March 15, 2019
Sharpening the Ax; Is Our Trust Aligned with our Goals?
On March 16, 2019, Eric Rank will present the sermonette, titled, “Sharpening the Ax,” and Robb Harris will present the sermon, titled, “Is Our Trust Aligned with our Goals?”
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.
by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
In his “State of the Union Address” last month, US President Donald Trump raised the issue of abortion. Taken, word for word, from his speech, he said the following:
“Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth.
“To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb. Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.”
When I heard the examples he raised, my blood boiled, but that was not the end of it. When he said this to a joint session of the United States Congress, one side of the chamber rose and applauded; the other side, with a handful of male exceptions, metaphorically, sat on their hands.
The Daily Mail wrote: “A group of Democratic women who wore white in honor of the suffragettes gave President Donald Trump an unexpected standing ovation at Tuesday evening’s State of the Union address. They stood slowly at first, then clapped joyously, as Trump spoke about the economic gains that have been enjoyed in the United States by women since he took office. ‘No one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women who have filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs last year,’ Trump said, prompting loud cheering from the section of women.”
These women were basking in self-congratulatory terms but when it came to the President’s statement about abortion, they obviously did not approve of even a small curtailment of this abominable practice; after all, abortion is another name for murder.
We read in 1 Timothy 5:14: “Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”
God gave women a hugely important role in life but the tragedy is that today a woman who stays at home to look after her husband and family seems to be despised and looked down upon in society. Currently, many women seem to see children as a nuisance, and abortion is seen by too many to be the answer to that which would otherwise curtail their career. There are many other reasons, of course, but God formed women to have the caring and loving approach to their offspring and, in no way does He approve of abortion. The attitude of these American women elected to positions of importance was totally grievous.
The President did a good thing when he asked Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children. However, he didn’t go far enough; he should have said that ALL abortion is wrong but that may have been way too much for many in a nation that seems to have embraced this practice as something good, acceptable and worthwhile, and not the selfish self-indulgent and sinful action that it is. When God’s Word is not consulted on such issues, man’s reasoning comes into play which often has a disastrous end result.
In the true Church of God, members are not to vote nor take political sides, but it is disappointing in the extreme to observe a group of people (in this case, women) standing to applaud themselves but later not approving, as was seen by their inaction, a basic and fundamental right of the unborn to not have their lives snuffed out right at the beginning of their existence.
It is several weeks since I saw this “exhibition” by those who were elected to office and I still feel the same now – a feeling of righteous anger at the unfeeling and cruel approach of so many to the unborn.
These same representatives of the people–blind leaders–may wonder why the nation has so many problems but never align this to spiritual matters that need to be addressed. Their constant denial or ignorance of the right way to live leads to problems that they cannot solve, and it not only applies to the USA but to every nation around the world.
As for Church members, we should continue to “cry and sigh over all the abominations that are done within it” (Ezekiel 9:4). Although this passage was written about 2,600 years ago and was about idolatrous Israel at that time (which would include Britain and the USA today), the same principles still apply to us now when we see similar evil within our present world. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary explains “sigh and … cry—similarly sounding verbs in Hebrew, as in English Version, expressing the prolonged sound of their grief. “Sigh” implies their inward grief (“groanings which cannot be uttered,” [Romans] 8:26); “cry,” the outward expression of it.”
That should be our approach and it will be different from the world at large but that should, and must not be, our concern. The Church of God, of which we are a part, is being judged now (see 1 Peter 4:17), and that includes our conduct and approach towards politics and abortion. The judgment of others will be at a later time, and they will have to answer for their hypocritical political behaviour and their ungodly approach to the unborn.
They will have quite a lot of explaining to do!
by Norbert Link
We begin with articles pertaining to a new ill-conceived budget proposal by President Trump, asking for $8.6 billion for his wall (for which Mexico was supposed to pay), while proposing a reduction of 5 percent across all non-defense agencies; a clarification on the requirements for Americans traveling to Europe starting in 2021; and the deadly crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane in Ethiopia with dire consequences for Boeing and America.
While Europeans allege that they won’t allow Trump to blackmail them, the chances for Trump to be reelected in 2020 are viewed by the media as becoming more and more likely.
The most recent Brexit developments have plunged the UK into chaos and have opened up the possibility of the destruction of the UK. It has also emerged that from 2014 to 2019, criminals and terrorists might have entered Germany as migrants; and Italy has begun to enforce its overbearing law for mandatory vaccinations. We also warn that the world is unprepared for the next global economic crash.
We focus on controversial comments by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and caution at the same time not to count him out too quickly; speak on clashes on the Temple Mount which will reach their climax when the prophesied Third Temple will be built there; and we continue with new evidence confirming the initial suspicion that the “coup” in Turkey in 2016 was actually fake news or even initiated by autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself.
We speak on Finland’s coming hot political season; publish a report on two Fox News moderators who have come under criticism—rightly or wrongly—for controversial comments; and conclude with the sentencing of convicted Australian cardinal George Pell. We also published a new StandingWatch program, dealing with the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days, titled, “Are You Keeping God’s Commandments?”
Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.
