Update 79


"God's Law and the Covenants"

Edwin Pope will give the sermon this Sabbath. The title is: “God’s Law and the Covenants.”

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

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"Avoid Valentine's Day"

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

Over the years we have shown that so many of the world’s celebrations are to be avoided. The world’s holy-days or holidays, days of celebration — religious or otherwise — keep coming round. Whereas God’s Holy Day calendar shows a Master Plan wonderfully thought out, the world’s days are just a jumble of days without any co-ordination or real meaning whatsoever.

One of those days rooted in paganism, Valentine’s Day, is just around the corner. Radio and television programs and advertisements will be full of it as will be newspapers, magazines and periodicals. Little, if any thought will be given to its background and whether it should be something to be involved with. The world ‘s society doesn’t think that way. God is not in the picture.

The world will celebrate Valentine’s Day this year on February 14th. Let’s notice the pagan origins of Valentine’s Day:

Centuries before Christ, the pagan Romans celebrated the evenings of February 14th and February 15th as an idolatrous and sensual festival in honor of Lupercus, the “hunter of wolves.” The Romans called the festival “Lupercalia.” In her book, “Customs and Holidays Around the World,” Lavinia Dobler states, on page 172, the following: “It was not until the reign of Pope Gelasius that the holiday became a ‘Christian custom.’ As far back as 496, Pope Gelasius changed Lupercalia on February 15th to St Valentine’s Day on February 14th.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica states on page 336 in its 15th edition, volume 10:

“St Valentine’s day as a lovers’ festival and the modern tradition of sending valentine cards have no relation to the saints but, rather, seem to be connected either with the Roman (sexual) fertility festival of the Lupercalia (February 15th) or with the mating season of birds.”

The Encyclopedia Americana states that “this pairing off was, of course, linked with sexual immorality.”

How did this pagan festival acquire the name of “St Valentine’s Day”? In addition, why is the little naked Cupid of the pagan Romans so often associated today with February 14th?

The Church published an article in “Tomorrow’s World,” in February 1970, explaining that Valentine was a common Roman name. Roman parents often gave the name to their children in honor of the famous man who was first called Valentine in antiquity. That famous man was Lupercus, the hunter. Who was Lupercus? Why should he also have borne the name “Valentine” among the heathen Romans? The Greeks called Lupercus by the name of “Pan.” The Semites called Pan “Baal” – mentioned so often in the Bible – and this name was merely another name for Nimrod, the “mighty hunter” (Genesis 10:9). The hunter Nimrod was the Lupercus – or wolf hunter – of the Romans. “St Valentine’s Day” was originally a day set aside by the pagans in his honor.

Alexander Hislop wrote something similar in the “Two Babylons.”

Here, then, is the real origin of the Roman Lupercalia. The early Catholic Church, seeking the allegiance of the Roman populace, attempted to “Christianize” this festival along with other popular pagan celebrations.

In the above-mentioned article in “Tomorrow’s World,” the Church also explained why the Romans chose February 15th and the evening of February 14th to honor Lupercus – the Nimrod of the Bible. (Remember that in ancient times, days began at sunset the evening before). Nimrod – Baal or sun god of the ancient pagans – was said to have been born at the winter solstice. In ancient times the solstice occurred on January 6th and his birthday therefore was celebrated on January 6th. Later, as the solstice changed, it was celebrated on December 25th and is now called Xmas. It was the custom of antiquity for the mother of a male child to present herself for purification on the 40th day after the day of birth. The 40th day after January 6th – Nimrod’s original birthdate – takes us to February 15th, the celebration of which began on February 14th – the
Lupercalia or St Valentine’s Day. On this day in February, Semiramis, the mother of Nimrod, was said to have been purified and to have appeared for the first time in public with her son as the original “mother and child.”

We have to remember that Satan is behind all of this society’s customs and practices, wanting to throw true believers off the Godly path. Satan is far cleverer and more subtle and crafty than any human being (1 Peter 5:8; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2).

The world at large doesn’t realize that the devil is a real spirit being. He most certainly is, however, and his handiwork is all around for those who have eyes to see. Satan has blinded humanity and deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9). Is it any wonder then that when the days of this world come along that they are all inspired by the great deceiver? Jeremiah 10:2 tells us not learn the way of the heathen.

