|The Challenge; By Design
|Threat and Reaction
|This Week in the News
|How Are We to Keep the Sabbath? (Part 2)
|Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
The Challenge; By Design
On September 10, 2016, Robb Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “The Challenge,” and Eric Rank will present the sermon, titled, “By Design.”
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.
Threat and Reaction
by Eric Rank
Last week there was a credible threat of a violent attack targeting some of the federal agencies close to the one that I work with. Nearby in Fort Collins an entire campus of federal offices was shut down, forcing hundreds of employees to be turned away from work. As the news broke in my office, very little information was known, and what was known was delivered through a wide variety of different sources. The rumors made quite a swirl throughout the morning – some made it sound like the threat was imminent, and others made it sound fictional.
My own work place was in a different, but related federal facility than the one directly threatened, but everyone that we work with still had to make a decision about what to do for themselves. On the one hand, the threat seemed remote and unrealistic, but on the other hand, our office seemed like it could be a legitimate target. In the interest of playing it safe, dozens of people working in a different branch in the building were sent home. It was a surreal moment as I contemplated how to handle the situation for myself and the team that I manage. It was truly difficult to judge from the information that we had if this was a threat that was credible enough for us to take drastic actions.
Fortunately, nothing significant came from this event, and normal life resumed the following day. But to me, this event was a reminder of how quickly and unexpectedly something serious can occur in the world we live in and trigger panic. As the anniversary of the tragic September 11th attacks approaches this year, I recall what that day was like. It was just like any other day. I went to work for the day, just as I normally did, and by the time I had arrived two jets had crashed into the twin towers in New York City. In that ten minute commute, the world had changed. But it was going to be “just another day.”
The event last week also reminded me of even more important things, which are recorded in God’s Word. As comfortable as we may be in this modern age, a simple catastrophic event, or even a rumor of an event, can strike as quickly and unexpectedly as a bolt of lightning. And so we have been warned, “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4). Even though the day of the Lord will come as a thief, when we may be having an otherwise regular day, it is also something that we have been made aware of far ahead of time. We may be surprised at how unpredictably the events might unfold, but we will not be caught completely off-guard if we pay attention to warnings and watch for the signs of the times, as the Bible instructs.
Even if the events of fulfilled prophecy happen on a day when we have not planned for a catastrophic event to occur, we can rest assured that the instructions that we have in the Bible will successfully guide us. The only thing that we can do is rely on God’s protection. We cannot, and must not, rely on our own wit or strength to protect us. “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:11-12). When catastrophe strikes and threatens our safety and well-being, we can and must have faith in God to lead us to safety.
Last week as I contemplated how to respond to a threat of a violent attack, the thought that I need to rely on God—and only God—tempered every fear that I had. I wasn’t sure what judgment was right, but I was unwavering in my confidence that God would offer protection in the time of need.
We begin with the stunning state election victory of Germany’s anti-immigration party AfD and Angela Merkel’s disastrous debacle; and we cite articles about possible consequences for Chancellor Merkel, Germany’s political landscape and even the established main parties in Europe. We also show that minorities, including the Jewish community, are deeply concerned about AfD’s victory. Please view our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Election Debacle for Angela Merkel…What’s Next?”
We speak on Turkey’s ongoing dictatorial methods; and we report on troubling developments in and pertaining to the UK.
We continue with the insignificant and irrelevant role which President Obama is playing on the world stage, as could be seen in events occurring and comments made at the G20 summit in China. We speak on stunning “ransom” money payments by the USA to Iran; and report on the national anthem protests by a black and another gay American athlete.
We speak on an ill-advised recommendation by Ben Carson to Donald Trump regarding the controversial “birther” debate pertaining to Barack Obama; and we conclude with an article about the dates and moderators for the upcoming US Presidential debates and the historical roles which these kinds of debates have played in the past; as well as a controversial huge pipeline project.
This Week in the News
Election Debacle for Angela Merkel in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania
BBC News reported on September 5:
“Angela Merkel’s ruling CDU party has been beaten into third place by an anti-immigrant and anti-Islam party in elections in a north-eastern German state. The Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) party took just under 21% of the vote behind the centre-left SPD’s 30%. The German chancellor’s CDU was backed by only 19% of voters, its worst ever result in the state. The vote was seen as a key test before German parliamentary elections in 2017.
“Before the vote in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, in the former East Germany, all of Germany’s other parties ruled out forming a governing coalition with the AfD. But the party, formed only three years ago, is already represented in nine of Germany’s 16 state parliaments.
“One leading CDU politician called the result catastrophic, while another, Wolfgang Bosbach, said the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants without documents had ‘put the wind in the AfD’s sails’. This is humiliating for Angela Merkel – not least because this was on home turf…
“Alternative fuer Deutschland’s anti immigrant and increasingly strident anti-Islam message has a powerful appeal to people concerned about integration and worried about domestic security. It doesn’t look good for Mrs Merkel. Her approval ratings are at a five-year low. But… there is no serious contender waiting in the wings to replace her.
