Update 665


A New Creation

On December 6, 2014, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “A New Creation.”

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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Changing Locations?

by Norbert Link

In my previous Editorial, “Are We Easy Targets?,” which was published in Update #662, I made the following observation: “Thinking that we can solve or ignore our personal problems by just changing church organizations (even within the Body of Christ) is also useless and futile, because our problems will accompany us, no matter where we go. Unless we are willing to focus on, face and overcome OUR problems—not the problems of others—we are and will continue to be easy targets of Satan’s craftiness and deception.”

In this Editorial, I’d like to say a few more things about this common mistake. Far too many think that they can escape reality and live in an illusionary dream world by just changing locations.  But we do not meet our God-given responsibilities by just changing our jobs, leaving our employers, moving to another town or turning our backs on our Church congregation, while avoiding to deal with our own personal problems. This will never work, “because our problems will accompany us, no matter where we go.” When God led Israel out of Egyptian slavery, “Egypt” went with them; their hearts never left it.

Of course, if a job requires of us to break God’s law, or if a Church organization begins to water down or change God’s truth, then it is time to flee (Revelation 18:4). But to run away strictly for personal reasons, because we do not want to deal with our personal challenges, is never a solution. In fact, it is sinful conduct because God commands us to face and overcome our problems, where we are. Trying to flee from our problems by changing locations is, in fact, attempting to flee from God, who wants us to confront our challenges head on—and it is futile and foolish to think that we can flee from God’s presence (Psalm 139:7). Jonah was unwilling to fulfil his mission. He thought he could “flee… from the presence of the LORD” (Jonah 1:3). But God saw to it that Jonah became obedient—even though it was a long, laborious and thorny path.

Proverbs 27:8 tells us: “Like a bird that wanders from its nest Is a man who wanders from his place.” Trying to escape our God-given responsibilities by just changing our status quo is tantamount to wandering “from the way of understanding” and resting “in the assembly of the dead” (Proverbs 21:16). It is the “foolishness of man” that “twists his way” (Proverbs 19:3). A person who “isolates himself” for improper reasons from his co-employees or Church brethren reveals a lack of love and shows that he only “seeks his own desire” (Proverbs 18:1).

It did not happen because of time and chance that we found ourselves in a particular Church organization. Rather, God placed us there. If we truly believe that God works in our lives, then we will not flee when we are facing problems. Isaiah 28:16 says: “He who believes need never run away again” (Living Bible). It is the uncommitted “hireling” who does not care for others and who flees when he is confronted with challenges (John 10:12-13). Rather than fleeing from our responsibilities, we are to submit to God and resist the devil, and it is Satan who must flee from us (James 4:7).

It may be tempting to just change Church organizations if we do not like “something,” because we might think that all teach the same thing, and that it really does not matter where we attend, and we might justify our conduct by rationalizing that we will still remain to be part of the Body of Christ. But if Church group and minister “shopping” are being done to escape our God-given responsibilities, then we commit a terrible and tragic mistake and even a grave sin, which might cost us our eternal life. To leave a Church organization within the Body of Christ and “join” another one, which may also be in the Body of Christ, constitutes sinful conduct, if it is being done for unbiblical reasons.

A person who has been validly disfellowshipped by a minister of God within the spiritual Body of Christ is never “free”, in God’s eyes, to just join another Church organization within the Body of Christ, as long as the reasons for the disfellowshipment continue to exist. To do so would heap sin upon sin, and it does not matter whether the other Church organization, for whatever reason, would grant access to their fellowship. At the same time, it is also sinful conduct for anyone, including relatives and friends, to leave their Church organization because of a falsely-perceived “loyalty” for the disfellowshipped person, and to follow the disfellowshipped person into another Church organization—even within the Body of Christ—because such conduct would not be justified in the eyes of God. To do so would show a wrong kind of “sympathy” for the disfellowshipped person, and it would be SIN against God as it would manifest rebellion against God’s Church government and a lack of love for God, while loving a human being more than Christ. If we did this, we would not be worthy of Christ (Matthew 10:37-39).

At this point, I’d like to bring to your attention a previously unpublished article by Herbert W. Armstrong, the late human leader of the Worldwide Church of God, who died in 1986. Mr. Armstrong wrote an article in the early 1980’s, titled, “Clarifying Church Doctrine on Disfellowshipping.” Here is what he said:

“God’s own Biblical teaching for His Church is the necessity of harmony and unity in Christ. In I Corinthians 1:10, all in the Church are commanded to speak the same thing—unity in clear Biblical teaching. God’s Word teaches that God’s Law is LOVE to all—first, love to God, then also love toward fellow human. God’s Law is love toward all. But also God teaches a special fellowship love toward brethren in Christ. In I John 1, we have that special close fellowship not only with one another, but also with God and with Christ. Jesus said of Church brethren, ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another.’

