Update 80


"Principles of Faith"

Norbert Link will give the sermon this Sabbath. The title is: “Principles of Faith.”

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

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"Do We Take God For Granted?"

by Edwin Pope

It is easy in this life to take those closest to us for granted! We have all been guilty of such actions in our daily lives and that is certainly something we need to work on. When we are on the receiving end of such an error, we do not appreciate it.

But – do we allow ourselves this same prerogative with our God? If we are not careful, brethren, this can become a very easy thing to do and can become habitual. Generally our lives are filled with activities and at times it becomes difficult to keep all the balls in the air simultaneously. The tendency becomes one of selecting what we feel is important and letting everything else go. However, God is very clear about certain priorities we are to have in our lives.

In Exodus 20:3, God is very clear in His statement where He tells all who would follow Him – “You shall have no other gods before me.” He adds, in verse 5, “For I am a jealous God…” Brethren, it becomes very easy, in our hectic lives, to allow ourselves to put off doing things that even we consider very important, thinking “I can do that later,” in order to accomplish what we feel pressured to do. Therefore, many times we let our Bible study and time for meditation, our time for prayer and fasting to slip, in order to accomplish the tasks which are a part of our everyday routine.

We must not allow ourselves to do this. God gave special instructions regarding those who would be established as kings over the nation of Israel, ruling over the Children of Israel. Note in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 17, beginning in verse 18 –

“And it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.”

You and I have been called to be kings and priests in the Kingdom God will soon establish on this earth. God has thus given to us an awesome responsibility, in which we must not be negligent.

Anything we put before our God and the responsibilities He has given us at this time becomes an idol before Him, and we become guilty of breaking His law. We must not do this. We must learn to put first things first in our lives; and, in so doing, fulfill the royal law of love. Let us not be negligent in this important area of our Christian lives.

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Actually, this headline does not even accurately reflect the grim reality — since the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, including the red horse, signifying war, have already been riding on this earth for quite a while. Many of today’s battle fields remain virtually unnoticed by the general public.

CNN.com published an article on January 31, titled, “Conflicts rage across the globe.” It pointed out the following: “Iraq and North Korea have dominated the world’s attention in recent months, yet in countries and regions around the globe, strife smolders with sporadic notice. Civil war. Mutilations. Threat of nuclear deployment. Human trafficking. Starving babies. Those are some of the seeds and harvest of conflicts in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America… Millions of Zimbabweans face starvation… Since tensions broke out in the African nation of Burundi in 1993, more than 200,000 people have been killed… Burundi could evolve into a genocide without too much imagining… The conflict over Kashmir has raised the specter of nuclear conflict… Most regions in conflict suffer from long absences of international attention until overwhelming bloodshed or combat renews interest…”

This week, the world was shocked to learn that North Korea has “an untested ballistic [long-range] missile capable of reaching the western United States,” according to USA Today. This revelation followed North Korea’s announcement that they will use nuclear weapons if the United States maintains their troops in the region.

At the same time, a worldwide terror alert has prompted the governments in Great Britain and the United States to increase measures to defend against such an attack, including the stationing of military personnel at Great Britain’s airports in London and Heathrow. According to the “Guardian,” terrorists have allegedly smuggled rockets into Great Britain.

Truly, Christ’s warning that we will hear, in these end times, of wars and rumors of wars are being fulfilled before our very eyes and ears. And, no one is safe anymore, no matter where one may be, UNLESS one has God’s protection.

As prophesied, the friendship between the United Sates and Germany (and much of the rest of Europe) continues to cool off. This week, we witnessed a further heated exchange between American and German government representatives. While Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had declared earlier that he did not want to attack Germany, when comparing the country with Libya and Cuba, his advisor Richard Oerle stated, “The Germans do not play a role any more.” (Bild-Online). This was followed by a statement of Donald Rumsfeld that countries such as France and Germany that favor giving Iraq another chance to disarm are undermining what slim chance may exist to avoid war. (msnbc.com, February 8). Der Stern ran an article on February 7, pointing out that the “marriage” between Europe and the United States was in a “deep crisis.”

During the Munich Conference on Security Policy, Mr. Rumsfeld encountered strong resistance from Germany’s Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer. As Netzeitung.de reported on February 8, Fischer addressed Rumsfeld personally in a speech, saying, “You have to convince us. We have to discuss the matter together.” He also stated to Rumsfeld, “Excuse me, I am not convinced.” (Der Spiegel, February 8). He added, “We have not completed our job yet (in Afghanistan). Why now these priorities? I don’t understand the reasoning.” According to Bild Online, Mr. Rumsfeld “did not explain the reasoning.” Der Stern wrote, “The ditches between Germany and the United States have deepened.”

At the same time, Joschka Fischer had a private audience with the pope. The pope criticized the first official draft of the future European Constitution, presented by former French president Valery d’Estaing, as it makes “no mention of Europe’s religious roots nor the juridical status of churches,” according to Zenit, February 7. The pope expressed his support to Fischer for Germany’s position toward Iraq, according to Bild Online. The paper added, “Catholic Fischer gave the pope a promise: He will see to it that God is going to be included in the European Constitution.”

The relationship between the United States and some European countries increasingly worsened this week, when Germany, Belgium and France vetoed a NATO proposal to help Turkey arm for a conflict with Iraq. This action has caused great concern within the United States. Some even went so far as to say that the survival of NATO is at stake.

In light of all of these events, observers waited anxiously for German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s parliamentary address on Thursday. If anyone had thought, however, that Mr. Schroeder might modify his stance, they were disappointed. Mr. Schroeder insisted that there is still a peaceful solution, and that his government will not support a war against Iraq. He also emphasized that Germany is not isolated at all, but that France, Russia and China are supporting Germany’s position. He stated that Resolution 1441 does not authorize a preventive war against Iraq, and that only the Security Council of the U.N. has the jurisdiction to decide what the next steps should be. Mr. Fischer added that he has received more support from the pope than from the Christian parties in Germany (CDU and CSU).