Valentine’s Day is one of those pagan days that has become part and parcel of the fabric of today’s society.
It is clear that Valentine’s Day – whichever way you look at it – has paganism written all over it. Paganism is not to be entertained by the people of God.

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The world was stunned and saddened to learn about the most recent space shuttle Columbia disaster, causing the deaths of all of the seven astronauts on board. At this time of mourning, USA Today asked some poignant questions in its editorial of February 4:

“Clear vision… was lacking in America’s space program long before Columbia shattered into pieces on its journey home this past Saturday. Since Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon in 1969, the space program has lost its way… In 1986, the Challenger exploded on takeoff, and no shuttle flew for nearly three years. The nation had an opportunity then to redefine the program’s goals. Instead, it focused on making the fixes needed to save the shuttle program. Now a second disaster offers another chance… Risking lives requires clear reasoning… Tuesday, the president praised the seven lost astronauts for possessing ‘the daring and discipline required of their calling.’ America needs a measure of both to define a space mission worthy of their memories.”


As USA Today reported on February 6, 2003, “preemptive attacks on North Korea’s nuclear facilities would trigger a ‘total war,’ the communist state warned Thursday after U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld labeled the North’s government a ‘terrorist regime.’ The harsh rhetoric came a day after North Korea said it was putting the operation of its nuclear facilities on a ‘normal footing,’ triggering fears it was about to produce weapons materials.” The magazine also quoted a spokesman of the North Korean government, stating that North Korea was capable, willing and entitled to launch a preemptive strike against the United States.


On Wednesday, February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the U.N. Security Council, giving America’s strongest presentation so far against Saddam’s dictatorship and his possession of weapons of mass destruction.

As USA Today reported, Mr. Powell claimed “that weapons inspections are futile because Iraq has perfected the art of concealment and has no intention of voluntarily offering up its weapons… He asserted for the first time that an active cell of the al-Qaeda terrorist network has been present in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, for the past eight months, and that it has ties to operatives in five European countries.” Mr. Powell also quoted from unidentified sources, showed slides and played audio tapes of phone conversations between Iraqi officials, allegedly proving the existence and concealment of weapons of mass destruction.

The reaction to Mr. Powell’s presentation was mixed – both in the United States and internationally. A Gallup Poll in the U.S. showed that 57% favor war, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points, according to USA Today. Members of Congress in both parties described Mr. Powell’s presentation as “compelling.” Several key senators, however, stated that the President needs to do more to explain to the American people the war’s likely aftermath. Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware said many voters don’t realize how long the United States is likely to be engaged in the region after military action is over. “But Johnny will not be marching home,” he said. Rather, Americans should be prepared for a long and expensive period of establishing political stability in Iraq.

The world reaction was even more cautious. Iraq, of course, dismissed Mr. Powell’s presentation as a “fabrication,” containing nothing but lies.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw stated that Iraq is in further material breach. At the same time, a majority of the British people is opposed to a war with Iraq, at least without a further UN resolution.

France’s Foreign Minster Dominique de Villepin wants to give Mr. Hans Blix more time to verify Mr. Powell’s claims [Another report of Mr. Blix is due on February 14. German newspapers have joked about his first report, stating, “Blix weiss nix.” (“Blix knows nothing.”)]. Virtually all of the French newspapers reacted sarcastically to Mr. Powell’s speech, stating that he did not present any facts that would warrant military actions, according to the French correspondent of the Today Show.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov also advocated more time for the weapons’ inspectors. He thereby accurately reflected the overwhelming sentiment of the Russian people. They are strongly opposed to war.

China’s Foreign Minster also agreed with the reactions of Russia and France.

Even Canada’s Foreign Minister Bill Graham did not feel that the evidence presented by Mr. Powell justified an immediate assault.

