|ASK; Hesitation and Haste
|Connecting the Dots
|This Week in the News
|Should We Use Hebrew Expressions in Our Worship of God?
|Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
ASK; Hesitation and Haste
On May 28, 2016, Dave Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “ASK,” and Eric Rank will present the sermon, titled, “Hesitation and Haste.”
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.
Connecting the Dots
by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
On the flight to the USA in early April this year for the church’s annual conference and to keep the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread with the brethren in San Diego, two items in the Independent newspaper that I was reading grabbed my attention. The headline was “Response to Kezia Dugdale’s news shows we’ve come a long way”. Let me quote excerpts from the article:
“It is 31 years since a young politician told a rally: ‘My name is Chris Smith. I’m the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, and I’m gay.’ With those words – which received a five minute standing ovation – the future Culture Secretary became the first British MP to come out of the closet.”
It says something about the state of the nation where perversion is so applauded.
Continuing with the article: “The latest is the Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, who disclosed over the weekend that she was in a relationship with a woman. ‘I don’t talk about it much because I don’t feel I need to,’ she said. She joined Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, David Coburn, leader of Ukip Scotland, and Patrick Harvie, leader of the Scottish Greens, in coming out as LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender). Scotland is now thought to be the only country where the majority of its mainstream party leaders are not heterosexual. South of the border, 35 Labour, Tory and SNP MP’s have come out, giving Westminster what is believed to be the highest proportions in any national parliament.”
Over a couple of pages in this same newspaper was the headline “Most Scots are now atheists as churchgoing hits 15 year low. The latest Scottish Social Attitudes survey found that 52% of those living in Scotland consider themselves to be atheist, compared with 40% when the survey began in 1999.”
If these two items were not bad enough, the entertainment on offer on the aircraft was appalling. I chose one of the films to watch and in less than 3 minutes I had switched it off due to foul language. Another film I chose without knowing what it was about had a “lesbian” theme and so that was another no-no. In some of these films the blasphemy is simply shocking and, again, is to be avoided.
In a very short space of time I was vividly reminded of the cesspit of immorality that true Christians have to battle on a daily, minute by minute and second by second basis. The societies we live in reflect all of this evil on a previously unimaginable basis.
In this same newspaper were many reports on the troubles that beset the world and almost everyone seems to be oblivious to what is happening. They are simply unable to connect the dots.
We have been privileged to be called out of this quagmire of evil doing and to understand biblical principles that evade the intellect and understanding of those in political office and influential positions in this world’s society.
Cause and effect ignored. Sowing and reaping ignored. God’s instruction in His Word ignored. The law of God ignored. Ignoring instruction leads to ignorance.
We understand that “not many mighty now are called” (1 Corinthians 1:26-28; Matthew 11:25). We understand the promise of blessing and retribution (Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28) which are principles still operational today, and we know that better times are ahead. In the meantime, we need to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10) so that we can then help those who today are blind to what is happening, and teach them the right way of living in the Kingdom of God.
Reports this week highlight epic transitions in world alliances: Russia and China challenge US presence in international airspace; the US ends embargo on sales of lethal arms to Vietnam while Asia remains skeptical; India completes strategic agreement with Iran; Turkey hosts a United Nations World Humanitarian Summit as reports of impending famine are forecasted.
We report on Hillary Clinton’s E-Mail scandal; Donald Trump’s perceived future; and Turkey’s Erdogan resisting EU demands; focus on the possibility of a Brexit; and highlight the emerging right-wing political forces in Germany as Norbert Hofer looks to the future following his narrow defeat in Austria; tell of Pope Francis’s meeting with the grand imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque; and point out the new membership in the Knesset of Temple Mount Activist Yehuda Glick.
This Week in the News
Warplanes Push the US
USA Today reported on May 22:
“Chinese and Russian warplanes have been increasingly aggressive intercepting U.S. military aircraft and patrolling near America’s West Coast, prompting the Air Force’s top combat officer to label their provocations one of his top worries.
“Air Force Gen. Herbert ‘Hawk’ Carlisle, who leadsAir Combat Command, said in an interview with USA TODAY that meeting the challenge from the Russian and Chinese to flights in international airspace is essential but dangerous.
“‘Our concern is a resurgent Russia and a very, very aggressive China,’ Carlisle said. Both countries are intent on expanding their spheres of influence — Russia in eastern Europe and the Pacific with China focusing much of its effort over the disputed South China Sea.
“‘Their intent is to get us not to be there,’ Carlisle said. ‘So that the influence in those international spaces is controlled only by them. My belief is that we cannot allow that to happen. We have to continue to operate legally in international airspace and international waterways. We have to continue to call them out when they are being aggressive and unsafe.’
“The stakes are high. Aggressive intercepts of U.S. patrol planes run the risk of mid-air collisions that would escalate tensions among nuclear powers.
“‘Any accident that occurs while the U.S. military is playing cat and mouse with Russian or Chinese forces could escalate into a real fight,’ said Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant and military analyst at the Lexington Institute. ‘If it does, American victory is not assured, because U.S. forces are operating thousands of miles from home and the other side is near its main bases. Small confrontations can turn into big wars, and Russian military doctrine embraces the use of nuclear weapons to win local conflicts.’”
The Bible reveals that the USA will be defeated in the next major war, but the enemy will not be Russia or China, but the future United States of Europe.
