Update 853


Comments on News and Prophecy (December 1, 2018); “Let Us Be Clean and Holy!”

On December 1, 2018, Norbert Link will present “Comments on News and Prophecy (December 1, 2018), as well as the sermon, titled, “Let Us Be Clean and Holy!”

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.

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Protection Against Deception

by Eric Rank

When reading about biblical prophecy, one of the direst warnings involves deception. The frailty of mankind will fall prey to believing lies because they seem to be so compelling. Lies will masquerade as Truth, and people will believe them! The cares of the world will simply pull people away from God and His Truth. It is sobering to consider this because we are all human, and therefore we are all inherently vulnerable to the trap of deception.

In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, the source of vulnerability is exposed: “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12). We can see plainly that the belief in Truth stands directly opposed to unrighteousness. When there is pleasure in living a way of life that is inconsistent with the plain Truth of the Bible, the result is a vulnerability to believing deception instead. Clearly, when a love for man’s way of life begins to take root, there leaves less and less room for God’s Way of Life to protect one from deception.

Being deceived is not the end in itself though. The most frightening part is the ultimate result. The deception that turns people away from God by convincing them that their unrighteous ways are apparently righteous leads to condemnation – that is, death. When deception bears its fruit, the victim dies a death with an eternal duration. The pleasure in a life of unrighteousness has a dreadful finality.

Therefore, if we want to avoid this grim end in our lives, it is vitally important that we make sure to guard ourselves against deception. Nurturing our love for the Truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10), and all that naturally follows from such love, is the only way that we can defend ourselves from the subtle and cunning onslaught of deception. By building up our love for the Truth, we strengthen our ability to reject the imposters that threaten to take away our crown of righteousness. When we become intimately familiar with the Truth, we become strangers to the lies of deception.

Becoming familiar with the Truth and nurturing our love for it sounds great, but how do we do it? We can draw inspiration from the Psalms. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10). If we want to increase our understanding of the Truth, which is necessary in order to love the Truth, we have to put the Truth into action. By actually doing the commandments of God, we increase our familiarity with them, and we receive their benefits. By building obedience to God into every corner of our lives and taking the time to appreciate the inherent goodness, we build up our defenses against the dreadfulness of death. Our best protection against deception is to build up our love for the Truth by living by it.

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by Norbert Link

We focus on Britain’s political chaos due to a controversial Brexit “deal,” which was agreed to by Britain and the EU last Sunday, but which is feared to fail in the British Parliament in early December (please also view our StandingWatch program, “What the BIBLE Says on the Brexit Debacle” and the latest edition of our new feature, “Comments on News and Prophecy (November 24, 2018)” We also report on interesting consequences from Brexit, such as a deteriorating relationship between the UK and the US, and the creation of a European army.

We continue with different viewpoints of Americans and Germans and quote comments by Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Martin Schulz, advocating the creation of a sovereign United States of Europe; speak on the lost lessons of World War I; and quote Hillary Clinton’s controversial statements on European immigration which even Democrats wished she would not have made.

We warn of a renewed conflict between Russia and Ukraine (please view our new StandingWatch program, “How Will the New Russian-Ukrainian Conflict Be ‘Solved’? speak about valid concerns that Saudi Arabia, under its ruthless and murderous Crown Prince, wants to build a nuclear bomb with inadvertent American assistance; as well as European arms embargos on Saudi Arabia, pointing out the tragic irony in light of biblical prophecy. We also speak on the “humanitarian crisis” at the US-Mexico border and the economic costs to the US for temporarily closing parts of the border; and the status of California’s wildfires.

We conclude with a dire report on climate change by the Trump Administration which is at odds with the President in many respects; and with Russia’s “joke” on questioning the American moon landing, thereby bringing to mind the many ridiculous conspiracy theories or “fake news,” which are quite popular in Russia and Europe.

Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.

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Brexit: “May Gives Way over Gibraltar after Spain’s ‘Veto’ Threat”

The Guardian wrote on November 24:

“Theresa May has given way to Madrid’s demands over the future of Gibraltar after the Spanish prime minister threatened to ‘veto’ the Brexit deal due to be signed off by EU leaders on Sunday [which it was, see below]. On the eve of Sunday’s special Brexit summit, the British ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, wrote to concede that Gibraltar would not necessarily be covered by a future trade deal with the EU… The Spanish leader, Pedro Sánchez, reacted immediately, claiming the UK would now have to open talks on ‘joint sovereignty’ of Gibraltar…

“Sánchez said:  ‘Spain will be a fundamental pillar of the relationship between Gibraltar and the EU as a whole. When it comes to the future political declaration, the European council and the European commission have backed Spain’s position, and backed it as never before.’…

“The development threatens… to open up a new front in Downing Street’s battle with the critics of May’s deal… The prime minister had promised in the House of Commons and on the steps of Downing Street that she would work for the entire ‘UK family’, including Gibraltar, a disputed territory.”

The Church of God has felt for many decades that, ultimately, the UK might lose Gibraltar as one of the last remaining “sea gates” in their possession.

EU Approves Agreement on UK’s Brexit

BBC reported on November 25:

“EU leaders have approved an agreement on the UK’s withdrawal and future relations – insisting it is the ‘best and only deal possible’…

“European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said anyone in Britain who thought the bloc might offer improved terms if MPs rejected the deal would be ‘disappointed’. But European Council President Donald Tusk… said he would not speculate on what would happen in such a situation, saying: ‘I am not a fortune teller.’

