April 30, 2021
Comments on News and Prophecy, May 1, 2021 / Paul’s Challenges
On May 1, 2021, Norbert Link will present, “Comments on News and Prophecy, May 1, 2021,” and Michael Link will present the sermon, titled, “Paul’s Challenges”.
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.
What Does God Mean?
by Norbert Link
During our regular Bible study, we might come across a Scriptural passage which might at first sight be difficult to understand, requiring further scrutiny, research, prayer and meditation. Peter said at one time that Paul wrote “some things [which] are hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). He warned against twisting those Scriptures to one’s own destruction. One fundamental principle to always keep in mind is that the Bible never contradicts itself. Another principle is that God reveals His Truth “line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little” (Isaiah 28:10).
One of these passages which I recently concentrated on is Malachi 1:11, which says:
“‘For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; In every place incense shall be offered to My name, And a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the nations,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
I wondered: Does this passage tell us that in the Millennium or even before, Israelites and Gentiles will bring incense and animal sacrifices and offerings to God wherever they want to, “in every place,” and that God will accept such religious worship?
If so, then we would have been very wrong with comments we made in chapter 8 in our booklet, “Biblical Prophecy—from Now until Forever,” where we explained that at the beginning of the Millennium during the first 3 ½ years of Christ’s reign, animal sacrifices will be given to God by the lost sheep of the House of Israel at a new Temple, but not “in every place” throughout the entire earth. We also pointed out that the third Temple, where the sacrifices will be given, is mentioned only in connection with the House of Israel.
We also said this:
“Physical Israelites will bring animal sacrifices to a new temple in Jerusalem at the beginning of the Millennium. These sacrifices will not be given for the purpose of obtaining spiritual forgiveness, but just to remind the people that they had sinned, and help them to focus on the ultimate Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As it was the case in Old Testament times, these sacrifices will be temporary and will be administered by physical Levites to physical unconverted people, so as to allow the transgressor to remain within the community of Israel.”
There is nothing in the Bible indicating that Gentiles will bring animal sacrifices to God before the Millennium begins; nor, that they will be brought in every place. Jews (not Gentiles) will bring for a short while sacrifices in Jerusalem, not in every place, but even they will be suppressed by the European beast power. And after the Millennium has begun, we read that Egyptians who want to have fellowship with Israelites, will bring sacrifices and offerings (Isaiah 19:21), but the implication is, in light of all the passages in the book of Ezekiel, chapters 40 – 47, that they will do so at the third temple and not “in every place” they choose.
How then, so I wondered, are we to understand Malachi 1:11? I viewed the context and saw the contrast between the Israelites who profane God’s name, and the Gentiles who honor it. I began to contemplate that this must be referring to spiritual sacrifices, which true Christians are already giving now, and which they will also give in the Millennium. I found that several commentaries came to the same conclusion.
The Benson Commentary wrote:
“Prayers and praises shall be presented before me as incense. For here the prophet describes the Christian sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving…”
The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary added:
“Since ye Jewish priests and people ‘despise My name’ (Mal 1:6), I shall find others who will magnify it (Mt 3:9). Do not think I shall have no worshippers because I have not you; for from the east to the west My name shall be great among the Gentiles (Isa 66:19, 20), those very peoples whom ye look down upon as abominable. Pure offering—not ‘the blind, the lame, and the sick,’ such as ye offer (Mal 1:8). … The ‘incense’ is figurative of prayers (Ps 141:2; Re 8:3). ‘Sacrifice’ is used metaphorically (Ps 51:17; Heb 13:10, 15, 16; 1Pe 2:5, 12).”
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges stated:
“By ‘incense’ and ‘offering’ we are to understand those ‘spiritual sacrifices’ of prayer and praise (Hebrews 13:15)… and self-dedication (Romans 12:1), which all Christians as a ‘holy priesthood’ (1 Peter 2:5) are privileged to offer, and which are ‘acceptable to God through Jesus Christ’. … incense was the symbol of prayer (Luke 1:9-10). The Psalmist saw the same spiritual significance in ‘incense’ and ‘offering’ (Psalm 141:2).”
I also found other commentaries trying to say that the incense offered by Gentiles refers to Catholic rites and worship services. That explanation could be easily dismissed, as Catholics do not pray to the God of the Bible, but to a Trinitarian God, falsely believing that the Holy Spirit is a person. They most certainly do not magnify God’s true name.
And so, Malachi 1:11 speaks of true Christians who give spiritual sacrifices, and refers especially to those of Gentile descent, who are part of the firstfruits in this day and age, signified by one of the two leavened wave loaves which had to be offered at Pentecost (Leviticus 23:17). Paul says in Romans 15:16 that the offering consisting of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit (compare the margin in the new NKJV and the NIV).