This Week in the News
Additional $8.6 Billion for the Wall?
Reuters reported on March 10:
“President Donald Trump… will ask the U.S. Congress for an additional $8.6 billion to help pay for his promised wall on the U.S-Mexico border to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking… The demand, which drew swift criticism from Democrats, is more than six times what Congress allocated for border projects in each of the past two fiscal years, and 6 percent more than Trump has corralled by invoking emergency powers this year…
“Funding legislation needs to be passed before Oct. 1 – the start of the 2020 federal fiscal year – or the government could shut down again. If Congress and the White House fail to agree to lift mandatory spending caps set in a 2011 law, steep automatic cuts in many programs would kick in. Around the same time, Trump and lawmakers must agree to lift the debt ceiling, or risk a default, which would have chaotic economic fallout.
“Trump’s wall request is based off a 2017 plan put forward by Customs and Border Protection officials to build or replace 722 miles (1,162 km) of barrier along the border, which in total is estimated to cost about $18 billion. So far, only 111 miles (179 km) have been built or are under way, officials said…”
The Independent added:
“The White House is proposing $2.7trn (£2trn) in spending cuts for the year beginning 1 October, a reduction of 5 percent across all non-defence agencies while military funding is boosted to $750bn (£577bn).”
JTA wrote on March 12:
“The 2020 fiscal plan sent by the White House to Congress on Monday includes the full $3.3 billion in assistance promised under a 10-year memorandum of understanding, despite spending cuts throughout the proposal… The $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding, a 10-year defense agreement signed under President Barack Obama, went into operation in October at the start of the last fiscal year…
“The budget plan includes domestic cuts to education and social welfare programs, among others, and includes $8.6 billion for a controversial border wall with Mexico and increased defense spending. Leaders in the House of Representatives said the plan had no chance of passing.”
No European Visas for Americans, but…
npr wrote on March 9:
“European Union officials have moved to clarify travel regulations for U.S. citizens, following erroneous reports this week that Americans will soon be required to apply for visas. Last summer, the European Union announced that starting in 2021, it will require citizens from countries that don’t currently require visas, including the United States, to apply for authorization in order to visit member states. The process will occur through the European Travel Information and Authorization System, an automated online system meant to [allegedly] strengthen security checks on visitors.
“An application will cost about $8, and it will ‘not take more than 10 minutes,’ according to the European Commission. Responses will be cross-checked by Interpol and other security databases, and prospective travelers will receive an emailed approval or rejection in as little as a few minutes or as long as four weeks… The approval will be valid for three years, allowing people to make multiple entries and to freely visit European countries in the Schengen Area – a zone of 26 nations that agreed to ease border restrictions. Currently, U.S. travelers can enter Europe without a visa or registration for up to 90 days…”
Ethiopian Crash and Big Trouble for Boeing
The Associated Press wrote on March 11:
“Boeing’s stock plunged 8 percent Monday morning as aviation authorities in China, Indonesia and Ethiopia ordered airlines to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes the day after one crashed in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board. The crash of the Ethiopian Airlines jet shortly after it took off from Addis Ababa on Sunday is drawing renewed scrutiny of the plane just four months after a similar crash of the same model that killed 189 people in Indonesia…
“The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max, the newest version of it with more fuel-efficient engines, is a central part of Boeing’s strategy to compete with European rival Airbus…
“A spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines… said the carrier had grounded its remaining four 737 Max 8 planes until further notice as an ‘extra safety precaution.’ The airline had been using five new 737 Max 8s and awaiting delivery of 25 more…
“China’s Civil Aviation Administration said that it ordered airlines to ground all 737 Max 8 aircraft… Chinese carriers and leasing companies operate 96 Boeing 737 8 MAXs, according to the government, with dozens more believed to be on order. China Southern Airlines is one of Boeing’s biggest customers for the aircraft.
“Indonesia also grounded 11 737 Max 8s for inspections to ensure flight safety…
“Boeing has delivered about 350 737 Max planes to scores of airlines and has orders for more than 5,000…”
CNBC wrote on March 12:
“[The] European Union [following the lead of Germany, France and Britain] joins other nations in grounding Boeing 737 Max jets… The decision not only applies to airlines within the European Union but to operators outside of the region flying to or from the region… The Federal Aviation Administration [of the USA] said Monday that it did not see a reason to ground the planes and Boeing said it wasn’t planning to issue new guidance to pilots ‘based on the information currently available.’
“American Airlines and Southwest Airlines flight attendants and ground crews urged the companies to take their Boeing737 Max airplanes out of service.”
The Week added on March 13:
“The U.S. is one of the few remaining countries still allowing the 737 MAX 8 aircraft to fly, with the European Aviation Safety Agency banning the aircraft from the airspace of the 32 countries it oversees on Tuesday and Canada following suit on Wednesday. The Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing are standing behind the new jet…”
American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are the only two US airlines which use Boeing 737 Max airplanes. They refused to ground the airplanes on their own. Another [non-American] company flying Boeing 737 Max airplanes, United Airlines, likewise refused to ground the planes on its own.