“BBC Berlin correspondent Damien McGuinness says that following her political embarrassment, Mrs Merkel will now come under greater pressure to change her welcoming position on refugees. Addressing supporters, local AfD leader Leif-Erik Holm said: ‘Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of Angela Merkel’s chancellorship today.’… ‘How many more electoral disasters can Merkel take?’ wonders tabloid Bild, and predicts that temporarily pacified opposition to Mrs Merkel’s line inside her conservative bloc could erupt with full force… An article in Sueddeutsche Zeitung predicts an ‘autumn of discontent’ for the chancellor…
“But a commentary in news magazine Der Spiegel believes that while the election is a ‘debacle’ for Ms Merkel, her job is not on the line quite yet. Some also think it’s not all just about Mrs Merkel. A commentary in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung argues that voters are angry at ‘(almost) all’ mainstream parties, and not just the Christian Democrats…”
This distrust of all the established parties may give way to the rise of a charismatic personage in Germany who will galvanize the masses and offer them ”solutions” for the many problems they are facing.
Angela Merkel Blamed for AfD Success
Deutsche Welle wrote on September 6:
“After the CDU’s electoral defeat in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, tensions in the CDU-CSU union have intensified. Bavarian State Premier Horst Seehofer has blamed Merkel’s refugee policy for the AfD’s success… Seehofer has been a long-time vocal critic of Merkel’s open-door policy since the chancellor allowed some 1 million refugees to cross Germany’s borders last year… ‘Confidence [in the government] is dwindling rapidly,’ said Seehofer…
“Merkel defended her government’s handling of the refugee crisis on Monday…”
The Local wrote on September 8:
“The CSU are a political anomaly in Germany, only standing for election in Bavaria, where the CDU have no presence. The two parties have always had an alliance at the federal level… Securing the support of the CSU leader is key for a CDU chief who is seeking the chancellorship.”
This stubborn refusal to accept responsibility and admit grave error might very well lead to Angela Merkel’s complete downfall.
Seehofer’s CSU Opposes Angela Merkel
Deutsche Welle wrote on September 8:
“Merkel’s words have fallen upon deaf ears in the CSU, whose party line appears to be more radical than the AfD’s…
“The conflict in Germany’s conservative camp has entered a new round. Angela Merkel shouts unmistakably in the direction of Bavarian State Premier Horst Seehofer and his CSU party: Tone it down, otherwise the populists win and we will lose our orientation if we start following the AfD’s lead, language-wise.
“The next day, the press has a CSU paper [that…] doesn’t care one iota about what the chancellor wants… The paper not only agrees with the AfD party platform on many points, but it even goes one step farther… on the topic of dual citizenship. The Bavarian party wants to make exceptions: ‘Migrants from our Western Christian cultural circle should be given priority.’
“Even the AfD wasn’t able to escalate matters to this level at its own convention…
“The CSU was dissatisfied with Merkel’s European approach to refugee policies from the beginning and wanted tougher national measures. The CSU’s second motive is fear of the AfD… Thirdly, the mood among the CSU base and in Bavaria is critical of Merkel… And finally, the Bavarians see what their neighbors in Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava – who are counting on closing the door to outsiders – are doing…
“[Merkel’s] call in the Bundestag didn’t even last a few hours. Her power has diminished again.”
In a related article, Deutsche Welle wrote on September 8:
“Also proposed is… a ban on body-obscuring burqas… The burqa was described as the ‘uniform of Islamism.’ Also contained in the CSU draft was a rejection of ‘special swimming times for Muslims’… ‘A nation must decide itself who it admits – that is not decided by the migrants,’ the CSU draft said, while adding ‘we are opposed to our world-open country being changed by immigration and refugee flows. Germany must remain Germany.'”
“European Right Hails AfD Success in German Election”
Deutsche Welle wrote on September 5:
“Right-wing populists across Europe cheered the strong showing of the Alternative for Germany (AfD)… ‘All victories of patriotic and EU-critical parties are helping freedom loving people and parties all over Europe,’ Geert Wilders, the founder and leader of the right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV), told DW in an email statement. ‘No one will be able to stop the Patriotic Spring, and the old times where the ruling political elite – like Merkel, Hollande, Rutte and others – could bypass and ignore the common people on issues such as immigration, asylum and EU-policy are definitely over. Their soon-to-come political end is the start of a new political wave of patriotism, national sovereignty and the end of cultural relativism.’
“France’s Marine Le Pen tweeted, ‘What was impossible yesterday has become possible: the AfD patriots have swept away Merkel’s party!’ Those sentiments were echoed by leaders of anti-European Union and anti-immigration parties in Austria and Italy as well.
“Can such statements be taken at face value? Does the fact that the AfD took 20.8 percent of the vote in Sunday’s poll represent a victory for right-wing populists on the continent as a whole? ‘Definitely,’ Alexander Häusler, a sociologist and expert on right-wing populism at Düsseldorf University, told DW. ‘The other right-wing populist parties in Europe were looking for a partner in Germany. Now with the electoral success of the AfD, they have one. A gap in the political landscape, if you will, has been closed.’…
“Given the deep-seated social problems and frustrations that motivate people to vote for right-wing populist parties, it is unlikely the movement will dissipate any time soon in either Germany, or Europe as a whole… Le Pen currently leads polls in France, which has a national election next year, attracting as much as 30 percent of electoral support. Having a like-minded partner in Germany can only bolster her campaign to become the next French president. Wilders will also hope for a boost ahead of the Netherlands’ national vote on March 15, 2017. So they and right-wing populist leaders in other European countries will be paying close attention to other upcoming local German elections in Berlin on September 18 and in North Rhine-Westphalia on May 14, 2017…”
Minorities Deeply Concerned
The Local wrote on September 5:
“Since the results were announced, minority groups have… been reacting with concern over the far-right party’s success. ‘That an extreme-right party which blatantly incites hatred against minorities in a disgusting way can rise unhindered in our country is a nightmare come true,’ Charlotte Knobloch, President of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria (IKG), said on Monday… ‘It is pathetic when a party – in which xenophobia, antisemitism, racism, homophobia, historical denialism and conspiracy theories are the basis for argument – can become such a strong social and political influence,’ she said.