“When one deliberately breaks that unity and causes division among brethren, or causes it by deliberate and continuing sin, God commands, ‘Mark those that cause division among you, and avoid them’ (Romans 16:17). The word ‘mark’ is from the Greek ‘skopeo’ meaning ‘look at, consider, take note of.’ The same word ‘mark’ from the same Greek word, in Philippians 3:17, says ‘mark them which walk so as you have us for an example,’ speaking favorably of such a person. ‘Mark’ certainly does not mean ‘brand,’ or ‘stigmatize,’ or ‘condemn,’ but ‘take note of, avoid them.’ This does not violate God’s command to have the attitude of love toward all people. We still have love for those disfellowshipped. But it does mean avoid contact—avoid fellowship—especially avoid contact. Jesus taught us to LOVE even our enemies and those who despitefully use us. To avoid a disfellowshipped one does not mean hold malice toward. It does not mean injure, fight against, or defame. It simply means avoid fellowship or even personal contact. It does not accuse, any more than we accuse, brand, or fight against any or all outside the Church.

“The Church are those ‘called out’ from the world. We do not fight against the world, but merely withdraw from whatever ways in which it lives contrary to God’s way of life defined by His Law. We remain friendly toward those of the world, but do not have close friendship or fellowship with them. But we still do love disfellowshipped former members.”

We ought to take these words to heart. We have to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We must never give in to the thought that we may know it better than God. We are told exactly what we must do. Rather than trying to escape our responsibility by changing locations, we must choose to follow God’s directive, no matter where we are.

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We are reporting on developments in the UK and the US; address the Pope’s trip to Turkey and his desires for “unity”; quote from an article about Europe’s new President of the EU Council; cite little-known excerpts from a lengthy article about Angela Merkel, the ruler of the EU, and Germany’s role in Europe; and conclude with developments in Egypt and Israel and an article about the rise of the occult.

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Nothing Ruled Out

BBC News wrote on November 28:

“David Cameron has urged other EU leaders to support his ‘reasonable’ proposals for far-reaching curbs on welfare benefits for migrants… Under his plans, migrants would have to wait four years for certain benefits…

“Mr Cameron said he was confident he could change the basis of EU migration into the UK and therefore campaign for the UK to stay in the EU in a future referendum planned for 2017. But he warned that if the UK’s demands fell on ‘deaf ears’ he would ‘rule nothing out’ – the strongest hint to date he could countenance the UK leaving the EU.”

The Guardian wrote on November 28:

“David Cameron has stepped back from a radical plan to cap directly the number of EU migrants entering Britain after an intervention from the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who warned him she would not tolerate such an incursion into the principle of the free movement of workers… In a speech that repeatedly emphasised the benefits of UK membership of the EU, Cameron nevertheless tried also to emphasise his determination to secure his negotiating goal saying: ‘I don’t want to fail, I don’t believe I am going to fail. But to put it beyond doubt I am saying today that if I do fail, I rule absolutely nothing out, and I mean nothing’.

“The German news magazine Der Spiegel called Cameron’s speech blackmail.”

Slavery in Great Britain

The Telegraph wrote on November 29:

“As many as 13,000 people in Britain are being held in conditions of slavery… They include women forced into prostitution, domestic staff and workers in fields, factories and fishing boats… Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said the scale of abuse was ‘shocking’.”

The USA Is Fighting the Wrong Battle

The New York Times wrote on November 27:

“Wissam Tarif, a Lebanese activist who aids Syrian civic groups, said that airstrikes against extremists were useless without a war of ideas. ‘You kill 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 — they will recruit more and more,’ he said. ‘The U.S. is fighting the wrong battle. It needs to fight to win the hearts of the Syrian people. They need to feel that there is someone out there who is a superpower who really cares.’…

“Many Syrians are stuck in the middle. Umm Firas, who lost two sons working to depose Mr. Assad, now fears losing another to army bombardments and insurgent infighting that the United States air attacks have done nothing to stop. She fears the Islamic State will soon penetrate her district on the outskirts of Damascus.”

Newsmax wrote on November 28:

“Syria’s foreign minister said U.S.-led air strikes had failed to weaken Islamic State…”

New York City – Another Ferguson?

The Huffington Post wrote on December 3:

“Judge Andrew Napolitano, the senior judicial analyst for Fox News, said Wednesday that he was shocked by a grand jury’s decision not to indict a New York City police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, describing Garner’s death as ‘criminally negligent homicide.’… ‘This is not Ferguson, Missouri,’ Napolitano continued. ‘This is not somebody wrestling for your gun, this is not where you shoot or be shot at. This is choking to death a mentally impaired, grossly obese person whose only crime was selling cigarettes without collecting taxes on them. This does not call for deadly force by any stretch of the imagination.’…

“Napolitano said he was taken aback by the grand jury’s decision, which was made public on Wednesday. Garner, 43, died July 17 in Staten Island, New York while he was being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes. A bystander’s video of the arrest shows New York City police Officer Daniel Pantaleo appearing to put Garner in a chokehold, a move that is prohibited under NYPD policy. In the video, Garner screams ‘I can’t breathe!’ multiple times before his body goes limp. A medical examiner later ruled his death a homicide.