Trump Steps In
Newsmax wrote on March 13:
“President Donald Trump says the U.S. is issuing an emergency order grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft in the wake of a crash of an Ethiopian Airliner that killed 157 people. Many nations in the world had already barred the Boeing 737 Max 8 from its airspace, but until now, the Federal Aviation Administration had been saying that it didn’t have any data to show the jets are unsafe… Trump says pilots and airlines have been notified. He says the safety of the American people is of ‘paramount concern.’”
Daily Mail wrote on March 13:
“Trump said he made the decision following conversations with Elaine Chao, the transportation secretary, and the airline companies, he said, after new information emerged on the tragic crash….
“[Boeing] suggested in a statement a half-hour after Trump’s shocking announcement that the company asked the FAA to suspend the flights. It said in the statement, as its stock shares started to tumble, ‘Boeing continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX. However, after consultation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and aviation authorities and its customers around the world, Boeing has determined — out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety — to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft…’
“The FAA said almost an hour later… that it was ‘ordering the temporary grounding’ of the Boeing Max airplanes.”
“We Europeans Won’t Be Blackmailed by Trump”
Politico wrote in March 6:
“Manfred Weber, the center-right candidate to be the next European Commission president, urged Brussels on Wednesday to hit back hard if Donald Trump hikes tariffs on European cars. ‘As Europeans, we will not be blackmailed,’ Weber declared in a speech in his home state of Bavaria, which is also home to two major German carmakers, BMW and Audi.
“‘The U.S. economy is similar in size to the EU. Economically, we are on equal footing,’ said Weber, the lead candidate in May’s European Parliament election for the European People’s Party (EPP), the Continent’s center-right alliance. ‘And that is why America must know that if it starts a trade war with Europe and levies car duties, also on our products from Lower Bavaria, then we will have to respond.’… He said the EU should be both self-assured and prepared for possible economic ‘thunderclouds’ to come…
“Weber suggested Trump might not particularly care about the statistics and just dislike the view ‘from his Trump Tower, when he looks down at the streets of New York, and sees so many BMWs, Audis and Mercedes.’…
“In his speech to the rally, CSU chief and Bavarian state premier Markus Söder echoed Weber, and linked the trade feud to another transatlantic battle, over defense spending. ‘How can German tanks improve security but Bavarian cars be a threat to security?’ Söder asked.”This is a good question indeed.
Will Trump Win a Second Term?
Project Syndicate wrote on March 7:
“It seems that every time I write about Donald Trump’s presidency, I pronounce it to be in more trouble than ever. This time is no different: he and his presidency are indeed in more trouble than ever. And yet that may not prevent him from winning again in 2020. I used to think Trump might not even finish his first term, much less get a second…
“Logic would suggest that Trump can’t make it through a reelection fight: his base, an estimated 35-38% of voters, is too small, and he’s done next to nothing to expand it… But logic isn’t a trademark of the Trump presidency…
“Trump’s success at solidifying his base could be his salvation in 2020 if the Democratic nomination process doesn’t produce a strong enough opponent or ends in hostility…”
Logic has nothing to do with it. God’s will does!
UK Plunged into Chaos
The Sun wrote on March 12:
“Britain was tonight plunged into chaos once again as MPs voted to kill off Theresa May’s Brexit deal by 391 votes to 242. Now 993 days after the referendum, and with just 17 days before Brexit, Brits are still in the dark… Furious MPs blasted the uncertainty – saying the ‘wretched soap opera of Brexit continues’ as the country heads ‘back to square one’…
“Parliament has repeatedly voted against Mrs May’s strategy for leaving the EU on March 29 – tonight the Commons laughed and cheered after the fresh chaos was confirmed. But without a clear alternative on the table, the latest defeat opens the door to a range of wildly different outcomes…”
The Week wrote on March 12:
“The Brexit disaster could destroy the United Kingdom… Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is on the brink of a disastrous, unnegotiated departure from the EU, which in addition to inviting economic calamity, may ultimately push Scotland, Northern Ireland, and eventually even Wales to leave the U.K….”
Express wrote on March 13:
“… the European Union said that only the UK can sort out the Brexit problem… The spokesman for European Council president Donald Tusk added: ‘On the EU side we have done all that is possible to reach an agreement. It is difficult to see what more we can do. If there is a solution to the current impasse it can only be found in London.’”
Deutsche Welle wrote on March 13:
“[On Wednesday] British lawmakers have voted to reject the UK leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement — under any circumstances, even after March 29.”
The Sun added on March 13:
“Tory Remainers betray Theresa May to bury No Deal Brexit FOREVER and kill our hope of leaving EU in 16 days. The House of Commons hit by chaos as Remainers seize control from [a] weak Prime Minister… Tonight’s vote is not legally binding – but the PM had already pledged to abide by it anyway…
“The chaos was another sign the Prime Minister has lost control of the Brexit process and her party – with Tories calling on her to sack the top ministers who failed to support her. Brexiteer Ben Bradley, who backed Mrs May’s deal, fumed: ‘… We promised to leave on the 29th, now Parliament has said we’re not going to leave.’
