|Live Services||Believe God! / Six Woes|
|Editorial||Which of the World’s Standards Should We Observe?|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||Can we consume food that contains unclean insects?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
Believe God! / Six Woes
On February 11, 2023, Dave Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “Believe God!” and Eric Rank will present the sermon, titled, “Six Woes.”
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.
Which of the World’s Standards Should We Observe?
by Paul Niehoff (Australia)
To put it another way, are there worldly standards that we should not observe?
Thinking about this world and the life we live in it, there are many standards that can affect our life and how we live it. As a retired engineer, I know of many engineering standards that are intended to keep us safe and protected from injury. These cover things like building and bridge design and transport safety for airlines, roads, cars, railroads and many other areas.
There are also medical standards which doctors are required to follow. Unfortunately, humans are not standardized; we have many differences, and what may be effective for one patient may not be effective for another. But as long as a doctor follows the standards as laid down, he is immune from censure, no matter how effective and helpful or dangerous and inappropriate those standards are, and what the outcome for the patient is. However, any doctor who goes against the decreed standards for the benefit of his patients has the potential of being dismissed from his profession, even though deviating from those standards would have been the right thing to do.
Community standards for social media platforms have also been brought to our notice lately, especially since the social media platform Twitter has a new owner who has revealed the illegal censorship with the help and at the direction of government departments. They have been requiring social media platforms to hide truths that they did not want us to know for various political, economic or other reasons. The excuse usually given for this censorship is that the comments or truths did not comply with the “community standards” of the social media platform. These so-called “community standards” are not publicly defined or even applied impartially.
Various religions also have their standards. The Catholic Church previously did not accept homosexuality and transgenderism in their congregations, according to the immutable teaching of the Church on sexuality as stated in their catechism. However, over the recent past, the number of attendees has been dropping; so, in order to try to increase attendance, the chief bishop in the Diocese of Limburg, Germany, has mandated for all church leaders in his diocese to accept those who were previously banned because of un-natural sexuality, without any requirement for repentance. So, this prior standard was observed until it was not convenient due to the change in public morals, and it is now being ignored in at least one part of Germany.
Food standards have recently been changed in some countries—and especially throughout Europe—to allow what was previously considered a contaminant, i.e. various kinds of insects, to be now used as a source of protein and as an alleged attempt to reduce global warming. Apparently, according to proponents, insects do not use as much water as livestock and do not emit the same level of pollutants, but many scientists have pointed out that eating insects may be dangerous to our health.
So, in our lives, which standards should we observe, and which, if any, should we not follow? And, more to the point, how do we tell the difference? There is certainly a way to determine this, and God has provided the way.
Of course, when we look at God’s Word, the word “standard” or “standards” is used but refers mainly to the banner under which the tribes of Israel assembled. In some cases, it refers to the banner representing the whole house of Israel as opposed to other nations. So, God’s standards are not described as such.
But then, we know that God certainly has given us standards by which we should live. They are called commandments (or laws), judgments and statutes. And each of these is mentioned well over a hundred times in the Bible.
God instructed the children of Israel how they should live at the time just preceding their entry into the land He had promised them. Deuteronomy 30:15-16 shows us the benefits God intended if these standards were kept: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.”
Previous to this, in Deuteronomy 4:5-6, God explained that His Statutes and Judgments, if they were kept, were for the people’s wisdom and understanding in the sight of other nations: “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” Deuteronomy 4:8 continues, “And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?”
So these are the standards God expects us to abide by in our lives today.
There is one particular biblical writer who made constant mention of the laws, statutes and judgments of God in a totally positive light. This, of course, was David, and his writings are mainly in the book of Psalms. In Psalm 1:2, we read the alternative of a sinner: “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His Law he meditates day and night.” He meditates to understand the application of God’s commandments. In other words, he continually seeks to understand how he should live by God’s standards. And he finds them a delight.