“This is the second recent high-profile case in which a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black civilian, following last week’s decision in the case of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

“A nationwide series of protests erupted immediately following the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot an unarmed Brown on Aug. 9. New York officials braced for similar protests on Wednesday. While the reaction to the Ferguson grand jury decision largely broke down along party lines, with many conservatives agreeing that Wilson should not have faced trial, Napolitano, a libertarian, is one of a number of conservatives who have expressed outrage at the grand jury’s decision in the Garner case…”

Subsequently, charges were published by the Daily News on December 4 that the grand jury was “rigged.” Ramsey Orta who video-recorded the killing of Garner and who testified before the grand jury, was quoted as saying: “When I went to the grand jury to speak on my behalf, nobody in the grand jury was even paying attention to what I had to say… People were on their phones, people were talking… people were having side conversations…”

Another sad day for the perception of American “justice.”

The USA—More Divided Than Ever

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 3:

“In March 2008, when Barack Obama, then a candidate for president, gave his big speech on racism, he sounded like the one who could unite the country. But in November of this year, Obama is — contrary to his intentions — the president of a country that is more divided than ever before. And one of the deepest divisions runs between blacks and whites… When Obama delivered a statement last Monday evening at the White House about the grand jury decision, he seemed more helpless than at almost any other time during his presidency. Even as he called on blacks in Ferguson to remain calm and peaceful, the first shops were being looted and set on fire. His comments seemed strangely uninspired and apprehensive — as though he had already succumbed to resignation…

“Making matters worse is the discrimination practiced by state institutions such as law enforcement. The chances that a young black man will be shot dead by the police, for example, is 21 times greater than it is for young white males. The death of 18-year-old Michael Brown is far from abnormal. Just 10 days ago, a 12-year-old boy was shot and killed by a police officer in Cleveland because he was playing with a toy pistol at a playground…

“Six years after Obama’s race speech, more than a quarter of blacks in American live below the poverty line. Among whites, that figure is 12.8 percent. According to the Pew Research Center, the median annual income of a white household was about $27,000 higher than that of a black household in 2011…

“Almost half of all murder victims and about 40 percent of the US prison population are black, even though the African-American share of the population is just 12.6 percent… it is also true that Obama has never really presented himself as an advocate of African-Americans during his time in office…

“Equal opportunity was the subject of Obama’s State of the Union address in January and, in it, he cited two examples. The first was Misty DeMars, a white woman from a Chicago suburb who counts among the long-term unemployed. The second was Estiven Rodriguez, a 17-year-old student from New York who immigrated to the US as a nine-year-old from the Dominican Republican without speaking a word of English. DeMars was meant to represent the difficulty women face in advancing their careers. And Rodriguez served as an example of how immigrants can succeed when given the chance. He didn’t mention a single black person in his speech.”

Pope Francis Seeks Dialogue with Muslims

The Associated Press reported on November 29:

“Pope Francis on Saturday stood in two minutes of silent prayer facing east inside one of Istanbul’s most important religious sites [known as the Blue Mosque]… Francis prayed alongside the Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaran, who had his palms turned toward the sky in a Muslim prayer, inside the 17th-century Sultan Ahmet mosque… The Vatican added the stop at the Blue Mosque at the last minute to show Benedict’s respect for Muslims.

“Francis then visited the nearby Haghia Sofia, which was the main Byzantine church in Constantinople — present-day Istanbul — before being turned into a mosque following the Muslim [Ottoman Turks’] conquest of the city in 1453… A few dozen well-wishers outside Haghia Sophia waved a combination of the Turkish and the flag of the Holy See. One carried a banner that read: ‘You are Peter.’”

Deutsche Welle added on November 29:

“In a gesture of harmony between religions, Pope Francis stood alongside a senior Islamic cleric for a moment of contemplation at Istanbul’s most famous mosque… Pope Francis removed his shoes as he entered the Sultan Ahmet mosque, widely known as the Blue Mosque, on Saturday… [The Pope] was taken through the mosque by Istanbul’s Grand Mufti Rahmi Yaran. The two paused for two minutes facing Mecca alongside each other, the pope closing his eyes, bowing his head and clasping his hands in front of the cross he wore on his chest, the cleric performing an Islamic prayer…

“The three-day papal visit to Turkey is seen as a test of Francis’ ability to build bridges, as he had to establish and strengthen ties with Muslim leaders…”

Reuters wrote on November 30:

“Pope Francis said on Sunday that equating Islam with violence was wrong… Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, caused storms of protest throughout the Islamic world in 2006, when he made a speech that suggested to many Muslims that he believed Islam espoused violence… [Pope Francis said:] ‘You just can’t say that, just as you can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists. We have our share of them (fundamentalists). All religions have these little groups,’ he said. ‘They (Muslims) say: … “the Koran is a book of peace, it is a prophetic book of peace”’”.

The Pope’s comments are ridiculous. We have proven time and again in our Updates, through direct quotes from the Koran, that those believing and following these teachings cannot be described as peaceful, or that Islam teaches pacifism. Also, the Pope’s inflammatory comments about “fundamentalist” Christians should tell everyone how he views those who live by their belief in the literal inspiration of the Bible.