“The UK Parliament is expected to vote on the deal in early December, but its approval is far from guaranteed. Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, the DUP and many Conservatives MPs are set to vote against.

“… At a news conference in Brussels, [Theresa May] said the agreement would: end freedom of movement ‘in full and once and for all,’ protect the constitutional integrity of the UK, and ensure a return to ‘laws being made in our country by democratically elected politicians interpreted and enforced by British courts’. The agreement, she added, would not remove Gibraltar from the ‘UK family’…

[As the previous article and the following articles show, all these declarations, as stated, are factually incorrect.]

“Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the parliamentary arithmetic was ‘looking challenging’ and warned ‘nothing could be ruled out’ if Mrs May lost the vote, including the government collapsing

“The agreement will also have to go back to the European Council, where a majority of countries (20 out of 27 states) will need to vote for it. It will also need to be ratified by the European Parliament, in a vote expected to take place in early 2019…

“Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to Sunday’s summit by calling the deal ‘the worst of all worlds.’ He said his party would oppose it… Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said he would find it ‘very, very difficult’ to support the agreement as it stood… [Northern Ireland’s] Democratic Unionist leader [DUP] Arlene Foster… said… the agreement… would leave Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK ‘still within European structures with no say in its rules’…”

A Hard Sell

The Associated Press wrote on November 24:

“British Prime Minister Theresa May must now sell the deal to her divided Parliament — a huge task considering the intense opposition from pro-Brexit and pro-EU lawmakers alike — to ensure Britain can leave with a minimum of upheaval on March 29. It’s a hard sell.

“The agreement leaves Britain outside the EU with no say but still subject to its rules and the obligations of membership at least until the end of 2020, possibly longer. Britons voted to leave in June 2016, largely over concerns about immigration and losing sovereignty to Brussels…

Many predict it will fail in the British Parliament. No one can be sure whether that would lead to the fall of the government, a new referendum, a postponement of Brexit or a chaotic ‘no deal’ exit for Britain. But Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he thought May’s chances of getting the agreement through Parliament were strong. He said British lawmakers would see that ‘the alternative is a no deal, cliff-edge Brexit, which is something of course that we all want to avoid.’”

The Sun wrote on November 27:

“Theresa May could suffer a 200-vote defeat when the Commons decides on her Brexit deal — dealing a fatal blow to her Premiership… By Tuesday night, a total of 98 Tory MPs had publicly declared their opposition to the deal… with more known to also oppose it.”

The Sun commented that the entire vote of all parties in Parliament could end up with 221 for and 418 against the deal. 318 votes would be needed to pass the deal.

At the same time, Daily Mail reported on November 28 that according to a new poll, 52 percent of the public state their belief that Theresa May’s deal “is the best on the table.”

“Theresa May’s Betrayal Agreement”—“Brexit By Name Only”

Breitbart added on November 24:

“The Remain-voting Prime Minister’s deal with the European Union — if ratified by the British Parliament and European Parliament — could condemn the United Kingdom to ‘perpetual purgatory’ or even no Brexit at all, as Britain’s departure would be followed by a lengthy ‘transition’ period in which it would remain subject to all the rules and regulations of an EU member-state, but without representation in the EU’s institutions.”

We know from the Bible that Great Britain will leave the EU… and not just by name only.

No Plan B?

Newsmax and Thomson/Reuters wrote on November 24:

“Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country chairs EU meetings till the end of the year, said there could be no more negotiations. ‘There is no Plan B,’ said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. ‘If anyone thinks in the United Kingdom that by voting No something better would come out of it, they are wrong.’”

This was questioned by several reports in the press stating that the EU was drafting a contingency agreement in case the present deal would be rejected by the UK Parliament.

Will Germany Be Asked to Help?

The EUObserver wrote on November 24:

“German chancellor Angela Merkel refused to speculate on what would happen if the deal did not make it through the UK parliament. Asked if she would help May, she said ‘one should not do anything one is not asked to do’…”

The Bible indicates that the UK might indeed ask Germany for help, but in any case, Germany will not be able or willing to provide it.

Far From Over

The EUObserver wrote on November 24:

“The EU treaty on any given member state’s withdrawal, in its Article 50, makes it possible for the UK to ask for an extension of the Brexit withdrawal negotiating period that is meant to end in March 2019.  EU states would need to agree unanimously to continue negotiations with the UK, but at the moment, there is little appetite for that in European capitals.

“In any case, the Brexit story is far from over. If the deal goes through in Britain, negotiators will still have to turn to the next, and even more complicated talks on a future deal on trade and other aspects of the bilateral relationship… France’s president Emmanuel Macron also gave a sign that the EU was prepared to play hardball. He noted that an agreement on fisheries could be linked to avoiding the Irish backstop, meaning that the UK could be forced into a deal on fishing rights in order to avoid staying in the customs union indefinitely.”

No US-UK Trading Because of Brexit?