Psalm 19, also written by David, is very revealing of his attitude towards God’s Ways. In Psalm 19:7-11, we note David’s attitude: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.”
We see the words, “delight,” “perfect,” “sure,” “right,” “pure,” “clean,” “true,” “righteous,” “sweet” and “great reward.” This is how David, a man after God’s heart, held onto God’s Way of Life. All his descriptions are totally positive. And when we consider that these commandments, statutes and judgements are God’s standards, then the answer to the afore-mentioned question is that we can compare the world’s standards with God’s standards and where there is no conflict, then the world’s standards can be lived by.
However, to answer the initial question of what worldly standards we should not observe or comply with, we note that the world’s standards, especially in the area of morality and in the area of food, are changing and moving away from God’s standards. In these cases, we must always put God’s standards first and live by them, rather than the standards of the world.
by Norbert Link
We report on the State of the Union Address by Joe Biden and unflattering reactions; continue with the debacle regarding the “Chinese spy balloon”; the debatable status of the US economy and the possible prospects of further inflation and recession; and address Anthony Blinken’s meetings with Netanyahu and Abbas.
In this regard, please view our StandingWatch program, “The Overlooked Story of the Holocaust”.
We also point out the fear of civil war in Israel.
We speak on the interesting relationship between Ukraine and China and the huge earthquakes in Turkey; and we address Britain’s pitiful state of affairs regarding its army; and Germany’s disconcerting future in light of its troubled past.
We conclude with articles on insects in food; and the pope’s somewhat undefined and confusing position on homosexuality.
This Week in the News
The State of the Disunion
Politico wrote on February 8:
“The State of the Union rarely previews big battles in Congress. Tuesday night’s row between President Joe Biden and GOP lawmakers may prove to be an exception… foreshadowing a long two years to come under divided government…
“The theatrics began midway through Biden’s speech, as he scolded Republicans about their past interest in cutting the nation’s biggest entitlement programs in a bid to set the stakes for the upcoming debt limit battle. As the jeers escalated from the opposition, Biden began battling the GOP in real time — ad-libbing his own prepared remarks to challenge Republicans who were shouting at him from the chamber floor. ‘Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset,’ Biden said as the GOP side of the chamber erupted in boos…Then, veering from his own remarks, Biden attempted to clarify — ‘I don’t think it is a majority of you’ — though he could barely be heard above the GOP outcry on the floor. ‘So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare, off the books now, right?’ Biden said…
“The tensions only grew from there… ‘Liar!’ [Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene] shouted at first, in response to Biden’s accusation of GOP cuts to Social Security and Medicare… And when Biden called for action on the deadly drug fentanyl — one of the GOP’s biggest priorities — Greene shouted: ‘It’s coming from China.’
“She was hardly alone: Dozens of other Republicans joined in with chants to ‘secure our border’ as Biden spoke of the need for an immigration overhaul. Several other Republicans called out ‘liar,’ and at least one shouted ‘it’s your fault’ as Biden touted efforts to lower fentanyl deaths…”
Sanders’ Official GOP Response
Newsmax wrote on February 7:
“Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, saying she is skeptical of pretty much the whole thing… [while] ‘not believing much of anything I heard tonight from President Biden’…
“‘From out-of-control inflation and violent crime to the dangerous border crisis and threat from China,’ Sanders said, ‘Biden and the Democrats have failed you… ‘I’m the first woman to lead my state. He’s the first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob that can’t even tell you what a woman is…
“‘In the radical left’s America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire, but you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race, but not to love one another or our great country,’ she said… ‘Every day, we are told that we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols … all while big government colludes with Big Tech to strip away the most American thing there is — your freedom of speech,’ she added…
“‘President Biden’s weakness puts our nation and the world at risk,’ she said. ‘And the President’s refusal to stand up to China, our most formidable adversary, is dangerous and unacceptable… He is unfit to serve as commander in chief.’”
