The Rules of Christianity and “Blessings of Abraham”
On November 28, 2015, Dave Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “The Rules of Christianity,” and Robb Harris will present the sermon, titled, “Blessings of Abraham”
The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (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.
New Truth or New Understanding?
by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
When Jesus was being judged by Pilate, the question of truth was raised. Wikipedia has this definition: “Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal.”
In our booklet “The Authority of the Bible,” on pages 4 and 5, we read the following:
“THE BIBLE PROVES ITSELF! Human interpretation is not the final authority when it comes to the Word of God! But that is exactly how those who selectively pick and choose what they want to believe, view the Bible. It is also the position taken by so many who simply reject the Bible.
“… how can we know what is true and what is false?
“Jesus Christ made an utterly profound statement in answer to Pilate’s questioning: ‘Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice”’ (John 18:37). Jesus Christ Himself bore witness of the Word of God, and that included the Holy Scriptures—the Old Testament at that time. The prophecies of His birth, death and resurrection proved to be true!…
“Truth—as opposed to falsehood and deception—was the focus of what Jesus taught. He made this statement to the Jews of His day, many of whom were the religious leaders of the nation: ‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ (John 8:32).”
In John 17:17 we read that Jesus prayed and asked the Father, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” And so, we know that the Word of God, the Bible which is the Christian’s manual for life, contains all the truth that we need to know at this time.
Jesus also said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The Expositor’s Greek Testament observes that Christ was conveying the following thoughts:
“I do not merely point out the way and teach the truth and bestow life, but I am the way and the truth and the life, so that by attachment to me one necessarily is in the way and possesses the truth and the life.”
The commentary continues:
“‘The way’ here referred to is the way to the Father. He is the goal of all human aspiration: and there is but one way to the Father… [the ‘truth’ is] primarily about God and the way to Him, but also as furnishing us with all knowledge which we now require for life.”
And so, having very briefly established that everyone who is of the truth hears Jesus’ voice; that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life”; and that God’s Word (the Bible) is truth, let me ask the question: “Are we acquiring new truth or new understanding?”
We can read through Church history that the true Church of God survived through each century, but it had sometimes lost a lot of knowledge and understanding. When Mr Herbert W Armstrong was called in the late 1920’s, the fruits showed that God used him to restore many doctrines that the early New Testament Church had kept, but which the Church of God down through the centuries had lost. But it is clear to see that this was not new truth, but new or better understanding.
Winston Churchill once said: “TRUTH is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it; but THERE IT IS!” Over the years many have mentioned “new truth,” but the truth has always been there. It was the understanding of the truth—and the love for the truth–that was lost. In 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 we read a warning: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
We not only have to have the truth in the first place, but we also have to have – and retain – the love of that truth.
Let us return to the original question, “New Truth or New Understanding?” The answer should be clear by now; the truth has been there all the time, but it is new or better understanding that all need to embrace who accept their calling from God.
We begin with reports describing the reasons for the existence of ISIS and its terrifying goals; and America’s sometimes “radical” reactions (by the right and the left) to the Paris terrorist attacks.
We continue with the typical antagonistic resolutions of the UN against Israel and frightening developments pertaining to the ever-growing authority of the IRS,
We focus on Russia’s relationship with Western nations and its military might, as well as Turkey’s destruction of a Russian fighter jet. We discuss Germany’s internal political struggle with the migrant crisis; and we report on growing support for hard-right European parties; Europe’s quest for a “strong leader”; and undeniable signs that core nations in Europe will be taking over the lead in the EU, including militarily by creating a unified European army, thereby establishing the concept of a “Europe with two speeds.”
We conclude with articles about amazing statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury; refusals of the biggest British Cinema chains to play a movie which contains the “Lord’s Prayer”; and dumbfounding comments by the King of Sweden and Prince Charles.
This Week in the News
How ISIS Came into Being
The Huffington Post wrote on November 22:
“The Bush administration invaded Iraq and made policy calls that are central to how the Islamic State group became the force the world is so worried about today. (Though there are, of course, many other reasons for the group’s rise.)… here’s a rundown of the many ways the Iraq War helped a small extremist group formed in Jordan in 1999 become the focus of the world’s fears today.
“The Bush administration decided, less than a month after it toppled the Saddam Hussein regime, that it would disband Hussein’s army. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who had previously been among the most privileged in their desperate country were suddenly unemployed, though they retained all the ingenuity and discipline they had gained working for the dictator.
“Veteran New Yorker correspondent Dexter Filkins called the move ‘probably the single most catastrophic decision of the American venture in Iraq.’ Multiple Iraqi soldiers were willing to work with the Americans, and some U.S. military commanders wanted to keep the institution alive, but those messages went ignored…
“After the Bush decision, many of these disenfranchised soldiers — who were doubly alienated because they were largely Sunni, like Hussein, in a country now being run by the other major sect of Islam, the Shiites — joined the insurgency against the U.S. presence. Deep investigations into ISIS’s workings show that the group has benefited from having well-trained Sunni army lieutenants from the Saddam era in its leadership…
“After Bush transferred thousands of potentially enraged detainees to Iraqi custody…, hundreds of them were released– fresh with bomb-making expertise and other dangerous skills.
“Bush’s adventure had a ripple effect throughout the Middle East that empowered violent radicals. Just a year after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, extremist groups were already gaining recruits thanks to the propaganda value of an unpopular, visibly ineffective occupation… At the same time, more established anti-American forces in the Middle East — notably, the regimes in Syria and Iran — saw the massive U.S. presence in Iraq as a juicy target and began ramping up their support to extremists who would later attack U.S. soldiers, undermine stability in Iraq and, you guessed it, help ISIS grow.
“Dictatorial Syrian President Bashar Assad allowed thousands of extremists to move through Syria to Iraq… and Iran’s top intelligence agency supported al Qaeda in Iraq as recently as 2012… The group eventually became the Islamic State group’s predecessor…
“There are scores of other reasons for ISIS’s growth. President Barack Obama’s approach to Iraq did not help… the Obama administration did support controversial Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki for years after it became clear that he was not serious about working with Sunnis in Iraq, and did not attempt to increase aid to Iraq or take steps that might give Washington leverage over him.
“The White House didn’t pressure the prime minister to step down until after Maliki’s shocking treatment of Sunnis — including the persecution of top Sunni politicians — led Sunni Iraqis to welcome ISIS with open arms in the summer of 2014. Though his successor, Haider al Abadi, has attempted reform, his hands seem tied by the Iranian influence that Maliki allowed to grow for years under Obama’s nose.