“Knobloch warned that, in collaboration with other far-right parties, the AfD had the strength to threaten Germany’s democratic foundations…
“The AfD was founded in 2013 as a eurosceptic party that advocated a return to the Deutsche Mark, but it has since shifted to become a mainly anti-immigration and Islamophobic party. It has grown strongly even as its top members have sparked outrage with insulting remarks, including one disparaging star footballer Jerome Boateng, who is of German and Ghanaian descent.
“The right-wing populist party is the first to establish itself in the German political landscape since the Second World War, after decades in which no such party crossed the five percent hurdle to enter national parliament. At national level, it is now polling at 14 percent according to a September survey, a gain of 10 points in the year since Merkel threw open German borders to a mass influx of asylum seekers.”
Austria vs. Hungary vs. Germany vs. Greece
Deutsche Welle wrote on September 7:
“Austria’s interior minister [Wolfgang Sobotka] has threatened Hungary with a lawsuit if Budapest refuses to take back migrants. Hungary, in turn, has blamed bad policy in Germany, Austria and Greece for Europe’s migrant crisis…
“Tensions over immigration are high ahead of October 2 presidential elections in Austria… The presidential vote could see the anti-immigration, far-right Freedom Party take over the presidency in Vienna.”
Turkey’s Erdogan vs. Deutsche Welle
Deutsche Welle reported on September 6:
“Turkish authorities have confiscated footage of an interview with Turkish Minister of Youth and Sports, Akif Cagatay Kilic, filmed for DW’s show ‘Conflict Zone.’ The action has prompted an outcry over press freedom.
“The interview at the center of the controversy took place with DW host Michel Friedman in Ankara on Monday evening. Friedman asked Turkish Minister of Youth and Sports, Akif Cagatay Kilic, about the July coup attempt as well as the mass layoffs and arrests that took place in its aftermath. He also asked about the media situation in Turkey and the position of women in Turkish society, before asking Kilic elaborate on several controversial statements made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on these subjects.
“Immediately following the interview, Kilic excused himself from the room. No sooner had the minister left, [than] his press officer announced that DW would not be allowed to broadcast the interview. When Friedman and his editorial colleague protested, the video material was confiscated by employees of the ministry… ‘This is proof that freedom of the press in Turkey is very restricted,’ Friedman said. ‘The incident is very disturbing. If the foreign media is already been treated in this manner, one could well imagine how difficult it is right now for Turkish journalists.’…
“The German Journalists Union (DJV) called for an immediate release of the video. ‘That is the most severe offense against press freedom, like we only know from dictatorships,’ criticized DJV Chairman Frank Überall…
“Despite several repeated requests for the release of the video footage, Turkey’s decision remained unchanged…”
Turkey has become an absolute dictatorship, and the German government’s policy of appeasing Erdogan is shameful. But prophecy reveals that a dictatorial Turkey will collaborate with a future European dictatorship in their mutual fight against Israel.
National Governments Back in the EU?
The Times wrote on September 8:
“Former communist states are planning to exploit the fallout of Brexit with a ‘counter-revolution’ designed to block migrant deals and assert the power of national governments over Brussels.
“Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, an influential diplomatic European Union bloc known as the Visegrad Group, will lobby together at a summit next week to ensure that national governments are put back in the EU’s driving seat.
“The summit will gather all EU leaders, excluding Theresa May, in Slovakia’s capital to forge a new vision of Europe…”
Attempted Terrorist Attack in France
Deutsche Welle reported on September 9:
“French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Thursday that three women aged between 19 and 39 were arrested in connection with the discovery of six gas cylinders in the French capital on Sunday. Cazeneuve said the suspects were ‘radicalized fanatics’ who were preparing ‘new violent … and imminent actions.’…
“A police officer also suffered a knife wound during the arrest… Four other people – two brothers and their girlfriends – were already arrested earlier in the week.