The Guardian wrote on November 26:

“Donald Trump has delivered a weighty blow to Theresa May’s hopes of steering her Brexit deal through parliament, saying it sounded like a ‘great deal for the EU’ that would stop the UK trading with the US… Trump’s intervention caught Downing Street off-guard and is likely to weaken May’s hand at a time when she is seeking to get the deal approved by parliament… A vote is due on 11 December after a five-day debate…

“Under the deal the UK will not be able to pursue an independent trade policy during the 21-month transition period after Brexit, during which it will be in effect an EU member state without any representation in the bloc’s decision-making institutions… Such a scenario would see the whole of the UK staying in a customs union with Brussels under which it would not be able to pursue any trade deal covering goods – although the UK would be free to seek agreements in the services sector…

“Trump has… been seeking a trade deal with the EU, and has been threatening tariffs on the European car industry in order to attain such a prize. The UK would likely be covered by such an EU-US deal… Trump has had an uneasy relationship with May, and made no secret of his support for Nigel Farage and the British hard right…”

US-British Relationship Less Special after Brexit

The Washington Post wrote on November 24:

“As Britain continues to hash out the terms of its divorce with the European Union… Americans are already feeling the loss: A once-indispensable proxy in Europe no longer has clout that it can exercise on Washington’s behalf… Americans will find it harder to exert their will inside a 27-nation bloc that will be among the richest in the world… Leaders in London and Washington like to boast of their ‘special relationship’… The reality… is that Britain outside the European Union is a lot less special…

“… a Europe unbound from Britain is likely to go in an entirely new direction — one that Americans may dislike. One conflict flared this month after French President Emmanuel Macron — the leader of the only remaining E.U. country with enough military might to engage in foreign operations on its own — spoke of his desire to build a ‘real European army,’ a project London and Washington long tried to prevent… When Britain was a full, participating member of the E.U., it vetoed such discussions. Now that Europeans are planning for life after Brexit, London no longer has a voice.”

“Thanks to Brexit, the European Army Is on Its Way”

Handelsblatt Global wrote on November 26:

“Last week German and French defense ministries quietly announced contracts for further cooperation. Could Brexit – and the impending departure of the EU’s biggest military spender – finally be causing the Germans to pick up their guns? Brexit may be sad but it has had one positive outcome for the other 27 nations in the European Union: It has brought them closer together politically. There may soon be another sector that can celebrate more togetherness thanks to the British decision to leave the EU: the defense industry.

“… the UK has always been closer to NATO than the idea of a European army. Additionally, Britain was always a fly in the sticky ointment of European defense. Successive British governments ‘have been careful to ensure that the EU did not develop any serious national security or defense capabilities that might impinge on [the UK’s] own,’ former British spy chief, Richard Dearlove, pointed out recently.

“That could all be about to change. Up until recently, Germany has been reluctant to truly engage in building up a ‘European army.’ But lately there’s been lots of talk about not being able to rely on the Americans anymore, under US President Donald Trump, as well as positive signs from French and German leaders. All that, and the looming loss (at least, contractually) of one of the EU’s major military powers, could finally be pushing the Germans into arming themselves better, after years of procrastination.

“A short announcement that appeared on the German defense ministry’s website last Wednesday afternoon seems to confirm this. German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen and her French counterpart, Florence Parly, announced they are awaiting a joint plan from Germany’s Rheinmetall and KNDS (a Netherlands-based holding company comprising arms-makers, Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, or KMW, and France’s Nexter) about the development of a combat ground system, including tanks. They expect the plan by the middle of next year. Both ministers also agreed on how exactly Dassault Aviation, a French firm, and the French-German aerospace company, Airbus, will work together on a new concept for joint air defense. The French companies will take the lead in the air while the Germans do so on the ground.

“The announcement… can be seen as an important de-facto declaration of intent, via the biggest defense contracts in the EU… Industry insiders say the air combat systems are worth around €500 billion ($569 billion) and the new tanks, about €100 billion…

“Franco-German naval defense could also see more mergers and cooperation, if things continue in this vein. France’s state-owned Naval Group could launch another bid for their German rival, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, who have said they are open to a good offer…”

The Times added on November 28:

German public support for an increase to defence spending has risen sharply over the past year, amid concerns that the country can no longer depend on the US for protection.”

How American and German Views Differ

Politico wrote on November 26:

“According to a new study, seven-in-ten Americans said the relationship between the two countries was good, while 73 percent in Germany said the relationship was bad. That’s a big jump on the German side from 2017, when 56 percent said the relationship was bad…  Seventy percent of Americans said the U.S. should cooperate more with Germany, but only 41 percent of Germans said Germany should cooperate more with the U.S… 58 percent of Americans wanted to cooperate less with Moscow, while 69 percent of Germans wanted more cooperation.

“… most Germans (72 percent) said they want to be more independent from the U.S. when it comes to foreign policy…In the U.S., 65 percent want to remain close to Europe… 51 percent of Americans opposed the initial tariffs (with 44 percent in favor). In Germany, 78 percent supported increasing tariffs on imported U.S. products in response to American tariffs on German goods.”

Merkel and Macron: “EU States Must Prepare to Hand National Sovereignty over to Brussels”

Breitbart wrote on November 23:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that European Union (EU) member states must be prepared to transfer powers over to Brussels at a debate on the ‘tensions’ between globalisation and national sovereignty. ‘Nation states must today be prepared to give up their sovereignty,’ Merkel said… [She also said that nationalism] ‘is not patriotism, because patriotism is when you include others in German interests and accept win-win situations,’ … paraphrasing her French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who recently claimed that ‘patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism…’

“Battling disastrous poll ratings at home in France, as well as massive protests, Macron travelled to Berlin at the weekend, where he told the Bundestag that ‘the Franco-German couple [has] the obligation not to let the world slip into chaos and to guide it on the road to peace.’ ‘Europe must be stronger and win more sovereignty,’ the French president said, demanding EU member states surrender national sovereignty to Brussels over ‘foreign affairs, migration, and development’ in addition to ‘an increasing part of our budgets and even fiscal resources’.”