Pope Francis Seeks Unification with Greek Orthodox Christians

The Associated Press wrote on November 30:

“Pope Francis and the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians demanded an end to the persecution of religious minorities in Syria and Iraq on Sunday and called for dialogue with Muslims, capping Francis’ three-day visit to Turkey with a strong show of Christian unity. Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I issued a joint declaration urging leaders in the region to intensify help to victims of the Islamic State group, and especially to allow Christians who have had a presence in the region for 2,000 years to remain on their native lands…

“Francis, who represents the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church, and Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians, called for ‘constructive dialogue’ with Islam ‘based on mutual respect and friendship.’

“The Catholic and Orthodox churches split in 1054 over differences on the primacy of the papacy, and there was a time when patriarchs had to kiss popes’ feet. At the end of a joint prayer service Saturday evening, Francis bowed to Bartholomew and asked for his blessing ‘for me and the Church of Rome,’ a remarkable display of papal deference to an Orthodox patriarch that underscored Francis’ hope to end the schism.

“In his remarks Sunday, Francis assured the Orthodox faithful gathered in St. George’s that unity wouldn’t mean sacrificing their rich liturgical or cultural patrimony or ‘signify the submission of one to the other, or assimilation. I want to assure each one of you gathered here that, to reach the desired goal of full unity, the Catholic Church does not intend to impose any conditions except that of the shared profession of faith,’ he said.

“The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, acknowledged the novelty in Francis’ message. While experts from both churches continue to debate theological divisions between them, Francis and Bartholomew are ‘pushing with incredible strength toward union’ through their frequent and warm personal contacts, Lombardi said.”

Zenit added on November 30:

“‘We are already on the way towards full communion,” Pope Francis is affirming in regard to the Orthodox… Patriarch Bartholomew said that… while the process of reunification can be sometimes ‘rugged,’… it’s ‘nonetheless irreversible,’ and is needed… Both the Pope and the Patriarch agreed that for various reasons, the upheaval in the Middle East and persecution of Christians makes union all the more urgent…

“the Pope and Patriarch signed a joint declaration… ‘We express our sincere and firm resolution, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians, and above all between Catholics and Orthodox,’ it stated. The declaration also called for Catholic and Orthodox faithful to ‘join us in praying “that all may be one.”’

As long as the daughter churches [but excluding “fundamentalists” and other “minorities, see above] will return to the “mother church,” the Pope is willing to compromise…

Pope Francis’ Contradictory Messages

ABC News wrote on November 28:

“Pope Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the ‘barbaric violence’ being committed in Islam’s name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria as he arrived in neighboring Turkey Friday… He reaffirmed that military force was justified to halt the Islamic State group’s advance… ‘As religious leaders, we are obliged to denounce all violations against human dignity and human rights… As such, any violence which seeks religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation because the omnipotent is the God of life and peace.’”

On the one hand, Pope Francis says that military force (i.e., “violence”) against religious fanatics is justified. With the same breath, he states that “any violence” seeking religious justification must be condemned. So what is it?

Donald Tusk—The New President of the EU Council

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 26:

“With the appointment of Donald Tusk as president of the powerful EU Council, a politician from Eastern Europe will be placed in one of Brussels’ most important positions for the first time… Tusk wanted to prove that his country was a responsible EU member — and he succeeded. Another reason for his successful foreign policy is Poland’s good relationship with Germany…”

We have felt for a long time that Catholic Poland will play an important role in Europe.

Meet Angela Merkel’s Germany and Europe

The New Yorker wrote on December 1, 2014:

“Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany… is the world’s most powerful woman… On a continent where the fear of Germany is hardly dead, Merkel’s air of ordinariness makes a resurgent Germany seem less threatening… The ongoing monetary crisis of the euro zone has turned Germany, Europe’s largest creditor nation, into a regional superpower—one of Merkel’s biographers calls her ‘the Chancellor of Europe.’… American politics is so polarized that Congress has virtually stopped functioning; the consensus in Germany is so stable that new laws pour forth from parliament while meaningful debate has almost disappeared…

“Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who was Germany’s defense minister between 2009 and 2011, said that Merkel took a ‘Machiavellian’ approach to the [euro zone] crisis. She had the stamina to keep her options open as long as possible, and then veiled her decisions behind ‘the cloud of complexity.’ Guttenberg said, ‘This made it easier for her to change her mind several times rather dramatically, but at the time no one noticed at all.’… Merkel realized that she could not allow the euro-zone crisis to capsize the project of European unity. ‘If the euro falls, then Europe falls,’ she declared…

“Merkel’s commitment to a united Europe is not that of an idealist. Rather, it comes from her sense of German interest—a soft form of nationalism that reflects the country’s growing confidence and strength. The historic German problem, which Henry Kissinger described as being ‘too big for Europe, too small for the world,’ can be overcome only by keeping Europe together… She needs Europe because… Europe makes Germany bigger…