US Arms Vietnam
Reuters published the following on May 23:
“The United States announced an end to its embargo on sales of lethal arms to Vietnam on Monday, an historic step that draws a line under the two countries’ old enmity and underscores their shared concerns about Beijing’s growing military clout.
“The move came during President Barack Obama’s first visit to Hanoi, which his welcoming hosts described as the arrival of a warm spring and a new chapter in relations between two countries that were at war four decades ago.
“Obama, the third U.S. president to visit Vietnam since diplomatic relations were restored in 1995, has made a strategic ‘rebalance’ toward Asia a centerpiece of his foreign policy.
“Vietnam, a neighbor of China, is a key part of that strategy amid worries about Beijing’s assertiveness and sovereignty claims to 80 percent of the South China Sea.”
BBC also reported on May 23:
“Here is a former enemy, a one-party, communist-ruled state, once associated in American minds primarily with a humiliating war, now an increasingly close economic and strategic partner.
“Vietnam seeks US backing in its dispute with China over contested islands in the South China Sea. It seeks access to US military technology. It has been an early and enthusiastic participant in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), widely seen as a US-led effort to counter China’s growing influence in the region.
“So there is a great deal at stake in this visit, with high hopes on the Vietnamese side that it will cement closer ties, which can endure even under a new US administration.
“‘Military and defence co-operation is an important component of the relationship,’ says Tran Viet Thai, from the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, referring to hopes that the US may ease restrictions on sales of military equipment.”
Asia Skeptical of US Commitment
The New York Times reported on May 23:
“When President Obama announced Monday that he was ending a half-century-long arms embargo against Vietnam, it was another milestone in his long-running ambition to recast America’s role in Asia — a ‘pivot’ as he once called it, designed to realign America’s foreign policy so it can reap the benefits of Asia’s economic and strategic future.
“Yet as Mr. Obama’s time in office comes to an end, Asian nations are deeply skeptical about how much they can rely on Washington’s commitment and staying power in the region. They sense that for the first time in memory, Americans are questioning whether their economic and defense interests in Asia are really that vital.
“Mr. Obama is the first president to have grown up in the region — he lived in Indonesia as an elementary school student — and he has never doubted that America is underinvested in Asia and overinvested in the Middle East.
“In visit after visit, he has capitalized on the palpable nervousness about Beijing’s intentions while also cautioning that China’s growing influence and power are unstoppable forces of history. In Mr. Obama’s view, that means both the United States and the rest of the region will have to both accommodate and channel China’s ambitions rather than make a futile attempt to contain them, while reassuring the Chinese of America’s peaceful intentions.
“At the core, the policy has been building on the two-decade-old opening to Vietnam; the establishment of a new relationship with Myanmar as it lurches toward democracy; closer relations with the two largest treaty allies in the region, Japan and South Korea; and renewed military ties with the Philippines. The administration has also pushed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would set new terms for trade and business investment among the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations.”
Trump Clinches Republican Nomination without Contested Convention
The Associated Press wrote on May 26:
“Donald Trump reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president Thursday, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party’s unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July…
“It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1,238. With 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7, Trump will easily pad his total, avoiding a contested convention in Cleveland.”
Trump Makes Many International Delegates Nervous
AFP wrote on May 26:
“The talks in Germany to flesh out December’s historic global climate deal are probably not at the top of Donald Trump’s agenda this week. But the diplomats from 196 nations huddled in Bonn are keenly aware of the fact that the ‘The Donald’ is now within spitting distance of the White House — and it is making a lot of them nervous. It is not hard to see why.
“The last Republican standing in the U.S. presidential race has described climate change as a hoax perpetrated by China to gain competitive advantage in manufacturing over the US… he said he was ‘not a big fan’ of the Paris Agreement… ‘I will be renegotiating those agreements, at a minimum,’ Trump told Reuters… ‘And at a maximum I may do something else.’
“Under the Paris accord, 196 nations have pledged to hold global warming to well under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)… Sidestepping a recalcitrant Congress under Republican control, U.S. President Barack Obama has used executive power to aggressively confront global warming at home and abroad…
“The prospect of a Trump presidency precisely at the moment when nations are inching toward ratification of the delicately balanced deal sends shivers down the spines of negotiators here. When asked what worried him most at this stage, Seyni Nafo, climate ambassador for Mali and president of the Africa Group, snapped: ‘Trump winning the election’…
“France’s top climate diplomat, Laurence Tubiana, agreed that Trump in the White House could do serious damage to the new climate regime…
“The Kyoto Treaty — which dangled in limbo for seven years before entering into force — was fatally weakened from the moment the administration of George W. Bush refused to ratify. Japan, Russia and Canada later pulled out…”
Hillary Clinton Broke Federal Rules… Now What?
Deutsche Welle reported on May 25:
“The State Department has found ‘systemic weaknesses related to electronic records and communications’ by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state… Clinton disregarded various cybersecurity guidelines and incurred unnecessary risks while serving as the nation’s top diplomat from 2009 to 2013. The report… was the culmination of an official inquiry which found ‘serious shortcomings’ in how Clinton and her predecessors managed the security of their emails. Clinton’s failures were singled out as more egregious than her predecessors’ as the State Department had reportedly made increased efforts to communicate the need for cybersecurity measures.