The search for the right understanding of Malachi 1:11 just serves as an example as to how we are to study God’s Word. It may need time, effort, patience and dedication to the Truth, without coming to premature and hasty conclusions (Isaiah 28:16). Daniel wondered about a passage and had to wait with patience for understanding until God revealed to him the meaning (Daniel 9:20-23; 10:11-12, 14). Christ opened understanding to His apostles so they would comprehend the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). On the other hand, there were certain prophecies which Daniel would not understand, as it was not yet the time (Daniel 12:8-10). But with Bible study, prayer and meditation, answers will come, if God so wills (Ephesians 1:15-19), and these answers will make sense and add further pieces to our comprehension of the great puzzle of God’s masterful Work—the foundation of knowledge—the Holy Bible.
by Norbert Link
We begin with a European announcement to perhaps allow fully vaccinated US tourists to travel to Europe this summer while in spite of the hype in the press, many questions remain unanswered at the moment [please see our new StandingWatch program, titled, “US Tourists Allowed to Visit Europe?—Not So Fast!”; address the German government’s “observation” of anti-lockdown demonstrators by creating a “new category”; a campaign of some popular German actors to protest against Germany’s new coronavirus restrictions and the incredible shameful backlash which they are experiencing; a new push for a European Army, this time by Germany’s rising political star, the chancellor candidate of the Green Party; the FBI’s new troublesome powers to break into private computers without the owner’s consent and without a search warrant; the FBI’s raid on Rudy Giuliani due to an investigation whether he “violated the law by lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian officials”; and calls for John Kerry’s resignation due to “allegations he fed Iran sensitive information on 200 Israeli military operations.”
We continue with the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, which has begun, while Taliban “ramps up” bombings there.
We focus on incredible police and governmental persecution of churches in Canada and the UK; California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recall in the fall due to, among other concerns, his coronavirus restrictions and his hypocritical conduct; and Putin’s violent crack-down on his opponents and his alleged ambition to reestablish the Tsarist Empire by taking over or invading certain countries which once belonged to the Russian Empire.
We conclude with some remarkable comments by Dr. Ron Paul about the Marxist ideology.
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
Fully Vaccinated US Tourists Allowed to Visit Europe this Summer?
The Associated Press wrote on April 26:
“The European Union is finalizing plans to allow tourists from the United States to travel to the 27-nation bloc this summer, officials said Monday… The commission didn’t say when exactly tourists will be allowed back inside the bloc, and if a reciprocal approach will apply to European tourists willing to travel to the U.S…
“On Sunday, The New York Times published an interview with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, reporting that fully vaccinated Americans would be able to visit EU countries this summer since all coronavirus vaccines currently used in the U.S. have also been approved by the EU’s drug regulator. But the report didn’t mention whether she was asked about whether Americans could also provide a negative PCR test or evidence of recovering from COVID-19… [She said that the] ‘27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA.’…
“The European Union is putting the finishing touches to a system of certificates that would allow EU residents to travel freely across the region by the summer as long as they have been vaccinated, tested negative for COVID-19 or recovered from the disease. Under the plan discussed with their U.S. counterparts, American tourists could be included in the program… But EU member states will have the final say on whether to implement the guidelines. The commission said other third countries have made similar requests, but didn’t name them. Asked whether negotiations with the United Kingdom were ongoing, European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said ‘no contact to this end’ has been made.
“Travel to the EU is currently extremely limited except for a handful of countries with low infection rates including Australia and New Zealand. But Greece, which is heavily reliant on tourism, has already lifted quarantine restrictions for the U.S., Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Serbia, Israel, and non-EU members Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland that are part of a European travel pact. Travelers from those countries will no longer be subject to a seven-day quarantine requirement if they hold a vaccination certificate or negative PCR test….”
Deutsche Welle added on April 26:
“Trump attempted to loosen travel restrictions on European travelers shortly before he left office in January, but this was promptly reversed by the President Joe Biden’s administration later that month. The US has yet to announce plans on allowing travel from the EU.”
npr wrote on April 26:
“It is not yet clear when the EU will open up — von der Leyen did not provide a specific timeline, and individual EU member states are permitted to enforce stricter rules than the bloc as a whole. It is also unclear how countries will determine if travelers have been fully vaccinated, but nations and air carriers in Europe have been discussing the use of vaccine passports or vaccine certificates for months…
“Even as the EU is sending positive signals to American travelers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning them not to travel to much of Europe, at least not yet. The CDC website warns Americans not to go [to] Greece, Italy, Spain or even the United Kingdom…”
Bloomberg added on April 26:
“The United States was ‘on track’ and making ‘huge progress’ with its campaign to reach so-called herd immunity, or the vaccination of 70% of adults, by mid-June, New York Times said citing Ursula von der Leyen…”
Talks are cheap. Let’s see what actions will follow, if any. That 70% of American adults will be vaccinated by mid-June is highly doubtful in light of the strong opposition of many Americans to Coronavirus vaccinations. But the increased governmental pressure to get vaccinated is growing everywhere.
The LA Times Newsletter wrote on April 24:
“[California’s] Health officials say they have no plans to institute vaccination ‘passports.’ But new reopening rules incentivize businesses to demand such proof. Meanwhile, the University of California and California State University intend to require vaccinations.”
More and More Shots Needed?