“When the Wall fell, Putin was a K.G.B. major stationed in Dresden. He used his fluent German and a pistol to keep a crowd of East Germans from storming the K.G.B. bureau and looting secret files, which he then destroyed. Twelve years later, a far more conciliatory Putin, by then Russia’s President, addressed the Bundestag ‘in the language of Goethe, Schiller, and Kant,’ declaring that ‘Russia is a friendly-minded European country’ whose ‘main goal is a stable peace on this continent.’ Putin praised democracy and denounced totalitarianism, receiving an ovation from an audience that included Merkel… As a Russian speaker who hitchhiked through the Soviet republics in her youth, Merkel has a feel for Russia’s aspirations and resentments which Western politicians lack. In her office, there’s a framed portrait of Catherine the Great, the Prussian-born empress who led Russia during a golden age in the eighteenth century. But, as a former East German, Merkel has few illusions about Putin. After Putin’s speech at the Bundestag, Merkel told a colleague, ‘This is typical K.G.B. talk. Never trust this guy.’…

“In early 2008, when President George W. Bush sought to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, Merkel blocked the move out of concern for Russia’s reaction and because it could cause destabilization along Europe’s eastern edge. Later that year, after Russia invaded two regions of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Merkel changed her position and expressed openness to Georgia’s joining NATO. She remained careful to balance European unity, the alliance with America, German business interests, and continued engagement with Russia…

“When, this past March, Russia annexed Crimea and incited a separatist war in eastern Ukraine, it fell to Merkel to succeed where earlier German leaders had catastrophically failed. The Russian aggression in Ukraine stunned the history-haunted, rule-upholding Germans. ‘Putin surprised everyone,’ including Merkel, her senior aide told me. ‘The swiftness, the brutality, the coldheartedness. It’s just so twentieth century—the tanks, the propaganda, the agents provocateurs.’…

“Merkel ruled out military options, yet declared that Russia’s actions were unacceptable—territorial integrity was an inviolable part of Europe’s postwar order—and required a serious Western response. For the first time in her Chancellorship, she didn’t have the public with her. In early polls, a plurality of Germans wanted Merkel to take a middle position between the West and Russia. A substantial minority—especially in the former East—sympathized with Russia’s claim that NATO expansion had pushed Putin to act defensively, and that Ukrainian leaders in Kiev were Fascist thugs. Helmut Schmidt, the Social Democratic former Chancellor, expressed some of these views, as did Gerhard Schröder—who had become a paid lobbyist for a company controlled by the Russian state oil-and-gas giant Gazprom, and who celebrated his seventieth birthday with Putin, in St. Petersburg, a month after Russia annexed Crimea. The attitude of Schmidt and Schröder deeply embarrassed the Social Democrats.

“A gap opened up between élite and popular opinion: newspapers editorializing for a hard line against Russia were inundated with critical letters. Merkel, true to form, did nothing to try to close the divide…

“Merkel takes a characteristically unsentimental view of Russia. Alexander Lambsdorff, a German member of the European Parliament, said, ‘She thinks of Russia as a traditional hegemonic power that was subdued for a while and now has reëmerged.’ Ukraine forced Merkel into a juggling act worthy of Bismarck, and she began spending two or three hours daily on the crisis. Publicly, she said little, waiting for Russian misbehavior to bring the German public around. She needed to keep her coalition in the Bundestag on board, including the more pro-Russian Social Democrats. And she had to hold Europe together, which meant staying in close touch with twenty-seven other leaders and understanding each one’s constraints: how sanctions on Russia would affect London’s financial markets; whether the French would agree to suspend delivery of amphibious assault ships already sold to the Russians; whether Poland and the Baltic states felt assured of NATO’s support; the influence of Russian propaganda in Greece; Bulgaria’s dependence on Russian gas. For sanctions to bite, Europe had to remain united…

“Germans told me that anti-Americanism in Germany is more potent now than at any time since the cruise-missile controversy of the early eighties… In a sense, German anti-Americanism is always waiting to be tapped…

“Earlier this year, President Joachim Gauck made headlines when he called on Germany to take its global responsibilities more seriously, including its role in military affairs. It was the kind of speech that Merkel (who had no comment) would never give, especially after a poll commissioned by the foreign ministry in May showed that sixty per cent of the public was skeptical of greater German involvement in the world. German journalists find Merkel nearly impossible to cover… The private Merkel they admire and enjoy but are forbidden to quote disappears in public. Any aide or friend who betrays the smallest confidence is cast out…”

Putin Tells the World

The Associated Press reported on December 4:

Russian President Vladimir Putin in his annual speech on Thursday defended the Kremlin’s aggressive foreign policy, saying the actions are necessary for his country’s survival. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March and was later accused of supplying pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine with ammunition and manpower…. ‘No one will succeed in defeating Russia militarily,’ he said. ‘They would have been delighted to let us go the way of Yugoslavia and the dismemberment of the Russian peoples, with all the tragic consequences. But it did not happen. We did not allow it to happen.’”