Breitbart wrote on February 7:
“Former President Donald Trump responded to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address Tuesday night… ‘Here’s the real State of the Union: Over the past two years under Biden, millions and millions of illegal aliens from 160 different countries have stormed across our southern border,’ said Trump… Another border issue Trump highlighted in his response to Biden Tuesday is the fentanyl epidemic… ‘Drug cartels are now raking in billions of dollars from smuggling poison to kill our people and to kill our children,’ said Trump. Production of fentanyl typically starts in China, where precursor chemicals are manufactured, and then Mexican cartels synthesize the drugs before they are trafficked across the border…
“Trump then turned his attention to crime, asserting that ‘[s]avage killers, rapists, and violent criminals are being released from jail to continue their crime wave.’ ‘Biden and the radical Democrats have wasted trillions of dollars and caused the worst inflation in half a century,’ Trump continued. ‘Real wages are down 21 months in a row, gas prices have soared and are now going much higher than even before, and the typical American family is paying $2,200 in increased energy and food costs each year,’ he added…
“[Trump] then called out Biden’s ‘weaponized Justice Department’ for ‘persecuting his political opponents,’ and he asserted the ‘administration is waging war on free speech... They’re trying to indoctrinate and mutilate our children…
“‘[Biden is] leading us to the brink of World War III, and on top of all of that, he’s the most corrupt President in American history, and it’s not even close.’”
“Lie After Lie”
The New York Post Editorial Board wrote on February 7:
“[Biden] offered lie after lie in a shameless bid to fool the electorate ahead of his 2024 run for re-election…
“He blended brags about his supposed achievements (inflation-fueling blowout spending sprees), promos for various dead-on-arrival bits of legislation (even heavily Democratic Congresses have been unable to pass ‘comprehensive immigration reform’), blatantly insincere calls for bipartisanship, cynical and false attacks on his opponents (the chamber was in an uproar at his fake claim that Republicans want to slash Social Security and Medicare), bogus stats (billionaires pay roughly 24% income tax, not 8%), some fine tough talk on the Ukraine war and utter laughers (‘as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did’ — by shooting down the balloon at the last possible moment?)
“…. he had literally no overall theme, as he has no overall vision beyond his self-serving distortions and promises of more giveaways.”
Regarding the Chinese spy balloon fiasco, note the following articles.
Chinese “Spy Balloons” Over USA and Latin America
The Associated Press wrote on February 3:
“A huge, high-altitude Chinese balloon sailed across the U.S. on Friday, drawing severe Pentagon accusations of spying on sensitive military sites despite China’s firm denials. Secretary of State Antony Blinken abruptly canceled a high-stakes Beijing trip aimed at easing U.S.-China tensions… It was spotted earlier over Montana, which is home to one of America’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base, defense officials said.
“Later Friday, the Pentagon acknowledged reports of a second balloon flying over Latin America… The U.S. actually had been tracking the initial balloon since at least Tuesday… Biden was initially inclined to order the surveillance balloon to be blown out of the sky, and a senior defense official said the U.S. had prepared fighter jets, including F-22s, to shoot it down if ordered… Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, strongly advised Biden against shooting down the balloon, warning that its size — as big as three school buses — and considerable weight could create a debris field large enough to endanger Americans on the ground…
“Blinken’s trip cancellation came despite China’s claim that the balloon was merely a weather research ‘airship’ that had blown off course. The Pentagon rejected that out of hand — as well as China’s contention that the balloon was not being used for surveillance and had only limited navigational ability…
“The development dealt a new blow to already strained U.S.-Chinese relations that have been in a downward spiral for years over numerous issues…”
Breitbart wrote on February 3:
“Former President Donald Trump warned on Friday that China has ‘many thousands of spies working in the United States’ in various industries amid a revelation that a Chinese spy balloon is flying over the continental United States.
“‘It’s rarely even mentioned that China has many thousands of spies working in the United States in business, finance, academia, technology, media and likely, even government, very sadly,’ Trump declared.”