“The first couple to be arrested – a 34-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman – are known to the security services for links to radical Islamists. More people are still being sought in the Notre Dame case, the prosecutor’s office said…”
Barack Obama Upsets Great Britain
The Daily Mail wrote on September 4:
“Barack Obama yesterday said the UK can expect no special favours on a trade deal with America after voting to leave the EU. The President stepped up his controversial cautions about Brexit – and suggested Britain’s relationship with the United States risked ‘unravelling’ in the wake of the referendum. Mr Obama caused anger at the height of the referendum campaign when he used a visit to London to warn voters that the UK would go to ‘the back of the queue’ in negotiating a new trade deal if it opted for Brexit. He hinted again yesterday that any deal was likely to take time – with potentially serious consequences for UK-US trade in the meantime…
“Speaking after an hour-long meeting with Theresa May at the G20 summit in China, Mr Obama bridled at suggestions he had threatened to ‘punish’ Britain for leaving the EU. He said he and Mrs May had confirmed the ‘very special relationship’ between the two countries, but added that he still believed the Brexit vote was a mistake, which could cost Britain dearly…
“Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said of Mr Obama’s comments: ‘Who cares what he says? He’s going. Bye bye.’ Jacob Rees-Mogg, another Eurosceptic Tory MP, added: ‘Fortunately, he is yesterday’s man and will no longer be President early next year… These comments tell us all we need to know about how President Obama has never been a friend of ours.’…
“Meanwhile, the Prime Minister rebuffed overtures from Vladimir Putin to reset the UK’s frosty economic relations with Russia. She challenged the Russian President over Moscow’s intervention in Syria and warned him there could not be ‘business as usual’ in the relationship between the UK and the Kremlin…”
The Bible shows that even the friendship between the USA, the UK and Israel will deteriorate.
UK To Build a “Great Wall”
Breitbart wrote on September 7:
“Just two months after voting to leave the European Union (EU), the UK has announced the construction of a ‘great wall’ near its most porous border in Calais, to keep illegal migrants out. The UK’s southern border checks are conducted in northern France and attempted illegal crossings have more than quadrupled in recent years. UK Border Force guards on French soil stopped 84,088 illegal immigrants last year, figures released last month show.
“The new 13-foot (4 metre) high wall will be built of smooth concrete, making it hard to climb, and will line the roads into the port town of Calais where the entrance to the channel tunnel also sits. ‘We are going to start building this big, new wall as part of the £17 million package we are doing with the French,’ the UK’s immigration minister Robert Goodwill told a parliamentary committee yesterday, the Telegraph reports. ‘People are still getting through,’ he added. ‘We’ve done the fence, now we’re doing the wall’.”
This wall could be symbolic for the UK’s isolation from continental Europe.
Britain Second Biggest Arms Dealer in the World
The Independent wrote on September 4:
“Britain is now the second biggest arms dealer in the world, official government figures show…
“Since 2010 Britain has also sold arms to 39 of the 51 countries ranked ‘not free’ on the Freedom House ‘Freedom in the world’ report, and 22 of the 30 countries on the UK Government’s own human rights watch list. A full two-thirds of UK weapons over this period were sold to Middle Eastern countries, where instability has fed into increased risk of terror threats to Britain and across the West… the UK has sold more arms than Russia, China, or France on average over the last 10 years. Only the United States is a bigger exporter…”
This is a very sad record…
Sodom in the Church of England
The website of pinknews.co.uk wrote on September 6:
“Fourteen Church of England clergy members have revealed that they secretly married their same-sex partners in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The revelation was made in an open letter published today. Some of the signatories were already open about being in same-sex relationships, but others came out in the letter.
“The open letter called for ‘diversity’ in the church, the same week it was revealed that the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was already aware that a bishop is in a same-sex relationship… The letter says: ‘We encourage you to be bold … to what you know to be increasingly the direction of travel, not just in our church but in many churches in this country… We will be praying for the College of Bishops as it meets this month. We appreciate the time may not yet be right for a change in the church’s official understanding of marriage, but it is time to respect that a diversity of theology within the church now exists and many in our parishes have already made the move. We hope for an outcome that will enable those who wish to do so to celebrate publicly where we see God at work in the lives of our congregations without fear and in openness.’…
“Colin Coward of Changing Attitude added that ten serving bishops are also in same-sex relationships or are gay or bisexual. One of the first clergy to marry his same-sex partner, Andrew Foreshew-Cain… warned that gay members of the Church will not back down on the issue. He told the Times: ‘We are now going to keep pushing for the next and the next and the next [step] until we get full equality in the church. We are not going away’…”
And so they will continue to push and push and push, until the indifferent majority gets tired and gives in to a vocal minority.
Germany Warns the UK
The Local wrote on September 7:
“Germany on Wednesday warned Britain against negotiating free trade deals with non-EU member states before it quits the bloc, after Prime Minister Theresa May sought to drum up commerce agreements during a G20 summit in China… [Germany stated that] ‘it is clear that an EU member state cannot hold bilateral talks on free trade deals with non-EU states as long as it remains a member of the EU’.”
Even though the UK might think that they can find help and support from Germany, they will become bitterly disappointed.
Theresa May Under Attack for Delaying Brexit
Express wrote on September 8:
“EUROCRAT Donald Tusk has urged Theresa May to begin Brexit talks as soon as possible… In a sign that Brussels may be losing patience with Mrs May’s dithering over Brexit, Mr Tusk said it was a ‘crucial time’ for the UK and the EU… Mr Tusk said: ‘To put it simply, the ball is now in your court…’
“The Prime Minister yesterday told MPs she was seeking ‘the right deal’ on trade in goods and services after Britain withdraws from the EU. But she refused to say whether she wanted the UK to remain in the European single market…
“In response, the Prime Minister and her ministers were accused of ‘waffle’ by Scottish National Party Westminster leader Angus Robertson. The Liberal Democrats’ Tim Farron said: ‘This Government isn’t concealing its hand. It hasn’t got a hand or, it would appear, a clue.’ And under-fire Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the Government of issuing ‘contradictory messages’ on Brexit.