“… despite guidelines to the contrary, Clinton used mobile devices to conduct official business on her personal email account and private server and never sought approval from senior information officers. The report also noted that Clinton and her senior aides had not cooperated with the investigation…
“The Associated Press news agency revealed in 2015 that the clintonemail.com server used by Clinton was in the basement of home while she was secretary of state. Clinton apparently used the private server for work and personal emails, including some that have since been classified. The presumed Democratic presidential nominee has been dogged for months by allegations she endangered national security. Added to other jibes by the likely Republican candidate, Donald Trump, Clinton’s laxity in her email security will likely be used against her to bolster a narrative that she is not to be trusted…”
Clinton’s Conduct Inexcusable
The Washington Post wrote on May 25:
“HILLARY CLINTON’S use of a private email server while secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 has been justifiably criticized as an error of judgment. What the new report from the State Department inspector general makes clear is that it also was not a casual oversight. Ms. Clinton had plenty of warnings to use official government communications methods, so as to make sure that her records were properly preserved and to minimize cybersecurity risks. She ignored them…
“On June 28, 2011, a cable was sent to all diplomatic and consular posts over her signature warning that personal email accounts could be compromised and officials should ‘avoid conducting official Department business from your personal e-mail accounts.’ At the time, Ms. Clinton was doing exactly that.
“On March 11, 2011, an assistant secretary sent a memorandum on cybersecurity threats directly to Ms. Clinton, noting a ‘dramatic increase’ in attempts to compromise personal email accounts of senior department officials, possibly for spying or blackmail. That didn’t stop Ms. Clinton either. There were also numerous notifications that some emails (but not all) are considered federal records under the law and that she should print and file those in her office and, before leaving office, surrender all emails dealing with department business. She did so only about two years later, in December 2014…
“According to the report, after a staff member ‘raised concerns’ with another official about Ms. Clinton’s personal email server, the staff was instructed ‘never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.’… there is no excuse for the way Ms. Clinton breezed through all the warnings and notifications… [she] was disturbingly unmindful of the rules…”
Law experts are saying that based on this report by the State Department, the FBI has a legal obligation to seek an indictment against Hillary Clinton. It remains to be seen whether this will happen in our politically corrupt system.
India Embraces Iran
Time wrote on May 23:
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded a two-day visit to Iran by signing a raft of agreements Monday, including two key deals that will likely enable him to circumvent contentious neighbor and regional rival Pakistan — thereby establishing a crucial economic and strategic pathway toward the rest of the world.
“The most noteworthy of the 12 agreements signed between Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is India’s investment of $500 million into developing Iran’s Chabahar port, considered an important entrepôt leading to Afghanistan and onward to Central Asia. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also later joined the two leaders to sign a trilateral transit agreement that will significantly ease the passage of goods between the three countries and boost trade.
“‘The main significance is the explicit connection of this project to Afghanistan’s future economy and stability. In that sense, the presence of Afghan President Ghani in Tehran was very important,’ Dhruva Jaishankar, a fellow for foreign policy at Brookings India, tells TIME, adding that the political importance being given to the Chabahar project makes it clear that it is ‘not just any commercial deal’…
“‘There is no denying that Pakistan’s intransigence on transit trade between India and Afghanistan via Pakistan is one reason transit through Iran is being realized now,’ says Jaishankar, although he adds that the trilateral agreements would likely have been realized even without Pakistan in the picture.
“‘Beyond that, security concerns and Chinese investment in the [CPEC] necessitate a parallel route for India to access Afghanistan and Central Asia, for Iran to build up its own transportation infrastructure, and for Afghanistan to access the Indian Ocean,’ he says.”
According to Scripture, a major military alliance of Far Eastern countries will occur in the future, and Iran will be part of it.
World Humanitarian Summit—Little Help!
Fox News reported on May 23:
“While tens of millions of people endure displacement, starvation and violent death from long-running wars and unexpected disasters, the United Nations is hosting an international humanitarian summit, hoping to shake up a tottering global aid system. But the much ballyhooed summit is taking place without President Obama or Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
“The U.N.’s top humanitarian relief official, Stephen O’Brien, has described the two-day Istanbul meeting, which continues through Tuesday, as a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity to set in motion an ambitious and far-reaching agenda to change the way that we alleviate, and most importantly that we prevent, the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable people.’
“Whether the rest of the world agrees about the consequences of what the U.N. calls ‘the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit’ is another question…
“Meantime, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has just launched a new appeal to make up a $500 million shortfall in providing the basics of shelter for some 2 million people.
“One reason for the shortfall is that the U.N. has largely kept returning to the same financial well. Five nations and groups—The U.S., Britain, Germany, Japan and the European Commission—are always the Top Five among generous nations, followed by other Western nations and the global private sector.
“Chief among them, of course, is the U.S., which has already given or pledged some $2.4 billion in humanitarian aid so far this year. Last year, the U.S. gave $6.25 billion — nearly one-third of the world’s relief giving…
“The biggest challenge to the elaborate pomp and circumstances of the Istanbul summit, which claims to be seeking solutions to ‘root causes’ of the refugee crisis, is that the biggest cause of all is not yet addressed.
“There are, as yet, few signs of the political will needed to accomplish what the U.N. summit calls ‘Core Responsibility 1’ of leaders attending the meeting — to prevent and end the wave of long and unresolved conflicts, in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, that are currently driving the refugee catastrophe.”
From its inception, the UN has been incapable of solving any major conflicts or preventing any major wars. It won’t be able to do so in the future, either. Please view our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Is Nuclear War Unavoidable?”
Africa Facing Staggering Famine
The Guardian wrote on May 22:
“Up to 50 million people in Africa will need food by Christmas as a crisis across the continent triggered by El Niño worsens, the UN and major international charities have warned.
