Update 93


How Free Are We?

Norbert Link will give the sermon this Sabbath, May 17, 2003. The sermon is titled, “How Free Are We?”

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

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How Are You?

by Dave Harris

We greet people and people often greet us with, “How are you?” Here and there, some sarcastically say that no one actually really wants to know how we are. Perhaps we really don’t want anyone else to truly know how we are.

So, how are you?

How are you doing with your life? Are you happy? How is your health? Are good things coming your way, or are you so beaten down that you have just about lost all hope? Anyone who has lived any amount of time has surely tasted a little bit of all kinds of experiences–both good and bad.

Solomon taught: “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). In verses 2 through 8, he enumerates the “everythings” and the “purposes.” If you read these details, it is very difficult to not identify with each of these most human of experiences.

In fact, in this light, consider 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear [endure] it.”

For those who, indeed, have been called by God and who are responding to His loving hand in their lives, Biblical knowledge can give us the light of confidence and hope. This shining assurance can also enlighten others. This is what being a Christian in this generation is all about! Added to knowledge is the ever-present real fact that God gives us His Spirit by which we are empowered to live our lives with complete faith that good will triumph! Romans 8:28 puts it this way: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Every so often, we need to really bore in and focus on what it is that we are doing–how we are! Out ahead of us are promises so awesome that we hardly even begin to really and truly grasp the majesty of what God is accomplishing–both the big picture things and the things of our individual lives! Hebrews 12:12-13 has these words of encouragement: “…therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet…”

Reading in the New Testament, Paul begins many of his letters with these words of greeting: “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:3, as an example).

Let us each hold on to the confidence of our sure hope that has been given to us by God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. With that perspective, let us also have a ready answer of joy the next time someone asks–“how are you?”

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Austria’s “Kleine Zeitung” published recently a challenging article, titled, “Where is Saddam Hussein? Where are the weapons of mass destruction?” It continued, “Central questions about the Iraq war remain unanswered.” The article pointed out that it is still unknown how many civilians died in the war; where any weapons of mass destruction are; who bombed the markets of Baghdad on March 26 and 28; what really happened in Mossul on April 15 and 16 (when the coalition forces shot at demonstrators); under what circumstances did three journalists die in Baghdad on April 8 (when the coalition forces shot at the Palestine hotel); where is Saddam Hussein; and whether “Chemical-Ali” is really dead?

In addition, Der Spiegel Online reported on May 11, 2003, that the U.S. “experts of the 75th Exploitation Task Force,” who were supposed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, “have given up.” The magazine continued that the Task Force is scheduled to leave Iraq next month, without having found any evidence for the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The American government realizes, of course, that the failure to find those weapons eliminates to a large extent the political and legal justification for a “preventive war” against Iraq. Therefore, according to the magazine, President Bush has announced that the Task Force is to be replaced with a new “Iraq Survey Group.”

Der Spiegel Online reported on May 10 that Iraqis celebrate their “new Khomeni” – “Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, religious leader of the Shiites.” He advocates the establishment of a Muslim state. The Americans do not want to permit this. However, according to Der Spiegel Online, the Bush administration is “very nervous when they realize that such a state might be established through democratic means – via elections. The Shiites comprise 60% of the Iraqi population.”

Washingtonpost.com reported on May 15 that, according to the U.S. military commander in Iraq, Army Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, “remnants of Saddam Hussein’s defeated government… pose a greater threat to rebuilding the country than the persistent street violence that has plagued Baghdad… Mc Kiernan reported that ‘most’ U.S. military resources are being used to combat these groups… ‘Until these people are destroyed or captured, the security environment here in Iraq will remain problematic,’ he said.”


This week witnessed a terrible suicide terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia, killing 34 people, including citizens from America, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Jordan, Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, Lebanon and Switzerland. The United States sent an FBI team to Saudi Arabia to “aid – not run – the Saudi investigation,” according to Yahoo! News of May 15. The United States had warned Saudi Arabia of a possible terrorist attack, but this warning had apparently been ignored. The U.S. has now issued a warning of future terrorist attacks in Malaysia and Kenya, according to Der Spiegel Online of May 15.