“Earlier this week Mrs May slapped down Brexit Secretary David Davis for suggesting continued membership of the single market was ‘very improbable’… In response, the Prime Minister’s spokesman insisted Mr Davis he was giving a personal opinion rather than outlining Government policy.”
China Snubs Obama
The Guardian wrote on September 4:
“China’s leaders have been accused of delivering a calculated diplomatic snub to Barack Obama after the US president was not provided with a staircase to leave his plane during his chaotic arrival in Hangzhou before the start of the G20.
“Chinese authorities have rolled out the red carpet for leaders including India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, and the British prime minister, Theresa May, who touched down on Sunday morning.
“But the leader of the world’s largest economy, who is on his final tour of Asia, was forced to disembark from Air Force One through a little-used exit in the plane’s belly after no rolling staircase was provided when he landed in the eastern Chinese city on Saturday afternoon. When Obama did find his way on to a red carpet on the tarmac below there were heated altercations between US and Chinese officials, with one Chinese official caught on video shouting: ‘This is our country! This is our airport!’ ‘The reception that President Obama and his staff got when they arrived here Saturday afternoon was bruising, even by Chinese standards,’ the New York Times reported.
“Jorge Guajardo, Mexico’s former ambassador to China, said he was convinced Obama’s treatment was part of a calculated snub. ‘These things do not happen by mistake. Not with the Chinese,’ Guajardo… told the Guardian… Guajardo added: ‘It’s a snub. It’s a way of saying: “You know, you’re not that special to us.”’…
“Bill Bishop, a China expert… agreed that Obama’s welcome looked suspiciously like a deliberate slight intended ‘to make the Americans look diminished and weak’.
“It sure looks like a straight-up snub,” Bishop said. “This clearly plays very much into the [idea]: ‘Look, we can make the American president go out of the ass of the plane.’”…
“Obama’s unconventional welcome… were a reminder of the underlying tensions. The Washington Post said Obama’s bumpy landing in China was ‘a fitting reflection of how the relationship between these two world powers has become frayed and fraught with frustration’… Official statements issued by both sides on Saturday, as the pair held more than four hours of bilateral meetings, hinted at some of the disagreements between the world’s two largest economies…
“Bishop said: ‘Other than in climate, in most areas of the US-China relationship there is increasing amounts of friction and some actually increasingly quite hot friction around the South China Sea and some of these military [interactions] in the region. The US is looking a little weak and a little tired and I think [Beijing is] happy to put anybody in their place when they can. I think they see the opportunity to make Obama look weak,’ he added…”
Tense Meeting Between President Obama and Premier Putin
The Sun wrote on September 5:
“PRESIDENT Obama shared a tense exchange with Russian premier Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in China this morning as the two failed to agree over a ceasefire in Syria. They were pictured shaking hands in an icy encounter at the gathering of leaders from the world’s twenty biggest economies in Hangzou. It comes after weeks of talks between US and Russian diplomats have failed to turn up an agreement on bringing peace to the war-torn country.
“Russia is firmly backing barrel-bombing dictator Bashar Al-Assad, providing military assistance and war planes. America is on the side of what it calls ‘moderate’ anti-Assad rebels and Kurdish forces leading the ground fight against ISIS…”
Dangerous Confrontation between Russia and USA Over Fighter Jet
Deutsche Welle reported on September 7:
“A Russian fighter jet has flown within 3 meters of a US Navy surveillance aircraft over the Black Sea. As tension in Ukraine reflares, alongside the ongoing Syria quagmire, US-Russian relations need no such flashpoints… Moscow said the intercept was conducted ‘in strict accordance with international rules’ because the Americans were trying to snoop on Russian army exercises…
“According to the US, the Russian jet conducted four intercepts of the Poseidon and the one that was considered unsafe lasted about 19 minutes… In a dramatic incident earlier this year, Russian jets buzzed over the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea, coming within 10 meters of the warship.
“Relations between Russia and the West are at their worst since the Cold War…”
Obama Administration’s Ransom Money Payment to Iran Much Worse than Previously Known
Newsmax wrote on September 7:
“The Obama administration delivered $1.3 billion more in cash to Iran earlier this year after the initial and infamous $400 million ‘ransom’ payment, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The Journal reported that lawmakers were briefed Tuesday about the payments, months after the U.S. sent a total of $1.7 billion in non-U.S. currency to Iran from Jan. 17 through Feb. 5.
“The subsequent $1.3 billion was transferred in the same way as the initial $400 million – to an Iranian cargo plane in Switzerland.
“Lawmakers were livid to learn of the initial payment, which coincided with Iran’s release of five American prisoners. When pressed, officials have since acknowledged the initial $400 million was used as leverage to guarantee their release, which many have called a ransom payment, a charge the president continues to deny.
“The news of the additional $1.3 billion prompted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s pledge to introduce legislation to block any further payments to Iran. Titled the No Ransom Payments Act, it would also require Iran to return the funds it has already received…
“Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign launched an attack on the Obama administration Wednesday after a report revealed it has paid Iran a total $1.7 billion in cash to settle an old military transaction… ‘President Obama’s secret $400 million ransom payment to Iran already set an incredibly dangerous precedent, and news that it was followed by two more plane loads of cash only makes this blunder even worse,’ Trump’s senior communications adviser Jason Miller said in a statement… ‘The United States should not be helping fund the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism…’”
The Trump campaign states the obvious, but who in the Obama Administration is listening?