Ten nations or groups of nations with sovereign powers will emerge from the current EU, and they will in turn give their authority to a charismatic economic, political and military leader, called the “beast” in the Bible. He is also referred to as the “king of the North” and as “King Jareb,” the modern “King of Assyria.”

Martin Schulz Speaks Out

Deutsche Welle wrote on November 21:

“The former president of the European Parliament failed dramatically in his bid to unseat Chancellor Angela Merkel. But is he looking for a comeback?… Martin Schulz had hoped to become Germany’s chancellor, or at least the country’s foreign minister…

“It was a dramatic fall for a politician who went from being the hope of the Social Democrats, elected party leader with a record 100 per cent of the votes, to the man responsible for the party’s worst election result in decades. However… Schulz said he was not the wrong candidate for the top job… ‘I am not a bad loser,’ said Schulz, who before the failed campaign in 2017 made his mark as European Parliament (EP) president from 2012 to 2017. The EP has been widely criticized for its democratic deficits, but Martin Schulz said this criticism has mainly come from right-wing tendencies in the United Kingdom… [But when he was asked] whether this criticism is nevertheless valid, Schulz said it was ‘completely nonsense.’…

“Martin Schulz has remained a passionate European and has continued to defend one of his main proposals: the idea of a United States of Europe. [He said:] ‘… if you want to run in future times the EU and the idea of democracy against people like Mr. Trump, Xi Jinping or Mr. Putin, we have to deepen European integration.’ Schulz has defended these European ideas for a long time, and he probably will continue to do so… he will focus on his role as member of the German Bundestag. ‘I am not looking for a comeback. I am here,’ he said.”

“The Lost Lessons of World War I”

Project Syndicate wrote on November 23:

“It has been 100 years since World War I ended, and the centenary was commemorated this month with great pomp in Australia, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom. Germany sent high-level authorities to France to mark the occasion, reaffirming the reconciliation between the two countries. But the fact that Franco-German reconciliation did not occur until Europe had suffered another devastating war demonstrates how fragile peace can be, especially when political leaders are as shortsighted as they often are… WWII erupted because nationalism was allowed to continue to fester…

The risk today is that generations that have not known war will reproduce the chain of events that lead to it… the structures we have created to preserve peace are far from foolproof. With populations across the West embracing nationalistic and populist ideas, we are again dancing on the rim of a volcano.”

Hillary Clinton Wants to Advise Europe

The Guardian wrote on November 22:

“Europe must get a handle on immigration to combat a growing threat from rightwing populists, Hillary Clinton has said, calling on the continent’s leaders to send out a stronger signal showing they are ‘not going to be able to continue to provide refuge and support.’ In an interview with the Guardian, the former Democratic presidential candidate praised the generosity shown by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, but suggested immigration was inflaming voters and contributed to the election of Donald Trump and Britain’s vote to leave the EU…

“Clinton’s remarks are likely to prove controversial across Europe, which has struggled to form a unified position ever since more than 1 million migrants and refugees arrived in the EU in 2015…

Brexit, described by Clinton as the biggest act of national economic self-harm in modern history, ‘was largely about immigration’, she said… Clinton said rightwing populists in the west met ‘a psychological as much as political yearning to be told what to do, and where to go, and how to live and have their press basically stifled and so be given one version of reality. The whole American system was designed so that you would eliminate the threat from a strong, authoritarian king or other leader and maybe people are just tired of it. They don’t want that much responsibility and freedom. They want to be told what to do and where to go and how to live and only given one version of reality.’

“She also reveals her contempt for Steve Bannon, whose attempt to bolster rightwing populist parties in Europe is stalling everywhere outside of Italy. ‘Rome is the right place for him since it is bread and circuses and it’s as old as recorded history…”

Clinton’s statements about immigration met strong rejection by Democrats in the USA. Left-leaning MSNBC suggested that she should stay quiet, as her comments are hurting the Democratic Party. On the other hand, her description of Rome is quite interesting, as the ancient Roman Empire will be revived one more time in continental Europe.

The Renewed Russian-Ukrainian Conflict

AFP wrote on November 26:

“Ukraine’s parliament approved the introduction of martial law [for 30 days] in border regions on Monday, as Russian state TV aired images of Ukrainian sailors captured after Moscow seized three of Kiev’s ships in a confrontation at sea… on Sunday… Ukraine and its Western allies say Russia illegally blocked the strait and acted against international law by grabbing the vessels and sailors.

“The UN Security Council met in an emergency session, where US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned Russia against ‘outlaw actions’… The confrontation is the latest dangerous development in the conflict pitting Ukraine against Moscow and Russian-backed rebels in the east of the country. More than 10,000 people have been killed since the Moscow-backed insurgency broke out in April 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine…

“Tensions have been building over the Kerch Strait, where Russia has built a new bridge that gives it a land connection to Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014. Kiev has accused Moscow of blocking access for Ukrainian ships through the strait, the only way in and out of the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea. In recent months both sides had deployed more naval and border vessels to the area.”