“A second year of deep drought in much of southern and eastern Africa has ravaged crops, disrupted water supplies and driven up food prices, leaving 31 million people needing food now, and 20 million more likely to run out this year.
“A further 10 million people in Ethiopia, six million in southern Sudan and five million in Yemen were in danger of starvation after floods and drought, said the UN.
“The severest El Niño in 30 years was expected to tail off in the next month as hot equatorial waters in the Pacific returned to normal temperatures, but its effects would be felt for many more months, said the World Food Programme. Stephen O’Brien, the UN’s humanitarian chief, said: ‘The collective impact of the El Niño phenomenon has created one of the world’s biggest disasters for millions of people, yet this crisis is receiving little attention.
“‘The numbers are staggering. One million children in eastern and southern Africa alone are severely acutely malnourished, and across southern Africa 32 million people need assistance and that figure is likely to increase.’ The UN predicts that food will start running out on a large scale by July, with the crisis peaking between December and next April…
“‘The window for responding in a meaningful manner is closing rapidly,’ said Shadrack Omol, senior adviser to the UN’s children fund, Unicef. ‘The concern is that slow-onset emergencies, such as the one we are dealing with in southern Africa, do not get enough attention because they creep up on us.’
“Since July 2015, Britain has contributed about £150m for aid to El Niño-affected countries in Africa, including Malawi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Somalia and Uganda. The international development minister, Nick Hurd, said: ‘We cannot and will not stand idly by while millions suffer. Britain is playing a leading role in helping countries across Africa to cope with the impact of El Niño. Support for people affected by El Niño is important to Africa and also firmly in Britain’s national interest.’”
Worldwide famine is prophesied in Scripture.
India Faces Unprecedented Heat Wave
The Independent reported on May 23:
“India’s on-going heat wave, which set a new record for the country’s highest-ever recorded temperature last week, is melting tarmac on the roads of some of India’s busiest cities.
“Residents in the city of Valsad, Gujarat, had to fight melting tar while crossing the road as temperatures rose to 36C.
“Video footage from NDTV shows people becoming trapped on a melting road surface as their shoes stick in the softening tarmac.
“Abandoned sandals are seen strewn across the sticky roadway and a woman falls over as she attempts to carry a heavy bag over the road.
“Temperatures in parts of western India exceeded 50C on Friday. The record – a scorching 51C – was set in the city of Phalodi, in the western state of Rajasthan. The previous high was 50.6C in 1956 in the city of Alwar, also in Rajasthan.
“Indian weather officials have warned of more frequent heat waves as the scorching temperatures cause an increase in dehydration and heatstroke cases, as well as triggering widespread power cuts as surging demand overwhelms supply grids.
“Hundreds of people have died as crops have withered in the fields in more than 13 states, forcing tens of thousands of small farmers to abandon their land and move into the cities. Others have killed themselves rather than go to live in urban shanty towns.
“Rivers, lakes and dams have dried up in many parts of the western states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
“The heat wave has struck as India contends with a major drought and worsening water shortages that have affected around 330 million people.”
Turkey Faces Off With the EU
ABC News/The Associated Press wrote on May 23:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Turkey’s president on Monday that Ankara must fulfill all the European Union’s conditions to secure visa-free travel for its citizens, but Turkey responded that it would suspend agreements with the EU if the bloc does not keep its promises.
“The EU says Turkey must narrow its definition of ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorist act.’ The bloc is concerned that journalists and political dissenters could be targeted. But Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that is out of the question.
“Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Erdogan on the sidelines of the World Humanitarian Summit meeting in Istanbul, Merkel said that she doesn’t expect the visa waiver to be implemented at the beginning of July as was originally hoped.
“Merkel, who is facing pressure at home to be tough with Erdogan, also expressed concern about a move to strip legislators in Turkey of their immunity from prosecution.
“But she underlined her commitment to the EU-Turkey deal aimed at stemming Europe’s migrant influx, arguing that its success is a matter of ‘mutual interest.’
“The EU has offered Turkey a visa waiver as incentive — along with up to 6 billion euros ($6.8 billion) for Syrian refugees and fast-track EU membership talks — to get it to stop migrants leaving for Europe. As part of the agreement, the EU planned to accelerate the introduction of visa-free entry for Turks, with a target date of June 30.
“Turkey has fulfilled most of 72 conditions but Erdogan’s refusal to revise anti-terror laws has emerged as a stumbling block.”
Even though Turkey will to some extent collaborate with Europe against Israel, it appears very unlikely that Turkey will ever become a member of the EU. Note the next article as well.
Merkel Under Attack
Bloomberg wrote on May 24:
“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest salvo at the European Union came when Angela Merkel least expected it. The German chancellor was winding up the first day of a two-day cabinet retreat at a Baroque schloss near Berlin when Erdogan threatened to tear up the central plank of Turkey’s refugee accord with the EU. Coming just 24 hours after he and Merkel met during a UN conference in Istanbul, the volley caught the government off guard … Turkey hasn’t met the EU’s 72 conditions that would allow a lifting of visa requirements for Turks…
“Erdogan’s ability to control the flow of migrant crossings to Europe is causing Merkel almost as much of a domestic headache as last year’s refugee crisis… public disillusionment over Merkel’s dealings with an ever-more unpredictable ruler is compounding her struggle against a populist challenge… the worry in the German capital is that she may struggle to retain her coalition partner if she contests and wins the 2017 election.