“Syria’s Assad is another factor. He violently reacted to a largely peaceful Sunni opposition movement in 2011, sparking a civil war that gave ISIS a new power vacuum to move into… Assad has helped ISIS by releasing extremists from his jails and largely ignoring its advances through his country. An Associated Press report earlier this week revealed that Assad continues to enable the extremists…
“Some of the blame also goes to Turkey… and to Arab rulers who continue to suppress their populations with U.S. backing and guarantee future radicalization…”
As this article shows, one bad decision of this world’s leaders leads to the next, until an unsolvable situation has been reached.
What ISIS Wants…
The Huffington Post wrote on November 23:
“Many experts agree that terrorists in the group that calls itself the Islamic State believe they are waging an end-times battle against the West, and the Nov. 13 Paris attacks are just the latest chapter… The hadith — the Prophet Muhammad’s sayings as recounted by others — includes accounts of a final reckoning and a struggle between the forces of al-Dajjal, the Great Deceiver, and the Mahdi, a Muslim messiah… The Quran itself does not mention these messianic figures.
“… many extreme jihadists believe they are in the midst of an apocalyptic struggle against Christians and Jews…
“… the group’s end-times fixation distinguishes it from other groups, including al-Qaida, and is key to its relative success… Many young people facing what they feel are dead-end lives find the idea of restoring Islam to its past glories irresistible… [and] ISIS promises young men who join its army concubines and wives…”
ISIS terrorists, in preaching, teaching and practicing radical Islam, are willing to destroy everyone who is not accepting their demonic theology, but especially Christians, Jews and Shiites.
Majority of Americans for Ground Forces in Syria
Newsmax reported on November 20:
“The Washington Post-ABC News survey finds a stunning 83 percent of registered voters believe a terrorist attack in the United States resulting in large casualties is likely in the near future… A full 40 percent say a major attack is ‘very likely’… The survey also shows 59 percent think ‘the United States is at war with radical Islam.’…
“Asked about Obama’s handling of the threat of terrors, 40 percent approve, 54 percent disapprove. Asked about his handling of ISIS, a mere 35 percent approved, and a whopping 57 percent disapproved…
“54 percent say the United States shouldn’t take in refugees from Syria and other parts of the Middle East – even if they’re screened.
“In other findings, the survey shows: 73 percent think the United States should take part in a military response to the Paris attacks, with 73 in support of increased air strikes – and a majority 60 percent backing the use of U.S. ground forces.”
This might lead to another American military adventure in the Middle East… with devastating consequences for the USA.
President Obama Invites Millions of Refugees to Come to the USA
The Associated Press reported on November 21:
“Pushing back against efforts to bar Syrian refugees from resettling in the U.S., President Barack Obama vowed Saturday that his country will be a welcoming place for millions fleeing violence around the world ‘as long as I’m president.’…
“Obama’s comments were intended as a direct rebuke to those demanding a halt to Syrian and Iraqi refugees entering the U.S. in the light of the Islamic State’s attacks in Paris… Democrats in large numbers have abandoned their president… forty-seven of them voted against Obama on Thursday. Having secured a veto-proof majority in the House, supporters are now hoping for a repeat in the Senate, while Obama works to shift the conversation to milder visa waiver changes that wouldn’t affect Syrian refugees.”
NPR wrote on November 20:
“While dozens of governors have announced their opposition to Syrian refugees settling in their states, some senators are focusing their attention on a program they say poses a bigger threat of allowing terrorists into the country: the visa waiver program.
“And while some lawmakers have been discussing changes to the program for months, they gained more support after one of the attackers in the Paris massacre appeared to have a Syrian passport that had been stamped in Greece. That provoked concern on this side of the Atlantic about how the U.S. government screens asylum seekers and refugees.
“At least 19 million people visit the United States through the visa waiver program every year. And given that there are an estimated 3,000 fighters in Syria from Europe, the fear is that a jihadist could attempt to come to the U.S. on a European passport and not be subject to an in-person interview or in-depth screening.
“Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has called the program America’s ‘Achilles’ heel.’ She and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., are proposing legislation that will impose new restrictions, including requiring anyone who has traveled to Iraq or Syria in the previous five years to apply for a visa, whether or not their country is part of the visa waiver program.
“That position is gaining adherents on Capitol Hill…
“As NPR’s Brian Naylor reported on Friday for Morning Edition, the visa waiver program has been in operation for decades: ‘It used to be that if you were a person living abroad and you wanted to see the U.S., you had to first go to an American Embassy and get a visa. You would be interviewed by an embassy official who would ask about your background. Since the 1980s, residents of many countries no longer have to go through that process. In fact, 38 nations, including most of Europe are visa waiver countries. It’s a largely hassle-free way to come to the U.S. for tourists and businesspeople. You’ll need to answer a few questions on a form on the Internet, and have a passport with a digital photograph.’”
“As Naylor reports, the Obama administration has said it is open to amending the program.”
Inviting millions of refugees to come to the USA and at the same time limiting free travel for Europeans under the Visa Waiver program is surely not a wise and just course of conduct… especially in light of the next article.
ISIS from Syria in the USA
The New York Post wrote on November 19:
“A leader of New York City’s Syrian community told The Post on Wednesday that ISIS terrorists have ‘absolutely’ sneaked into America by posing as civil-war refugees — and joined sleeper cells just waiting to be activated. ‘I believe the terrorists from Syria have been coming into the United States, not only in the past few years, but way before that,’ said Aarafat ‘Ralph’ Succar of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, home of the city’s largest enclave of Syrian immigrants. ‘I think they’re already at work.’
“Succar, a member of the Bay Ridge Community Council, said corruption in his homeland is so rampant that anyone could easily pay bribes and obtain official identification papers bearing a fake name to disguise their real identity… ‘These are not forged documents. These are written out by a government employee who needs money, whose family has no food.’”
UN Against Israel
The website of unwatch.org reported on November 24:
“The UN General Assembly today adopted six non-binding resolutions, drafted by the Palestinians and Syria, singling out and criticizing Israel, and no resolutions on China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, ISIS, or any other human rights situation. ‘Surreal barely captures the scene whereby the world is under assault by terrorists killing in the name of Islam and martyrhood — as Palestinians are doing while stabbing Israeli Jews — and the UN’s response is to reflexively condemn Israel in six separate resolutions, all of which are one-sided,’ said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
“One resolution condemned Israel for holding on to the Golan Heights, demanding Israel hand the land and its people to Syria. [This resolution was adopted by 105 in favor, 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States) and 56 abstentions.]