The EUObserver wrote on November 26:

“Russia has rejected Western calls to free Ukrainian ships and sailors and to unblock access to the Azov Sea, while trumpeting its alternative account of the crisis. The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said on Monday (26 November), that Moscow did not care if the EU and US imposed extra sanctions over Sunday’s naval incident… He accused Ukraine of having ‘provoked’ the incident ‘in the hope that the US and Europe, as always, recklessly, will take [its] side’… The Russian foreign ministry went further in its statement, saying that the attempt at ‘provoking a conflict with Russia’ was carried out by Ukraine ‘in coordination with the United States and the European Union’

“The clash has raised alarm in Europe that the four-year old Ukrainian conflict could escalate into full-blown war…”

Ukraine will end up in Russia’s hands. The Bible shows that ultimately, Russia and Ukraine (the modern Medes) will fight against continental Europe. Please view our new StandingWatch program, How Will the New Russian-Ukrainian Conflict Be ‘Solved’?” 

Is Saudi Arabia Trying to Build an Atomic Bomb?

The New York Times wrote on November 22:

“Before Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was implicated by the C.I.A. in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, American intelligence agencies were trying to solve a separate mystery: Was the prince laying the groundwork for building an atomic bomb?

“The 33-year-old heir to the Saudi throne had been overseeing a negotiation with the Energy Department and the State Department to get the United States to sell designs for nuclear power plants to the kingdom. The deal was worth upward of $80 billion, depending on how many plants Saudi Arabia decided to build. But there is a hitch: Saudi Arabia insists on producing its own nuclear fuel, even though it could buy it more cheaply abroad… That raised concerns in Washington that the Saudis could divert their fuel into a covert weapons project – exactly what the United States and its allies feared Iran was doing…

“Prince Mohammed set off alarms when he declared earlier this year, in the midst of the negotiation, that if Iran, Saudi Arabia’s fiercest rival, ‘developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.’ His negotiators stirred more worries by telling the Trump administration that Saudi Arabia would refuse to sign an agreement that would allow United Nations inspectors to look anywhere in the country for signs that the Saudis might be working on a bomb…

“Now lurking behind the transaction is the question of whether a Saudi government that assassinated Mr. Khashoggi and repeatedly changed its story about the murder can be trusted with nuclear fuel and technology. Such fuel can be used for benign or military purposes: If uranium is enriched to 4 percent purity, it can fuel a power plant; at 90 percent it can be used for a bomb…

“Saudi Arabia has long displayed interest in acquiring, or helping allies acquire, the building blocks of a program that could make nuclear weapons and protect the kingdom from potential threats from its neighbors – first Israel, then Iraq and Iran. The Saudi government provided the financing for Pakistan to secretly build its own nuclear arms… That financial link has long left American intelligence officials wondering if there was a quid pro quo…

“Over the years, several nations have demonstrated that it is possible to turn ostensibly civilian programs into sources of bomb fuel, and thus atomic warheads and military power. Israel recently released an archive of material, stolen from Tehran in January, to prove that the Iranian government deceived the world for years…”

European Arms Embargos on Saudi Arabia

The Independent wrote on November 23:

“More European governments have imposed an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia in response to the country’s on-going killing of civilians in Yemen. The British government has so far resisted joining international efforts to stem the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe, which the UK has sold £4.7bn worth of arms to fuel since 2015.

“The Danish, German, Dutch and Finnish governments have now joined other countries in halting the sale of weapons to the autocracy, as the UN warns of ‘the worst famine in the world in 100 years’. The European parliament voted a month ago to back the embargo, which is also being supported by the governments of Austria, Belgium, Switzerland and Norway.

“Sweden has said it will end the sale of arms but has not yet done so. Britain’s vocal opposition to an embargo puts it in the same camp as Spain, which U-turned on a previous commitment to end the sale of arms after protests by workers at shipyards that would lose out from contracts.”

The Trump Administration has also refused to impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, even though Congress is evaluating this possibility. The paradoxical irony is that soon, the current alliances will be reversed. The Bible shows that the relationship between the USA and Saudi Arabia will deteriorate, while the EU, under German leadership, will form a short-lived collaboration with Middle Eastern nations, including Saudi Arabia, against the USA, the UK and the state of Israel.  

“Humanitarian Crisis” at the US-Mexico Border

Reuters wrote on November 23:

Unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable migrants risk falling victim to crime in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, where thousands of Central Americans from caravans may be stuck for months as authorities tighten up asylum rules, advocates say. Some 4,600 migrants from the bedraggled caravans… are camped out with blankets and little food in an overcrowded stadium in Tijuana…Among the Central Americans, many of whom are Hondurans fleeing violence and poverty in the struggling region, are about 80 minors between the ages of 10 and 17…

“Tijuana was rated… as the fifth most violent city in the world in 2017, with a higher murder rate than the Central American cities from which the migrants are escaping. Juan Manuel Gastelum, Tijuana’s mayor, said late on Thursday that the city was facing a humanitarian crisis and that supporting the migrants was costing more than 500,000 pesos ($25,000) a day. He urged international agencies to help Tijuana.”