“The Commons verdict is a massive blow to Brexiteers who think the UK should quit the EU on time with or without a deal… It’s still not clear whether the EU will actually grant Britain an extension to the Brexit process even if the Commons votes to request one…”
The UK WILL leave the EU when it is time.
Brexit to Be Delayed?
The Associated Press wrote on March 14:
“British lawmakers were voting Thursday on whether to scuttle the already dwindling chances the U.K. will leave the European Union this month as scheduled, but EU officials warned they would only allow a delay if the country made a fundamental shift in its approach to Brexit… The vote in Parliament was on whether to seek a delay of at least three months to Brexit, which currently is due to take place March 29… Lawmakers voted to rule out the idea of holding a second Brexit referendum — at least for now… Thursday’s vote doesn’t prevent lawmakers from trying again later to get Parliament’s support for another referendum.
“May… is proposing that Brexit be delayed until June 30 — but only if Parliament approves her Brexit deal… Any delay in the Brexit process would require the unanimous approval of all 27 remaining EU member states...
“In another sting for the beleaguered May, U.S. President Donald Trump said he was ‘surprised at how badly’ the Brexit negotiations have been handled. Trump… said he gave May advice but she didn’t listen to him… The EU, meanwhile, is reluctant to postpone Brexit beyond the late May elections for the European Parliament, because that would mean Britain taking part even as it prepares to leave. The bloc is more open to a long delay to allow Britain to radically change course… European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that he will appeal to EU leaders ‘to be open to a long extension if the U.K. finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus about it.’
“The EU has also warned that Parliament voting against no-deal Brexit isn’t enough to stop it. By law, Britain will leave the EU on March 29, with or without a deal, unless it cancels Brexit or secures a delay.”
Criminals and Terrorists Might Have Entered Germany as Migrants
Breitbart wrote on March 10:
“[A] new report claims that from 2014 to 2019, the German government not only let in around 5,000 migrants who were subject to investigation for violating international law, but only investigated a handful of them itself [i.e., 129, according to] German tabloid Bild…
“Since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, many have been concerned over the possibility of criminals and terrorists using the crisis as a way to enter Europe. Several reports have claimed that groups like the Islamic State have purposely used the crisis to smuggle in their fighters with several arrests of ISIS fighters being made in Germany and other countries.
“War criminals have also been discovered among the migrants and several have faced trial in various European countries. In Sweden, the government has seen a surge in reports of war criminals since 2014…”
Italy Enforces Compulsory Vaccination Laws
BBC wrote on March 12:
“Italian children have been told not to turn up to school unless they can prove they have been properly vaccinated. The deadline follows months of national debate over compulsory vaccination. Parents risk being fined up to €500 (£425; $560) if they send their unvaccinated children to school. Children under six can be turned away… children must receive a range of mandatory immunisations before attending school. They include vaccinations for chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella.
“Children up to the age of six years will be excluded from nursery and kindergarten without proof of vaccination under the new rules. Those aged between six and 16 cannot be banned from attending school, but their parents face fines if they do not complete the mandatory course of immunisations.”
Another step towards total governmental control… all based on unscientific assumptions financed by the pharmaceutical industry, while ignoring or even denying the real dangers of these kinds of vaccinations.
The World Is Unprepared for the Next Crash
New Statesman wrote on March 6:
“A decade has passed since the start of the Great Recession – the momentous downturn that shook the global economy as none had since the 1930s. In the intervening years, the world has experienced a slow but consistent recovery. Economic dangers, however, are now apparent at every turn: a new global debt crisis, trade wars between great powers and a Chinese slowdown… Some market analysts are now warning of a possible global recession this year – far earlier than most have anticipated…
“Perhaps the greatest cause for concern is that, when the next recession does arrive, as it will, we will be even less prepared than we were in 2008… History teaches us that when the status quo only offers stagnation or decline, voters will look for radical alternatives…”
Radical alternatives can be seen in the acceptance and support of radical politicians and other “Savior”-like personages.
Israel only for the Jewish People?
JTA wrote on March 10:
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on social media that Israel is ‘not a country of all its citizens,’ but rather ‘the nation-state of the Jewish people.’…
“[He also wrote:] ‘According to the nation-state law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and not anyone else… there is no problem with Israel’s Arab citizens. They have equal rights and the Likud government has invested more than any other government in the Arab population…’ But he added that a government including Arab parties would ‘undercut the state’s security.’”
The Guardian added on March 11:
“Netanyahu’s comments referenced a deeply contentious ‘nation state’ law passed last year declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country. Critics of the law have said it amounted to ‘apartheid’ for the 1.8 million Arabs in Israel with citizenship, who make up about a fifth of the total population. They consist of Palestinians who remained on their land following wars surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948. Others either fled or were expelled from their homes.”
In the future, Israel and the Promised Land will be a country for the descendants of the houses of Israel and Judah… not just the Jews.
