Update 72


His Fierce Anger

The Sermon this weekend will be given by Dave Harris and is entitled “His Fierce Anger.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”

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What Can I Do?

by Dave Harris

It is hard to gain a sense that what you or I do in the work of God really matters–that we could actually make a real and profound difference.  It is easier to look to the righteous men and women who have their heroic lives recorded in the pages of the Bible.  However, their examples should serve to inspire us.  We have all been called to be those kind of people!
Consider that we are the people who have been chosen by God to be examples in this time–without doubt, a time in which, by all measure, some of the most startling and truly awesome events in the great master plan of God will unfold — events which are indeed unfolding — right now — on a daily basis.
Are we up to the job?
A starting point is to know what this calling means to both ourselves and to God.  God has left very careful instructions for what it is that we should be doing.  The instructions are all clearly outlined in His Word, and He is revealing more to us as He opens our understanding of the Bible–especially in light of the prophetic events now emerging in fulfillment.
For each of us, our calling takes on a meaning that transcends simply knowing the truth and being “in” the Church.  God has given each of us responsibilities. We all have to participate in order to fulfill the job God has given to His end-time Church.  We have been placed in the body (Church) by God.  1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.”  The verses that follow delineate administrative jobs in the Church. Every member is important — otherwise, God would not have placed the member into Christ’s body. And, every member has a job to do. 1 Corinthians 13 immediately follows revealing the character of Jesus Christ, “…faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest is love.”  (verse 13).
Jesus described the greatest kind of love:  “‘Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.’ ” (John 15:13).  Jesus did what ONLY He could do for all of mankind–it was His job.
When we read, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10), can we apply it to ourselves–in the Church of God in the here and now?  Certainly, this was the approach of our Savior, and we have other examples.  For instance, the example of the woman who anointed Jesus.  We read in Mark 14:8, ” ‘She has done what she could.’ ”  Then, in verse 9, note the wonderful promise given by Jesus:  ” ‘Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.’ ”  And one more example is that of the widow who placed “two mites” in the treasury of the Temple.  In Luke 21:3-4, “So He said, ‘truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all;  ‘for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.’ ” This widow did all she could to please God.
These examples are faith, hope and love in action.  It is the approach we all need right now! 
We must never neglect the great importance of prayer and fasting in this regard. Through prayer and fasting, we draw closer to God, and God will reveal to us what He wants us to do, if we really want to know. Notice Luke 2:36-38: “Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Israel.”
Anna did all she could do, and in fulfilling her job, God granted her the great joy and fulfillment of seeing Jesus, before she died, and identifying Him to others.
A very important lesson was left for us in the healing of Naaman’s leprosy.  Elisha would not even come out of his door but sent a messenger to Naaman.  Naaman became furious, because he was looking for some great sign from Elisha and Elisha’s God.  Verse 13 of 2 Kings 5 shows real wisdom: “and his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it?  How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?’ ”  That is what Naaman did, and he was healed.
We have this additional consideration: ” ‘For who has despised the day of small things?’ ”  (Zechariah 4:10).  It is all too human a proclivity to do just that.  But we must not do this!
What we can do is to continue in sincere and fervent PRAYER for one another and for the work of God.  To the many among our dedicated members who are doing what they can–EVEN OVER AND ABOVE–we say THANK YOU!