“The humbling of the so-called grand coalition of Germany’s two main Volksparteien is a sign that Germany is losing its immunity against right-wing populism that’s swept Britain, France, the Netherlands and most recently Austria. One German official said that the anti-establishment mood at large among Europe’s voters is now a threat to all forces at the political center…”
The rise of right-wing parties and leaders in Europe is remarkable. They will not prevent the fulfillment of biblical prophecy that ten European nations or groups of nations will unite under a charismatic European leader of German or Austrian descent, but they are undoubtedly playing a role in preventing more “moderate” leaders from staying in power. Even though Merkel tried to “downplay” her disagreement with Erdogan and his ruthless dictatorship, it is clear that the entire situation is becoming more and more troublesome for Merkel.
Newsmax wrote on May 26:
“Sixty-five years ago, what has become the European Union was an embryo conceived in fear..
“Under the leadership of two Frenchmen, Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet, they created, in 1951, the European Coal and Steel Community to put essential elements of industrial war under multinational control. This begat, in 1957, the European Economic Community, aka the Common Market… European unity has always been a surreptitious political project couched in economic categories…
“Current polls show Remain slightly ahead, but Leave has a majority among persons over age 43, who also are most likely to vote. The most conspicuous campaigner for Brexit is Boris Johnson, the two-term Conservative former mayor of London… [He] is educated (Eton; an Oxford classics degree), intelligent, erudite (see his book on Roman Europe), articulate and witty…
“Johnson’s only real resemblance to Trump, other than an odd mop of blond hair, is a penchant for flamboyant pronouncements, as when he said that Barack Obama opposes Brexit because Obama’s Kenyan background somehow disposes him against Britain.
“Actually, Obama likes the European Union’s approximation of American progressives’ aspirations. These include unaccountable administrators issuing diktats, and… the erasure of national traditions and other impediments to ‘harmonizing’ homogenized nations for the convenience of administrators… [The referendum on] June 23 is the most important European vote since 1945…”
AfD and PEGIDA Target German Muslims
ABC News/The Associated Press reported on May 23:
“Weeks after declaring that there is no place for Islam in Germany, a surging nationalist party has sharpened its rhetoric against prominent Islamic groups and suggested limiting the religious freedom of the more than 4 million Muslims in the country.
“Senior members of Alternative for Germany cut short a meeting Monday with the Central Council of Muslims, accusing the group of failing to renounce religious beliefs that they claim clash with the German constitution.
“The confrontation came days after the party — known by its acronym AfD — launched a campaign against the construction of a mosque in the eastern state of Thuringia, joining up for the first time with the group known as the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West.
“Both groups have seen their popularity rise after Germany saw a greater influx of migrants in 2015 than any other European country. Nearly 1.1 million people — most of them Muslims — were registered as asylum-seekers, though the actual number who came is believed to be somewhat lower.
“AfD had previously kept PEGIDA at arm’s length due to its links with far-right extremists, but the party’s leader in Thuringia, Bjoern Hoecke, said there was ‘a lot of overlap’ between the two on the issue of Islam.
“‘We see a need to send a signal,’ Hoecke told The Associated Press ahead of a rally last week in Erfurt, the state capital. ‘We have common goals.’
“PEGIDA is known for staging protests that draw thousands in neighboring Dresden each week. One of its founders, Lutz Bachmann, was recently convicted of inciting hatred online after referring to migrants as ‘cattle’ and ‘trash.’
“In Erfurt, PEGIDA and AfD have teamed up to oppose an application from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community to build the mosque for its 70 members in Thuringia, claiming the building’s domed roof and minaret would symbolize Islam’s attempt to conquer Europe.
“AfD is introducing a bill in the state Parliament to stop new mosques from being built, though it’s unlikely to win the support needed from other parties to pass.
“Instead, Hoecke hinted AfD was prepared to take its case to the streets, a point the party underlined by inviting a senior PEGIDA member to last Wednesday’s rally.
“‘AfD in Thuringia will do everything legally possible to prevent this building,’ he said…
“Hoecke, who has risen to prominence in his party with fiery speeches, made clear last week that only Muslims who submit to Germany’s secular order and the wishes of the country’s indigenous population were welcome.
“‘If a Muslim in this country won’t accept that, then he’s free to roll up his prayer rug, stick it under his arm and leave this country,’ the former teacher told a crowd of about 700 people.”
A Narrow Defeat for Norbert Hofer in Austria
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on May 23:
“Austrians have elected Alexander Van der Bellen, a former leader of the Greens party, as president in a closely watched vote that nearly brought the first-ever far-right head of state to power in an EU member state.
“After an election on May 22 that was too close to call, Austrian officials counted hundreds of thousands of postal ballots that ended up lifting Van der Bellen past Freedom Party rival Norbert Hofer.
“The result averts an embarrassing setback for Europe’s political establishment, which is threatened by rising populist and anti-EU parties that have capitalized on public concerns about the continent’s migration crisis and years of weak growth and high unemployment…
“The vote in Austria, a country of 8.5 million people, had unsettled leaders elsewhere in Europe, particularly in neighboring Germany, where a new anti-immigration party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), is on the rise.
“In France, the National Front of Marine Le Pen is leading in polls ahead of a presidential election next year…
“EU member Austria has been at the center of a record influx of migrants from the Middle East, fanning public resentment toward the two centrist parties — the Social Democrats (SPO) and the conservative People’s Party — that have dominated politics since the end of World War II.