On the other hand, ten Eastern European nations signed a joint declaration, stating that Mr. Powell gave compelling evidence of Iraqi deception and evasions. These nations are: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who was also presiding over the Security Council Meeting, stated that the United States’ evidence needs to be studied. He pointed out that Saddam is a cruel tyrant whose activities need to be stopped. The German newspapers reacted in a more differentiated way. Der Spiegel Online called Mr. Powell’s presentation “a matter of faith.” The article stated, “If the U.N. Security Council’s session proved anything, then it proved the determination of the United States to immediately eliminate the problem Hussein Saddam… Are there enough proofs, which justify a war? Perhaps there are – perhaps there are not. “

The German tabloid, Bild, reacted quite differently. In its commentary, it pointed out: “The facts are grave. They convict Saddam of lies and intentional deception…. [German Chancellor Gerhard] Schroeder becomes a laughing stock when he pretends that it is irrelevant to him what the Americans lay on the table…. The material is… dangerous… Who can deny that? Are the inspectors to continue to search in the Iraqi haystack? Powell’s presentation was not a declaration of war, but a final warning. If Saddam does not reveal his poisons, a military [intervention] cannot be avoided.”

This mood swing in at least some influential German papers, beginning to support the United States’ position regarding Iraq, coincides with Gerhard Schroeder’s devastating defeat in two state elections (This “protest vote” was mainly due to Germany’s high rise of unemployment and the perceived lack of vision of the German government as to how to change the situation). Unfortunately, at the same time, U.S. Minister of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, compared in a speech before the U.S. Congress Germany with Libya and Cuba. The German press responded furiously. Bild (the very same paper that had just supported Mr. Powell’s speech), wrote: “Rumsfeld shoots again against Germany… He had already attacked Germany last month… What does he think to gain with his criticism?… Is he going to repeat his bad attack?”

Der Spiegel Online wrote, “The German-American friendship is again being tested…. The Greens [German coalition party] stated that Rumsfeld’s comments were rude.” Der Stern wrote that U.S. Ambassador in Germany Daniel Coats distanced himself from Rumsfeld’s remarks, pointing out that “Rumsfeld does not speak for the government of the United States.”

The position of the Catholic Church and many Protestant Churches remains unchanged. As Zenit reported, the Vatican Newspaper L’Osservatore Romano strongly criticized the concept of a “preventive war” and drew attention to the plight of the Iraqi people. It also stated that the presidency of the Swiss Episcopal Conference appealed to all believers to redouble their prayers so that war will not break out and that common sense would triumph. The bishops said, “For years, the Iraqi people, most especially the children, have suffered atrociously from the consequences of the international embargo against this country. Let us not martyr them still more…”

Zenit also announ
ced that John Paul II will meet on February 14 with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. Aziz is a member of the Christian minority. The fact that Aziz seeks support from the pope is interesting, given the fact that some of the descendants of the ancient Assyrians live in Iraq.

This world is at the brink of war. New alliances are being formed against the United States. Bible prophecy is marching on. We need to watch and pray that we can escape all those things that are surely going to come to pass soon.

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Q: What does it mean that God will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Him (compare Exodus 20:5)?

Doesn’t this contradict Scriptures such as Deuteronomy 24:16, stating that children are not to be put to death for their fathers, but that a person “shall be put to death for his own sin.”?

A: This question has puzzled many over the years. To fully understand what God is saying in Exodus 20:5, let us read the entire passage in context, beginning with verse 4:

“(4) You shall not make for yourself a carved image… (5) you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, (6) but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Similar statements can be found in Exodus 34:6-7; Numbers 14:18; and Deuteronomy 5:8-10.

In addition, passages like Deuteronomy 24:16 state that children are not to be put to death for the sins of their fathers. The same is expressed in 2 Kings 14:6. Also, Ezekiel 18:4, 17, 19-20 tells us, “(4) Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son are Mine; The soul who sins shall die…(17) [The righteous son] shall not die for the iniquity of his father; He shall surely live…(19) Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the guilt of his father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. (20) The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.” (Compare, too, Exodus 32:31-33.)

All these passages don’t contradict each other; rather, they compliment each other.

Notice how some commentaries explain the passages in Exodus 20 and in Ezekiel 18:

The Companion Bible comments to Ezekiel 18: 4, 20: “Descendants were not punished for the sins of their ancestors unless they persevered in their ancestors’ sins.” The same thought is expressed in Exodus 20. Note that Exodus 20:5 speaks of those “who hate Me.” Soncino points out that the phrase, “of those that hate Me,” applies to the children, i.e. God will punish the children if they [the children] hate Him. Soncino comments, too, that the punishment will be brought upon the children, “when they retain the evil deeds of their fathers.”