“‘It’s astonishing,’ said Neuer. ‘At a time when the Syrian regime is massacring its own people, how can the U.N. call for more people to be subject to Assad’s rule? The timing of today’s text is morally galling and logically absurd.’ ‘What is also outrageous is that these resolutions claim to care about Palestinians, yet the U.N. proves itself completely oblivious to the actual suffering on the ground, happening right now: hundreds of Palestinians slaughtered, maimed and expelled by Assad’s forces.’
“‘Today’s farce at the General Assembly underscores a simple fact: the U.N.’s automatic majority has no interest in truly helping Palestinians, nor in protecting anyone’s human rights; the goal of these ritual, one-sided condemnations remains the scapegoating of Israel,’ said Neuer. ‘The U.N.’s disproportionate assault against the Jewish state undermines the institutional credibility of what is supposed to be an impartial international body, and exposes the sores of politicization and selectivity that eat away at its founding mission, eroding the U.N. Charter promise of equal treatment to all nations large and small,’ Neuer added.”
Another resolution reads: “Reiterates its determination that any actions taken by Israel, the Occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever, and calls upon Israel to immediately cease all such illegal and unilateral measures.” This resolution was adopted by 153 in favor, 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States) and 8 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Toga, Tonga).
Incompetence, Treason or What?
Canada Free Press wrote on November 21:
“As of late, there is a constant drone of political pundits, even from CNN, asking ‘Why is Obama doing this? Why is he saying that?’ Even former President Carter, the weakest president of the twentieth century, has said ‘Obama is inept.’… Is he truly inept or is there much more to this man that our miserable main-stream media didn’t tell us or bothered to find out?
“The media seems to be playing the ‘we’re confused card.’ They scratch their collective heads and wonder in amazement about what Obama says and does. They actually look as confused as so many of us. Is he incompetent or does he have a plan he’s not divulging? Or, did Obama plainly announce his plan in 2008 to ‘fundamentally change America?’…
“Why is Obama insisting on importing Syrian ‘refugees’ contrary to fervent public opinion in spite of the Paris tragedy and then say ‘Are you telling me that the American people are afraid of widows and orphans?’… In short, why is Obama doing the opposite of what any amount of common sense would say to do?
“Former Defense Secretaries Panetta and Gates have both written books and have had numerous interviews testifying to Obama’s refusal to take advice from professionals in the military and his administration as to how to deal with terrorists and criminal regimes like Iran. Why did Obama work so hard on an Iran deal that gives that country a nuclear capability? Why is Obama shrinking our military to pre-World War II levels?… Why does Obama ignore the plight of Christians and Jews but is constantly pleading for Muslims?… Why does Obama seem to divide the nation by race and class, white against black, rich against poor? Why does Obama routinely trash his own country on foreign soil?…
“Spread the gay agenda in the culture and especially in the military; sabotage their morale and morality and you help destroy the most powerful nation in the world. Dismantle the family, the Church… Destroy the culture and you destroy the nation.
“Anyone with any sense can see the destruction of our nation is increasing in intensity. Unless an accomplice can complete the task, Obama has only a year left to conclude the work. He has much help from the likes of Kerry, Clinton and Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s Iranian-born senior advisor and communist mentor.
“This is not mere incompetence, but a carefully planned program of eradication. His father hated the West. Maybe that is why Obama ordered the bust of Churchill removed from the oval office… A plan to crush what he hates, the West, Christianity, Israel and America…”
Of course, there is another and much more compelling answer to the question as to why President Obama is acting in the way that he does. If you want to know the answer, please watch Norbert Link’s sermon, “The Christian in a Political World.”
The Ever-Growing Authority of the IRS—Revoking Passports for Delinquent Tax Debts?
Newsmax reported on November 22:
“The U.S. government reportedly plans to soon enact a law allowing your passport to be revoked or denied if you owe more than $50,000 in taxes. Starting in January, the State Department will block Americans with ‘seriously delinquent’ tax debt from receiving new passports and will be allowed to rescind existing passports of people who fall into that category…
“The rule is buried in a highway funding bill… The rule has been passed in similar versions by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Congress is expected to pass it in early December.
“Critics of the measure claim there will be no judicial review and no due process if the passport revocation rule retains its current form… [One expert stated:] ‘You don’t get to go in front of a judge first to have a fair and impartial hearing over whether or not the government’s tax allegations are accurate. The language in the law is very clear: they can simply revoke your passport if you owe them money in their sole discretion’…”
Many complain about the burdensome tax code and the virtually unrestricted authority of the IRS. Some Republican presidential candidates have been advocating a much simpler tax code and the abolishment of the IRS… a nice dream which won’t be materialized in the USA. In fact, things will get much worse, not better or easier.
Western Powers Will Not Lift Sanctions against Russia regarding Ukraine
Reuters reported on November 20:
“Western leaders who met on the margins of last week’s Group of 20 summit in Turkey agreed to extend sanctions imposed on Russia for its intervention in Ukraine by six months until July of next year… The decision was taken despite mounting calls to cooperate more closely with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the fight against Islamic State following the militant group’s Nov. 13 attacks in Paris which killed 130 people…
“The sanctions are due to expire in January, before full implementation of the so-called Minsk peace deal, which aims to resolve the standoff between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Western countries have said all elements of Minsk need to be fulfilled before they can consider easing the sanctions… the leaders had concluded that it was important to maintain pressure on Russia ahead of planned elections in eastern Ukraine.
“Hollande has called for a grand coalition of nations to fight Islamic State, which controls large swathes of Syria and Iraq. The French president is due to travel to Moscow on Nov. 26 to discuss closer cooperation with Putin.
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel will dine with Hollande in Paris the evening before his trip and, according to German officials, will urge him to remain firm on the sanctions question while in Moscow.”