“President Obama Defends Kaepernick’s National Anthem Protest”
The New York Post wrote on September 5:
“President Obama on Monday defended San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand during the playing of the national anthem… The president added, ‘I don’t doubt his sincerity. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about. And if nothing else, he’s generated some conversation around some topics that need to be talked about…’
“Kaepernick has refused to stand for the pre-game playing of the national anthem, citing racial injustice and the oppression of minorities in America… Obama… praised the 28-year-old [black] professional athlete for speaking out… Obama didn’t encourage standing for the playing of the national anthem…”
This is quite a divisive position to take for an American President!
US Soccer Star Joins Kaepernick’s Protest
Breitbart wrote on September 5:
“U.S. Women’s National Team member Megan Rapinoe refused to stand during the national anthem before a Seattle Reign game against the Chicago Red Stars in Illinois. The teams played to a 2-2 stalemate. Just over 3,000 people attended the match. ‘It was very intentional,’ Rapinoe told American Soccer Now. ‘It was a little nod to [Colin] Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it…’
“Rapinoe called herself ‘disgusted’ by the ‘overtly racist’ reception to Kaepernick’s protest…
“Rapinoe won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics and played a crucial role in securing a victory for the American women at the 2015 World Cup… ‘Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,’ she told American Soccer Now. ‘… It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this…’”
Minorities become more and more vocal in this country, while the vast majority is pressured into silence.
“Ben Carson: Trump Should Apologize for Obama Birther Comments”?
Newsmax wrote on September 6:
“Ben Carson said Tuesday that Donald Trump should ‘absolutely’ apologize for insinuating that President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States. In an interview on CNN’s ‘The Lead,’ the former GOP presidential primary candidate, who now is a Trump supporter, said Trump’s appeal among African-American voters could be improved with a mea culpa pursuing the birther issue…
“The issue continues to dog Trump; on Monday, he refused to give a definitive yes or no about whether he believes the president was born in the United States. In 2011 while under fire from Trump, Obama produced his long-form birth certificate to prove he was born in Hawaii…”
Why Ben Carson would make such an unreasonable recommendation is difficult to understand and can only be explained with a desire to attract black voters. The question as to whether or not Barack Obama was really born in Hawaii is far from settled; much credible evidence exists suggesting the opposite (the so-called long-form birth certificate, which is actually only a copy, has been termed as dubious at best). It would be a fundamental mistake for Donald Trump to “absolutely apologize” to President Obama for “insinuating” that he was not born in the USA… which he might not have been…
The US Presidential Debates Announced
The New York Times wrote on September 2:
“Lester Holt, Martha Raddatz, Anderson Cooper and Chris Wallace have been selected to moderate this year’s presidential debates, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Friday. Mr. Holt, the anchor of the ‘NBC Nightly News,’ will moderate the first debate on Sept. 26; Ms. Raddatz of ABC and Mr. Cooper of CNN will moderate the town hall debate on Oct. 9; and Mr. Wallace of Fox News will handle the final debate on Oct. 19… Additionally, the CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano will moderate the vice-presidential debate on Oct. 4…
“Debates have allowed challengers and relative political newcomers to reach out to reluctant voters, providing reassurance about their qualifications. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton helped put to rest questions about their preparedness for the presidency in confident debate exchanges, and George W. Bush defied the caricature of himself as a lightweight by holding his own against Al Gore. Even Mitt Romney, who ultimately lost to Mr. Obama, shook up the 2012 race late in the season by routing the president in their first debate.
“Mr. Trump, facing significant skepticism among voters about his character and temperament, will be aiming for a similarly forceful performance. But Mrs. Clinton is one of the most practiced debaters in modern politics, after two campaigns for the Senate and the presidency, and she is perceived to have a considerable advantage…
“Presidential debates… draw enormous ratings themselves, far greater than the 21 million average for Sunday Night Football games, the highest rated regular programming in television. The first presidential debate in the 2012 election drew around 70 million viewers… Ratings records have been set going back to August 2015: The first Republican debate attracted 24 million viewers, the highest rated non-sports cable event in history. Democratic debates similarly broke viewing records for the party.”
Are We Continuing to Destroy the Earth?
On September 3, 2016, the website theearthchild.co.za published the following article:
“Right now the largest Native American PROTECT (not PROTEST) in history is happening in the Dakota’s… the US Government is taking control of Native American lands and forcing them to allow oil developers to drill on their land and move oil via pipelines. From watching what happened with the Tar Sands of Canada, we can get a good glimpse at what the land will look like after they’re done with it. Running through a similar pathway as that of the well-known failed Keystone XL project, the Bakken Pipeline would run across the Ogallala aquifer and the Mississippi rivers through sovereign Native lands… to take natural resources from the US and sell them to Asian and European markets…
“Dating back to 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil disaster springs to mind when we mention the last 30 years of history regarding production and distribution of oil… the Bakken pipeline is slated to be the largest oil line coming out of North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields, among the nation’s most active due to the fracking boom. The line would move up to 570,000 barrels of sweet crude oil daily through the Dakotas, Iowa, and Illinois. The nearly $3.8 billion pipeline is slated to cross multiple watersheds in its more than 1,150 mile course… critics say the pipeline brings the threat of spill damage to thousands of miles of fertile farmland, forests, and rivers… Most of the affected land is farmland, but the project does run through wildlife areas and major waterways like the Mississippi, and the Missouri, the longest river in North America.