Biden Secretive in Hiding the News
The New York Post wrote on February 4:
“President Biden and his administration knew for nearly a week that a Chinese spy balloon was hovering in U.S. airspace — but kept the incursion secret, fearing it would derail Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing…
“Team Biden became aware of the balloon on Jan. 28… when it was spotted over Alaska. The US military tracked it as it flew into Canadian airspace, then re-entered American skies on Tuesday. The next day, Biden received a detailed briefing on the balloon and its course… But the president also chose to conceal the crisis from the American public…
“The administration finally came clean to the public Thursday, after the Billings Gazette, a local Montana paper, published photos of the floating orb and the story jumped into the national media…
“The uproar forced Blinken to postpone his trip indefinitely…
“Former president Donald Trump, ex-veep Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley have all demanded that the balloon be shot down, accusing Biden of weakness against Beijing.”
Many other Republicans made the same demand.
The Balloon Fiasco
Fox News wrote on February 4:
“Several governors — including Missouri GOP Gov. Mike Parson and Montana GOP Gov. Greg Gianforte — have expressed frustration over the Biden administrations’ lack of communication as the balloon traversed American airspace.
“‘We have received zero communication from the Biden Administration regarding reports of the suspected Chinese spy balloon now flying over Missouri,’ Parson wrote in a tweet on Friday. ‘We have heard no explanation or plan to remove it. Why has this been allowed to reach our heartland? Why has it not been eliminated?’
“Similarly, Gianforte, during a Saturday morning appearance on ‘Fox and Friends Weekend,’ blasted the Biden administration’s communication about the balloon. ‘We’re informed through our national guard,’ Gianforte said. ‘We knew nothing about this until this slow moving balloon was hundreds of miles into the state. It had already flown over military installations and it was over our most populous city in the state.’”
Balloon Shut Down
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 5:
“The US on Saturday downed a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon… The balloon was shot down over relatively shallow water. Officials said a recovery operation is now underway to retrieve the debris and key elements of the purported Chinese surveillance equipment over the coming days…
“China expressed ‘strong dissatisfaction’ with the US use of force to strike its ‘unmanned civilian’ airship, calling it a ‘serious violation of international practice.’ In a statement by the Foreign Ministry on Sunday, Beijing threatened repercussions over the incident… The Chinese Defense Ministry said it ‘reserves the right to use necessary means to deal with similar situations,’ though it was unclear exactly what type of situation it meant.”
According to some reports, there is a third Chinese spy balloon flying in the skies over the Atlantic Ocean in addition to the one flying over Latin America.
The Sun wrote on February 5:
“The balloon is the first foreign aircraft shot down over American air space since World War II. The last instance was in 1942, when a Japanese fighter jet was shot down as it tried to attack US Navy ships in Alaska, in an instance known as Akutan Zero.
“It’s also the first instance of a F-22 jet performing an ‘air to air kill’, after firing the missile that took down the surveillance balloon…
“A department of defense official claimed that upwards of 3 Chinese spy balloons flew over the continental United States during Trump’s presidency, sparking fierce debate online… Bloomberg said: ‘One top national security official from the administration of former President Donald Trump said none of the Chinese spy balloons were near sensitive sites or had payloads as large as this one appears to carry.’”
Trump denied the claim that Chinese spy balloons flew over the United States under his Presidency, but the Pentagon subsequently claimed that this was not discovered or revealed to Trump until after his departure.