The Associated Press wrote on April 28:
“Europe can achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus within the next four months, the head of German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, which developed the first widely approved COVID-19 vaccine with U.S. partner Pfizer, said… Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s chief executive, [said:] ‘… we need a third shot to get the vaccine protection back up to almost 100% again…’ Vaccine recipients currently receive a second dose three weeks after their first shot, although some countries have longer intervals. Sahin suggested the third should be administered nine to 12 months after the first shot. ‘And then I expect it will probably be necessary to get another booster every year or perhaps every 18 months,’ he said.
“Concerns have been raised that existing vaccines might be less effective against new variants of the virus now emerging in different parts of the world… Sahin said the vaccine’s effectiveness… was still being investigated.”
“Germany’s Fauci”, Christian Drosten, said, according to Focus, dated April 28, that in the autumn or winter, a new modified shot against the coronavirus might have to be administered because those who have been vaccinated might still pass on the virus to others.
And now… Anti-Coronavirus Lockdown Protest Movement under Observation
Deutsche Welle wrote on April 28:
“German intelligence chiefs have placed parts of the anti-coronavirus lockdown protest movement under observation… Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV)… said elements of the so-called Querdenker (lateral thinking) group were of particular concern because they questioned the legitimacy of the state…
“The movement does not fall into pre-existing categories of concern — such as far-right, far-left, or Islamist — but a new category, the BfV said. For this reason, the German Interior Ministry said it had created a new category of ‘delegitimization of the state where relevant to constitutional protection.’”
Germany’s actions become more troublesome and dangerous by the week…
Actors Oppose Germany’s Coronavirus Restrictions
The Guardian wrote on April 26:
“… a series of satirical videos making fun of coronavirus restrictions, recorded by TV actors associated with the crime drama (“Tatort”), has plunged lockdown-fatigued Germany into a bitter culture war. A website called #allesdichtmachen (“close it all down”), was launched on Thursday night, featuring 53 to-camera clips in which high-profile actors sarcastically boast of the lengths they have gone to restrict their social contacts and appeal on the government to lock down the country even harder… The videos… have drawn a ferocious backlash not least from other actors…
“Jan Josef Liefers… used his video to sarcastically praise the media for uncritically supporting the government’s measures and shutting out scientists who didn’t toe its line… Twenty actors have withdrawn their videos from the campaign’s website after the backlash…
“The tabloid Bild, the country’s bestselling newspaper, and its sister broadsheet Die Welt, have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of the nationwide ‘emergency brake’ rules that came into effect this weekend and shown… sympathy for the actors’ campaign.
“At the start of the pandemic Germany had high levels of compliance with social distancing measures… Even when the government agreed on a second lockdown in the winter, 67% of those surveyed in polls showed their approval… At the start of April, 48%… wanted restrictions to go further, while only 24% thought they went too far.”
This is really a sad commentary on German sheep mentality. Disappointing that 20 actors withdrew their videos, for whatever reasons. If one has a conviction, one has to follow it, no matter the backlash and no matter from where support or criticism are coming.
German Green Party for EU Army
Express wrote on April 26:
“The German Green Party’s candidate to succeed Ms Merkel has set out steps to implement the creation of a European Union armed forces in the party’s foreign policy agenda. Polls in Germany suggest that the Green Party’s Annalena Baerbock has a high chance of becoming the nation’s first Green Chancellor. Ms Baerbock has called for the creation of EU military units that would come under the direct control of the European parliament. Speaking to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung she said: ‘In my view, we have to bundle our capabilities together more strongly as Europeans. Europe’s defence spending is three or four times as high as Russia’s but our capabilities are limited because we duplicate a lot.’
“… Over the weekend two surveys were conducted in Germany that showed the Green Party levelling with Ms Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party, CDU, in popularity…
“Now that a Green-led German government is a distinct possibility the party has attracted serious scrutiny over its defence policies. The German Green Party has traditionally been pacifist and campaigned for the nation to withdraw from Nato and remove US atomic weapons from its territory. However, the Greens have adopted a more pragmatic and less principled approach in recent years.”
In addition, the Green Party is at the forefront of strongly supporting heavy fines for violators of coronavirus restrictions. Angela Merkel proposes more rights for vaccinated people (the Local, dated April 26), but this proposal is being criticized, for now, for its obvious and blatant violation of the German Constitution. But it is shocking to see how far the German government is already willing to go. And it will get much worse.
US Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan Has Begun
Fox News wrote on April 26:
“The U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan has begun, just as the Taliban ramp up bombings in the region.
“President Biden pushed back the initial May deadline set by the Trump administration, instead aiming withdraw all troops by Sept. 11. Around 2,500 American troops currently operate within the country. The move has received bipartisan backlash, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying it would be a ‘grave mistake’ to withdraw before ensuring the Taliban had been defeated…
“The Taliban have continued their activity in the region… The Ministry of Interior reported that the Taliban conducted 62 bomb blasts and six suicide bombings in the last 11 days, killing 63 civilians and wounding 180 more… Former President George W. Bush warned last week that the decision to withdraw troops from the country would provide opportunities to the Taliban that he hoped the U.S. would not come to regret.
“Biden has maintained that his withdrawal timeline is based on consultation with experts, Congress and allies on the world stage. ‘I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats,’ Biden said. ‘I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.’”
America’s presence in Afghanistan did not end the bloodshed, nor did it bring peace or security. It turned out to be a futile, but very costly adventure in terms of the loss of American lives.
