Update 83


Understanding the Prophecies of the Bible

Edwin Pope will give the sermon this Sabbath. The title is: “Understanding the Prophecies of Your Bible.”

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

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by Dave Harris

Matthew records a series of profound questions from some of the disciples. Among other things, they asked Jesus about the “end of the age” (Matthew 24:3). The answers given by Jesus were even more startling. In fact, we now understand that much of what has been left for us to know of the message Jesus Christ proclaimed focused on the end of this age and the establishment of God’s Kingdom.

Many generations–even that early Church of God which heard the words we now read–have thought that theirs was the final generation. Yet, one generation will indeed be the one spoken of by Jesus. Furthermore, the Bible is full of prophecies that describe events and personalities that are destined to arise at the end. Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 10:11: “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition [instruction], upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”

Peter, one of the disciples who asked Jesus about the end of the age, in later years preached the same imminent truth: “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers…” (1 Peter 4:7). Peter explains that because of the times in which we live, we should live our lives accordingly–especially with “…fervent love for one another” (v. 8).

Speaking of the final generation which would witness His return to the earth, Jesus used the days before the flood of Noah’s time as a comparison. What He said of that former doomed generation was that they “…did not know until the flood came and took them all away” (Matthew 24:39). They did not watch–they were not ready for what was about to happen. The reason for this was that they simply went on with their daily lives in a world where the “…wickedness of man was great in the earth, and [ ] every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

Jesus contended with the Pharisees and Sadducees for their spiritual blindness: “…You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3).

Can we each discern that we are now living at the end of this age? Are we able to believe what our eyes see and our ears hear? The status quo of this age has shifted remarkably and shockingly at the beginning of this new century, and events are now sweeping us along in fulfillment of the momentous end time prophecies Jesus Christ warned about!

Our safety and preservation can only be found in God. Just as Noah fulfilled the work given to him by God, those of us called into the Church of God must fulfill the great work entrusted to us. Jesus also left a promise in this regard when He said that “…for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened [“cut short”–not allowed to run to full completion]” (Matthew 24:22).

We have seen movies, read books, heard sermons–we have all, in one way or another, pondered about the close of this age. What we all must now do is wake up and believe the fearsome truth–these are the end times!

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IS “BIG BROTHER” AMONG US? — Growing Scrutiny, Control, and Restrictions of Personal Freedom

An article appearing on www.usatoday.com on Feb. 27 shows just how much our Western world is changing. It reports that the U.S. government is ready to test a new risk-detection system that would be based on an individual’s background and then have a threat level assigned to that particular person before they could board an airline.

Note how far reaching this new program will be: “Transportation officials say a contractor will be picked soon to build the nationwide computer system, which will check such things as credit reports and bank account activity and compare passenger names with those on government watch lists.”

Among the many changes in our new, post-September 11th world, the greatest change is that of people living in fear. Regardless of formerly “safe” areas of the world, the new reality is that no one feels safe anymore–anywhere! This is being reflected by governments as burgeoning new laws in the name of security are rushed into place. Many fear that the cost to personal freedoms has already suffered, will suffer increasingly and will be “the way things are” from here on out.

Those restrictions are not limited anymore to certain tyrannies, but they are now being introduced to Western democracies. Der Spiegel published an article on March 5, 2003, informing its readership of an attempt by the United States government to introduce a law that would strip Americans of their citizenship if they are felt to be supportive of terrorist activities. Those accused could be incarcerated secretly. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) speaks about a blatantly unconstitutional law, much worse than the “Patriot Act.” They ran an ad in the “New York Times,” titled, “Keep America safe and free,” comparing the current attempts of the U.S. government with the persecutions under the McCarthy era. One serious concern is the definition of terrorist groups in the proposed new law, which, according to law experts, could even include militant organizations for the protection of animals. “If during a demonstration a bystander should lose his life, the demonstrators could face the death penalty,” according to the article.