At the same time, Belgium angered Israel’s President, Ariel Sharon. Brussel’s Court ruled that Sharon could be sued in Belgium for alleged atrocities against Palestinians in 1982, but only, once Sharon loses his immunity after his term as President. Israel’s Minister of Justice, Meir Schitrit, responded that it is unacceptable that such a “little and insignificant nation” should become the judge of the world (Spiegel Online, February 13, 2003).

New alliances are being formed. We will see soon a strong coalition of continental European countries, with the support of the pope, protecting and advocating what they determine to be their interests and values. Ultimately, this coalition will be at odds with the United States, Great Britain and the nation of Israel.

In observing these events, we must not forget why these developments occur. God is very angry because of the sins of the modern nations of the houses of Israel and Judah. God will use a modern United Europe, mainly under the leadership of modern Assyria, to punish modern Israel and Judah. Isaiah 10:5-6 reads, “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger And the staff in whose hand is My indignation. I will send him against an UNGODLY nation, And against the people of MY WRATH. I will give him charge, To seize the spoil, to take the prey, And to tread them down like the mire of the streets.” God describes the modern nations of Israel and Judah as “ungodly nations.” He says in Isaiah 1:2-4: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: ‘I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me; The ox knows its owner And the donkey its master’s crib; But Israel does not know, My people do not consider.’ Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward.”

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — religious deception, war, famine and death — have been riding for a while. The very next event — pictured by the fifth seal — describes the Great Tribulation: religious persecution and captivity of national and spiritual Israel and Judah.

But, it does not have to include you. You can be protected from war, terror attacks, sickness, plagues and death. Notice Psalm 91:2-10:

“I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence… You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day [wars and terrorist attacks], Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday [at
tacks with chemical and biological weapons]. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.”

Have we made God our refuge? Or do we believe that man’s wars are the solution to our problems? Ari Fleischer made some interesting comments to the press on February 12, 2003, as shown on CNN. He said that the President of the United States respects the train of thought by those who believe that war is never the answer. He added that there is a long-standing tradition in the United States for this position. We hope that, when the times comes, this statement will be remembered and applied towards God’s people who are conscientiously objecting against any wars fought by men.

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Q. Why does the Church of the Eternal God not celebrate new moons today?

A: According to the Hebrew calendar, a month starts with a new moon. While there are express and clear commandments in the Bible to celebrate today God’s weekly Sabbath and His annual Holy Days, there is no command in the Bible, enjoining us to celebrate today the beginning of the new months — or new moons. The early New Testament Church continued to keep and celebrate the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days, but we do not have any Biblical record indicating that they celebrated new moons. (In Colossians 2:16, Paul does not speak about “new moons” in general, but about “a new moon” — referring specifically to the Feast of Trumpets, the only annual Feast day which falls on a new moon.)

In ancient times, some assembled on the occasion of each new moon, with the blowing of trumpets, to signify the beginning of a month (Numbers 10:10). Calendars were not available to everyone in ancient Israel the way we have them today. Rather, the priesthood was entrusted with the responsibility to determine and make known to the people when a new month would start.

Some form of ceremony took place on the day of a new moon, to let the people know that a new month had begun. Some used the occasion to have a feast on that day (1 Samuel 20:5, 18, 24) — although, as mentioned, the Bible nowhere commands that new moons have to be celebrated in that way. We read that offerings were to be given on new moons (2 Chronicles 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Nehemiah 10:33), but such offerings (sacrifices) are, of course, no longer required today, either. Even in ancient Israel, we do not find that God commanded the celebration of new moons per se — that is, unconnected to the giving of sacrifices. On the other hand, we do find that the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days were in force before the sacrificial system was introduced, and that they are to be kept today, even though sacrifices are no longer necessary (Our booklet, God’s Commanded Holy Days, on the Sabbath and the annual Holy Days proves this fact from the Bible.).

It was, however, necessary in ancient times to somehow mark the beginning of the month, as it was not always easy for everyone to independently observe the new moon, due, perhaps, to clouds or heavy rain. By actually conducting a certain ceremony at the appearance of a new moon, the general population was sufficiently informed and enabled to prepare for any approaching seasons or annual Holy Days, which are counted and determined by the appearance of the new moon. For instance, as mentioned, the Feast of Trumpets is celebrated on a new moon (compare Psalm 81:3) — the first day of the month. Ten days later, the Day of Atonement is kept, and the Feast of Tabernacles begins fifteen days after the Feast of Trumpets.

It appears that in the process of time, the ancient celebrations of new moons had reached proportions that were not accepted by God. He tells us in Isaiah 1:14, “Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.” Apparently, new moons were even celebrated in the same way as Sabbaths are to be kept — with prohibitions to engage in merchandising (compare Amos 8:5). However, such a prohibition for new moons cannot be found in Scripture.

Today, it is not necessary to mark the beginning of each new month with feast celebrations, the blowing of trumpets, or an assembly. Calendars are available which list, well in advance, the dates of the appearance of each new moon throughout the year.

It is true that the Bible indicates that at the beginning of the Millennium, new moons will be kept in conjunction with the bringing of sacrifices (Ezekiel 45:17, 46:1, 3, 6; Isaiah 66:20-23). Why God will reintroduce a system of sacrifices in the Millennium, connected with new moon celebrations, the Bible does not explicitly say. Our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound…” suggests a distinct possibility.

It is clear from Scripture, however, that God does not command His people today to celebrate new moons.

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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

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