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“The Vatican yesterday approved the revised U.S. bishops’ policy to combat sex abuse by the clergy, declaring the need to restore the image of the priesthood in a scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church.” (www.washtimes.com for December 17, 2002).
At the heart of Vatican approval were new guarantees first protecting priests in cases of possible molestation.  The above article continues: “Under the revised policy, bishops are compelled to obey local civil law on reporting abuse accusations, but not more than that.” (emphasis added).
This carefully phrased document, while addressing molestation as a serious offense, seems more intent on preserving the rights of the Catholic priesthood.  Additionally, the supreme authority of the Catholic Church and application of its standards in matters such as this is the compelling issue for Papal Rome. 
A leading Protestant theologian, professor Stephan Tobler of the University of Tuebingen, Germany, feels that the rosary may contribute to unity between the two churches, according to Zenit, dated December 12. The pope had earlier expressed, too, that “the rosary can even promote ecumenism.” Prof. Tobler elaborated that the Catholic Church speaks of “the grace Mary gives us when we pray to her,” continuing that the introduction of the rosary “in this way in the dynamic of the God-Trinity” is done in a sensible way, “if it does not detract from looking at Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Father.”
These statements are remarkable. First, prayers to Mary are apparently not considered any more as inappropriate. Then, the (wrong) belief in a Trinity is emphasized, by listing Christ first and the Father last. Christ, however, said, that we are to pray to the Father, and that the Father is greater than Christ. The Holy Spirit, since it is not God, but God’s power flowing from God, is not to be prayed to, however.
With former differences between the two Christian churches subsiding, we will be seeing soon a full-fledged unification. Those Christian groups who will not participate in such movement will find themselves at the outside, and will become the target of criticism, and more.


The Coloradoan reported on 12/14/02: “The European Union invited 10 new members (Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia)  to join it Friday in a historic opening to the former communist east designed to reunite the continent after decades of Cold War division.
“The agreement was reached at the end of one of the most significant European meetings in decades. Years of intricate negotiations ended with warm embraces from leaders once separated by the Iron Curtain.”
Continuing to quote: ” ‘Europe is spreading its wings in freedom and in prosperity,’ said Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the meeting’s host, who compared the day’s significance to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
” ‘Welcome to our new family.  Our new Europe is born,’ said Fogh Rasmussen…”
The 10 nations will join the EU on May 1, 2004. According to Der Spiegel, December 13, 2002, Louis Michel, Belgian foreign minister, spoke of a “unification of Europe.”
As Zenit reported on December 12, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of the European Community sees the enlargement of the EU through the accessions of 10 new member states as the “realization of a hope cherished by the [Catholic] church in terms of reconciliation between East and West.”
The big loser was Turkey. Although the United States had tried to pressure Europe to admit Turkey into the EU, the EU refused at this point. The leader of the CSU in Germany, Edmund Stoiber, welcomed this decision (Der Spiegel, December 13), encouraging the German people to continue in their resistance against acceptance of Turkey in the EU. Mr. Stoiber had stated earlier that Turkey is a non-Christian country and should therefore not become a full-fledged member state of a united Christian Europe.
Former German Chancellor and current publisher of Die Zeit, Helmut Schmidt (83, SPD), also agreed that Turkey should not become part of the EU. In an interview with Bild, December 16, he stated, “It is so far not a democratic country… The number of Turks [who would migrate to Germany] would double very soon. Ghettos would be the result, as Turks and Kurds don’t understand German values and norms very well.”
Regarding the assimilation of 10 new nations, Herr Schmidt stated in Bild: “This is without any doubt a mighty step, which we have envisioned here. But we don’t know yet how these states are to participate in the political decision-making process of the EU. According to current law, we would have a EU-commission with 27 member states. That is not doable. Therefore, the EU must now, very quickly, introduce a totally new system, to be able to act, instead of being buried in a chaos of diverse states and opinions.”


Most assume today that having Kings and Queens over the modern nations of Europe–as was the case for many centuries–is something in the past.
However, that may not be the case!  Royal families who operate as figure-heads or who live in exile are widely admired in many nations which now operate as economic democracies.  A case in point involves the royalty of Italy.  After World War II, the Italians voted to eliminate the monarchy, even barring King Umberto and his male descendants from entering the country.  From www.softcom.net for October 15, 2002, “The exile, applying to male members of the House of Savoy, was enshrined in Italy’s postwar constitution as punishment for the family’s support of dictator Benito Mussolini.”  The headline for this article was “Italy’s royals Cleared for Return.”
Other sources report that the 30-year-old son, Emmanuel Filiberto, who was born and reared in Switzerland, has recently signed to do an ad for olive oil in Italy.  Like many other royal families in Europe, there are heirs in waiting among the families who once ruled over their nations. We could mention, as another example, Otto von Hapsburg of Austria and his son. While Otto had abdicated the crown, his son never has done so.
Revelation 17:12 talks about “ten kings” that will give their power to the beast — the final and last resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire in Europe. Although this may not have to mean, that ten literal “kings” will rule over modern European nations, under a strong military leader, it might very well mean that.