FBI Can Break into Private Computers without Owner’s Consent
Market Watch wrote on April 26:
“The FBI has the authority right now to access privately owned computers without their owners’ knowledge or consent, and to delete software. It’s part of a government effort to contain the continuing attacks on corporate networks running Microsoft Exchange software, and it’s an unprecedented intrusion that’s raising legal questions about just how far the government can go… The authority the Justice Department relied on and the way the FBI carried out the operation set important precedents. They also raise questions about the power of courts to regulate cybersecurity without the consent of the owners of the targeted computers…
“The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act generally makes it illegal to access a computer without authorization. This law, though, does not apply to the government… Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure… permits the FBI to access computers outside the jurisdiction of a search warrant…
“Important legal issues remain unresolved with the FBI’s current operation. One is the question of liability. What if, for example, the privately owned computers were damaged in the FBI’s process of removing the malicious code? Another issue is how to balance private property rights against national security needs in cases like this. What is clear, though, is that… the FBI could hack into computers at will, and without the need for a specific search warrant.”
This is a truly dangerous and deeply worrisome development.
Feds Raid Giuliani’s Apartment
Fox News wrote on April 28:
“Federal investigators have executed a search warrant on… Rudy Giuliani… The raid on Giuliani… comes as federal authorities were investigating whether he violated the law by lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian officials in 2019. Giuliani has served as former President Donald Trump’s personal attorney on a number of high-profile matters.
“According to Giuliani’s attorney Robert Costello, seven FBI agents arrived at the apartment at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, and remained for roughly two hours. The agents seized several electronic devices including laptops and cell phones. ‘This is totally unnecessary,’ Costello told Fox News, claiming that the raid was done to ‘make him look like he’s some sort of criminal.’…
“Giuliani was instrumental in Trump’s push to have Ukraine investigate then-candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter regarding energy company Burisma Holdings, for which Hunter Biden served on the board.”
Newsmax added on April 28:
“In addition to his Madison Avenue apartment… investigators also executed a warrant at Giuliani’s office on Park Avenue… Federal prosecutors in Manhattan had pushed last year for a search warrant for records, including some of Giuliani’s communications, but officials in the Trump-era Justice Department would not sign off on the request… Officials in the deputy attorney general’s office raised concerns about both the scope of the request, which they thought would contain communications that could be covered by legal privilege between Giuliani and Trump, and the method of obtaining the records…
“The issue was widely expected to be revisited by the Justice Department once Attorney General Merrick Garland assumed office… The Justice Department requires that applications for search warrants served on lawyers be approved by senior department officials.
“The warrants do not mean that charges are near or even expected.”
While Trump was President, the Justice Department did not proceed against Giuliani. Under the new President and the new Attorney General, it does while apparently refusing to proceed against Hunter Biden, Hillary Clinton and others.
John Kerry under Fire
The Daily Mail wrote on April 28:
“John Kerry is facing mounting calls to resign as President Biden’s climate envoy amid allegations he fed Iran sensitive information on 200 Israeli military operations while he was Secretary of State under Obama. Several Republicans… have called for him to step down following leak of tapes of recordings from Tehran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif.
“Kerry emphatically denied giving Zarif information about Israeli attacks on Syria, calling stories about it ‘unequivocally false.’ A leaked recording of Iran’s foreign minister featured Iranian diplomat Zarif claiming that Kerry told him Israel had attacked Iranian proxies in Syria while serving as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, a role he held between 2013 and 2017…
“Pompeo, Kerry’s successor as Secretary of State…, said the recording tells ‘what I’ve said for years: that [Zarif] continued to engage with former Secretary of State Kerry on policy matters after Kerry’s public service and, according to Zarif, Kerry informed the Iranians of Israeli operations,’ said Pompeo.
“Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley accused Kerry of ‘tipping off’ the Iranians. ‘This is disgusting on many levels. Biden and Kerry have to answer for why Kerry would be tipping off Iran, the number one sponsor of terror, while stabbing one of our greatest partners, Israel, in the back,’ she said.”
Persecution of Churches in Canada
RT wrote on April 26:
“Churches in Canada have been subjected to aggressive policing of Covid-19 restrictions, despite the fact that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the rights of religion and assembly… In Alberta, a church called Gracelife has been physically fenced off by the government until its leaders agree to abide by government rules regarding mass gatherings. In the same province, a pastor in Calgary named Artur Pawlowski kicked health officials and police out of his church, comparing their tactics to those of the Gestapo, after they’d arrived to investigate supposed public-health violations. Given that the pastor is Polish, he’s likely all too aware of how the Gestapo treated his people during World War II. Similarly, the Gracelife church being fenced off rings some familiar, and alarming, bells…
“Canada is supposed to recognize the right of citizens to practise their religion… community and fellowship have always been part not just of Christianity, but of all Abrahamic religions.
“When I see a health inspector show up with several armed police officers to a place of worship demanding that a service is stopped, I have a hard time arguing against comparisons to the Gestapo. The same with seizing a church and telling its congregation that they must comply with the government or they cannot worship God in their own church.
