered very quickly to be preserved, for instance through “a Flood.” According to the Bible, God created dinosaurs long before He created man. Through the rebellion of Satan, the earth became void and empty, and all living things on earth died—including the dinosaurs. After the destruction of the pre-Adamic world, when the earth was covered by water, God restored and renewed the surface of the earth and created man and “modern” animals and plants. Noah’s flood occurred much later. Please read our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution—a Fairy Tale for Adults.” 

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Should Christians use symbols which are used by pagans?

Some feel that because pagans might use certain symbols, Christians are prohibited from using them. This, however, is an erroneous conclusion. For instance, some wonder whether true Christians ought to use the symbol of the heart.

In this regard, the following correct answer was given by the Letter Answering Department of the Worldwide Church of God, shortly after the death of its human leader, Herbert W. Armstrong:

“You asked whether there is any biblical prohibition against using the symbol of the heart, since it is often associated with the pagan observance of Valentine’s Day. We should remember that it is God who made the heart. Reference is made to it many times in the Bible. God uses this organ as a SYMBOL of our attitude and thoughts, for example.

“The pagans merely adopted a stylized drawing of a heart as a symbol in their worship, as for Valentine’s Day. In fact, a number of other objects in God’s creation have been treated in a similar manner. But, the misuse of an object by this or that group, even if the people are atheistic, should not prohibit a Christian from putting it to a proper use. Based on this principle, it is not wrong to use the heart shape in jewelry, pillows, or other items.”

The article warns against using it if our conscience prohibits it (compare Romans 14:23). At the same time, we must not try to convince others of “our” individual conscience and persuade them not to engage in a certain course of action which is not prohibited in Scripture. For instance, some are vegetarians or refuse to drink alcohol, even though the Bible clearly shows that it is right and proper to eat clean meat and to consume alcohol in moderation. A vegetarian or someone who rejects alcohol must NEVER try to persuade others to become vegetarians or to refuse alcoholic consumption. (Of course, someone who refuses to drink alcohol would exclude himself from proper observance of the annual Passover service and his partaking of the symbols of bread and wine).

The above-quoted comments regarding the symbol of the heart apply to many additional symbols and courses of conduct. For instance, only because “nominal” Christians and even pagans decorate fir trees around Christmas time would not compel a true Christian to cut down his fir trees in his yard. If a Christian has decorating lights in his back yard all year long, he is not compelled to take them down just because nominal Christians and pagans use them around Christmas time. A Christian is not prohibited from buying and eating eggs around Easter time only because nominal Christians and pagans eat eggs around that time of year. The same is true for so-called Christmas pastry. Of course, it should never be eaten AS Christmas pastry, associated with Christmas celebrations, but the pastry itself is not wrong (neither are eggs around Easter time). Paul explains the underlying principle that for us, there are no idols, so we can eat clean meat that was offered to idols, as long as our conscience does not condemn us for this (1 Corinthians 10:25-28).

There are certain neutral or even meaningful signs which we might use in a positive way. For instance, there is one gesture or symbol which is used in sign language, meaning, I love you. However, some Satanic groups might have misappropriated that gesture or a similar sign for their own devilish purposes. The fact that they do so does not prevent a Christian from using it for the right reasons. The same is true for other signs, meaning victory or peace.

Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was at one time reluctant to use the word “gospel,” as so many “Christian” groups had misappropriated the word to give it their ungodly and unbiblical spin. But Mr. Armstrong rightly concluded and decided that it was good and proper to use this word, as the Bible uses it, and we must not be concerned about our use of it, even though others are misapplying it.

Some have raised the idea that the Star of David, in the form of a hexagram (the compound of two equilateral triangles) is of Satanic origin. But even though pagans might have misappropriated a hexagram for their own sinister purposes, this does not mean that godly people cannot use it, and that the national symbol of the state of Israel is of Satanic origin.

The website http://www.scoutingresources.org.uk/countries/countries_flags.html states the following regarding the flag of Israel, which incorporates the Star of David:

“Religious symbols make up the flag of the modern State of Israel. The Star of David, its center piece, both leads back to Jewry’s glorious past and points to a Messianic future…”

Others add that the six points refer to the six days of creation, with the Sabbath being represented in the middle. Others claim that it represents the relationship between God and man—the three upward points represent the fact that we look to God for help, and the three downward points show that God is giving us His help.

The website http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/2805 adds that the ”hexagram” has been discovered in the nation of Judah at least as early as during the time of the Second Temple.

Mr. Armstrong did not consider the Star of David as a symbol which should be avoided. When he met with Jewish representatives regarding planned excavations in Israel, he explained, by wearing and showing his Star of David cufflinks, that he was related to King David.