Russia’s New Military Control Center… a Nightmare for the USA
The Washington Post wrote on November 21:
“It could have been a scene straight out of ‘Dr. Strangelove’ when President Vladimir Putin stepped into the Russian Ministry of Defense’s brand new… control center this week, for a war briefing that had its fair share of movie-like pageantry. The fortified National Control Defense Center was Putin’s first stop after officials confirmed that the Russian charter jet crash that claimed 224 lives last month was the result of an act of terror. On movie-theater-size screens, live broadcasts showed long-range strategic bombers taking off from Russian air bases to fly sorties over Syria…
“But the real star of the show may have been the building itself, which is designed to be a new nerve center for the Russian military that will coordinate military action around the world, including ballistic missile launches and strategic nuclear deployments. The building is roughly the equivalent of the U.S. National Military Command Center used by the Pentagon, but as one Russian state news agency noted in a breathless headline this week, ‘Russian Defense Data Center Outperforms US Facility Threefold: Official.’…
“It was finished in 2014 and is part of a massive, decade-long modernization of Russia’s army, which has cost hundreds of billions of dollars, but has also produced noted improvements, from the expertise of Russian troops deployed during the Crimea operation to the recent cruise missile strikes launched from the Caspian Sea…
“Yes, it all looks very persuasive, and the Pentagon might even only dream of something like this, if only in a nightmare…”
Turkey Destroys Russian Warplane
npr.org reported on November 24:
“Turkey says that after issuing 10 warnings in five minutes, two of its F-16s shot down a Russian warplane that Turkey claims violated its airspace… Russia’s Defense Ministry said its Sukhoi SU-24 was flying ‘only within the borders of Syrian territory.’… Russian President Vladimir Putin called the action a ‘stab in the back by the terrorists’ accomplices.’… Putin went on to say that there would be ‘significant consequences… We will never tolerate such atrocities as happened today and we hope that the international community will find the strength to join forces and fight this evil,’ Putin said…
Russian Jet Shot Down INSIDE Syrian Airspace
AFP wrote on November 25:
“The United States believes the Russian jet shot down by Turkey was hit inside Syrian airspace after a brief incursion into Turkish airspace, a US official told Reuters. The official… said the assessment was based on detection of the heat signature of the jet…
“Turkish ambassador Halit Cevik said in a letter to the UN Security Council that his government was determined to defend its sovereignty, security and borders… ‘The ambassador said two SU-24 planes approached Turkish airspace in the Hatay region, flying at an altitude of 19,000 feet and that they crossed into Turkish airspace for 17 seconds… One plane left Turkish air space, but the second one was fired at by Turkish F-16s performing patrols in that area, said the ambassador…”
Turkey allegedly warned the Russian planes 10 times for five minutes while they were NOT in Turkish airspace. Turkey also alleges that the Russian pilots did not respond to the warning. (All of this is disputed by Russia, see below.) Turkey then proceeded to shoot down one jet inside Syrian airspace (!) after it had allegedly entered Turkish airspace for 17 seconds before leaving. Der Spiegel Online summarized the events as follows: The incident contains many mysteries. The invasion of the Russian jet into Turkish airspace was as unnecessary as its destruction.
Surviving Russian Pilot Claims: “No Warning Received, Never Entered Turkey’s Airspace”
Breitbart wrote on November 25:
“… the navigator of the Su-24 warplane, Captain Konstantin V. Murakhtin, survived, and was rescued by Russian special forces who suffered a casualty of their own during the operation, a Marine named Aleksander M. Pozynich. Pozynich was reportedly killed when his Mi-8 search-and-rescue helicopter came under fire from insurgent ground forces.
“The pilot of the Su-24, Lt. Col. Oleg A. Peshkov, was killed, apparently by small arms fire from Turkmen rebels on the ground, according to the UK Guardian…
“After his rescue, Captain Murakhtin was interviewed by Russian television from Russia’s Hmeymim airbase in Syria. He insisted that his plane did not cross into Turkish airspace. ‘There were no warnings. Not via the radio, not visually. There was no contact whatsoever,’ said Murakhtin, according to the UK Independent’s translation of his remarks. ‘That’s why we were keeping our combat course as usual. You have to understand what the cruising speed of a bomber is compared to an F-16. If they wanted to warn us, they could have shown themselves by heading on a parallel course. But there was nothing. And the rocket hit our tail completely unexpectedly. We didn’t even see it in time to take evasive maneuvers.’…
“There seems to be no question that the Russian plane came very close to the Turkish border… The Russians, of course, maintain that their plane had no intention of attacking targets in Turkey, while the Turks point out that they’ve complained about numerous Russian violations of their airspace since the Syrian bombing campaign began.
“It seems unlikely that Murakhtin’s plane could have missed all ten warning messages broadcast on the GUARD frequency by Turkey, but they might not have taken those warnings seriously enough…
“Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his government had ‘serious doubts’ the downing of its plane was an ‘unpremeditated act.’ He said it looked ‘very much like a planned provocation,’ according to CNN.
“There is also the question of exactly what the Su-24 was doing when it crossed the Turkish border. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan angrily denied Russian claims that the plane was carrying out operations against the Islamic State. ‘There is no Daesh!’ he thundered about the area where the Su-24 was flying, using another name for ISIS…”
The Russian-Turkey (NATO) Conflict Widens
The Huffington Post wrote on November 24:
“The Defense Ministry… announced that Russia is severing all military contracts with Turkey…
“Ankara is dependent on Moscow for natural gas and is looking to deepen its energy cooperation with Russian entities… While Turkey and Russia have been close partners in natural resources, the two nations butt heads on Syria policy; Russia backs Syria’s dictator Bashar Assad and Turkey demands his ouster.
“It’s far from the first time that Ankara has been accused of turning a blind eye to or even supporting extremists in Syria, a country in which its shared border has been deemed a ‘jihadi highway’ for ISIS recruits. Turkey vehemently denies any connections to the hardline militant group. Meanwhile, Russian airstrikes aiding Syria’s supposed war on ‘terrorism’ have largely targeted moderate Syrian rebels and civilians, not ISIS.
“The Russian-Turkish military dispute comes at an increasingly complicated and deadly time in the nearly five-year-long Syrian civil war, in which over 250,000 Syrians have died and millions more displaced…”
The New York Times wrote on November 24:
“The tensions immediately took on Cold War overtones when Russia rejected Turkey’s claim and Ankara responded by asking for an emergency NATO meeting, eliciting more Russian anger and ridicule. After the meeting, the NATO secretary general… said the allies ‘stand in solidarity with Turkey.’ It was thought to be the first time a NATO country has shot down a Russian plane in half a century… the incident highlighted the dangers of Russian and NATO combat aircraft operating in the same theater and has soured chances for a diplomatic breakthrough over Syria…
“Mr. Hollande and Mr. Obama clearly hoped that the bombing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt, claimed by the Islamic State, would cause Moscow to make defeating the jihadists more of a priority than propping up Mr. Assad. But Tuesday’s events will make that a tougher sell…
“Turkey, especially under the increasingly authoritarian rule of its nationalist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been fierce in defending its airspace, shooting down Syrian jets that have strayed in the past… Mr. Putin said that instead of ‘immediately making the necessary contact with us, the Turkish side turned to their partners in NATO for talks on this incident. It’s as if we shot down the Turkish plane and not they, ours. Do they want to put NATO at the service of Islamic State?’…
“NATO countries have been concerned about Mr. Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies for some time, and NATO officials acknowledge that Turkey’s agenda in Syria does not always match that of Washington, Britain or France — let alone Russia… Mr. Erdogan’s own troops have largely turned their fire on the Syrian Kurds, whom Washington regards as its best local ally so far against the Islamic State…
“Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov canceled a Wednesday visit to Turkey, and a large Russian tour operator, Natalie Tours, announced it was suspending sales to Turkey. Russians accounted for 12 percent of all tourists to Turkey last year. The two countries are also significant trade partners. But ‘Russia-Turkey relations will drop below zero,’ Ivan Konovalov, director of the Center for Strategic Trends Studies, said on the state-run Rossiya 24 cable news channel.