“Hofer, 45, has described himself as a center-right politician, but his Freedom Party has its roots in Austria’s Nazi past. He tapped into anti-EU sentiment and fears about rising numbers of asylum seekers, with millions of Middle Easterners and others fleeing war and instability.”
Voice of America, May 23, 2016, adds:
“The far-right candidate in Austria’s presidential election has conceded defeat.
“Norbert Hofer, nominee of the euro-skeptic, anti-immigration Freedom Party, said Monday that he was ‘sad’ he had not won, but called the work of his supporters an ‘investment for the future.’”
JTA wrote on May 23:
“Alexander van der Bellen, an environmentalist with a pro-refugee agenda, won with 50.3 percent of the vote on Sunday, despite early reports predicting victory for Norbert Hofer of the Austrian Freedom Party party, or [FPOe], in the runoff, the BBC reported. Hofer had 49.7 percent of the vote. ‘While we are certainly satisfied with the result, there is little room to celebrate the high level of support for someone with such extremist views as Norbert Hofer,’ European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said in a statement Monday.
“‘Unfortunately, the dissatisfaction with the moderate mainstream parties is providing oxygen to those like Hofer’ and the Austrian Freedom Party. ‘We are seeing signs of these trends across Europe, so it is incumbent on the more centrist parties to use this as a wake-up call and listen to the grievances of the people,’ he said. The Jewish Community of Vienna has shunned the Freedom Party, which it regards as having problematic ties to neo-Nazis…”
Europe Does Not Have a Head—Yet!
The New York Times wrote on May 23:
“… the close result illustrated how deeply divided Austria is between left and right, and how thoroughly the centrist elites who have run the country since 1945 have fallen from public grace… The narrowness of the victory also reflected the big strides into the mainstream the far right has made not only in Austria, but in much of Europe — from neighboring Hungary and Poland, where it already holds sway, to France and Germany, where rightist movements are polling strongly before national elections next year…
“The last time the outside world paid such attention to the election of an Austrian president was in 1986, when Austrians defied international fears and elected Kurt Waldheim, a former United Nations secretary general, as president, despite revelations that he had served in the Wehrmacht close to the site of Nazi atrocities in the Balkans. Mr. Waldheim’s six-year tenure was scarred by almost complete diplomatic isolation…
“In France, the center-right daily Le Figaro wrote on Monday that ‘Europe’s leaders should not be too pleased if Alexander Van der Bellen spares them the shock of an anti-European president in Vienna.’ The very narrow vote contains a lesson, the French daily added: ‘Across the whole Continent, people are expressing more or less the same rejection of a Europe that lacks both a plan, and a head.’”
News.at reported on May 24 that Hofer and the FPOe are investigating as to whether to appeal the election results, due to possible irregularities. Even though it was expected that Hofer would win, the close results were interpreted as a great victory for Hofer and his party. We have not heard the last word from and about Hofer and the FPOe.
Pope Meets Senior Imam
The Guardian reported on May 23:
“Pope Francis has embraced the grand imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque at the Vatican in a historic encounter both sides hope will lead to greater understanding and dialogue between the two faiths.
“The meeting between the leader of the world’s Catholics and the highest authority in Sunni Islam marks the culmination of a significant improvement in relations between the two faiths since Francis took office in 2013.
“‘Our meeting is the message,’ Francis said in a brief comment at the start of his meeting with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, shortly after he had hugged and kissed his guest, Vatican officials told a small pool of reporters covering the event.
“In a statement on the trip, al-Azhar, an institution that also comprises a prestigious seat of learning, said the two sides had agreed to convene a ‘peace conference’.
“A statement quoted Tayeb as telling the pope: ‘We need to take a joint stance, hand in hand, to bring happiness to humanity. Divine religions were revealed to make people happy, not to cause them hardship.’
“The imam’s deputy, Abbas Shuman, told Egyptian TV channel CBC the two leaders had agreed to resume dialogue and the proposed conference would cover the issues of poverty, extremism and terrorism.
“The Vatican did not immediately confirm the conference plans. A spokesman said the talks had been ‘very cordial’, with the imam spending 30 minutes with the pope and just over an hour in total at St Peter’s.
“Tayeb’s decision to fly to Rome, unexpectedly announced last week, followed the easing of serious tensions that marked the reign of Francis’s predecessor, Benedict XVI.
“Ties were badly soured when the now-retired Benedict made a September 2006 speech in which he was perceived to have linked Islam to violence, sparking deadly protests in several countries and reprisal attacks on Christians.”
Pope Francis is anxiously trying to bring as many non-Catholics as possible into the Catholic fold. On this topic, please view our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Is Nuclear War Unavoidable?”
Temple Mount Activist Yehuda Glick Now Member of the Knesset
JTA wrote on May 23:
“A year and a half ago he was a fringe Temple Mount activist expected to die, the victim of a point-blank assassination attempt. This week he will enter the Knesset, the ruling Likud party’s replacement legislator for outgoing Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon… Glick’s arrival in the halls of the Knesset reflects the growing reception of his push for Jews’ right to visit and worship on the Temple Mount…
“Glick has been barred from the mount — revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary — and was even charged with assault there (the charges were dropped). Glick and his fellow religious activists see his accession to Knesset as a victory for a just cause following his brush with death. Critics, however, say the power he wields could exacerbate tensions at a regional flashpoint… Glick was the head of the Temple Institute, a group that builds vessels for animal sacrifice and commissions architectural plans for a future Third Temple on the mount… ‘The discrimination on the Temple Mount is obvious,’ Glick told JTA. ‘The Temple Mount became a center of incitement and hate instead of a center of peace.’…
“Some of Glick’s fellow travelers are more provocative. When then-Housing Minister Uri Ariel, a member of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, visited the mount ahead of Rosh Hashanah in 2014, he called for Jews in the future to ‘ascend the mount and be seen for festivals, to bring sacrifices’…”
The Bible indicates that the Jews WILL begin to bring sacrifices on the Temple Mount, and this will set in motion a prophetic cataclysm of unparalleled proportions.