Don’t Count Out Netanyahu too Quickly
Bloomberg wrote on March 6:
“Criminal charges seem to be looming, but don’t count Benjamin Netanyahu out: Chances are good that he’ll form Israel’s next government. A fragmented political system, many undecided voters and the stature that comes with 13 years in office could converge with a loyal base to hand Israel’s prime minister a fifth term on April 9. And though the attorney general plans to indict Netanyahu for bribery and fraud, a decision is months away…
“Netanyahu’s ability to weather the storm could have a profound influence in a Middle East that’s realigning as the U.S. confronts Iran and prepares to present its formula for regional peace. He has labored to contain Iran’s influence and sideline the Palestinians’ quest for statehood as ties with Gulf Arab states warm, often finding a sympathetic ear in Trump’s White House…
“During the campaign, Netanyahu will continue to characterize the attorney general’s investigation as a left-wing ‘witch hunt’ and his supporters will likely continue to accept that…
“No single party has ever won a majority in Israel’s history, meaning the country has always been run by coalitions. What’s key is which faction can put together the most stable bloc… Netanyahu seems to have a clearer path to building a narrow coalition…”
Clashes on the Temple Mount, Leading to a Religious War?
CBN News wrote on March 13:
“Jerusalem Authorities re-opened the Temple Mount Wednesday following a violent clash on the holy site the day before. Israeli forces temporarily closed the compound after police say a firebomb was hurled at a security post Tuesday. The post went up in flames and an officer was injured by smoke inhalation. Dozens of police flooded the Temple Mount after the attack and clashed with Muslim worshippers. Several people were arrested and taken in for interrogation… Jerusalem authorities found Molotov cocktails, firecrackers, and flammable material at the holy site after conducting a security search.
“However, The Islamic Waqf, the body that controls the Temple Mount, claims the firebomb attack ‘was fabricated and deliberately escalated and planned by the police.’ Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also blamed Israel for the escalation and called on the international community to ‘halt Israeli assaults on al-Aqsa Mosque.’ The Palestinian Authority warned there will be violence if Israel ‘tampers’ with the holy site. ‘Al-Aqsa Mosque is a redline,’ said spokesman Osama Qawassmeh. ‘Tampering with holy sites, especially al-Aqsa Mosque, is a direct call for violence. Fatah won’t allow Israel to carry out its schemes, regardless of the price.’
“Israel’s Public Safety Minister Gilad Erdan accused the Palestinian Authority of trying to spark a religious war. ‘Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] continued to lie and incite violence together with the terror organizations of Murabitoun and Hamas, in an attempt to ignite a fire and cause a religious war on the Temple Mount,’ Gilad Erdan said… ‘We will not allow this to happen,’ Erdan said. ‘We will continue to act to restore calm on the [Temple Mount]. Police will respond with strength and determination to any act of violence or attempt to harm Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount.’
“Tuesday’s clash is just a symptom of mounting tensions on the Temple Mount. In recent weeks, Muslim worshippers have protested the closure of an area on the compound near the Gate of Mercy. The area was closed in 2003 after allegations that the group overseeing the site was linked to terror activity. Last month, the Islamic Waqf, the body controlling the Temple Mount, reopened the site to Muslim worshipers, despite Israel’s desire to keep it closed. Worshippers on the mount have staged protests and clashed with police over the site.”
These tensions and clashes will continue, and they will reach a violent climax when Israel begins to bring animal sacrifices on the Temple Mount and build the prophesied Third Temple there, which will occur, of course, prior to Christ’s return. This will result in a military intervention of European forces, under the beast or the king of the North, and the occupation of the rebuilt Temple by the false prophet who will claim to be God and who will “support” this claim with Satanic powers and demonic signs and lying wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9 with Revelation 13:13; 19:20).
The Church of God, under its late human leader, Herbert W. Armstrong, has always and consistently identified the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2 as the false prophet. James Hastings, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, under “Antichrist”, says correctly that the “man of sin” in 2 Thessalonians refers to the false prophet—“a false Messiah, a prophet… the opponent of the true Messiah.”
While the Church felt at times that the “temple” might be a reference to a spiritual temple—the Church—it has also taught at other times that it is referring to a literal temple. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote the following about the man of sin and the Third Temple, in the Plain Truth of June 1967:
“There will be a Jewish Temple built in Jerusalem, with animal sacrifices once again being offered… For a long time the Jewish people have had in mind the rebuilding of the Temple… And it must be built on the exact site of Solomon’s Temple… [Jesus said:] ‘When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the Holy Place …’ – this ‘Holy Place’ has to be IN THE TEMPLE! And IN JERUSALEM!… before the second coming of Christ, a vile leader will stop the daily sacrifices being offered in the Temple (yet to be built) in Jerusalem, and will profane the Holy Place with an idol…
“There will very soon be a Temple in Jerusalem, with daily sacrifices once again being offered. But the ruler of the soon-coming resurrected ‘Holy Roman Empire’; a political- military union of ten European nations – will stop the daily sacrifices and profane the Holy Place in the Temple… Jerusalem will be surrounded and captured… by the… armies of the European Empire… They will invade Jerusalem, and take charge of the Temple.