“Washington is not interested in getting deeper into Syria with ground troops or having a conflict with Russia. So cautious are the NATO countries about Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which calls for mutual self-defense, that when Mr. Hollande declared ‘war’ on the Islamic State after the Paris attacks, he invoked the European Union’s toothless Lisbon Treaty and sidestepped NATO. Mr. Hollande was also, French officials have said, eager not to offend Mr. Putin by making Syria a NATO issue.”
This incident and NATO’s response will seriously jeopardize any cooperation between Russia and Western nations in their fight against ISIS. At the same time, it is telling that Mr. Hollande asked for the military help of the other EU member states, and NOT of NATO (and the USA).
Putin Is Playing Hard Ball
Deutsche Welle wrote on November 25:
“Russia has already said bombers flying missions in Syria will now be accompanied by fighter planes and that it plans to increase its military presence in Syria.
“The defence ministry has announced it is sending a warship off the coast of the country and that it will be deploying its advanced, long-range S-400 anti-aircraft system to a military base there. It has already warned that, following the attack, ‘all potentially dangerous targets will be destroyed.’
“This could have huge implications for not just Turkey, but other nations operating in the skies above Syria.”
It was also reported that the S-400 missile systems, which will be sent to the Hemeimeem air base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia, located just about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the border with Turkey, are capable of targeting Turkish jets “with deadly precision.”
Russia Responds to Turkey
The Washington Post reported on November 26:
“Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday called for tough sanctions against Turkey that could bite into more than $30 billion in trade ties between the two countries, as police here began seizing Turkish products and deporting Turkish businessmen… On Thursday, it became clear that the Russian government was now turning its ire on whatever extensions of the Turkish economy it could get its hands on.
“At a cabinet meeting, Medvedev said that joint investment projects with Turkey would be frozen or canceled. Negotiations over a proposed preferential trade regime with Turkey would also be scrapped, he said… ‘These documents will introduce restrictions and bans on the activity of Turkish economic structures in Russia, limiting deliveries of goods, including foodstuffs, labor, and services from Turkish companies,’ Medvedev said…
“Russian Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukaev at the same session said that economic sanctions would affect Turkstream, the planned gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey announced by Putin last December, and the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, which it signed an agreement with Russia to build in May 2010. He added that the sanctions may affect direct flights between Russia and Turkey.
“Elsewhere, government agencies were busy. Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s consumer oversight agency, announced it had seized 800 kilograms of ‘high-risk Turkish products,’ including meat, candies, and nuts.
“And in the southern Kuban region, Russia’s Migration Service said it had arrested and would deport 39 Turkish businessmen who attended an agricultural expo on tourist visas.
“Analysts say that Russia will choose from a menu of asymmetric responses in retaliation against Turkey, including informal economic sanctions and providing military aid to Turkey’s enemies, including the Kurds… Russia is unlikely to change its mission in Turkey as a result, Russian analysts said, and will seek to punish Turkey on the ground there…
“On Wednesday evening, Turkey’s state-run news agency, Anadolu, reported that Russian airstrikes targeted Turkish aid vehicles in the Syrian border town of Azzaz, killing at least seven drivers. The town is a hub for supplies being delivered from Turkey to Syrian rebels fighting government forces in the nearby city of Aleppo… On Thursday morning, reports emerged of a second bombing raid against Azzaz, a Syrian border town.
“Shady al-Ouaineh, a media representative for Determined Storm, a rebel group associated with the Free Syrian Army, said in a telephone interview that Russia had dramatically intensified air raids in the rebel-held areas of Latakia province. Syrian government forces and allied Shiite militiamen from Iraq, backed by Russian air cover, have been trying to advance on some of the last opposition holdouts in the province, said Ouaineh, close to where the Russian jet was shot down. ‘It is clear Russia is taking out its revenge on us here,’ he said.
“Russian attitudes toward Turkey, which were reasonably friendly a year ago, have turned cold with alarming speed. Most Russian tour operators stopped selling travel packages to Turkey on Wednesday. Protesters in Moscow pelted the Turkish Embassy with eggs and rocks, shattering windows. Russian lawmakers introduced a bill that would criminalize denying that the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 by the Ottoman Empire was a ‘genocide.’ The issue remains highly sensitive: Turkey acknowledges that atrocities occurred but has long denied that what took place constituted a genocide…”
In addition, Putin demanded an apology from Turkey for shooting down the jet, which Turkey refused to give. These developments are of prophetic significance, because the Bible shows that Turkey will ultimately enter into a closer relationship with Europe—and not with Russia.
Germany at War
Deutsche Welle reported on November 25:
“Merkel promised Hollande she would act ‘swiftly’ in the fight against terrorism and promised her complete solidarity. ‘We have a shared enemy: terrorism. The Islamic State will not be convinced with words. It has to be defeated militarily,’ Germany’s chancellor said.”
Deutsche Welle wrote on November 26:
“Germany plans to send reconnaissance jets to Syria, to help in the fight against ‘Islamic State’… Germany has already promised to send 650 peacekeeping troops to Mali, relieving French troops fighting an Islamist insurgency in the former colony. Berlin also promised to strengthen its operations training anti-IS fighters in northern Iraq…
“Sources told the DPA news agency that Germany would send a warship [with torpedoes, missiles and over 250 soldiers] and at least one refueling aircraft [of the German Luftwaffe or air force], as well as providing [spy] satellite reconnaissance. The decision was made at a meeting of senior ministers in Berlin, called by Chancellor Angela Merkel…”
The Local added on November 26:
“German frigates could [also] escort friendly ships at sea… Merkel’s promise marks a big change from just a few days ago, when her junior coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) told The Local Hollande’s request for aid from EU partners was only ‘symbolic’… Germany has shown increasing willingness to help France more directly since then…”
Bild Online added that the German government did not specify how many fighter jets would be sent to Syria. Allegedly, six jets are being discussed. According to Bild, all of this means that Germany will now be actively participating in the Syrian war, which in turn might increase the possibility of terrorist attacks in Germany.