As Reuters reported on May 15, “Israeli forces killed a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, two gunmen and a youth on Thursday in a raid on a Gaza town that coincided with the Palestinians’ annual commemoration of their displacement during Israel’s creation… ‘No peace before the full Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian and Arab lands to the line of June 1967,’ Arafat said… All Israeli governments since the conflict have said that will never happen… The violence preceded talks planned for Saturday between Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas [a Palestinian refugee himself] and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. They are to discuss a new Middle East peace plan known as the ‘road map.’ The proposal, backed by the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia, calls for an end to 31 months of Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed, reciprocal confidence-building measures and a Palestinian state by 2005… Israel has not accepted the plan. Sharon will voice his right-wing government’s objections at White House talks with President Bush on Tuesday… Israel rejects any right of return for the estimated four million Palestinian refugees to what is now the Jewish state, saying such an influx would be demographic suicide.”


The Washington Post reported on May 15 that the French government prepared a letter to the U.S. administration and members of Congress, alleging an “organized campaign of disinformation” from within the Bush administration, designed to discredit it with allegations of complicity with Saddam Hussein. Paris states in the letter, which is signed by French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte, that false reports, including alleged French weapon sales to Iraq or the alleged issuance of French passports by French officials in Syria to escaping Iraqis, are part of “an ugly campaign to destroy the image of France.” Paris also charged the Bush administration with “little interest” to better the relationship between the two countries. Der Spiegel Online added in its report of May 15 that this letter “is additional evidence for the destroyed relationship between the two NATO partners.”

Der Spiegel Online reported on May 3 that the United States is not willing to forgive Germany quickly for their role in the Iraq war. Robert Zoellick stated on behalf of the Bush administration that the strained relationship between the United States and Germany would continue. In an effort to better the relationship, Secretary of State Colin Powell is visiting Germany on May 15 and May 16, after he had visited Russia and Bulgaria. Yahoo News stated on May 15 that Russia and the U.S. share concerns about nuclear activity in Iran. They did not come to an agreement, however, over lifting U.N. sanctions against Iraq. The article pointed out that “Russia wants assurances that Iraq’s alleged banned weapons – the main reason Bush gave for going to war – are not being hidden, before Moscow will support removing the sanctions. Also in dispute is the role of U.N. weapons inspectors.”

Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Russian leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, preceded Mr. Powell’s visit in Russia with unusually strong criticism. According to Der Spiegel Online of May 5, Gorbachev accused the Bush administration of “imperial conduct” and stated that a “democratic system has used totalitarian methods.” He continued, “America has violated international law, ignored the Security Council, and paid no attention to world opinion… It is wishful thinking to believe that the world can be ruled according to the will of the United States.” Mikhail Gorbachev was instrumental, together with (former) President George W. Bush and (former) German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, in bringing about unification of West and East Germany.


While the world’s attention is mainly focused on war, terrorism and – now – diseases like SARS, Der Spiegel Online published a report on April 9, stating that over 40 million people will soon die in Africa because of hunger, unless help comes soon. 1.8 billion dollars are lacking to supply needed food. When reading such a report, and considering at the same time that billions of dollars have been and will be spent to wage war, one must ask the question, HAS THIS WORLD GONE MAD?

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Q: Would you please explain 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (instructing men to wear short hair, and women to wear long hair), especially in light of the fact that some of God's male servants did not cut their hair. Didn't Jesus Christ wear long hair, too?

A: In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul sets forth the timeless principles of proper hairstyle and hair length for men and women. After explaining in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that the Head of Christ is God the Father, the Head of a man is Christ, and the head of the woman (wife) is the man (husband), Paul continues: “(verse 4) Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. (verse 5) But every woman who prays or prophecies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. (verse 6) For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. (verse 7) For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God… (verse 10) For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels… (verse 13) Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? (verse 14) Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? (verse 15) But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.”

The context of the Scripture discusses the length of hair — not the wearing of a veil or of a hat (There is, however, nothing wrong in God’s eyes for a woman to wear a veil or a hat, if she so desires, following the culture of her upbringing). We read that a woman should wear long hair, which is given to her “as a covering” or, as some translations render this, “as a veil.” The Church of the Eternal God and its sister churches are not going to engage in a “yard-stick religion” of defining and regulating how long and how short hair should be worn. However, the following Biblical principles are helpful:

We read that a woman should have “long hair” as a covering, as distinguished from an “uncovered” head, a “shaved” head, or a “shorn” head. A “shorn” head pictures very short hair. One might think of the analogy of a “shorn” sheep. In Acts 8:32, the Greek word for “shorn” — “keiro” — is applied to a “shearer” engaged in shearing his sheep. A “shaved” head describes a bald head. In contrast, a woman should wear “long hair,” showing that she accepts the authority of her husband over her, “because of the angels.” The thought is conveyed here that a wife cannot rely on angelic protection, if she shows through her conduct that she does not accept the God-given authority of her husband over her. (This is not to say, however, that a husband should ever abuse his authority. Our free booklet, “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families,” explains the God-ordained husband-and-wife-relationship in much detail.)