In a related article, the Associated Press wrote on December 4:

“Putin… described [Crimea] as Russia’s spiritual ground, ‘our Temple Mount,’ and added that national pride and sovereignty are ‘a necessary condition for survival’ of Russia.”

Mubarak Acquitted

Deutsche Welle reported on November 29:

“An Egyptian court on Saturday rejected a case against former President Hosni Mubarak for alleged involvement in the killing of protesters during a 2011 uprising against his 30-year rule. Mubarak, along with his sons Alaa and Gamal, was also cleared on a separate corruption charge related to gas exports to Israel, but will remain in prison on other charges of embezzlement. The court also acquitted former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and six of his aides on charges of ordering the killings.

“Mubarak had been charged with having failed to prevent the killing of hundreds of protesters during the revolt, which ultimately led to his ouster. Eight-hundred Egyptians died during the protests. Saturday’s rulings can be appealed… In June 2012, a court sentenced Mubarak to life imprisonment on the charges, but this ruling was overturned in early 2013, and a retrial ordered. He is the first-ever Egyptian ruler to be tried and sent to prison. He is already also serving a three-year sentence on separate embezzlement charges in a case that saw his two sons put behind bars for four years.

“The 86-year-old Mubarak has been staying at an army hospital in southern Cairo on grounds of poor health. He was flown by helicopter to the Cairo Criminal Court to hear his verdict and sentencing, state media said… His successor as president, Islamist Mohamed Morsi, is also on trial after being removed from power in July 2013 by then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who has since himself been elected to the post. Morsi stands accused of having committed acts of violence both during the revolt against Mubarak and during later protests against his own rule that led to his own downfall.

“Since Morsi’s removal, Egyptian police have waged a crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood followers in which at least 1,400 people have died.”

BBC News added on November 29:

“The verdict means no-one has been held responsible for the killing of more than 800 protesters during the 2011 revolution. It is as if the dead committed mass suicide, said one Egyptian journalist on Twitter. Relatives of those killed in 2011 had awaited Saturday’s verdict with trepidation. Mahmoud Ibrahim Ali, whose wife was killed, had little faith in the judiciary, believing it simply did the government’s bidding. ‘The regime is the same,’ he told AP news agency. ‘Names have changed but everything is the same.’’’

It seems, nothing ever changes in Egypt.

Early Elections in Israel?

TSA wrote on December 2:

“For the second time in about two years, Israel appears to be headed toward elections. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a news conference Tuesday that he will support a bill to dissolve the Knesset, leading to elections next spring. Ahead of the announcement, Netanyahu fired two key Cabinet ministers, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni, after they publicly criticized his performance as prime minister…

“The collapse heralds an acrimonious end to a coalition of rivals ranging from the nationalist-right to the center-left… Should Netanyahu win another term, he has indicated that he will revert to a more stable coalition of right-wing parties — including the haredi Orthodox factions…

“The Knesset is likely to approve new elections in the coming days, leading to a national vote in March or April…”

Rise of the Occult

The Daily Mail wrote on November 30:

“Ouija boards are flying off the shelves. Not in the super- natural sense — but the commercial one. The device, said to be a method of contacting the spirit world, is experiencing an unexpected renaissance. Google reports that sales of the board are up 300 per cent, and it is threatening to become a Christmas ‘must buy’.

“The culprit is Hollywood, and a new horror film titled Ouija. Low-budget, lowbrow, it tells a familiar story — of kids dabbling with the ‘other side’ and coming off second best. The critics hammered it, but cinema-going teens, looking for something scary in the Halloween season, loved it… Cue big box office takings and huge demand for Ouija boards, many manufactured by the American toys giant Hasbro. Being a canny company, Hasbro even helped finance the making of the film Ouija, which has put new life into the business of talking to the dead…

“‘It’s like opening a shutter in one’s soul and letting in the supernatural,’ says Peter Irwin-Clark, a Church of England vicar who has witnessed the dark side of Ouija. ‘There are spiritual realities out there and they can be very negative.’

“The board itself is a simple thing, combining the letters of the alphabet and the numbers 0 to 9 with the words Yes, No and Good-Bye. With it comes a planchette or pointer. Players are told to sit around the board, each place two fingers ‘lightly’ on the pointer, and concentrate — before starting to ask questions in turn. ‘Ask your questions slowly and clearly,’ read the instructions. ‘And wait to see what the planchette spells out for you.’ The planchette then ‘moves of its own volition’ towards specific letters and numbers, according to Christina Oakley Harrington, proprietor of Treadwell’s, a London bookshop specialising in the esoteric and the occult. ‘You feel it pulling away from the fingers. I’m not dim — I have a PhD — but it’s not being pushed. It’s mysterious.’…

“The year 1973 saw the release of hit film The Exorcist, in which a young girl takes to communicating with an unseen being by means of such a board. The being is a demon that goes on to possess her… William Peter Blatty, author of the novel on which it was based, was inspired by a tale from the Forties, about Roland Doe. The teenager was said to have become possessed after playing with a Ouija board for long spells, his spiritual infestation manifested by scratches, levitation and poltergeist activity…”

These demonic activities must be avoided by all means.