In this context, The Associated Press reported on November 26:
“A senior German police official says some of the migrants reaching Europe are Islamic State radicals planning terrorist attacks… He said Thursday that his office knows of 7,900 Islamic radicals in Germany who advocate violence to advance their goals, with some trying to win migrants to their cause.”
Bavaria’s Premier Horst Seehofer Reelected as CSU Leader—in the Midst of Controversy with Angela Merkel
Deutsche Welle wrote on November 21:
“Horst Seehofer, the premier of the German state of Bavaria, has been re-elected as leader of his conservative Christian Social Union (CSU). This comes amid ongoing disagreements with the chancellor over refugee policy… It is the fifth time he has been chosen as leader of the CSU, which is the Bavarian sister party and coalition partner of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).
“The vote comes as Seehofer has clashed with the chancellor over refugee policy… On Friday, Seehofer reiterated his call for a cap on the number of asylum applicants allowed to enter Germany, contradicting Merkel, who, also speaking at the CSU conference, again rejected the idea of imposing a limit. Seehofer, who has in the past described Merkel’s decision to allow Germany to take in hundreds of thousands of refugees this year as a ‘mistake,’ continued to insist on Saturday on putting a ceiling on asylum seeker numbers…
“Sticking to his hard line on refugees, he ruled out abolishing border controls into Germany any time soon, saying that they had to stay in place as long as the European Union’s external borders lacked effective monitoring. Seehofer said the controls were urgently needed to protect Germany and its citizens, with Bavaria bearing the brunt of the refugee influx into the country…”
Reuters reported on November 25:
“Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed on Wednesday to stick to her open-door refugee policy, defying criticism at home and abroad which has intensified due to growing fears about a potential security risk after the Islamist attacks in Paris.
“Conservative Merkel faces splits in her right-left coalition and pressure from EU states, including France, over her insistence that Germany can cope with up to 1 million migrants this year and that Europe must accept quotas to take them in… Merkel stressed her commitment to her disputed refugee policy, saying Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, has a duty to protect those fleeing war and conflict in the Middle East, Africa and Asia…
“She countered politicians in some countries who have warned that the refugee crisis has exposed problems in Europe’s Schengen passport-free area, saying that states must develop it further by agreeing on migrant quotas…”
Seehofer Wants to Meet with Putin
Bloomberg wrote on November 21:
“Bavaria’s state premier said he plans to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin next year, stepping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign-policy turf a day after clashing with her over refugee policy… ‘We can’t solve the conflicts of our times without or against Russia,’ Seehofer said in a speech to a CSU convention on Saturday in Munich, which is home to companies such as Siemens AG and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG…”
A temporary pact or agreement between Russia and some European nations, including Germany, might very well occur, but it will be short-lived.
Europe’s Anti-Immigration and Hard-Right Parties Gain Support
Business Insider wrote on November 19:
“Europe’s anti-immigration and hard-right parties are on the warpath. It seems like everywhere you look in continental Europe, the hard right is gaining ground.
“Today, it’s the turn of the Sweden Democrats. In 2014, the hard-right party came in third place on 12.9% of the vote, shocking international commentators. By comparison, the party got just 5.7% of the vote in 2010, and 1.49% in 2006. They’ve only been getting more popular since and on Thursday Yougov published a poll that puts the Sweden Democrats ahead on 26.7%, 5 points clear of any other party…
“Germany’s rightist and eurosceptic AfD just got their best polling result ever, hitting 10.5%. They’re back in 3rd place as the public mood with regards to refugees becomes increasingly fearful.
“Dutch polling likewise puts Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom not just in the lead for the next election (which must take place before March 2017), but 19 points clear of the next party.
“In the rest of Europe, it’s a similar story. Austria’s Freedom Party have drawn or lead in every poll conducted for the last six months. Italy’s regional hard-right Lega Nord’s polling average is sitting at around 15%, after getting just 4.1% in the 2013 election.
“In France… Front National leader Marine Le Pen, who has built up significant support on the same eurosceptic and anti-immigration platform, [leads] in most polls for the 2017 presidential election. Le Pen has already demanded an immediate halt of all migrant flows into France since the attacks.
“Europe’s hard-right is already riding high after months of refugee crisis headlines, and the brutal attacks on Paris could propel it even further.”
“The Schengen Agreement Must Survive”
The EUObserver wrote on November 25:
“Europe’s single currency would come under threat if the Schengen visa-free travel zone fails, EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday… Juncker warned that the euro is pointless if people can’t move around freely to use it…
“‘Schengen is one of the main pillars of the construction of Europe,’ he added… Schengen has 26 members, though a few are not EU states… ‘Those who believe in Europe, those who believe in its values and principles, freedoms, must breathe new life into the spirit behind Schengen,’ he noted…”
“He also confirmed the EU commission will come forward with proposals on an EU-wide border guard and coast guard system in December, and called for more effective cooperation between European intelligence services.”
Europe Is Looking for a Strong Leader
Newsmax reported on November 22:
“Conservative pundit Pat Buchanan says the United States and Europe are moving more conservative in light of events such as the November 13 terrorist attacks on Paris. ‘I think we are seeing a general retreat of liberalism in the United States and in Europe, and a fairly dramatic shift to the right, if you will, politically and ideologically,’ Buchanan said Sunday… ‘These events are producing a tremendous rise in nationalism…’
“‘Europe is also seeing a move toward “Caesarism,”’ Buchanan said, ‘in other words, the look for a strong leader, someone who will deal with these devils who came to kill us and who will deal with them in a tough way. So I think it’s a change in the world…”
There are already “strong leaders” in certain countries around the world, and the USA is also looking for a strong leader. Some of the presidential contenders might qualify for that role. The question is, will all of these “strong leaders” make the world a safer place, or will they in fact cause a nightmarish situation of unparalleled disaster— well beyond the ability of any man to prevent, stop or reverse?
Coming… a Two-Speed Europe
The EUObserver wrote on November 19:
“The European Union will have to develop a framework in which some core member states can do everything together and others will be less involved, Jean-Claude Juncker, EU commission president, said on Wednesday (18 November). ‘I think that, eventually, it will no longer be possible that 33, 34 or 35 states will proceed at the same speed with the same momentum in the same direction,’ Juncker said in a discussion with citizens in Brussels.