“Anytime that a government sees itself above deity or as a substitution for deity it is becoming a tyranny. These Canadian citizens have the right to believe in God and worship as they choose. They have the freedom to assemble, and they have the freedom of association… Canada as a nation is going to need to decide something right now. Is it going to allow Christians to kneel to God, or is it going to act as if it is God and want them to kneel to it first? If the answer is the latter, I fear that the darkest days for Christians in Canada have only just begun.”
Sadly, these same questions must be asked for just about every country all over the world.
Persecution in the UK Too
The Daily Mail reported on April 28:
“This is the moment police pulled an elderly Christian preacher off his podium and arrested him for making ‘homophobic statements’ – after supporters say he refused to stop reading from the Bible about how God wanted families to be headed by a ‘father and a mother’. Two women can be heard shouting ‘this is a Christian country’ as two policemen lead the 71-year-old man away when he refused to stop addressing the crowd outside Uxbridge Station in West London. Police said they had received complaints the man had been making ‘allegedly homophobic comments’ and arrested him under the Public Order Act, which can be used under the vague proviso that someone is using ‘abusive or insulting words’ that cause ‘harm’ to someone else. He was later released without charge…
“Pastor Peter Simpson, Minister of Penn Free Methodist Church in Buckinghamshire, who was preaching with Pastor Sherwood before the arrest, said: ‘Everything he said was bible based. He was not saying anything abusive; he is a Christian minister. There did not seem to be any recognition from the police that Christian ministers and such views exist. If there was a Pride parade in Uxbridge, the police would support it even if Christians were offended. You don’t have to be an evangelical Christian to be shocked by this. Anyone who cares about liberty should be concerned about what happened in Uxbridge…
“Whatever one’s personal views on homosexuality might be, it is surely pertinent to ask what kind of nation have we become that the minister of a Christian church is arrested for upholding in the public square the very truths which Her Majesty the Queen promised to uphold in her Coronation Oath in 1953, with a Bible in her hand?’”
Good questions in view of a very sad reality.
Newsom Will Face Recall Election in the Fall
The L.A. Times Essential California Newsletter wrote on April 27:
“It’s finally official: Gov. Gavin Newsom will face a recall election in the fall. Newsom is only the second governor in California history and the fourth in U.S. history to face a recall election. The first election to recall a California governor was in 2003, when voters recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis from office and elected Hollywood action star Arnold Schwarzenegger, the last Republican to serve as the state’s chief executive… Newsom will face a statewide vote of confidence by year’s end….
“The governor’s first-in-the-nation stay-at-home order and state coronavirus policies brought him soaring job approval ratings in the spring. But as Californians grew frustrated with economically devastating government-mandated restrictions to stem the spread of the virus, those same actions galvanized the campaign against him. Another turning point came in November, when Newsom sat down for one of the more fateful meals in California political history. The optics of opulent hypocrisy — a wealthy, telegenic governor celebrating a lobbyist’s birthday at an ultra-exclusive restaurant after pleading with Californians to stay home — catalyzed a groundswell of anger…
“California voters will be asked two questions on their recall ballots: First, do you want to recall Newsom from office? And second, which of these candidates should replace him? [The votes on the second question will only be counted if more than half say yes to the first.] Newsom is barred from being listed among the candidates who can be considered if the recall passes.
“A Republican has not won statewide office in California since 2006, but several are already challenging Newsom. The list includes former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox, former Northern California Rep. Doug Ose and Olympic medal-winning reality [and transgender] TV star Caitlyn Jenner.”
Daily Mail added on April 27:
“Jenner is a registered Republican. She voted for Trump in 2016 but not in 2020, in protest against his position on transgender issues. In an announcement on Instagram, she did not indicate whether or not she’ll run as a Republican or Independent. A member of Jenner’s team – which includes many prominent former Trump White House figures – told Axios: ‘She’s running as someone that’s socially liberal and fiscally conservative.’ She has hired Tony Fabrizio, a pollster who worked on both of Trump’s campaigns, and Brad Parscale also helped her in an informal role.”
Many commentators feel that physically and spiritually bankrupt California cannot be healed, no matter what is being tried.
Russia’s Crackdown on Navalny and his Network
npr wrote on April 26:
“The political network of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been ordered to suspend its activities pending a court ruling on whether to label it and other affiliated organizations ‘extremist’ — a move that would likely result in them being permanently shuttered… [It] would effectively end any meaningful political opposition in Russia ahead of September parliamentary elections…
“The FBK, founded in 2011 by Navalny, has been highly critical of key Russian figures, including President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Navalny himself has become a key political figure and one of the few prominent voices openly opposed to Putin. In January, Navalny’s team released a YouTube video detailing an investigation into what it says is a lavish Black Sea palace built for Putin with funds from a ‘slush fund.’ The video has been viewed tens of millions of times. The Kremlin has dismissed the investigation as ‘pure nonsense.’…
“While traveling last August, Navalny suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized in Germany, where doctors determined that he had been poisoned with a Soviet-era, military grade nerve agent. Navalny blamed Putin for ordering the attack, but the Kremlin has denied any involvement. After months of treatment and recovery, Navalny returned to Russia in January, only to be promptly jailed. He was later sentenced to three and a half years in a penal colony on old fraud charges that he says are politically motivated…
“Just last week, Navalny ended a more than three-week hunger strike to protest his lack of medical treatment for leg and back pain while in prison.