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Do the terms, “time of the end,” “last days,” or “latter days” always refer exclusively to the time just prior to the return of Jesus Christ?

No, they do not.

As a general introduction, we explained the basic meaning of these terms in our free booklet, “The Authority of the Bible,” chapter 13, “Understanding Biblical Prophecy.” We pointed out that the terms refer generally to the time just prior to Christ’s return, but that they can also describe a time after His return.

In addition, as we will see in this Q&A, they can also refer to a broader timeline which might begin quite a few years, decades and in some instances even centuries prior to, or subsequent to, Christ’s return. The term “at the time of the end” or similar phraseology could be confusing to some; it is therefore important to review the exact context in which they are used.

To just name a few examples about the use of “last days” or similar terms in reference to events AFTER Christ’s return, we want to point to Ezekiel 38:8 (“in the latter years”). The events described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 occur AFTER Christ’s return. In addition, Isaiah 2:2 and Micah 4:1 refer to the establishment of the Kingdom of God here on earth under Jesus Christ’s rule—after His return—using the terms “in the latter days.” We also read in Hosea 3:5 that Israel will seek God and the resurrected King David “in the latter days”—obviously referring to a time AFTER Christ’s return.

Christ also stated on several occasions that He will raise up Christians “at the last day” (John 6:40), referring to the First Resurrection; and that His words will judge the ones who reject Him “in the last day” (John 12:48)—a reference to either the Second or the Third Resurrection.

Let us continue with several examples where these terms at issue describe events in New Testament times, during the life of the early apostles.

We read in 1 Peter 1:20 that Christ “was manifest in these last times for you.” In addition, Hebrews 1:2 reads that God the Father “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” In these passages, reference is made to the fact that with the death and resurrection of Christ, the last days of this present evil age had become a certainty; that this world is destined to end; and that Jesus Christ did qualify to be the Supreme Ruler over this earth in the World Tomorrow.

The early apostles pointed at events in their lifetime, which began then, but which would increase in magnitude, culminating in Christ’s return. James addressed the rich people in his day and age, but made the overall observation that they “heaped up treasure in the last days” (James 5:3). In the same way, John spoke of false teachers or “antichrists” at his time, describing this phenomenon as “the last hour.” John wrote that the appearance of “many antichrists” pointed at the beginning of the final apostasy. He even said that “we know” thereby “that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). What John described was just the beginning of the mystery of lawlessness and false doctrines, which would increase to reach a climax at the time of Christ’s return (compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8).

Jude 18 pointed at mockers “in the last time,” but he spoke of his day and age.

Also, Paul made clear that end-time prophecies already found their initial fulfillment in his day and age. He stated that in “latter times some will depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1), but he used this passage to describe the falling away from the truth at his time. He also said that “in the last days perilous times will come” (2 Timothy 3:1), making the point that the description of those perilous times applied to his day and age.

Peter quoted a passage about an end-time prophecy in the book of Joel (Joel 2:28-32), but stated that that particular portion, which was quoted by him, had already found a “fulfillment” at his time in the early New Testament church, when God gave His Holy Spirit to the disciples (Acts 2:16-21), saying that “in the last days” God “would pour out of My Spirit on all flesh” (verse 17). He also said in 1 Peter 4:7 that the “end of all things” was “at hand.” This mirrors Christ’s and John the Baptist’s statements that the Kingdom of God was at hand during their lifetime (Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:15)–it was certain that it would be established here on earth, but it was not to be established for more than 2,000 years.

When Christ answered the question of His disciples as to what would be the sign of His Coming and the end of this present evil age, Christ mentioned numerous occurrences. The events described in Luke 21 and in Matthew 24 culminate in the return of Christ, but they were not all to happen just a few years prior to His return. Some of the events happened a long time ago (the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. [compare Matthew 24:2] and the disciples were already deceived [compare Matthew 24:5, 11] and the apostasy had already begun in Paul’s day, compare Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 11:4).

Those “jumps” in time are not unusual in Scripture. Christ, when quoting an end-time prophecy from the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 49:8-13) regarding the coming Day of the Lord, used a part of that passage as being fulfilled during His First Coming (Luke 4:16-21).

In the Old Testament, the term “in the last days” or similar wording may not have to refer to just a few years prior to Christ’s return, but they could describe a process of time culminating in Christ’s return. For instance, we read in Genesis 49:1 about prophecies describing the fate of the descendants of Jacob “in the last days.”  In reviewing the entire chapter, we find numerous passages which relate to events which occurred several hundred years ago (compare the prophecies about the modern descendants of Joseph—America and the UK—in verses 22-26).

The book of Daniel includes several examples where the term “the last days” or the “time of the end” are used, without necessarily referring to just a few years prior to Christ’s return.