USA Today reported on December 18, that the United States and Britain dismissed the Iraqi weapons report, stating that it is “not acceptable and violates a United Nations resolution that threatens the use of force to disarm the country.” One day earlier, according to a poll published in the Los Angeles Times, more than two-thirds of Americans believe that the Bush administration has failed to make its case that a war against Iraq is justified.

On December 19, according to www.ABCNews.com, “U.N. chief weapons Inspector Hans Blix was delivering his first assessment of Iraq’s arms declaration to the U.N. Security Council today as Pentagon sources told ABCNEWS the U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf had accelerated to the point where the United States would be poised for war by late January.” Blix pointed out that he did not receive “much information about the weapons,” but stated at the same time that “there’s been prompt access to sites all over and there has been a good deal of help on the logistical side,” according to www.ABCNews.com.
Der Spiegel stated on December 19 that the rejection of the Iraqi report by the United States included, in effect, an American declaration that they now have a reason, under the U.N. resolution, to go to war against Iraq. The magazine warned that the United States may now begin a propaganda campaign amongst certain allies, including Germany, to gain support for a war against Iraq.
During an interview at the “Today” show, on December 19, Richard Holbrooke, former US Ambassador to the UN, stated that the “world is now on the path to war,” and that “we have reached the last off-ramp on the road towards war.”  He warned that we will definitely be at war within the next few months, unless the Iraqi leadership removes Saddam. He also stated that the United States will launch a massive attack against Iraq, if Saddam should choose to use chemical or biological weapons in any way, including against his own people. “This could get very ugly,” Holbrooke said. He also admitted that it “is not that clear yet, what will happen after Saddam is gone.” Holbrooke continued that the American troops are not in place yet, and that support from Turkey and certain Arab nations is needed first. He said that although the weather in January would be optimal for an attack, it could happen earlier or a little later.
One result of the current discussion about a war with Iraq is the fall of the U.S. dollar and the climb of the Euro. As Spiegel Online reported on December 17, the Euro is now more valuable than the U.S. Dollar, stating, “The uncertainty in Iraq has consequences for the Dollar. Every indication of an American war against Iraq speaks presently against the U.S. currency.”

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Q: Please explain Leviticus 25:1-7, especially the apparent discrepancy between verses 4 and 5 and verses 6 and 7.

A: Leviticus 25:1-7 reads:

“(1) And the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, (2) ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the LORD. (3) Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; (4) but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the LORD. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. (5) What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. (6) And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, (7) for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land – all its produce shall be for food.”‘”

Many commentaries acknowledge the wisdom contained in these verses to let the land lie fallow every seventh year. The Broadman Bible Commentary states, “…there were also agricultural advantages in leaving a field fallow once in seven years, to alleviate the exhaustion of the soil…” Likewise, the Nelson Study Bible points out, “A sabbath to the LORD is the same phrase used for the weekly Sabbath (23:3). The people rested weekly from their work; the land was to rest every seventh year from its work. The principle of the land needing rest has been rediscovered in recent years and is practiced in various ways by farmers of many nations.”

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown agree, “This year of rest was to invigorate the productive powers of the land, as the weekly Sabbath was a refreshment to men and cattle. It commenced immediately after the feast of ingathering (i.e., feast of tabernacles), and it was calculated to teach the people, in a remarkable way, the reality of the presence and providential power of God.”