Those who hate God will be “visited” by God. Note, though, it does not necessarily say that they will die. Those who love God will receive His mercy. At the same time, the conduct of the parents may have a lot to do with the fact whether their children or grandchildren love or hate God.

The sins of the fathers do affect future generations — and so does the penalty for sin, which is oftentimes automatic. Soncino explains that the “effects of the penalty imposed upon a sinner are felt up to and including the fourth generation.” The New Commentary of Holy Scripture, S.P.C.K., 1951, comments, “It is an everlasting law of human society that children suffer by reason of the sins of their fathers.” This shows, then, how parents must consider the consequences of their actions – not just for their own sakes, but also for the sakes of their children, grandchildren, and future generations (A wrong lifestyle might very well affect the parents’ offspring – even in physical ways).

For instance, as long as even one parent is in the church, his or her children are sanctified (1 Corinthians 7:14), that is, they can and do have access to God. If both parents leave the Church, their children’s access to God is no longer guaranteed and may in time totally disappear. We note that because of Lot’s righteous conduct, God saved his daughters, while David’s adultery caused the death of his child (2 Samuel 12:13-14, 19-23). It should be pointed out here, however, that God did not consider David’s child to be guilty in any way and worthy of punishment. God punished David. The innocent child will be brought back to life by God at a time of peace and happiness, when prejudice and the hatred towards illegitimate children (compare Judges 11:1-2), who did nothing to deserve their fate, will be a thing of the past.

When Adam and Eve sinned, the penalty imposed on them affected all mankind. Through their sin, they cut themselves – and man – off from God. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), and since all have sinned, all have incurred the death penalty for sin (Romans 5:14). One might say that the sin of Adam and Eve affected, at the very least, the third and fourth generation, but since Cain sinned, his sin affected the next four generations, and so on. The effect of sin is cumulative. Finally, sin had become so all-encompassing that God decided to destroy the entire world in a flood.

Christ, in showing the evil influence of their parents and their own culpability in their continued hate of God, pointed out in Matthew 23:31-36, how the principle of Exodus 20:6 was fulfilled in the persons of the scribes and Pharisees at Christ’s time.

The vicious cycle of sin, penalty, and death can be interrupted, however, when a person turns to God, repents, and obtains forgiveness. Noah was found righteous, and because of his righteousness, eight souls were spared from death, and through them, mankind survived. God’s mercy, extended to Noah, affected “thousands.” Because of the righteousness of Abraham, the father of the faithful, “thousands” experience God’s mercy to Abraham, due to the unconditional promises given to him, pertaining to national greatness and spiritual grace. Then, because of God’s mercy towards obedient David, his offspring were blessed, in that his throne would always be occupied by one of his descendants. We can also think of the harlot Rahab, who, by virtue of her righteous deed of saving the spies and God’s mercy extended to her, saved her family and offspring.

The most shining and outstanding example of God’s mercy, extended to a Man, and through that Man, to “thousands,” is of course Jesus Christ. Through His sacrifice and death, all of us can be saved, if we respond to God’s call. Although all of mankind has become an enemy of God, due to the sins of Adam and Eve, the resulting penalty of being cut off from God, and man’s continued disobedience of God’s law, man can return to God through the deeds of one Man, Jesus Christ, the second Adam. Only a few are called today to return to God, but all will be given the same opportunity of accepting God’s mercy, in due time (1 Corinthians 15:23-24).

When God tells us that His mercy will extend to “thousands” who love Him, He is really talking about man’s ultimate potential to join His very family, for all eternity. Notice how the Jewish Bible translates Exodus 20:6, “…but showing kindness to the thousandth generation of those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

If you count all generations from the creation of Adam until the time of the end of the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-12), you will still not have a thousand generations. Therefore, the thought is conveyed here that all who love God and keep His commandments will obtain God’s love and mercy, due to the love and obedience of their forefathers – including Noah, Abraham, David, and of course Jesus Christ. Especially through Christ who kept the law perfectly, and who loved God the Father perfectly, God’s love and mercy are extended toward all of us, if we, too, follow in the footsteps of Christ (1 Peter 2:21). The end result of God’s love, if we abide in it by keeping His Word, is our entrance into the Kingdom and Family of God (2 Peter 1:10-11).

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