The same conclusion must be reached about the use of other star-shaped symbols, including a pentagram (a five-pointed star). The Wikipedia Encyclopedia states the following:

“The pentagram was used in ancient times as a Christian symbol… By the mid-19th century a… distinction had developed amongst occultists regarding the pentagram’s orientation. With a single point upwards it depicted spirit presiding over the four elements of matter, and was essentially ‘good’. However, the influential writer Eliphas Levi called it evil whenever the symbol appeared the other way up. ‘A reversed pentagram, with two points projecting upwards, is a symbol of evil and attracts sinister forces because it overturns the proper order of things and demonstrates the triumph of matter over spirit…’”

As we should be able to see, the fact that pagans and occultists attach a particular meaning and human interpretation to certain pre-existing symbols should not compel a Christian to refrain from using these symbols. Otherwise, Christians will soon be prevented from using ANY symbols and signs, because pagans and occultists will undoubtedly misappropriate in time EVERY symbol in existence.

When referring to the pentagram, we should realize that that particular symbol of a star has been used throughout history, including for proper purposes. The website http://www.scoutingresources.org.uk/countries/countries_flags.html states the following about the American flag, which depicts stars in the shape of pentagrams:

“George Washington explained the flag’s features to the people in stirring words. He said: ‘We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing liberty.’… Several theories have been brought forward as to the origin of the stars… The story is told that in June, 1776, George Washington with two other men called on Betsy Ross, a widowed seamstress renowned for her needlework, at her upholstery shop in Philadelphia. They showed her a rough draft of the suggested flag and inquired whether she could make one. Betsy convinced her callers that it was advisable to use five-pointed stars instead of the proposed six-pointers because these could easily be made by a single clip of the scissors…

“Washington is said to have suggested that the stars should be arranged in a circle, to emphasize the full equality of the states. Actually, there was no definite rule about the arrangement of the stars at first. Earliest samples show a circle of 12 stars, with the 13th occupying the center… Originally it was intended to add a new stripe and star for each state joining the initial 13. By 1818, their number had grown to 20, and it became obvious that the method adopted was impractical. Consequently, Congress resolved to revert to the original 13 stripes, but to indicate the admission of new states by adding a star for each. That procedure has been followed ever since.”

One would be hard-pressed to conclude that Washington and others, who devised the American flag, did so with the desire of using Satanic symbols and with the ultimate ulterior motive of worshipping Satanic forces.

We must realize that God created and maintains or upholds the universe—including the stars and their constellations (Genesis 1:16; Psalm 136:9; 147:4). He used stars as symbols for Joseph’s brothers; for the entire nation of Israel; and also for angels (Genesis 37:9-10; Deuteronomy 10:22; Job 38:4-7; Revelation 1:16-20; 12:1). Both the symbol of the heart and the numerous symbols of stars have been designed to represent what God has created. That Satan and pagans may misuse them (compare Amos 5:26; Acts 7:43), and that fallen angels are also described as stars (Revelation 12:4), does not compel a Christian to avoid using the symbol of a star.

We might also note that the five-shaped star is represented in God’s nature as well, in the world of animals and plants. Therefore, we cannot conclude that the symbol of a five-shaped star is evil per se.

Some may say that Christians should then also be free to use the sign of the cross. However, a fundamental difference exists. Pagans created and used the sign of the cross in their worship ceremonies before it ever played a role in Jewish or Christian thought. In fact, Christ was apparently not even nailed to a cross, but to a stake. There is no example that Christians ever used a cross, even as a symbol, until the time of the pagan emperor Constantine who claimed to have seen a vision of a cross prior to a decisive battle. In any event, even allowing for the idea that Christ died on a T-shaped cross, why would anyone with spiritual understanding use this symbol of murder and death for the purpose of decoration or worship?

But to repeat, the fact that PROPER symbols are misappropriated by pagans and applied to non-godly concepts does not prohibit a Christian from using them for right reasons. For instance, Christ is clearly symbolized as a lion (Revelation 5:5), but so is Satan (1 Peter 5:8). Still, a Christian is free, of course, to use the symbol of a lion. The old seal of the Worldwide Church of God portrayed a lion, a lamb and a little child.