But, how are we to understand Leviticus 25: 5-7? Some claim that these verses teach that the owner of the land was in no way permitted to take for himself what grew in the seventh year (compare Broadman). This view has been correctly rejected by most commentaries, as it does not agree with the Biblical text. For instance, the Nelson Study Bible points out:

“Reaping and gathering for storage and selling were not permitted in the Sabbath year. However, harvesting for daily needs was permitted. Since the purpose of these laws was to promote social equality in Israel, anyone, regardless of social standing, was permitted to use anything that grew, wherever it grew. Even the wild beasts of the field are mentioned here, to emphasize that God would provide for every creature. Of course, Israel’s main provision during this time was the bumper crop produced the year before the Sabbath year (vv. 21,22).”

The Soncino Cumash concurs, pointing out, “In this year you must not think of yourself as the sole owner, but others have an equal right to its produce with you. That which grows on its own accord, without any effort on your part, is permitted.”

The Ryrie Study Bible also concurs, “Every seventh year the land was to have a sabbath, a rest. Whatever grew during the year was freely available to all alike (vv. 6-7). It was also a time of special instruction in the Law of God (cf. Deut. 31:10-13).”

So does The New Bible Commentary: Revised:

“In the law of the sabbath rest, the principle is applied to all human beings, whether free or bond, and also to the cattle (Ex. 20:10), to the ox, the ass, or any cattle, as beasts of burden (Dt. 5:14), as well as to the sojourner. Here it is extended to the land. Every seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of solemn rest… from sowing and reaping. The land is to be left untilled and that which grows of itself, called in v. 6 the sabbath of the land (i.e. what the sabbath of the land produces of itself), is to be food for all alike, for the owner and the servant, for the sojourner and the cattle. It is not the product of human industry and it is to be free to all. Furthermore, the promise is given that the yield of the sixth year, being ordered and blessed by God, will be sufficient (vv. 18-22) for this period of rest. It is the law of the manna on a larger scale (Ex. 16:22). This at least suggests that the sabbath increase (vv. 6,7) unlike the gleanings of the ordinary year which were assigned to the widow and orphan, will suffice for the actual needs of everyone (cf. Ex. 16:17f). According to Dt. 31:10 this year is not to be spent in idleness, but to be used for the teaching and training of Israel in the law of God.”

Levitcus 25:1-7 teaches us important lessons, including reliance on God and sharing our goods with others. Food growing by itself during the seventh year could be eaten by everyone. Applying these principles today, this would be like walking through the forest and finding wild berries that grow on their own accord. In some areas of the world, these could be freely plucked and eaten by the one who is hungry.

God warned His people not to neglect to obey His law regarding the land Sabbath. Ancient Israel and Judah refused to carry out God’s command to let the land rest every seventh year. God prophesied that Israel and Judah would go into captivity, if they were not to obey His laws. “Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths. As long as it lies desolate it shall rest – for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it.” (Leviticus 26:34-35).

Because of their disobedience of God’s laws, ancient Israel and Judah actually went into captivity. 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 states, “And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon…, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate, she kept Sabbath…”

Today, the modern tribes of Israel and Judah do not obey their God, either, including God’s command to grant their land rest every seventh year. The prophecy in Leviticus 26 is dual. As it was fulfilled in the past, so it will be fulfilled again in the future. But, there is good news: Although modern Israel and Judah will have to go again into captivity, God will ultimately free them from it. At that time, the law of the sabbath of the land will be obeyed on a national level. The 50th chapter of Jeremiah speaks about this coming time. It is clearly a prophecy for the future, as verses 4, 5, and 20 show. Jeremiah 50:33-34 contains this promise:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘The children of Israel were oppressed, Along with the children of Judah; All who took them captive have held them fast; they have refused to let them go. Their Redeemer is strong; The LORD of hosts is His name. He will thoroughly plead their case, That He may give rest to the land, And disquiet the inhabitants of [modern] Babylon.'”

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