“This European power, resurrecting for a VERY short while the Roman Empire, will take over the city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2.) They will take the Temple, and plant the palace of their headquarters there. With this coming military leader, pictured in Revelation 17 as the symbolic ‘beast,’ will be a supreme religious leader, called ‘the False Prophet,’ [Rev. 16:13; 19:20; 20:10] and the ‘man of sin.’ So will you turn next to II Thessalonians 2:3-4: ‘Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day’ — the Day of the Lord, verse 2 — ‘shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and THAT MAN OF SIN be revealed, the SON OF PERDITION; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.’ So there will have to be the Temple there!”
We can clearly see now that the Bible speaks indeed of the building of a LITERAL Third Temple on the Temple Mount just prior to Christ’s return, and that the false prophet will occupy that Temple, claiming to be God (perhaps in the Person of the Messiah—the returned Jesus Christ).
2016 “Coup” in Turkey Fake News!
The EUObserver wrote on March 11:
“The failed coup in Turkey in 2016 transformed its internal politics and EU relations. But two and half years later, evidence is trickling out to support what the EU initially suspected – that president Recep Tayyip Erdogan knew what was going to happen and let it go ahead as a pretext to create one-man rule. The new evidence recently came in the form of a document written by a Turkish prosecutor on 16 July 2016, and obtained by an investigative journalist, Ahmet Donmez, who lives in exile in Sweden.
“The document is a detailed record of events which took place between the start of the coup and 5AM and 7AM that morning. It said that putschists in the Turkish air force had bombed the parliament and the garden of the presidential palace, for instance. They did so. But oddly enough, the prosecutor who minuted the events, Serdar Coskun, dated his record as having been written at 1AM – four hours before it all happened.
“Coskun… gave an interview to a pro-government journalist in which he confirmed the authenticity of the document, but in which he also said he had made a mistake on the timing… Coskun’s explanation lacked credibility because some of the things he minuted as having just taken place never did take place… The non-events he recorded included a siege of the MIT (the national intelligence service), the bombing of the special forces command HQ, and the bombing of the police intelligence bureau… the minutes indicate that Erdogan’s people knew exactly what was going to happen, let some of the events unfold in a controlled way as a pretext for the ensuing crackdown, and even began drafting papers beforehand that they would later use in trials against his political opponents…
“The fact that Erdogan himself was not captured or harmed also looked odd… In a proper coup, he [Erdogan] would have been the main and possibly only target of the plotters…
“Erdogan blamed the coup on Fethullah Gulen, the head of a religious movement who lives in exile in the US and who is one of his main political opponents. But the IntCen report on the coup, dated 24 August 2016… said it was ‘unlikely that Gulen had the abilities and the capacities to take such steps… The coup was just the catalyst for the crackdown prepared in advance,’ the IntCen report said.
“Much has happened since… 16 July 2016… Erdogan has detained over 70,000 people, including opposition MPs, 110 journalists, and human rights defenders. He has sacked 150,000 public officials and shut down all government-critical media. He also rammed through constitutional changes under a post-coup state of emergency that gave himself new powers amounting to one-man rule…
“The idea that Turkey might one day join the EU has evaporated no matter how much it helps Europe to control flows of refugees. Erdogan’s decision, last weekend, to expel three German journalists, shows that his contempt for Europe has continued to deepen. ‘The Turkish government managed to more or less silence the national media, and they are now trying to do it with the international media,’ Joerg Brase, the head of German broadcaster ZDF’s Istanbul bureau, who was given 10 days to leave the country, said.
“‘It cannot be ruled out … that the Turkish government will take further action against representatives of German media and civil society organisations,’ the German foreign ministry added in an update to its Turkey travel advice. ‘Statements, which are covered by the German legal understanding of the freedom of expression, can lead in Turkey to … criminal proceedings,’ it also said.
“Meanwhile, Coskun has been promoted to become a member of one of [Turkey’s] highest courts, the court of cassation. At the same time, many military officers are behind bars on the basis of trials which referenced his strange minutes in official court records.”
It was clear from the start to many that autocrat Erdogan was either himself responsible for the coup or used a somewhat juvenile attempt of a “coup” to became the one-man dictator of Turkey, while brutally suppressing all of his real or imagined critics or opponents. Hitler employed similar tactics when a confused and mentally disturbed Jewish communist set fire to the Reichtstag to initiate anti-Jewish laws and persecute the Jews systematically.
Politically Hot Season in Finland
The EUObserver wrote on March 11:
“Finnish prime minister Juha Sipila’s centre-right government’s surprise resignation on Friday (8 March) kicks off a political hot season in the otherwise cool Nordic country.
“Voters are facing national elections on 14 April as well as EU elections on 26 May, while the country is also preparing to hold the EU’s rotating six-month presidency from 1 July.”
Fox News Moderators in Trouble? Not Really, it Seems…
The Independent wrote about Fox moderator Tucker Carlson on March 11:
“Fox News host Tucker Carlson has refused to apologise for comments he made on a new unearthed radio programme. Progressive media watchdog Media Matters for America published recordings… which originally aired from 2006 to 2011…
“The recordings, which see Carlson cover a wide range of topics, include a clip from 2007 in which he compares women to dogs, adding: ‘They’re extremely primitive…’ The show host talks about Tucker Carlson’s 14-year-old daughter and girls her age at school sexually experimenting with each other. Mr Carlson responds: ‘If it weren’t my daughter I would love that scenario.’’