“Amnesty International has condemned the move to label Navalny’s network as extremist, saying the ‘looming ban has far reaching consequences for Russian civil society… Tens of thousands of peaceful activists and the staff of Aleksei Navalny’s organizations are in grave danger – if their organizations are deemed “extremist” they will be at imminent risk of criminal prosecution,’ Amnesty said.”
Newsmax wrote on April 27:
“A Russian court said on Tuesday it had imposed restrictions on jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), while it considers a legal request… from the Moscow prosecutor to officially outlaw the FBK on the grounds that it is an extremist group.”
Russia’s violent persecution of any opposition is well-documented. In addition, Russia, with support of the Russian Orthodox Church of which ex-KGB spy Putin is a member, has also labeled the Jehovah’s Witnesses as “extremist” for their religious views, including on human government, military service and voting.
Putin to Restore the Tsarist Empire?
The Sun wrote on April 26:
“VLADIMIR Putin has staged a ‘successful’ test of a mystery new anti-ballistic missile… It comes as the Russian president aims to use his firepower to restore the country’s Tsarist empire, the Polish defence minister Mariusz Blaszczak has claimed…
“Recent pressure on Ukraine combined with the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and hostilities in Georgia in 2008 indicated this trend he claimed, suggesting the Kremlin leader was eyeing a takeover in four NATO countries including Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Like Ukraine, all were once part of the Russian empire. He quoted late Polish president Lech Kaczynski warning ‘first Georgia, then Ukraine, then the Baltic states, then perhaps Poland’.”
No doubt about the fate of Ukraine. It is less clear when it comes to Poland. The assumption has been that Poland will become a fully integrated part of the emerging European super power.
A Free Non-Marxist Society
Ron Paul of the Ron Paul Institute wrote the following on April 26:
“It is ironic to see self-described Marxists, progressives, and other leftists protesting violence by government agents. After all, their ideology rests on the use of force to compel people to obey politicians and bureaucrats…
“Free markets, individual liberty, limited government, sound money, and peace are key to achieving prosperity and social cohesion. Those sincerely concerned about improving all human lives should turn away from the teaching of Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes, who advocated expansive government power…”
Paul makes an important point. Marxism and socialism, including national socialism, are based on the heavy use of governmental authority, inadvertently leading to a dictatorship. Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia are prime examples… but by no means the only ones.
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.
How do we handle poor true Christians in other parts of the world?
Underlined is the word “true”. The reason for this is that there are many so-called “Christians” who will claim Christianity but fail to keep the commandments of God, such as the keeping of the Sabbath and annual Holy Days, tithing, clean and unclean meats, or who celebrate pagan holy days, such as Christmas and Easter, to name a few. So we really need to have context as to whom we are talking about. We MUST realize that we are not here to make this world a better place or to make a difference in the world by focusing on “good deeds.” (Please see our Q&A on this subject for further reference).
Rather, it is the foremost commission of the Church of God to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world as a witness so that Jesus Christ can return (Matthew 24:14). In our free booklet, “How to Find the True Church of God,” How to Find the True Church of God | Church of the Eternal God we explain in detail what all is contained in that announcement. We also say this: “The Church of God must be watchful and zealous in fulfilling its commission of preaching the gospel. It must be committed to doing the Work of God (James 1:25). It must not become complacent and detracted, losing the focus on the most important Work of preaching the gospel by perhaps replacing it with other pursuits; such as trying to make this world a better place by voting in governmental elections; joining the military; or by performing ‘missionary works’ in Third World countries.”
We also explain that the Church of God has a duty to feed the flock. This includes feeding the flock spiritually, but also physically, by helping those members who are in need (Please see our statements in the booklet about the tithing system).
When we keep God’s commands fully, He opens the door for blessings.
It has been observed by the ministry in the Church of the Eternal God and its affiliates that many times people in poorer parts of the world claim that they want to know the Truth and say that they keep the aforementioned commandments, but oftentimes, they are trying to get something out of the deal by misrepresenting or some variant. This is not to say that all are like this, but it is true for the vast majority. When we can help individuals who are truly doing their part and are or want to become faithful Church members, then we do so, as we are able. We have sent a minister to Africa in the past, we have baptized a person in Africa, and we have members in many parts of the world.
In regards to the poor in the church, in 1 John 3:16-18 we are told (NIV): “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
When John wrote this, there were church congregations scattered around. Some of them were able to help others. And so John is saying here that it is right and good to help other Christians if and where possible. He says “sees”, meaning we see a literal need. When we read about the early Church in the book of Acts, we note that they were all near each other in proximity.
Later, when Paul would go and visit other churches in various parts of the world, they were making provisions and gifts for him for the sake of continuing the work of preaching the gospel in all of the world at that time! He would also carry some things to other churches in need, but this wasn’t his primary mission. He wasn’t just distributing goods. Also of interest is that in the early church, they selected 7 trusted men who could organize the distribution to the poor in the congregation, so that the ministry could continue in doing the work appointed to them, that of preaching the Gospel. Ministers have various duties and responsibilities.