Closing the Border

Breitbart wrote on November 25:

“Thousands of additional migrants are expected to arrive in Tijuana, Mexico, to try to claim asylum at the U.S. border. The incoming migrants are in addition to the approximately 5,000 migrants who already arrived in this border city during recent days…

“The arrival of the new caravan comes just hours after a group of migrants tried to rush the U.S. border at the San Ysidro port of entry… the effort forced U.S. Customs and Border Protection to shut down the port of entry and establish barricades with federal officers in riot gear. U.S. Customs and Border Protection tweeted that Border Patrol agents were forced to fire tear gas into the crowds as some of the migrants threw rocks.”

The Washington Post wrote on November 26:

“The economic impact of Sunday’s border closure — even for just a day — was felt immediately by businesses just north of the San Ysidro crossing that depend heavily on customers from Tijuana, especially on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. The San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce estimates that the closure resulted in a loss of $5.3 million in sales for the area’s 650 businesses, as 93 percent of their customers arrive from Mexico…

“Of the roughly 70,000 vehicle passengers and 20,000 pedestrians who cross into San Diego each day through San Ysidro, about 30 percent work on the U.S. side — mostly in the hospitality industry… Individuals crossing from Tijuana into San Diego spend $10 million to $15 million in Southern California each day at gas stations, restaurants, stores and entertainment outlets…”

California Wildfire Contained, but…

The Washington Post wrote on November 25:

“The Camp Fire — the deadliest, most destructive blaze in California history that has killed 85 people, destroyed 14,000 residences and charred an area the size of Chicago — has been fully contained, authorities announced Sunday… But the rejoicing was muted. Authorities expect the death toll to continue to rise: 249 people are unaccounted for…

“Thousands of displaced people in shelters and hotels or camping outdoors in below-freezing temperatures face an uncertain future… the nightmare is far from over… Crews are working to repair power lines and clear debris from roads. Partially burned or hollowed-out trees are an ever-present threat… Debris and ash could be toxic, full of heavy metals or carcinogens… More than 120 have been sickened by what appears to be the highly contagious infection norovirus. Even the rain that knocked back the fire opened up the area to new threats. ‘Areas experiencing significant rainfall following a wildfire are at risk for debris flows and flash flooding,’ the Butte County Sheriff’s Office warned.”

“US Government Climate Report Warns of Worsening US Disasters, Contradicts Trump”

Newsmax wrote on November 23:

“A massive new federal report [by the Trump administration] warns that extreme weather disasters, like California’s wildfires and this year’s hurricanes, are worsening in the United States. The White House report quietly issued Friday also frequently contradicts President Donald Trump. The National Climate Assessment was written long before the California fires and the hurricanes. It warns of more, stronger and longer disasters triggered at least in part by global warming.”

The Week wrote on November 23:

“Human-made climate change will have massive costs for human health and the economy if America doesn’t take action today, the fourth National Climate Assessment, published Friday by the Trump administration, has found. America’s temperatures have risen 1.8 degrees in the past 100 years, and sea levels are 9 inches higher than 50 years ago, per the assessment.

“The U.S. is also slated for another 2.3 degrees of temperature growth by 2050, leading to days where people can’t even work outside and potentially costing the country $155 billion in lost labor each year. The risks of these massive climate swings mostly hurt ‘lower-income [people] and other marginalized communities,’ the report states. The report is congressionally mandated for release every four years, but scientists are frustrated that it came out over the holidays on a slow news day.”

The Washington Post wrote on November 27:

“President Trump on Tuesday dismissed a landmark report compiled by 13 federal agencies detailing how damage from global warming is intensifying throughout the country, saying he is not among the ‘believers’ who see climate change as a pressing problem… ‘One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers,’ Trump said… ‘As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it,’ he added…

“‘You look at our air and our water and it’s right now at a record clean. But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and you look at South America, and when you look at many other places in this world, including Russia, including many other places, the air is incredibly dirty, and when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small,’ Trump said… ‘And it blows over and it sails over. I mean we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia…’

“White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders echoed her boss. ‘We think that this is the most extreme version and it’s not based on facts,’ Sanders said of the National Climate Assessment. ‘It’s not data-driven… It’s based on modeling, which is extremely hard to do when you’re talking about the climate…’”

The ironic problem with the entire discussion is that the report was issued by the TRUMP Administration.

Russia “Jokes” over American Moon Landing

The Associated Press reported on November 24:

“The head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency has said that a proposed Russian mission to the moon will be tasked with verifying that the American moon landings were real, though he appeared to be making a joke. ‘We have set this objective to fly and verify whether they’ve been there or not,’ said Dmitry Rogozin in a video posted Saturday on Twitter.

“Rogozin was responding to a question about whether or not NASA actually landed on the moon nearly 50 years ago. He appeared to be joking, as he smirked and shrugged while answering. But conspiracies surrounding NASA’s moon missions are common in Russia.

“The Soviet Union abandoned its lunar program in the mid-1970s after four experimental moon rockets exploded.”

These kinds of ridiculous conspiracy theories are not only common in Russia, but also in Europe. Many believe that the moon landing was fake or that the terrorist attack on 9-11 was perpetrated by the Bush Administration. Others are even convinced that the earth is flat or that man was created by aliens from other planets, just to name a few of the many outrageous and stupid concepts.  

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.

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How can we know that Christ’s return is near? (Part 1)

It seems that Christians always believed that Christ would return during their lifetime. The early New Testament apostles believed this, until it became clear to them that His return would not occur that quickly. The Worldwide Church of God under its late human leader, Herbert W. Armstrong, believed for a while that Christ might return in the 1970s or even earlier. They understood numerous prophecies that seemed to indicate convincingly that the Day was near—but they then had to realize that some end-time prophecies did not find their fulfillment then.