Strong Job Figures… Cause for Optimism…
Breitbart wrote on February 3:
“The incredibly strong January jobs figures all but rule out a recession in the first half of this year. They even may be strong enough to indicate that the economy will remain in expansion throughout the year…
“Some historical context highlights just how extremely robust job creation has been. Apart from the rapid job gain in the wake of the pandemic lockdowns, that three month average is the highest since 1994…
“You have to go all the way back to 1969 before you’ll find an unemployment rate that low. And to get below that number, you have to send your time machine back to 1951, when Harry Truman was president and GDP was growing at an eight percent real rate… The ultra-low level of unemployment will eventually result in wage gains…”
Or, Is Optimism Misplaced?
npr wrote on February 4:
“The good times are back on Wall Street. Stocks have surged since the start of the year. The Nasdaq is up nearly 15% this year after posting its best January since 2001. And it’s not just stocks: bonds have risen and even bitcoin has made a roaring comeback, though all markets fell a tad on Friday.
“This is all after a miserable 2022, when markets were hit hard by fears about surging inflation and about how the Federal Reserve was fighting it, with the biggest increases in the country’s interest rates since the early 1980s.
“Today, hope has replaced that fear. Inflation has eased substantially…
“And many on Wall Street no longer dread the worst about the economy, turning from their predictions of a big recession to hope that any downturn will be mild, or even that a recession may not happen at all.
“… the labor market is very strong. Data on Friday showed U.S. employers added a whopping 517,000 jobs, much stronger than most forecasts, while the unemployment rate dropped to a 53-year low…
“There is one big downer in the market, however: the Fed [which] has no intention of cutting interest rates any time soon… The Fed is the most powerful economic player in the world, with the ability to move markets from New York to Hong Kong with a single word. And so far, the Fed has said, clearly, that the fight against inflation will go on…
“Then, beyond the Fed, there’s the risk that plenty can still go wrong for the economy… there’s plenty of other data that raises the prospect that the economy could end up hitting a recession after all.
“The housing market, for example, has taken a major hit since the Fed started raising rates. And retail sales are showing signs of declining, a big concern in an economy so reliant on consumer spending…
“In 2001, the Nasdaq similarly rallied in January, ending the month up 12%. It did not end well. The economy skidded into a recession, and the Nasdaq slumped a whopping 30% over the next 11 months, with losses magnified by the Sept. 11 attacks. As it turns out, all that optimism in January 2001, proved to have been misplaced.”
President Biden and America’s Economy
The New York Post wrote on February 5:
“… no president in modern times even comes close to Biden in terms of fiscal recklessness. In his first two years, the national debt has risen by more than $4.2 trillion. That’s more than in any two-year period in American history…
“The average inflation rate during the Trump presidency was 2%, and in January 2021, the month Biden entered office, inflation was 1.4%. Eighteen months later, in summer 2022, inflation rose above 9% — the highest in 40 years. It ended the year at 6.5%…
“When President Donald Trump left office, the gas price was $2.59 a gallon nationally. In June 2022, it was nearly double, a modern-day high of $5.004 a gallon. Today gas is $3.48 a gallon — roughly $1 a gallon higher than when Biden entered office…
“A 2022 Committee to Unleash Prosperity study by the University of Chicago’s Casey Mulligan found that oil production would be 2 million to 3 million barrels a day higher if Biden had simply followed the Trump energy plan. America would have produced nearly $200 billion more oil last year if not for Biden’s war on fossil fuels… Trump issued permits for drilling on 100 million acres of federal land. Biden has issued fewer drilling permits than any president since World War II’s end.”
California’s Vaccine Mandate Policy
Breitbart wrote on February 7:
“The State of California has scrapped a plan to require the coronavirus vaccine for children in grades K through 12, as Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) allows a three-year-old ‘state of emergency’ to expire at the end of February…
“The policy would have applied to all of California’s 6.7 million public and private students. But enforcing the requirement would have posed a challenge, given the vaccine’s waning immunity.
“President Joe Biden informed Congress last week that he will be ending the state of emergency and the public health emergency on the coronavirus pandemic on May 11.”
Sadly, vaccine mandates will still remain in force and effect in certain areas, even after Biden’s proposed announcement of ending the “state of emergency,” which should have been made a long time ago (if a declaration of “state of emergency” had to be made at all). Interestingly, the timing of Biden’s planned announcement coincides with insurance companies’ policies of coverage.