When talking about the Church at that time, it is crucial to note that these people were all of one accord. They were in one group. They were NOT split up. They were pointed all in the same way. Amos 3:3 rightly states: “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” In fact, in 1 Corinthians 1:31, when there started to be some contention between members due to people liking one minister over another and actually “adoring” them, Paul was quick to point out that there should be no discrepancies as they were all mere men, of like mind and working together to preach the gospel, each in their own way and calling as God saw fit. Unfortunately, there are many splits today, and many individuals and groups who are teaching various things or holding on to the way that they perceive the Truth to be. Due to this reason, we in the Church of the Eternal God and affiliates are holding on to the Truth as God has shown us, and we will continue to do so as God opens the doors for us to preach this truth!
We cannot assume to know how many “poor” are in the various churches of God which are not affiliated with us, nor can we assume to know who is converted. We would think that they are being taken care of, physically, by the organization that they belong to. Indeed, it would be quite challenging to think otherwise as there are hundreds of offshoots of the Worldwide Church of God. If a church organization were to attempt to help every poor person whom they became aware of, there would be nothing left to help preach the Gospel as we have been commissioned to do. So, when we have the means to do so within our realm of influence regarding those whom we know, as they are affiliating with us, we reach out and help whenever possible.
Paul reminds us in Acts 20:35 that it is more blessed to give than to receive. This is a general way of thinking that does not come naturally to most people. Most people are more worried about themselves, individual needs and interests, often even to the detriment of others. Going above and beyond is what Christ taught.
When Christ was here on the earth, there were the poor then as well. Yet we do not find Him condemning the use of costly fragrance on Himself. John 12:1-7 (NIV) shows us that Christ was making a point that there would always be those to take care of. We find in many places that taking care of those who are poor is good in the eyes of God. He was NOT talking about those in the world, as we find for example in Deuteronomy this command (given by Christ Himself as the God of the Old Testament). Chapter 15 and verses 7-11 (NIV) reads: “If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: ‘The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,’ so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” (Compare James’ admonition in New Testament times in James 2:14-17 regarding needy brethren).
In the early Church it was a very unique time. When study is given into what was happening at that time and the situations at hand, it is interesting because the wealth distribution system in the Roman Empire at that time was very skewed and unjust. 90% of people lived below the poverty line in those days!
Also interesting is the use of the words, “those in your land.” That is, those with whom you have contact. The nation of Israel was a great people and scattered. But this would have to be localized. This was to be happening where it was local. While we have the internet today to quickly disseminate information, there are still principles involved. Currently we do not have ministers in Africa or remote places. We have contact with a few faithful in parts of the world and we send help when there is a need and when we can do so.
Another point to make is that God does and will bless those who faithfully keep all of His commandments, no matter where they live. Sometimes this includes having to suffer through extreme trials and hardships. We cannot expect to be able to help every single poor person within the Churches of God. There may be situations which God is using for His own purpose to enable people to grow in allowing them to go through whatever trials they have to endure to make it into the Kingdom of God, to ultimately become a part of His Family. Let us think about the early Christians who were martyrs, and of those in the near future who will be persecuted and will also have to face martyrdom for the sake of the Truth! The Bible prophesies this! Many times we think we know what’s right or best in a situation or a matter and we don’t take into consideration what God wants, what He is working out, or the path that He has laid out for each of us individually. On the other hand, it is fully supported in Scripture that when we see someone in need we do what we can to help them if at all possible (note Galatians 6:10).
When focusing on tithes and offerings, including freewill offerings and third tithe, we should of course be sure that we are sending the money to the right place, approved by God, but once we have done so, that is, once we have made a tithe or an offering to God, possibly even a freewill offering, that money is no longer ours. Where that money goes should no longer be our concern. An offering is to be given with a cheerful heart, not a begrudging one that needs to know where and how the tithes and offerings will be spent. It is pretty bold to take on the proclamation that one needs to know where and how money is being used. Some within the greater Churches of God have written to us in the past, and their attitude is that the leaders in charge should be transparent with funds! Is this what God says? Is that what we find in the Scriptures above? No! It is plain that God expects the leadership in the Church to lead righteously and to do those things that are expected! Unfortunately, it has been experienced by the ministry (think of Moses and moving on through the Bible) that people will always find a way to complain about how money is being used. There have been unfortunate circumstances where money has been misappropriated or misused within the Church, but this doesn’t nullify God’s commands, and those who have misused funds will have to give an answer just as all of us will before the judgement seat when it is our time.
This includes a little bit of a warning for all of us. It is unwise to make broad-stroke assumptions about the ministry and the time that they have. In some instances there are those in the ministry who are paid and work full time for the church. In other instances there are those ministers who work “outside,” not being employed by the Church, and still find time to do the work given to them in the Church on top of their full schedule. Each has been called by God to accomplish a role within the Church, which is also true for each of the members.