Should We Use Hebrew Expressions in Our Worship of God?
The Bible nowhere commands or even suggests that we need to use Hebrew expressions in our worship of God. This idea is mostly propagated by those who belong to the “Sacred Name” movement or who have adopted the philosophy of the “Messianic Jews.” In doing so, they are also insisting on Old Testament rituals, which Jesus Christ abolished through His death. They might also teach rituals which are based on human traditions, invented by Pharisees and scribes, but which Jesus strongly condemned.
He even warned that many times, teachers with human traditions of Judaism (Paul referred to them as the “traditions of the elders”) might do away with the commandments of God, while upholding their own faulty reasoning and practices (Mark 7:1-13). Today’s insistence on wearing tassels or having a woman wearing a veil in Church services is just one example of how true Christians can become sidetracked by superfluous or even counter-productive concepts. For more information on these issues, please read our free booklet, “Old Testament Laws—Still Valid Today?”
Those who insist that we must worship God with Hebrew names, mostly refer to God’s revelation in Exodus 3:15 (“LORD” in the New King James Bible) and conclude that God should somehow be worshipped as “Yahweh.” The problem is that no one really knows how the Hebrew letters for “LORD” were pronounced. Some even insist that they should be spoken as “Jehovah,” but most reject this concept as being clearly inaccurate.
A source from the Internet, as being representative for many other articles, tells us this:
“The Theological Word Book of the Old Testament… says… ‘Actually, there is a problem with the pronunciation “Yahweh.” It is a strange combination of old and late elements… The “w” of Yahweh, represents a pre-mosaic pronunciation but the final “eh” represents probably a post-davidic form… we do not know what the pronunciation was; we can only speculate…”
But it is not necessary to speculate, as it is immaterial as to how the expression was pronounced. The meaning, however, is clear: God is the Eternal One; the One Who has always existed; Who exists today; and Who will always exist for all eternity. God—the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son—were not created. Both can rightly say of themselves: “I AM WHO I AM,” or “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). Our free booklet, “God Is a Family,” proves that the expression (in English: “LORD”) can refer to both the Father and the Son, even though in most cases, it does refer to Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, Christ would sometimes refer to Himself as the “I AM” (John 8:58).
Rather than focusing on how the Hebrew words for “LORD” MIGHT have been pronounced, it is much more important to realize what God IS and DOES; what His character is and what He stands for; and what His plan is for mankind. His “name” stands for what He IS. Psalm 138:2 tells us: “… You have magnified Your word above all Your name.”
We stated the following in our free booklet, “Teach Us to Pray”
“God has many names, each of them describing certain aspects of His character and of His being. One of God’s names is ‘the Almighty’; another one is ‘the Eternal’; still another one is ‘the God who heals us.’ Then there is the ‘God of hosts.’ Note, however, that Christ did not say, ‘hallowed be thy names,’ but, ‘thy name.’ He is emphasizing the entirety of God—His entire being—everything He is and stands for.
“We read in Isaiah 29:22-23 that Jacob will hallow God’s name and that he will hallow the Holy One of Jacob. God’s name is identified here as the Holy One of Jacob. Likewise, Isaiah 8:11-13 identifies God’s name, ‘the LORD of hosts,’ with God Himself. We read in verse 13: ‘The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow.’ God’s name is identified here as the LORD of hosts. But even though God’s name is mentioned, it is obvious that we are to hallow HIM.
“A name identifies a person. You may know a person, but can’t, at that very moment, identify him. Then, when his name is mentioned, you immediately say: ‘O yes, that’s him.’ His name identified the person to you. It’s the same with God. His name identifies HIM. Both mean the same. When we pray, ‘Hallowed be thy name,’ we are really saying: ‘You, Holy Father, are to be hallowed.’
“The Commentary on the Whole Bible, by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, states on page 905: ‘God’s name means “Himself as revealed and manifested.”’”
We should also realize that David prayed to God in this way, without always using the Hebrew expression which is translated as “LORD” in English:
“Save me, O GOD, by Your name, and vindicate me by Your strength. Hear my prayer, O GOD…” (Psalm 54:1-2). In these cases, the Hebrew word for “God” is “Elohim.”
When we turn to the New Testament, we can see that Hebrew words are normally not used when reference is made to God and His worship. An exception can be found, however, in Matthew 1:23, where a prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 is quoted in reference to Jesus Christ: “‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated ‘God with us.’”
On a few occasions, we read some Aramaic statements which Christ uttered, when speaking to the Father, for instance in Matthew 27:46: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli Eli, lama sabachthnai?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?’” Notice that the word for “God” is “Eli” in Aramaic; and notice too that Matthew, in translating “Eli,” used the Greek expression “theos.” So, Jesus prayed to the Father, calling Him “Eli” in Aramaic. It is not reported in the New Testament that He used a Hebrew expression such as “Yahweh,” “Jehovah” or anything of the sort.