Based on the upheaval at his time, Martin Luther believed that Christ would return soon… and so did those who were plagued by the devastating Black Death. Strong earthquakes, heavenly occurrences, devastating natural disasters, famine, pestilences and great wars prompted many to believe that they would experience the soon-coming return of Christ. They all looked at certain signs and predictions, which were startling and frightening, but they did not look at the entire picture.

Why do we feel that it is any different today? What are the world developments leading us to believe that Christ’s return is indeed near, and why are we confident that we are right this time? What are the events which we need to consider—and what are false and misleading signs, which have no biblical bearing?

Christ’s disciples asked Him once about the destruction of the second temple (which would occur in 70 A.D.), the sign of His coming and the end of the world (compare Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 and the description of the first four seals in Revelation 6—the four horsemen of the Apocalypse). Christ proceeded by pointing at religious deception (the first seal), wars and rumors of wars (the second seal),) famines due to severe shortage of food (the third seal), and pestilences communicated oftentimes by sick animals carrying deadly viruses (the fourth seal). The reference to wild beasts in Revelation 6:8 would be one of the consequences of war, famine, and pestilence. Lands would be depopulated, and wild beasts would be multiplied.

Christ also spoke of commotions (Luke 21:9) and great or “big” earthquakes in various places (Luke 21:11; compare also Isaiah 24:19 and the culmination in Revelation 16:18). The Bible lists other natural catastrophes as well, which would include huge Tsunamis (“the sea and the waves roaring,” Luke 21:25), volcanic eruptions and increasing destructive wildfires. In Isaiah 1:7, we read: “Your country is desolate, Your cities are burned with fire…” Ezekiel 20:47-48 says: “Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree and every dry tree in you; the blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be scorched by it. All flesh shall see that I, the LORD, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.”

Christ also made clear that these events, all by themselves, were not indicating that the end had come, but that they were the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24:6, 8). These events must take place, and they will increase in strength and frequency, but they alone are not the sign of Christ’s second coming. On the other hand, if they were not to occur, His Coming would not be near.

We can also expect more and more demonically inspired violent acts committed by deranged people as well as governmental suppression in many nations. The reason is that Satan has great wrath, as he knows that his time is short. We read in Revelation 12:12: “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

Christ continued to speak about a time of great distress (the Great Tribulation) and devastating heavenly signs. Other Scriptures in the book of Revelation and elsewhere describe terrible events on the Day of the Lord, which follow the heavenly signs, culminating in Christ’s return. We will discuss these later.

We should note however, that the disciples asked for one particular SIGN of Christ’s coming (Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:4). Christ made very clear what that sign would be. He pointed out that the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God as a witness in all the world and to all nations must precede His coming and the end of the age. He said in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom WILL BE preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” He is quoted as saying in Mark 13:10 (Authorized Version): “And the gospel must first be published among all nations.”

That the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world was given as the SIGN for Christ’s return shows that this gospel had NOT been preached to the world for a long time. Rather, a false gospel had been preached, which fact is alluded to in Galatians 1:6-7. Of course, “a” gospel was preached – the gospel “about” Christ (but it was many times a false Christ or a counterfeit; compare 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 and the reference to the first horseman of the Apocalypse). However, the gospel OF Christ—of the Kingdom of God—would be preached at the time of Christ’s coming. It was the gospel that Christ preached—the gospel which originated with the Kingdom of God which is the Family of God, consisting of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. This true gospel includes the message that God’s government will be restored on this earth when Christ returns, as well as the fact that true Christians will then be changed or resurrected to eternal life IN God’s Kingdom. They will become immortal sons and daughters of God the Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, ruling on and over this earth under Christ for a thousand years. They will become born-again members of the God Family—God BEINGS in the KINGDOM of God.

It is an undeniable fact that the true gospel of the Kingdom of God was being preached to the world during the lifetime of Herbert W. Armstrong. It is likewise an undeniable fact that Mr. Armstrong died in 1986, and that Christ has not yet returned. This means, then, that God’s Church has the continued obligation to preach the gospel in all the world as a witness in order to fulfill THE Sign of Christ’s Coming.

Christ made it very clear that the gospel would still be preached at the time of His return. He told His disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 that He would be with them “always, even to the END of the age,” while they were “making disciples of all the nations” (a logical consequence of the Church’s preaching of the gospel in all the world, compare Romans 10:14-15). Christ also said that those who would be doing God’s Work of preaching His gospel would not have finished it, even in the cities of Israel, when He returns (Matthew 10:23).

Considering this fact, it is obvious that Christ could not have come back at the time of Martin Luther, as there was no practical way of fulfilling Christ’s prophecy that His gospel would be preached in all the world and among all nations. The possibility to do so simply did not exist. Even in the last century, that possibility was somewhat limited with the available use of radio, TV [which was only accessible in certain countries] and the printing press. But today, with the invention of the Internet and other technological opportunities, this prophecy can be and is being fulfilled–really for the first time in the history of man. Even though some autocratic and dictatorial countries, including certain radical Muslim counties, would like to limit or prevent their citizens’ access to the Internet, they are unable to do so completely. And so, the gospel of the Kingdom of God is indeed reaching people in all countries…the sign which Christ gave for His return is being fulfilled today.