“The 28-member EU is in accession talks with countries in the Balkans with the aim of having them join the bloc eventually. Juncker said at the start of his presidency, however, that there will be no enlargement under his mandate until 2019. Of the 28 EU countries, some already work more closely together on certain issues than they do with others.
“Most notably, the 19 member states that share the euro currency coordinate budget policies and have a banking union in which all the large eurozone banks are under a single supervisor, the European Central Bank… The Schengen states, meanwhile, share a common external border and have dismantled border checks amongst themselves… [However, the rules of the Schengen agreement were temporarily suspended by some of the member states, due to the migrant crisis.]
“‘One day we should rethink the European architecture with a group of countries that will do things, all things, together, and others that will position themselves in an orbit away from the core,’ Juncker said… His predecessor, Jose Manuel Barroso, former EU commission president, opposed allowing a split within the EU and creating core and non-core EU countries – a two-speed Europe… Juncker also reinstated his call for a European army and argued for a common defence policy in the EU.”
The Bible shows that a two-speed Europe will develop, and that ten core nations or groups of nations, arising out of the eurozone, will lead the EU, including militarily. They, in turn, will transfer their authority and power to a charismatic political “strong leader.”
Please view our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Looking for a Strong Leader.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Doubts God’s Presence
Daily Mail wrote on November 22:
“Justin Welby has admitted that the terrorist attacks in Paris had made him doubt the presence of God. The Archbishop of Canterbury said he was left asking why the attacks happened and where God was when the militant jihadis struck.”
This is quite a statement for the religious leader of a powerful Christian denomination.
Archbishop of Canterbury Supports Use of Armed Forces
The Daily Mail wrote on November 24:
“The Archbishop of Canterbury admitted today the world’s battle with ISIS ‘must involve the use of armed force’.”
Christ warned against this kind of thinking.
Britain’s Biggest Cinema Chains Refuse to Show Movie Reciting the “Lord’s Prayer”
Daily Mail wrote on November 21:
“Britain’s biggest cinema chains have banned the screening of a [one-minute] film in which the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the public recite the Lord’s Prayer – because they say it could be offensive to movie-goers…
“The ban will heighten fears that Christianity is being pushed to the margins of society by political correctness, and the Church said it could have a ‘chilling effect’ on free speech.”
No doubt about that. Worldwide antagonism against the Bible and its teachings is one of the signs of our time.
Will the Nonsense Ever Stop?
Daily Mail wrote on November 22:
“The King of Sweden has called for a ban on baths to help save the environment. King Carl XVI Gustaf… said he realised how much water and energy they used when he was recently staying somewhere without a shower…
“Much like the Prince Charles’s overhaul of Highgrove House with ‘eco toilets’, the Swedish king’s residence has been made greener with environmentally-friendly heating and low-energy lightbulbs.”
The Associated Press wrote on November 24:
“Prince Charles says climate change is partly responsible for Syria’s civil war and the chaos it has unleashed. The heir to the British throne says climate change is causing drought, conflict over resources and mass migrations.”
Syrian refugees flee the territory because of ongoing violence–not because of alleged or real climate change.
What Will Be the Conditions During the Great White Throne Judgment Period? (Part 3)
As will be recalled from the first two Q&As in this series, we read in Revelation 20:11-12 that those who will be raised in the Second Resurrection will be “judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”
This judgment refers to their new life during the Great White Throne Judgment period. As we explained, their minds will be opened and opportunity will be given them to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and to live God’s Way of Life, and they will be evaluated as to how well they are doing. They will have to give account for the works they will be doing then. Their works, which will be recorded in God’s heavenly books, will be judged based on the books of the Bible.
But there is another important aspect regarding the Judgment period. Those in the Second Resurrection will also have to give account for the works which they did in their PRIOR life.
We understand that all who were not called in this life and who did not commit the unpardonable sin will be in the Great White Throne judgment period (which may last for 100 years). This will include “good” people, such as widows and orphans and all those who lived decent lives in the best way that they could, given the knowledge which they had. But it will also include mass murderers, terrorists and those who committed horrendous war crimes.
It is true that every sin, which is truly repented of, will be forgiven by God, but that does not mean that despicable criminals will get a “free pass.” We must not think that they, appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ, will be getting “off the hook” without having to pay for their horrendous deeds. That is not the way God thinks, and it would be manifestly unfair, when considering the fate of the “good” and “decent” people who will also stand before Christ in the Judgment.
Think of modern terrorists who cause unspeakable harm to innocent victims. Some terrorists were killed within a second by a military airstrike or they were shot by the police. Others committed suicide by blowing themselves up and killing thereby dozens of innocent people. They did this in their misguided belief that Allah will reward them for these murders in “paradise.” Some commentators and observers have rightly pointed out that their death came far too quickly. If they receive immediate forgiveness in the Judgment, without having to account for and pay for their sins and crimes, then they would indeed get a “free pass.”
It is true, of course, that first of all, true repentance must be manifested. Those in the Second Resurrection will not qualify automatically. Rather, they will be CALLED and their minds will be OPENED. They will begin to UNDERSTAND the teachings of the Bible. But they still will have to respond to their call, as we must do today. They will need to accept the fact that they have sinned (sin being the transgression of the LAW of God, compare 1 John 3:4, Authorized Version), and that their human nature was EVIL. (Since this is true for those who lived “good lives”, how much more is it true for those deranged people who committed horrible and despicable sins and crimes!)
They must come to abhor themselves for their wicked deeds, and they must manifest their repentance by works worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:8). They must recognize that they deserve to DIE the eternal death, because of their rotten conduct, but they will also learn that the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ paid their penalty of eternal death, and that they can be freed from that penalty, if they repent and believe.
This process will be much more difficult for some than for others. A life will not be changed easily if it has been dedicated to crime and murder, to war and terrorism, to sexual depravity and child molestation, to pathological lies and robbery, to idolatry and Sabbath-breaking, to sorcery and witchcraft and the worship of Satan and his demons. Those who engaged in these kinds of abominable practices will slowly come to the realization that they must change… and that they can only change with the help of the Holy Spirit. But they will need to accept that help and let it work mightily in their lives.
In addition, those who will be in the Second Resurrection will need to learn that they have to forgive others as well for their evil deeds (Matthew 6:12, 14-15). This will also be extremely difficult for some and can only be accomplished with God’s help.
Imagine the children who were raped by their father or who were terribly abused physically by their parents. Imagine the innocent victims who were tortured by depraved murderers in concentration camps or during the Inquisition. Imagine the unborn baby who was aborted by his or her mother. The criminal and the victim will face each other in the Great White Throne Judgment. They will talk to each other. They will try to understand how such cruel conduct could have been possible.