God has ordained the ministry as He sees fit! If we truly believe that Christ is the Head of the Church, then we also have to take instruction and listen to the people whom He puts in charge. This is no light thing! 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 shows us that all in the body of Christ are put in their respective positions, as God sees fit! This includes the ministry and those in charge under Christ. Ephesians 4:11-16 reminds us that the ministry is there to help guide and direct everyone to grow in unity. Each part doing its work! As we said above, without unity, how can a body function? It cannot!
God’s Family is a hierarchy. God the Father at the Head, Jesus Christ below Him and in subjection to the Father, then the various ranks in the ministry and then deacons and members. This is not a justification for trying to “lord” it over people. It is the fact. God has ordained tithing. In fact, in Malachi 3:8, we find the question: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” When God appointed the Levites as the priests and those who would take care of the temple and all of the process that went along with that, He laid out very careful instructions on everything that was to be done. In those instructions, nowhere do we find the command that the other tribes were to be auditing and looking into how the Levites carried out their responsibilities. Remember that even Jesus did not “control” Judas who had the money bag, even though he was a thief. But all of this was for a purpose—Judas was to betray Christ because of his greed, and Christ knew this.
Paul had something to say in this regard. He said in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Many times we have heard people complain and say something along the lines of: “Well, then you are just following a man,” but they really misrepresent and are being stubborn in this regard! As mentioned, the ministry was put in place by God! Christ tells us in Matthew 7:15-20 that by people’s fruits we WILL know them! We can see from the fruit of the Spirit in someone’s life how they are living, how close they are to God. This is what the Bible tells us! This is not to say that the ministry doesn’t make mistakes, but in general, we need to look at the overall picture.
God commands generosity and giving as a general attitude where and when possible. We are not supposed to be hoarding riches for the sake of becoming rich. Psalm 128 talks about the blessings that come from those who fear God. That is, keeping all of the commandments which are in force and effect today (we are not talking about rituals and ordinances which were superseded by Christ’s death). It also says that if people are doing this, then they will have food to eat and will be happy.
Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, relates this knowledge (NIV): “I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people: to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all their hard work on earth during the few days of their life that God has given them, for this is their reward. To every man whom God has given wealth and possessions, he has also given him the ability to eat from them, to receive his reward, and to find enjoyment in his toil; these things are the gift of God. For he does not think much about the fleeting days of his life because God keeps him preoccupied with the joy he derives from his activity.”
We know about the rich ruler to whom Christ spoke saying go and give all you have to the poor, and follow Me (Matthew 19:20-22). Is this saying that we should all be giving everything we have to the poor? Should we not be enjoying the product and fruit of our labors?
God knows everything about us. He knows our hearts and our needs. He provides and makes provision for us in different ways. Christ knew what the rich ruler needed to do to follow Him—apparently to become a minister—and in order to inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of God. In this instance, it was to do as He commanded. But this man couldn’t bring himself to do this. He loved his riches too much and was unwilling to give them up to follow Christ. This is not to say that money is wrong, nor are riches. But the concept is that this should not be the main focus in our lives. If we can and want to help others, then we can give to those whom we know personally or we can give free-will offerings to the Church for dispersal as seen fit by the ministry and those who are in charge. But we should never lose focus and forget our main collective and individual responsibility as the Church of God—to be involved in and support the most important Work on earth today: To announce the soon-coming Kingdom of God so that Christ can return to make an end to all hardship, misery, pain, suffering and poverty for all peoples.
Lead Writer: Kalon Mitchell
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen allegedly said in an interview with the New York Times that “fully vaccinated Americans would be able to visit EU countries this summer.” But MUCH MORE was said and would be required, as this program will explain, and what does “fully vaccinated” actually mean? Be very careful when you hear and are tempted to act upon sensational news or representations and assurances by some health experts or governmental officials which might be misleading or continuously changing. When it comes to vaccinations, do your own research and make a decision based on your own individual situation and personal circumstances.
“Are Jews and Christians at Odds with Jesus Christ?” our new booklet, has been mailed to our subscribers in the US; also, copies were sent to Germany, the UK, Australia and to Canada. Copies are available upon request.
“Beasts of the Bible—Evil People and Evil Empires,” is the working title of our newest booklet. This has entered the first review cycle.
“Deutschlands Absturz in die Diktatur” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “Germany’s descent into dictatorship.”
“Das Wort mit Leben füllen,” last Sabbath’s sermonette given in Germany by Daniel Blasinger, is now posted. Title in English: “Filling the Word With Life.”
“Beyond a Doubt,” the first sermon presented last Sabbath by Frank Bruno, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Doubt is a word that we use in our everyday lives—perhaps even overuse. There are so many examples of how we express doubt in our lives, and it can creep into our relationship with God the Father and with Jesus Christ. In this Split Sermon, we will discuss the insidious nature of doubt and explore scriptures that can offer a pathway to strengthen our bond with Jesus and our obedience to God’s Commandments. Doubt can be like a poison in many ways and faith and confidence in Jesus Christ is the antidote.
“Job and His Friends,” the second sermon presented last Sabbath by Eric Rank, is now posted. Here is a summary:
What can we learn about the subtleties of right and wrong in the story of Job? The counsel of Job’s friends provides us with a provocative example of how one can arouse the wrath of God by having the wrong attitude.
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, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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