“Would you instill your trust in America’s track records relating to oil disasters? Could we even remotely lay our trust in the very government and private industry when it comes to running major rivers and watersheds? Just imagine the possibilities of water contamination in areas spread over Texas to North Dakota!”
Something to think about…
How Are We to Keep the Sabbath? (Part 2)
In the first installment of this series, we addressed questions related to God’s command not to do “work” on the Sabbath; not to pursue our own “pleasure”; and not to engage in “business.” In this installment, we will concentrate on the question as to whether it is permissible to eat out in a restaurant on the Sabbath. We addressed this question in a previous Q&A, stating the following:
“The Church of the Eternal God in the USA and its corporate affiliates in Canada and Great Britain have consistently taught that it is not wrong to eat out on the weekly Sabbath or annual Holy Days (which are also called ‘Sabbaths’ in the Bible), depending on the circumstances. At the same time, we must always keep firmly in mind that whatever we do or say or think on the Sabbath should be in realization of the fact that we are spending time that God has set aside for a holy purpose (Isaiah 58:13-14)… This is not to say, however, that a Christian should engage in shopping on the Sabbath [but see our comments below], except in a real emergency… Nor should this… be used as justification or an excuse for a refusal to prepare for the Sabbath on the previous day…
“If Church members today eat occasionally in a nice, quiet restaurant on the Sabbath or a Holy Day after Church services, for instance, while, at the same time fellowshipping with other brethren and speaking about the things that pertain to God, then we must not condemn them for that. For instance, Church members might be traveling for quite a distance to attend Church services, looking forward to spending additional time with their brethren after services…
“This teaching, that it is not wrong to eat out on the Sabbath, is in accordance with the long-held understanding of the Church of God. In a letter from the Letter Answering Department of the Worldwide Church of God, dated October 1988, this understanding was correctly explained, as follows: ‘The Church has long taught that it is not wrong to eat out on the weekly Sabbath occasionally or on the annual Holy Days, depending upon one’s circumstances and preferences. Those waiters, waitresses, chefs, and the like, who may serve in a restaurant, are not our ‘servants’ in the way described in the Fourth Commandment. They are the employees of the owner of the restaurant. They would be working regardless of whether or not we ate there. God does not hold us responsible for their working on the Sabbath just because we use their services — unless we are the only ones who ever ate in that restaurant on the Sabbath. Obviously, we make up a very small portion of the customers served in restaurants on the Sabbath or Holy Days. Further, eating out occasionally on the Sabbath can enhance spiritual fellowship with brethren and allow family members more time to be with one another.’
“Mr. Armstrong, the late human leader of the Church of God, who died in 1986, explained once during a Bible study that he did not feel that it was inappropriate to go to a restaurant on a Sabbath… [since] eating or not eating did not stop the cooks and servers at a restaurant from working on the Sabbath… He would go out on a Friday night if he had guests, and if he had served his guests in his house, it would have meant a lot of work for Mr. Armstrong’s housekeeper and cook.
“The Church of God in Germany published a booklet in the early 70’s, titled ‘Gottes Sabbat–ein Tag der Freude’ (‘God’s Sabbath — A Day of Joy’). It reflected the Church’s understanding on the issue, and stated: ‘In Matthew 12:1-5, Christ shows clearly that it is not prohibited to acquire food on the Sabbath, when one is hungry and has nothing to eat. If one is not at home, it is not wrong to go to a restaurant on the Sabbath. There are people who do not have the means of cooking at home. In such cases it is permissible to buy food on the Sabbath.’…”
Some have no problem with going to a restaurant on the Sabbath to be with Church members, but reject the concept that when they get together for a picnic after Church services, some participating members, who have been traveling from a distance, go to a shop to buy some beer or some sandwiches for the picnic. Some may object to others stopping at a coffee shop on their way to Church services to drink coffee there or eat a sandwich, but they have no problem with buying coffee at the hotel where they are meeting, or at a restaurant where they might meet after services. We must not have double standards. If one set of actions is accepted, why not the other set? In addition, we do not know why the member would stop at a coffee shop on his way to services. Maybe, his family situation is such that he would rather enjoy peace at the coffee shop than having coffee at home, where he might be facing antagonism and rejection because of the Sabbath. As mentioned before, these are questions which must be answered pursuant to personal choices and convictions. It is not for us to condemn or criticize those who might not act in a way which we might approve or disapprove.
To continue with the above-mentioned Q&A:
“[In years when] the Passover evening falls on the Sabbath… work will have to be done during the ceremony. In addition, the Night to Be Much Observed falls [in such a] year on an annual Holy Day, following a weekly Sabbath. Some members of the Church of the Eternal God keep the Night to Be Much Observed in a nice, quiet restaurant, so as to reduce the work load on the women that night. Otherwise, the ladies would have to work during the weekly Sabbath to prepare meals for the evening. To prepare meals on Friday might pose several problems, as Friday, being the preparation day for the Sabbath, should be spent more properly to spiritually prepare for the Passover evening (in addition to finishing removing all leavening from the house, which must be completed [in such a] year by Friday evening).