At the same time, we are told that a man is not to wear “long hair,” and that even nature teaches us that wearing long hear is a “dishonor” to a man. The Greek word for “dishonor” is “atimia.” This word, or a related form (“atimos”), can be found in the following additional passages: Romans 9:21; 1 Corinthians 15:43; 2 Corinthians 6:8; 2 Timothy 2:20; 2 Corinthians 11:21 (translated as “shame”); and Romans 1:26 (translated as “vile”). Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance points out that “atimia” can describe a comparative indignity or disgrace (under No. 819). The related word, “atimos,” can describe something “less honorable [comparative degree]” (under No. 820).

Please note that the word for “shameful” in verse 6 (“But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved…”) is a different word in the Greek. It is “aischron” (derived from “aischros”) and can also be found in 1 Corinthians 14:35; Ephesians 5:12; and Titus 1:11 (translated as “dishonest”). (The noun, “aischrotes,” is found in Ephesians 5:4 — translated, “filthiness.”) Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines these words as “a shameful thing, i.e. indecorum:–shame,” and as “shameful, i.e. base (spec. venal):– filthy” (under Nos. 149 and 150).

The reason for the different choice of words may be seen in the fact that the Old Testament permitted a man on special occasions to wear long hair. This exception is set forth in Numbers 6, known as “the Law of the Nazarite.” Men were permitted to make a temporary “Nazarite vow” to God. During the time of their vow, a Nazarite was not to cut his hair, but let “the locks of the hair of his head grow” (verse 5). In addition, he was not to touch a dead person, eat any fresh grapes or raisins, or drink anything made from grapes, including wine. This law was inseparably connected with the ritual law of sacrifices: At the end of the separation, the Nazarite had to bring several offerings, and he had to go through additional rituals before the priest.

The long hair of the Nazarite vow reflected, in physical terms, the willingness of the person to be under authority — under the authority of God. Sometimes, certain people were consecrated from their birth as Nazarites, to be separated to God throughout their lives. Famous examples are Samson (Judges 13:5,7); Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11); and — perhaps — John the Baptist (Luke 1:15; Luke 7:33).

Jesus, however, was not a Nazarite. He grew up in the city of Nazareth and was therefore called a “Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23) — which is of course quite different from being a Nazarite. Christ drank wine (Matthew 11:19; Matthew 26:29), and He touched dead people (Luke 8:49-55) — things a Nazarite was prohibited from doing. Archaeology and history have established that the Jews at the time of Christ did not wear long hair. Jesus did not wear long hair, either. He looked like a Jew — so much so that Judas had to kiss Him to identify Him to the soldiers that had come to arrest Him. After all, it was He — the Word of God — who inspired Paul to write that a man is not to wear long hair. For Paul, this fact was so self-evident that he asked his readers, “Does not even nature itself teach you” this truth? (1 Corinthians 11:14).

In the early New Testament church, we do find occasional references to some who continued on occasion to make a temporary Nazarite vow (compare Acts 21:23-24, 26-27). It is possible that even Paul made a temporary Nazarite vow for a short time (compare Acts 18:18. Incidentally, the word for “shorn,” i.e. “keiro,” is the same as used in 1 Corinthians 11:6). However, these vows ceased within the church when the temple was destroyed, as the purification ceremonies could not be carried out any longer.

Today, the rules and regulations pertaining to a Nazarite vow are no longer of any consequence for us. We are rather to follow the clear principles given in 1 Corinthians 11 — that a woman should not wear her hair as to look like a man, and a man should not wear his hair as to look like a woman. If one cannot tell, by just looking at hair styles and hair lengths, whether a person is a male or a female, then the clear guidelines set forth in 1 Corinthians 11 have not been followed.

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