In addition, note Mark 14:36 where Christ says: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you.”
On a few occasions, Paul refers to the Father with the Aramaic term, “Abba.” In Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6, the terms “Abba, Father” are used.
The word “Abba” (the Aramaic word for “Father”) is equated in these passages with the Greek word for “Father”; i.e. “pater.” But we would not worship God the Father today in the English language, by using the words “Abba” or “pater.” We would and should say “Father.” But we should also remember Christ’s warning against those who are religious figures and misappropriate in a religious context the name “Father” or “Holy Father.” Compare Matthew 23:9: “Do not call anyone on earth your father (“pater” in Greek), for One is your Father (“pater” in Greek), He who is in heaven.”
The New Testament was mainly written and is preserved today in Greek (even though there are a very few Aramaic statements included).
The International Bible Society explains:
“… the New Testament authors wrote in Greek. They did not, however, use really high-class or classical Greek, but a very common and everyday type of Greek. For many years some scholars ridiculed the Greek of the New Testament because many of its words were strange to those who read the writings of the great Greek classical authors such as Plato and Aristotle. But later many records were uncovered of ordinary people, and amazingly there were the same common terms used in everyday speech! The ridicule dried up accordingly.”
When the New Testament quotes from passages in the Old Testament where the Hebrew term (in English: “LORD”) is used, the Hebrew expression for “LORD” is NOT quoted, but a Greek translation is given.
For instance, we read in Hebrews 8:8-11: “… ‘Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant… because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, “Know the LORD, for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.”’”
This passage is a direct quotation from Jeremiah 31:31-34, where the Hebrew word for “LORD” is used. But in the letter to the Hebrews, Paul does not quote or reiterate the Hebrew word but he uses the Greek word for “LORD” instead, i.e., “kurios.” But we would obviously not worship God in the English language by addressing Him with “kurios.”
Christ commanded us to worship and pray to God the Father (Matthew 6:9), but we should do so in the name of Christ (John 16:24). Christ Himself prayed to the Father (John 17:1, 5, 11, 21, 24, 25). We need to understand, however, that Christ would not have prayed in Greek; still, His words have been preserved for us in the Greek translation, as used by the inspired authors of the New Testament.
We read in John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus Christ, “Logos” in Greek, who became flesh, verse 14), and the Word (Christ) was with God (“theos” in Greek), and the Word WAS God.” And so, we read in 1 Corinthians 14:25 that we are to worship God (“theos” in Greek), which is also confirmed in Revelation 19:10. It is the Father, the God of Jesus, and our Father and our God, whom we must worship (John 20:17; Ephesians 1:17; compare Ephesians 4:6 and 1 Corinthians 3:23).
But again, we would not address “God” the “Father” with “theos” and “pater” in the English language.
We don’t need to go back to the Hebrew or Greek languages to determine how to worship God (unless these languages are our native languages), because we are to worship God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in OUR language. If one is bi-lingual, he can of course worship God in either language.
When Peter addressed the devout Jews “from every nation under heaven” on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1, 5), he spoke to them in Hebrew, but his words are preserved and delivered to us in Greek. However, the persons in attendance heard Peter speak in their individual languages in which they were born (Acts 2:6-8). They heard Peter speak in their own “tongue” or language “the wonderful works of God (“theos” in Greek)” (Acts 2:11).
In his message, Peter spoke about God (“theos” in Greek; verses 17, 22, 23, 24, etc.) and the “LORD” (“kurios” in Greek; verses 20-21, 25, 34), quoting from the Old Testament. But the audience did not hear him in either Hebrew or Greek, but in their own native language, and the expressions for “God” and “LORD” were given to them in their own native language in which they were born. In addition, Peter also spoke in his sermon about “Jesus” (Greek: “Iesous”; Greek form of the Hebrew Jehoshua or Yeshua, meaning “The Lord Is Salvation,” or “The Lord Shall Save” or simply “Savior”; verses 22, 32). He also spoke about “Christ” (“Christos” in Greek; meaning, “The Anointed One”; verses 30, 31, 36; Messiah is the Hebrew expression, having the same meaning); but again, the audience heard him say these words in their own native language.
It is therefore totally appropriate for English-speaking Christians to refer to God as the “Father” and to His Son as “Jesus Christ.” The concept that we must worship God by using Hebrew names is not biblical.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
“Is Nuclear War Unavoidable?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Sadly, the Bible declares that nuclear and conventional war is unavoidable for the carnal human mind. But why? To illustrate the point, we give you three examples to show reasons why natural man does not know–and cannot find–the way to peace. We speak of the use of the atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the astonishing condemnation of these actions by American presidents and military leaders; the sad legacy of Peace Nobel Prize recipient President Obama as THE American war time president of all time; and ludicrous comments by Pope Francis regarding Islam and Christianity.
“Ist die Erde eine flache Scheibe?” is the title of this week’s new German sermon. In it, we promote our booklet on evolution. Title in English: “Is the Earth a flat Disk?”
“A Growing Relationship With God,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Robb Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
God expects us to grow and mature. We cannot stay a babe in our understanding and expect to accomplish those things designed for adults.
“You’re Different!” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Do you accept everything that is happening? Or do you reject following society—especially when it comes to flagrant rebellion against God and His immutable laws? If you do, you’re different—and all the more so if you are a Christian!
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
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