“In the early 70’s, it was the practice of the Church of God in Germany to meet together in a restaurant during the Night to Be Much Observed. This was always a most inspiring experience, and rightly observed, did not at all take away from the spirit of that occasion…”
The Church of the Eternal God in Germany has followed this example for several years, with great success. In addition, Church members meet for at least eight days in rented facilities during the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. Some might object to this, claiming they can’t rent rooms at an hotel, as this would include renting on the weekly Sabbath and two annual Holy Days. They would rather stay home and just attend services. However, in doing so, they would violate God’s command to stay during the entire Feast of Tabernacles in temporary dwellings (excluding some extraordinary personal circumstances).
To elaborate on this, we should take note of the following comments from our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days“:
“God instructs us [in Exodus 35:3] not to kindle a fire for the purpose of working. He is not talking about kindling a fire to warm ourselves, or to cook a meal, or, as some interpret this today, to turn on a light switch. In the original Hebrew, the thought is conveyed of ‘kindling a consuming fire.’ The context in which this command was given was the work of building the tabernacle (compare Exodus 35:10–19)… heavy baking or boiling should be done on Friday, but… it is not prohibited to ‘kindle a fire’ to cook or heat a meal on the Sabbath day… ‘Customary work,’ by Biblical definition, does not include kindling a fire to warm oneself or cooking or heating a meal, and it does not include the bringing of sacrifices by the priests…
“[In Nehemiah 13:15-22], we see a description of a very common practice in our Western world today—a farmer’s market being conducted on the Sabbath. People were carrying burdens into the city to sell them there. But God did not—and does not—approve of such practices. If we want to be God’s people, we are not to participate in such activities… Further, the command against carrying burdens applies foremost, as we have seen, to carrying merchandise to be sold. This does not mean, however, that we should engage in the work of moving our belongings from one house to another on the Sabbath, except, of course, in a real emergency…
“Christ did not do His customary work as a carpenter—but He did do the work of God, that is, He did do good things on the Sabbath, including healing people…”
We may want to clarify here that this does not justify the work of a Church member as a doctor or a nurse on the Sabbath, since this is their customary work. This would also include an employed caretaker in a hospital or convalescent home for the elderly. In those cases, they need to find a replacement for their work on the Sabbath, as everyone needs to do, who does customary work.
Continuing with quoting from our above-mentioned booklet:
“Since both the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days are Feast days, the Christians in Colossae kept them of course as FEAST days. They would eat and drink on those days (except, of course, during the ‘Fast’—on the Day of Atonement). Some, though, apparently criticized them for that, teaching that no eating and drinking should take place on any of those days.
“Colossians 2:16, correctly translated from the Greek, states: ‘Let no one judge you regarding eating and drinking.’ Paul is addressing here the ACT of eating and drinking, not the KIND of food and drink being partaken of. Some critics felt, however, that Christians should fast on those days, rather than eating or drinking anything… Rather than agreeing with these human ideas, Paul states that this kind of philosophy is useless and is a doctrine of man that is derived from the ‘principles of this world.’ He specifically condemns such teaching in Colossians 2:8: ‘Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.’
“Some were apparently trying to introduce those philosophies into the Church, especially pertaining to how to keep the Sabbath and the Holy Days. Paul, in addressing these attempts, essentially told the Colossians: ‘Let no one judge you for keeping the Sabbath or the Holy Days with eating and drinking, rather than fasting, but let the Church determine or resolve this.'”
The Church has resolved that the Sabbath should be kept as a Feast day, with eating and drinking. Occasional fasting on the Sabbath may be in order, but it should not become a habit. In addition, the Church has also resolved that it is not wrong, in certain circumstances, to eat out in a restaurant on the Sabbath.
In the next installment, we will begin to address God’s teaching on Church attendance.
(To be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
On September 7, Norbert and Michael Link saw the printer to approve the mock-up version of our new booklet, “God’s Law… or God’s Grace?” Printed copies will be available at our Feast sites for those attending the Feast of Tabernacles and it is now posted on our website.
“Election Debacle for Angela Merkel… What’s Next?,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
In a catastrophic state election, Chancellor Merkel’s party (CDU) suffered a devastating defeat, while the anti-immigrant and anti-Islam party (AfD) enjoyed an unprecedented success. Merkel is blamed for the debacle, but stubbornly refuses to change her migrant policy. Minorities are deeply concerned about the AfD, and Merkel’s Bavarian sister party (CSU) under Premier Host Seehofer is willing to even go a step further than the AfD. What does all of this mean in the light of biblical prophecy? Will emerging nationalism in Germany and Europe destroy the European unification project, or is just the opposite true?
“Nicht Aufgeben Und den Mut Verlieren,” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon. Title in English: “Don’t Give Up and Lose Courage.”
“Are You A Humble Person?,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Humility is a growth characteristic for Christians, and it is an attitude we must choose to live by!
“Racing After Endurance,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Robb Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
We are promised eternal life if we are willing to endure until the end. But what is our finish line? What part do we have in determining when our endurance is sufficient enough to please God?
Here are the dates for the 2016 Fall Holy Days:
October 3—Feast of Trumpets
October 12—Day of Atonement
October 17 through October 23—Feast of Tabernacles
October 24—Last Great Day
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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