Yahoo! News reported on March 5 that “Hollywood Actors Raise McCarthyism Specter.” The article stated, “The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) said a slew of hate-mail directed at actors who have taken a public personal stand against war, along with calls for boycotts of movies and albums on the nation’s talk radio airwaves and Internet message boards, ‘suggest that the lessons of history have, for some, fallen on deaf ears.’ SAG said suggestions that ‘well-known individuals who express ‘unacceptable’ views should be punished by losing their ‘right to work’ was a ‘shocking development’ which recalled the 1950s House Committee on Un-American Activities. More than 230 people, including Arthur Miller, Orson Welles, Dashiell Hammett, Paul Robeson and Charlie Chaplin were placed on a blacklist that stopped them working for the entertainment industry because of views considered left-wing or unpatriotic… [Martin] Sheen, along with actor Sean Penn…, singer Sheryl Crow…, and scores of other celebrities have been slammed for being unpatriotic… G.I. Jargon.com, a Web site representing U.S. military, police and firefighters, dubbed the celebrities ‘Taliban’ and called for a boycott of ‘anti-American entertainers,'” according to the article.

These limitations of personal freedoms and attempted restrictions of free expressions are just the beginning. The Bible speaks of a time when the entire world will fall under the control of a looming end-time religious/political power, currently rising in Europe. A time when personal freedoms will disappear, war will be glorified, and the world will be in subjection to the exacting controls and dominance of this final superpower. Revelation 13 speaks of religious and political/military leaders who hold power over people to enforce worship (at the cost of their lives) and control the commerce of the world: “He [the religious leader] causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast [the political/military leader], or the number of his name” (verses 16-17).

Something to watch–something for all of us to earnestly pray about!


From msn.com for March 5, 2003, the pressure on the dollar is noted: “The euro was trading around $1.0966 compared with $1.0956 in late U.S. trade on Wednesday, when it hit a four-year peak of $1.1005.” Der Spiegel commented that experts expect a further upward trend of the euro and a further downward trend of the U.S. dollar.

Aside from the immediate monetary repercussions, the growing strength of the euro against the dollar only reflects the rapidly changing roles of a more and more isolated U.S. and an emerging financial powerhouse in an increasingly influential Europe.


Yahoo! News reported on March 5 that “Chinese leader Jiang Zemin gave his support to European-led opposition to a war on Iraq… Jiang told Chirac that Beijing agrees with a statement made Wednesday by the foreign ministers of France, Russia and Germany, who said they would ‘not allow’ passage of the U.S.-backed resolution.” Der Spiegel commented on March 6 that “the United States and Great Britain become more and more isolated…. The American attempts to change the picture appear motivated by despair… Now there is also open disagreement between the United States and Hans Blix.”

In addition, the United States suffered a setback this week by the refusal of the Turkish parliament to allow the Pentagon to base a large ground force in Turkey. USA Today quoted a Senior Defense official as saying, “‘We are not going to wait for Turkey. We’ll go on our timetable.'”

The troubles for the U.S. mounted further this week, when tensions increased in the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear programs. Russia and China both urged the United States to try to “defuse the standoff peacefully,” according to Yahoo! News. Washington had ordered the deployment of 12 B-1 and 12 B-52 bombers last Friday in Guam, which is about 2000 miles from North Korea. President Bush has now stated, according to the article, “that the military option was on the table as a last resort.” North Korea has repeatedly threatened with nuclear war, if the United States does not relent in the present conflict.


Cardinal Pio Laghi, former Vatican ambassador to the U.S. and a Bush family friend, met with President Bush on Wednesday. As an emissary from Pope John Paul II, he delivered the pope’s message, as quoted in Yahoo! News: “A war would be a ‘defeat for humanity’ and would be neither morally nor legally justified. In a letter to Bush, the pope stood by his view that a pre-emptive strike on Iraq is immoral ‘unless it gets backed’ by the United Nations.” The article continued, “Bush, a Methodist, has taken pains throughout his presidency to court Catholic voters, who made up a quarter of the electorate in 2000 and split their votes between Bush and Democrat Al Gore.”

The Catholic position on the issue of Iraq becomes more and more muddled. Zenit stated on March 4 that Archbishop Celestino Migliore explained the Vatican’s position in this way, “It is not of pacifism, but rather of working as an architect of peace. The problems exist and they must be resolved, but not by taking recourse to war.” One day later, as stated above, the pope’s position was communicated to President Bush that he would approve of war — even of a pre-emptive strike — if the U.N. were to support it. Clearly, the position of the Catholic Church on war is not one of conscientious objection.