We should also realize that we are told in Numbers 2:2 that God ordered the tribes of Israel to use banners or standards, as well as emblems, to identify each tribe. Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says:

“…what they were is not easy to say … [the] ancients were used to say, that there was in the standard of Reuben the form of a man, on account of the mandrakes, Genesis 30:14; and in the standard of Judah the form of a lion, because Jacob compared him to one, Genesis 49:9; and in the standard of Ephraim the form of an ox, from the sense of those words, the firstling of his bullock, Deuteronomy 33:17…”

The Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary adds:

“Jewish writers say that the standards of the Hebrew tribes were symbols borrowed from the prophetic blessing of Jacob—Judah’s being a lion, Benjamin’s a wolf…” [Genesis 49:3-24].

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible writes:

“Tradition appropriates the four cherubic forms (Ezekiel 1:5-12; Revelation 4:7 ff), the lion, man, ox, and eagle, to the camps of Judah, Reuben, Ephraim, and Dan respectively; and this, as to the first, has a certain support from Genesis 49:9 (compare Revelation 5:5), and as to the third, from Deuteronomy 33:17…”.

Some have suggested that the emblem of Joseph or Ephraim in particular was that of a unicorn (Deuteronomy 33:17 in the Authorized Version); and that Dan’s emblem was that of a serpent or a snake (compare Genesis 49:17).

Whatever they were, it is clear that God did not prohibit the Israelites from using banners and standards with pictures of men and animals. The fact that pagans might have misappropriated the same or similar pictures for their own false worship did not prohibit ancient Israel from using them for a right and proper purpose. The same principle applies for us today.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Here is a run-down on the most popular StandingWatch programs (the recent SW program on “Ukraine in Prophecy” has been viewed in excess of 9,000):

“When Will Russia Attack Israel” has by now topped 146,000; followed by “How Germans Really Feel” (45,000); “Germany Is Back–Why Now?” (37,000); “Coming–The Great Depression” (almost 36,000); “New Great Depression In 2012?” (almost 36,000); “Is The Fourth Reich Coming?” (34,000); “When Will Israel Attack Iran?” (25,000); “Food Shortage In The USA” (23,000); “666–Number Of The Beast’s Name” (20,000); “Why Atheists Are Wrong” (almost 19,000); and so on.

Additional popular programs include the one on “A Singular Nuclear Bomb Could Destroy America” (13,000); “WHY Is Christ’s Return Near?”(over 10,000) and “Germany’s Trier Much Older Than Rome?” (almost 11,000); also, the one on “The Bible and the Mahdi” (almost 8,000)–followed by programs in the 7,000 range, 6,000 range, 5,000 range, etc.

“Let’s Count Our Blessings in the USA!,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Even though we are committed to warn our nation of impending disaster, if we don’t change our ways, we need to be thankful for the freedom we still have in the USA. This program gives you some stirring eyewitness examples of attacks on individual liberties in Germany and Europe, serving as a warning that we, as a nation, do not fall into the same trap. At the same time, we are rectifying a common error about Europe’s unification, which some hold because of a misunderstanding of biblical prophecies. We are offering our free booklet, “The Ten European Revivals of the Ancient Roman Empire.”

“Wie Weise Sind Sie Wirklich?,” is the title of this week’s German sermon–title in English: “How Wise Are You Really?”

“Christ’s Parables in the Book of Luke,” presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:

Less than two months ago, we discussed many of the parables in the Book of Matthew. In this sermon, we will address those parables in the book of Luke, which are not addressed in the book of Matthew. They include, among many others, the parable of the good Samaritan; the rich fool; the great supper; the lost son, the unjust steward; the Pharisee and the tax collector; the minas; and of course the mostly misunderstood parable of Lazarus and the rich man.

We have also posted a recent sermon by Pastor Brian Gale (United Kingdom), given during his recent visit to the U.S. The title is “No Hiding Place.” 

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by Shana Rank

On a recent adventure with my youngest son, while we were looking for special rocks and beads at a local craft store, we had an interesting encounter. We slowly moved around two aisles for almost half an hour, looking and thinking, when one of the employees—a young man, determined to engage my son in conversation—asked him a handful of questions, hoping to help my son make a decision on a purchase. All I could think to myself was how patient this employee was.

Rushed by the fact that we needed to leave in order to pick up my older son from school, I gave a final “warning” to my son—with a calculated eye, he found a strand of glass beads shaped like stars. We hurried over to the register, only to be stopped by the young man who had just been helping us. The employee pulled out a handful of dollars and asked my son if he would like to add the sum to his own allowance to help pay for the beads. My son shyly said “thank you,” and the employee scooted off. I was humbled at that moment and couldn’t help but smile. What a great act of unsolicited kindness!

I really enjoy these types of experiences, when I am struck by character qualities (in this case kindness) that people are capable of. These are the same character qualities that I should exemplify!

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How This Work is Financed

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

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

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

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

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

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

©2024 Church of the Eternal God