The preaching of the gospel (the good news of the Kingdom or Family of God) includes the task to warn the world of impending disaster. This aspect is also being fulfilled today.

We read in Zephaniah 1:2-3 (Revised Standard Version): “‘I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth,’ says the LORD. ‘I will sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. I will overthrow the wicked; I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth,’ says the LORD.”

Verse 18 adds (Revised Standard Version): “Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealous wrath, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full, yea, sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.”

However, Zephaniah 3:12 adds that some will survive: “Those who are left will be the poor and the humble, and they will trust in the name of the Lord” (Living Bible).

When speaking about the time of the Great Tribulation, Christ also confirmed that even though this will be the most devastating time in the annals of human history, some will survive, because Christ will come to shorten those terrible days. He told us in Matthew 24:21-22 (New International Version):

“For then there will be great distress (most translations say: “great tribulation”), unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect these days will be shortened.” The Living Bible writes: “… unless those days are shortened, all mankind will perish.”

Isaiah 24:5-6 tells us something very similar: “The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, Broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, And those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, And few men are left.”

The Church of God warns all nations of these impending dangers (Isaiah 34:1-3), especially the lost tribes of the house of Israel (Ezekiel 3:17-21; 33:2-11). This emphasis on the house of Israel is placed as God will deal with them first, but a specific warning must also go out to all nations, because God will deal with them subsequently (Isaiah 24:5-6; 28:22). In addition, a warning message must even go out to members and prospective members of the Church of God (Colossians 1:28; Acts 20:31; 1 Corinthians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:14).

This warning message is part of the proclamation of the gospel, as those who hear it are given the opportunity to repent so that they can be spared. We read in Luke 24:46-47: “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations…”

In order to warn the nations of the house of Israel (and, by extension, the modern house of Judah), it is necessary to know who they are today. And so, the Church of God has identified these nations—the lost tribes of the house of Israel—and it is proclaiming the warning to them as a witness or testimony against them.

Those nations can be found today in the USA (where we find descendants of Manasseh, the first-born son of Joseph and grandson of Jacob or Israel); the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa (all descendants of Ephraim, the second son of Joseph); parts of France (descendants of Reuben, Jacob’s first-born son); Denmark and Ireland (descendants of Dan, one of Jacob’s twelve sons); Norway and Iceland (descendants of Benjamin, another one of Jacob’s twelve sons); The Netherlands (descendants of Zebulon, one of Jacob’s twelve sons); Finland (descendants of Issachar, one of Jacob’s twelve sons); Switzerland (descendants of Gad, one of Jacob’s twelve sons); Belgium and Luxembourg (descendants of Asher, one of Jacob’s twelve sons); and Sweden (descendants of Naphtali, one of Jacob’s twelve sons). In addition, modern descendants of Jacob’s son Levi might be found today in Wales; and descendants of Simeon and Levi might also be found in Scotland. Furthermore, a warning message is going out to the modern descendants of the house of Judah—the Jewish people.

But, as mentioned, the warning message is also reaching non-Israelite peoples, which would include powerful nations such as Germany and Austria (modern Assyria); Italy (in part descendants of the ancient Chaldeans and Babylonians); and countries such as Russia, China, Japan, India, nations in the Middle East, Africa and South America. The gospel of the Kingdom of God with all its different aspects is indeed being proclaimed and published today in all the world as a witness among all nations.

(To Be Continued)

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

compiled by Dave Harris

How Will the New Russian-Ukrainian Conflict Be ‘Solved’?” is the title of the new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

The Russian blockade of the Azov Sea and the capture of three Ukrainian ships and sailors caused the USA and the EU to condemn Russia for violating international law, but Russia denies this and couldn’t care less. Even though Ukraine is asking NATO and the EU, including Germany, for further economic sanctions and military intervention, this does not seem to be likely. What, then, is going to happen? History from World War II and the Bible give us answers.

A German AufPostenStehen program, covering the same topic, was also published. Title in German: Wie der neue Konflikt der Ukraine mit Russland ‘gelöst’ wird!”

“What the BIBLE Says on the Brexit Debacle,” is the title of a recent StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Much has been reported on present and future Brexit negotiations, the real or possible adoption of legally binding or not-binding deals, and further developments and potential outcomes. This can be confusing at times. This program will bring clarity and tell you what the Bible prophesies regarding the EU and Great Britain.

Warum Christus bald zurückkommt!” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. In English: “Why Christ Will Come Back Soon!”

Comments on News and Prophecy (November 24, 2018),” the first message presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:

In this edition, we are addressing Europe’s desire for creating a powerful army and core Europe’s last revival of the ancient Roman Empire; the ongoing Brexit debacle with no good solutions for the UK; the future of Gibraltar; the false alternative Temple Theory and Israel’s desire of building a massive third temple on the Temple Mount; the non-exiting German-Israeli Friendship and Europe’s growing anti-Semitism; the Church of God’s debt of gratitude towards the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; the European arms embargo on Saudi Arabia; and the curse of rising nationalism.

“True Christian Humility,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted. Here is a summary:

The Bible enjoins us all to be humble and have the attitude of being as such. But why? Why is it important? What does Christian humility look like? Are there any other parts that go along with being humble? We will look into these questions and discover the important answers.

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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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