The Drudge Report linked to an article in the Wrap, adding:
‘He then mentioned reading a story about a teacher who molested her 13-year-old student ‘28 times in one week,’ and asked…, ‘Are you physically capable of doing that or do you take your hat off to this kid?… So my point is that [teachers] like this, not necessarily this one in particular, but they are doing a service to all 13-year-old girls by taking the pressure off. They are a pressure relief valve, like the kind you have on your furnace.’”
Even though Carlson might have made some of the comments “in jest,” they are still sick and outrageous!
The Huffington Post wrote about Fox moderator Judge Jeanine Pirro on March 11:
“Fox News on Sunday said the network ‘strongly’ condemns Jeanine Pirro’s stunningly Islamophobic attack on Rep. Ilhan Omar… The Fox News host said on Saturday that Omar wears a hijab because the Koran ‘tells women to cover so they won’t get molested.’ She also said the lawmaker’s religious dress may be ‘antithetical to the Constitution.’… Fox offered no details about any possible consequences for Pirro…
“The hijab attack was part of Pirro’s questioning of whether Omar’s criticism of Israel shows ‘her adherence to Sharia law.’
“The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the U.S., demanded that Fox News fire Pirro… Pakistani American Hufsa Kamal, a producer on the ‘Special Report with Bret Baier,’ reminded Pirro that she actually works with Muslims at Fox News.”
On the other hand, Omar’s anti-Semitic statements have been extremely problematic, and while many Democratic members of Congress were unwilling to condemn her for these, questions regarding her political stance must be allowed. From the context of Pirro’s comments, it is clear that she was just talking about Omar, not about all Muslims.
Nevertheless, more and more prominent Fox moderators have been leaving the network or were being fired for alleged wrongdoing. The left-liberal media is having a field day, while some of their moderators have likewise been strongly criticized for alleged inappropriate conduct or offensive statements.
Australian Catholic Cardinal Sentenced to Six Years in Prison
npr wrote on March 13:
“Australian Cardinal George Pell, 77, a former leading Vatican official who last month was convicted of sexually abusing two boys, has been sentenced to six years in prison. He will be eligible for parole after three years and eight months. During the sentencing hearing, Victoria state County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd acknowledged the disgraced cleric may not live to serve the full sentence. The prospect of facing jail at Pell’s advanced age ‘must be an awful state of affairs,’ Kidd added.
“Pell was convicted in December of five sexual offenses committed against two 13-year-old choirboys during an incident in 1996 at Melbourne’s grandest cathedral, when he was archbishop… A 12-member jury unanimously found him guilty of exposing himself to the two boys, fondling them and forcing one to perform oral sex on him. The jury also convicted Pell of indecently assaulting one of the boys more than a month later…
“Pell denies the allegations, and his lawyers argue he has been made a scapegoat for the failings of the Catholic Church regarding sexual abuse by priests… Pell has filed an appeal, and the court will determine if there are sufficient grounds for it to be heard. A court date has been set for June 5. In court on Wednesday, Pell was told he will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life. He is the most senior Vatican leader ever charged with sexual abuse. He was selected by Pope Francis to run the Vatican’s new economic ministry.”
Deutsche Welle added on March 13:
“Pell’s lawyers have appealed the decision but for now Pell will go straight to jail… The trial against Pell has shocked and divided Australia’s Catholic Church, and society at large. Some argue his sentencing was much overdue, while others believe Pell is being used as a scapegoat to settle a score with the church. Some figures in Rome, meanwhile, have dismissed the accusations against Pell as ‘absolutely unbelievable,’ which smacks of cynicism and arrogance — an attitude that has characterized the Catholic Church for decades. Indeed, accusations of sexual abuse against Pell began surfacing many years ago but were not taken seriously.
“Chief Judge Peter Kidd said Pell acted with ‘callous indifference to the victims’ distress’ and had been ‘breathtakingly arrogant.’ The conviction illustrates just how big of a sexual abuse scandal the church really faces. Indeed, the college of cardinals currently counts 122 men who are eligible to elect a new pope and thus leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, when the time comes. Pell is one of them. And so is the archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who was recently sentenced to six months probation for failing to report allegations of assault. Fortunately, Cardinal Barbarin wants to resign from his position. Meanwhile, the Vatican has launched a canonical trial against Pell, yet will wait until his civil trial ends before reaching a decision.
“Pope John Paul II made Pell an archbishop and a cardinal. Pope Benedict XVI later gave him a say in important decision-making processes in Rome, and in 2014 Pope Francis named him the Vatican treasurer. Pell’s rise to power makes clear a fundamental problem with the all-male Catholic Church: outside criticism is ignored. That explains why some figures in Rome still dismiss the court case against Pell in Australia.
“… Francis must realize that the credibility of his institution has been ruined…”
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.
Can we have idols in our minds?
The Jewish Publication Society of America, in its 1917 version of the Bible, translates Ezekiel 14:3, 4 by using the expression “idols in their minds” and “idols in his mind”. This seems to be the only translation which renders it this way, while others use the word “heart” rather than “mind,” saying in verse 3: “…these men have set up their idols in their hearts.” The Hebrew word used here can be translated either as “heart” or “mind,” depending on the context. So, the question that needs to be answered is, what is an idol? Is it only an image of something that is made to be worshipped, or can it be more than this?