For some, if and when they come to true repentance, the recognition of their wicked conduct towards others will be tantamount to stripes, blows or wounds which they will receive. It will cut to or pierce their hearts (Acts 2:37). They will abhor themselves for their demonically inspired behavior. For many, that will not be easy, and it will be difficult for others to forgive those who abused, raped, tortured or murdered them. Again, none of this can be achieved unless they are willing to embrace God’s undeserved grace and mercy and His powerful help.
But will repentance and change be all that God will require? Will all the prior evil deeds be forgotten and not atoned for? Of course, we read that if we repent of our sins, God will forgive them and remember them no more (Jeremiah 31:34). But as we will see, God’s forgiveness does NOT refer to the time before sins have been repented of, nor does it mean that there will be no punishment for sins and crimes (Jeremiah 18:23; Exodus 23:21; Joshua 24:19-20; Isaiah 2:9; Lamentations 3:39-42; Psalm 59:5). Just the opposite is true.
Before discussing this most-overlooked fact in future installments, let us review some horrible and most disturbing statistics (which can be easily verified in numerous sources), and while we do so, ask yourself whether it would be righteousness with God if the blood of the innocent victims would not cry out for just and deserved punishment (compare Genesis 4:10-11; Revelation 6:9-10).
For instance, Pol Pot was the leader of the communist movement in Cambodia who tried to “cleanse” the country. It resulted in up to 2.5 million deaths.
Leopold II of Belgium created a colony which he called the “Congo Free State.” He enslaved the people and forced them into labor plants. He is accredited with the murder of up to 15 million people.
Adolf Hitler and his Nazi forces engaged in the systematic murder of as many as 17 million civilians, an estimated six million of whom were Jews.
It is estimated that Josef Stalin was responsible for the murder of 23 million people, including millions of victims in Ukraine and during the Great Purge or Great Terror in Russia.
Mao Zedong has the sad reputation of being the greatest mass murderer of all times. He is viewed for being responsible for the killing of up to 78 million people.
In addition to these individuals, we might also consider religions causing horrendous murders. Conservative estimates state that during the Islamic conquest of India, 80 million Indians were killed by Islam. Over 110 million black people were killed by Islam, including those Africans killed in the slave trades.
Reviewing the grim history of “Christianity,” we learn that Charlemagne beheaded up to 4,500 Saxons who were unwilling to convert; 80,000 Turks were slaughtered in the battle of Belgrade in 1456; and 18,000 Polish villages were plundered by the Knights of the Order in the 15th century.
In addition, hundreds of thousands of victims were murdered during the crusades, including the slaughter of Turks in Antioch and during the Battle of Ashkelon (in 1099); the slaughter of Jews in Germany and Poland; the murder of innocent victims during the invasion of Jerusalem (in 1099); and the murder of “heretics” such as the Albigenses (up to 70,000), Cathars (up to 1 million), Waldensians, Paulicians and others (at least 100,000 victims).
Millions were murdered during the Inquisition (15th-17th century), including the Spanish Inquisition (up to 3 million people); the Inquisition in France (20,000 Huguenots were killed in 1572); and the slaughter of 30,000 Protestants in Germany during the 17th century.
We might also mention that a total of 150 million American Indians or Native Americans were destroyed from 1500 to 1900 (most of them died of small pox and other epidemics, but about 50 million were killed by violence or slavery). In addition, almost 1 million Buddhists, Protestants and Catholics were wounded, tortured or executed in Vietnam.
The list could be greatly enlarged, and other statistics could be given about millions upon millions of abortions and child abuse cases; millions of deaths caused by drug dealers, weapon manufacturers and producers of chemical and biological weapons.
The question, which every thinking person must ask, is this: Will all these atrocities remain unpunished? Some might have received direct punishment from God in this life and very often, sin itself leads automatically to curses, harm, destruction and physical death (Galatians 6:7-8; Numbers 32:23), but other criminals and wicked sinners prospered and remained unpunished in this world ruled by Satan and cut off from God (Jeremiah 12:1; Job 12:6; Job 21:7-15; Job 24:2-16). However, we read that “the wicked will NOT go unpunished” (Proverbs 11:21). But even direct godly punishment in this life is oftentimes quick and swift (Psalm 73:12, 18-19).
We read in Genesis 6:5 that the “wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:13 adds that “the earth [was] filled with violence.” And so, God destroyed mankind (with the exception of Noah and those in the ark), by sending floodwaters on the earth (verse 17). The death of those who drowned in these waters was relatively quick. But does this mean that no further punishment is in store for them, when they are raised in the Second Resurrection?
The book of Ecclesiastes tells us the opposite. Nothing escapes God’s attention, and even though corrupt politicians, rulers and tyrants; depraved murderers and sexual perverts; pathological liars and violent robbers and kidnappers may not be punished by God in this life, God will not forget their evil deeds. We read that “God requires an account of what is past” (Ecclesiastes 3:15) and that God “shall judge the righteous and the wicked” (verse 17). We are told that “for every matter there is a time and judgment” (Ecclesiastes 8:6); and that “God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, Whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
How exactly God will judge those in the Second Resurrection will be discussed in future installments.
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A ministerial SKYPE meeting was conducted this past Sunday. Among the things we discussed were baptism requests, speaking and writing assignments, the US Feast location for 2016 and other topics.
“Looking for a Strong Leader,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Focusing on the migrant crisis and ongoing terrorist attacks, people in the USA and in Europe are looking for a strong leader who will, “by force if necessary,” deal with “these devils who came to kill us.” According to the Bible, a strong leader will arise in Europe, but this will bring about events which many do not expect.
“Ist Gott eine körperlose Masse ohne Form und Gestalt?” is the title of this week’s new German sermon. Title in English: Is God a Bodiless Blob Without Form and Shape?
“Which Path?” the sermonette presented by Kalon Mitchell last Sabbath, is now posted. Here is a summary:
We are told many times in the Bible to stay on the right path. That requires us knowing which path that is. Our choices must be based on how God tells us how to live our lives.
“The Christian in a Political World,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
In light of real or feared terror attacks in Europe, the USA and the Middle East, how is a Christian to deal with this world’s politics? Should Christians participate in governmental elections? Should they financially support “their” political candidate for the highest office? Should they engage in war propaganda or participate in any way in the wars of their country? Are they to pray for the governing authorities, and if so, how and why? Should they even pray for the soon-coming return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God here on earth, since they know that terrible events will have to occur first, which will cause much suffering and pain?
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:
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