For instance, we read in Daniel 2:28 that a dream about a statue was to reveal to Nebuchadnezzar “what will be in the latter days.” The dream described four successive world empires which would arise on the world scene, and the fourth empire (the Roman Empire) would survive (through ten successive revivals) until the return of Christ. Much of the dream related to events a long time prior to the last revival of the Roman Empire with ten kings at the time of Christ’s return—the “stone” or Rock which would smite and destroy the ten toes of the statue (verse 44-45).

Something similar can be found in Daniel 8:17, 19, which talks about “the time of the end” and the “latter time of the indignation.” The entire passage starts with the time of ancient Media and Persia, followed by Alexander the Great and, sometime later, Antiochus Epiphanes, and culminating in certain events which apparently end with the last King of the North at the time of Christ’s return.

A similar situation is apparently described in Daniel 11:40, which seems to begin with events which occurred several decades ago, culminating in the return of Christ. We read in Daniel 11:40 that at “the time of the end the king of the South shall attack” or push at the King of the North. This passage signals the beginning of the end. It describes a time prior to and during the ninth resurrection of the Roman Empire (under Mussolini and Hitler).

This ninth resurrection is referred to in Revelation 17:8 as the beast power which “was and is not,” since it was so small and insignificant in comparison with the other revivals—but it would lead to the last resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire. Daniel 11:40 captures the events which would lead to the return of Christ. But what is described in Daniel 11:40 is most certainly not all still future—some of it has clearly been fulfilled, or is being fulfilled (but we do not dismiss the concept that this prophecy might be dual, and that a future King of the South might arise again to push at a future King of the North).  For a thorough discussion of the prophecies pertaining to the King of the South, please read our Q&As http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/532 and http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/348; as well as our Note under “What Our Readers Say” in Update #156.

When reading Daniel 12:4, 9, we are told that the book of Daniel would be sealed “until the time of the end,” but that then “knowledge” in general and the right understanding of the book would increase. This has most certainly started to occur under the late Herbert W. Armstrong (the human leader of the Worldwide Church of God), which means that Mr. Armstrong already lived in the time of the end, although he died in 1986.

In conclusion, when reading about the “time of the end,” the “latter days” or the “last days,” we always have to note the context, lest we are reaching false or inaccurate conclusions.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Plans are being finalized for next year’s Church Conference beginning on March 20, 2015, and concluding on March 25, 2015. Also, we are finalizing ministerial assignments for the Spring Holy Days.

A new member letter has been written by Pastor Brian Gale. In this letter, Mr. Gale focuses on dramatic and prophetically significant events occurring in Europe–with special emphasis on Britain’s growing alienation with the European Union.

“Germany–the Predestined Leader of Europe” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

More and more news reporters realize that Germany is the leader of Europe, and that nothing goes without Angela Merkel, the “world’s most powerful woman” and the German “Chancellor of Europe.” The New Yorker and the Telegraph published insightful articles about Germany’s superpower status and the fact that Britain is a lame duck. Reference is also made to a “reconstituted Holy Roman Empire governed from Berlin” with “charisma and sanctity [to be] bestowed [on it]… by Rome.” All of this is in fulfillment of biblical prophecy. We are offering three free booklets, “Germany in Prophecy,” “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Ten European Revivals of the Ancient Roman Empire.”

“Ist Zungenreden biblisch?,” is the title of this week’s German sermon. Title in English: “Is Speaking in Tongues Biblical?”

“Den Standort Wechseln?” (vom 30. November 2014), a German translation of this week’s Editorial by Norbert Link, has been sent to members and subscribers and was posted on the German website.

Four new printed German booklets have been received from the printer. They will be distributed this Sabbath in Church services and sent to our subscribers next week. We will also begin to advertise them in our AufPostenStehen programs.

“Past, Present, Future,” the sermon from last Sabbath by Michael Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:

The Bible shows us how the past, present and future all work together.  Through past examples for our own admonition, we can learn from them in our present lives by obeying God, so we can be counted worthy to make it in the future.

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Thank You!

by John Amorelli    

With much realization and reflection since coming back from the Feast of Tabernacles, I know that God has blessed my wife and me tremendously; even with trials and maltreatments in our lives. I poignantly listed the blessings in my mental and spiritual bulletin board that I look at when faced with trials. It’s very hard at times, many times, but with patience and prayer to the Eternal, fervently, He does pull through!! 

I am reflecting on this Thanksgiving season to be so thankful for so many things: that the Eternal True God and His Son Jesus are always there for me; that they are only a prayer away; that God has called my wife and me to know the Truth; that my wife and I have been given the knowledge by God that His Son will return and bring and set up His Government in this world;  that a beautiful/best friend/sister/wife is worth more to me than all the gold in the world; that knowing that brethren in the Church will always be there for me and my wife; that we had the pleasure of spending time with family members on Thanksgiving; that the simple pleasure of watching wood burn on our wood stove is more joyful than watching TV!!; that our two “therapy” cats keep us company; that I have a job!!!; that we have running water in our well; and that we have food to fill our bellies!!

It might be a simple list to be thankful for, but for me, I thank God and praise HIM through Jesus Christ every day for the simple things!!  Thank YOU, GOD!

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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