The second commandment states that we must not make a carved image, a likeness of anything in heaven above, or in the earth or in the water under the earth to bow down to them or serve them (compare Deuteronomy 5:8-9). This refers clearly to some kind of physical idol or image.
When we read through the book of Ezekiel, we find many references to the house of Israel being condemned by God because of their multitude of idols. In fact, idolatry was a major reason why God sent them into captivity. Even in the modern-day house of Israel, including the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, there are still large numbers of people that have idols or images in their homes and elsewhere and bow down to them and serve them. So, not much has changed over the past thousands of years. Some make the excuse that the idol represents God, but considering that God is the Almighty, no inanimate image made of wood or stone can represent Him truly. It distorts the understanding of what God is.
But does this commandment only refer to religious idols or images? The apostle Paul tells us that we are to put to death covetousness which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Therefore, the tenth commandment is linked to the second commandment. If we covet anything belonging to another person, we are making an idol of what we covet. This would include our neighbor’s spouse, car, house, job, holiday, etc. We would be coveting something that God says is not ours to have because it is someone else’s possession.
From this we see that an idol is not just a religious symbol or image, but it can be any object, person or animal or even profession for which we have a wrong desire. In fact, anything we put before God basically becomes our idol. We know that God commands us to give thanks for all things, but if we covet, then instead of giving thanks for what we have, we are complaining about or coveting what we do not have. That is the reason why the apostle Paul tells us in 1Timothy 6:8-9: “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
However, idolatry is more than the worship of images or even the wrongful desire for physical things. Returning to Ezekiel 14:3, 4, the Soncino commentary explains: “More lit. ‘have brought up their idols to their hearts,’ an idiom for ‘have set their mind upon their idols.’ The phrase does not imply that they were worshipping idols, but that their thoughts were influenced by pagan ideas, such as believing in magical spells and divination. This has been a stumbling block to them willfully placed by themselves in their way and leading them into iniquity.”
Just reading through chapter 13 of the book of Ezekiel, we see many references to false divination, false prophets and magical charms—all things that God hates because they turn people away from Him. Today this would include séances, mediums, astrology, horoscopes, fortune telling, etc. In this case, the idolatry would be leading us not to rely on God and His revealed Word, but on a false diviner or fortune teller.
Matthew Henry in his Concise Commentary gives still an additional possible meaning: “No outward form or reformation can be acceptable to God, so long as any idol possesses the heart; yet how many prefer their own devices and their own righteousness, to the way of salvation! Men’s corruptions are idols in their hearts, and are of their own setting up…”
This reminds us of the book of Job where we find Job stating: “Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go…” (Job 27:5-6). Job believed in his own righteousness so much that he accused God of wrongdoing (compare Job 19:6-12). As long as he made an idol of his own righteousness, which was self-righteousness, he could not understand God and His righteousness.
In conclusion, idols can relate to physical objects and the desire for the possessions of others, but they can also include the belief in things like charms, divination or astrology. They can even pertain to our reliance on our own self-righteousness and integrity. As we read in Ezekiel 14:3-4, idols can indeed be in our minds. And any idol, whether an object or a wrong thought pattern or concept, can lead us away from obeying God and can cloud our understanding as to what and who He is.
Lead Writer: Paul Niehoff (Australia)
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“The Sabbath and God’s Commanded Holy Days,” is a new trailer presented by Michael Link which features our booklets: “How to Keep the Sabbath” and “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”
“Are You Keeping God’s Commandments?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Most Christians would answer this question in the affirmative, but would they be correct? What about the weekly Sabbath? Has it been replaced by Sunday? If so, by what authority? What is the Roman Catholic’s position on that important question? What about God’s annual Holy Days? Can you keep the weekly Sabbath while neglecting God’s annual Sabbaths? At the end of this program, we show you an important video, addressing these questions even further and offering you absolutely free literature. The program incorporates at the end the new trailer by Michael Link, as announced above.
“Die Erfüllung des Passa durch Christus und seine Kirche,” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “The Fulfillment of the Passover Through Christ and His Church.”
“Gottes Trauer,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath in Germany by Thilo Hanstein, is now posted. Title in English: “God’s Grief.”
“Conviction!” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Michael Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
How convicted are we in what we believe, to the Truth, and are we committed to it for life?
“When, How and What Should We Hate?” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Is there something like righteous and godly hatred? For a Christian, it may be difficult to see how “hate” could be a part of God’s character, because many feel erroneously that a Christian must never hate. However, David gives us several examples in the book of Psalms which show us what and how we should and must hate. This includes the command to stay away from people who want to tempt us and others to sin.
Our newest booklet, “How to Keep the Sabbath,” has been mailed to our subscribers. Please contact us with your request if you would like a free copy.
The 2019 Church Conference will be conducted in Escondido, California. Arrival will be Wednesday, April 3, 2019, and departure is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9, 2019.
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Robb Harris, Michael Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
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