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Q: Exodus 12:18, among other Scriptures, commands us to eat unleavened bread for seven days. Is this command still valid today? If so, how is it to be applied?

A: The command in Exodus 12:18 is an essential part of the annual seven day celebration of the Days of Unleavened Bread. As we fully explain in our new booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days,” these annual Feast days are still to be kept today.

Numerous Scriptures tell us to remove, during these seven days, leavened bread from our houses, and not to eat leavened bread. At the same time, we are told to eat unleavened bread during these days. Biblical passages containing this command can be found in Exodus 12:15-20; 13:7; 23:15; 34:18; Leviticus 23:6; Numbers 28:17; and Deuteronomy 16:3, 8. We also read that the Days of Unleavened Bread will be kept in the Millennium (Ezekiel 45:21). Further, Paul upholds the ongoing validity of God’s command to keep these days, explaining at the same time the accompanying symbolism, in 1 Corinthians 5:8, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

Bible commentaries tell us that the Hebrew and Greek words for “unleavened bread,” that is, “matstah” and “azumos,” describe “anything unleavened.” At the same time, the Hebrew word “chamets,” translated, “leavened bread,” is defined by commentaries as “anything leavened.” Although this might be technically correct, we must not overlook that the Israelites, when obeying God’s command, ate unleavened CAKES (Exodus 12:39, Compare, too, Deuteronomy 16:3, which is to be translated as “unleavened cakes.”).

The Worldwide Church of God has taken a differentiated view point over the years as to whether it is a sin to not eat unleavened bread on each of the seven Days of Unleavened Bread.

In a Question and Answer section of the Good News in March of 1981, it is stated, “Instead of eating leavened bread, we have the positive command to eat unleavened bread (Ex. 13:56). We may also eat unleavened pies and cereals together with all the meats, drinks, fruits and vegetables we normally consume.”

In a Ministudy, published in the Good News in March of 1983, we read, “The Israelites were not merely to expunge all leavening and leavened foods from their property. That would have only symbolized putting away sin. They were commanded to eat unleavened bread during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This act of eating unleavened bread symbolizes the opposite of sin — obedience to God.”

In an article, titled, “How Leaven Pictures Sin,” published in the Good News of March 1984, a slightly modified position was taken: “Instead of eating these leavened foods, replace them with unleavened products (Ex 12:15, 19-20, Lev. 23:6). These include matzos, hardtrack and a number of flatbreads… Whenever you eat bread during these days, it should be unleavened.”

In the Ambassador Bible Correspondence Course, Lesson 26, copyright 1986, the above-stated position was even further modified, as follows:

“However, it is not required of every person to eat unleavened bread every day of this festival. Some people rarely eat any type of bread. There may be reasons why someone may not want or be able to eat bread every day of the Feast. Some few might even find it necessary to fast for a day or two during the Feast. But whatever bread and other flour products are eaten during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they must be unleavened.”

After careful consideration, study and prayer, it is the position of the Church of the Eternal God, based on the clear Scriptural commands, that we are to eat unleavened bread every day of the Feast, barring emergencies or other extraordinary circumstances. It is not a sufficient excuse, however, not to eat unleavened bread because one just does not want to do so. However, if an emergency situation comes up during the Feast, prompting an individual to fast on one of the seven days, it would not be sinful to do so. Another exception would apply for people who have been advised by their physicians, because of an unusual medical condition, not to eat any kind of bread. Likewise, in areas where people have no or only very difficult access to unleavened bread, they should try to the best of their abilities to obtain unleavened bread for the Festival. God looks at the heart. Someone who has tried hard, but still could not obtain unleavened bread, will not be condemned by God for this lack of availability, as may be the case in some parts of the world.

As a general rule, however, we are to replace leavened bread with unleavened bread, since we are to replace sin with righteousness. Even those who normally don’t eat bread should still eat a little bit of unleavened bread every day during the Days of Unleavened Bread (in addition to their normal food which must not contain leavened products of any kind), to remind them of the symbolism conveyed during this Feast.

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