Blinken Meets With Netanyahu and Abbas
Israel 365 News wrote on February 2:
On Monday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in Israel for a three-day visit… Blinken gave a joint speech with Netanyahu…
“Blinken stated the importance of maintaining the ‘historic status quo at Jerusalem’s holy places, including the Temple Mount Haram al-Sharif,’ choosing to refer to Judaism’s holiest site also by an Arabic term… In addition to Blinken’s stated dedication to the status quo, his State Department was critical of a visit to the site last month by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, saying it had ‘the potential to exacerbate tensions and to provoke violence.’
“The White House claimed the visit ‘jeopardized the status quo’ though it was unclear in what way it did so. The status quo violates Israeli law by discriminating against Jews and Christians, maintaining a Muslim exclusivity on religious freedom…
“Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Tuesday… He also cited the US commitment to the ‘two-state solution’ which would create a Palestinian state inside Israel with its capital in Jerusalem. He cited as the greatest obstacles to this vision were things like ‘settlement expansion, the legalization of outposts, demolitions and evictions, disruptions to the historic status quo of the holy sites, and of course incitement and acquiescence to violence.’”
Israel At Brink of Civil War?
Israel Today wrote on February 7:
“An opposition lawmaker on Tuesday used the Knesset podium to urge citizens of the nation to civil unrest against what he called the ‘dictatorship’ of the new Netanyahu government. MK Ofer Kasif (Hadash) was quickly removed by Knesset ushers, but his act of public incitement further fueled fears that Israel is inching closer to civil war. ‘In light of the current emergency situation, I call for civil unrest…’ Kasif said before being interrupted by Deputy Speaker Nissim Vettori (Likud), who called on Knesset ushers to forcibly remove Kasif from the plenum.
“The few lawmakers present at the time then erupted in a shouting match, with Kasif and fellow opposition MKs labeling the coalition members as ‘fascists.’ Kasif is the only Jewish member of an Arab political party, so coalition members from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, many of whom are fluent in Arabic, responded with Arabic slurs… Kasif later complained that his democratic rights had been violated, and that he and the opposition would ‘not rest’ until they brought down the ‘dictatorship’ currently governing Israel.
“Israel was rocked last week when prominent figures in the anti-government movement began openly calling for armed violence, and some even encouraged the assassination of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This incitement followed weeks of mass demonstrations against the government, which were themselves sparked by calls for civil disobedience from opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Beny Gantz…
“All it takes is for one deranged individual to take up the call to assassinate Netanyahu. If… that were to happen, there is no telling how the other side might respond. But given the hostility that has grown between the two sides in recent decades, and the fact that a plurality of voters are ardent supporters of Netanyahu himself (some even view him as ‘king’), the end result would be catastrophic for the Jewish state.”
Russia, China and Ukraine
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 7:
“China’s increasingly closer relationship with Russia has raised doubts in Ukraine over its strategic partnership with Beijing, with Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk calling China’s position ‘less and less acceptable’…
“Ukraine has maintained a strategic partnership with China since 2011, which has allowed trade and defense ties to flourish. China has been a major importer of Ukrainian grains and corns. Ukraine is also a major arms supplier to China…
“Although Beijing has not explicitly supported Russia’s position on the war, it has worked on building stronger ties with Moscow as the EU and the United States work on isolating Russia. Following talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said Beijing wants to advance bilateral relations with Russia in 2023…”
Ultimately, China, Russia and Ukraine will all be united.
Relations Between Ukraine and Germany “Difficult”
Die Welt wrote on February 9:
“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj sees the relationship with Germany in a ‘difficult phase’ because of the debate about the supply of main battle tanks. ‘I have to force him to help Ukraine and constantly convince him that this help is not for us, but for the Europeans,’ Zelensky said of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in an interview with ‘Spiegel’ and the French newspaper ‘ Le Figaro’ on Thursday… Ukraine’s relationship with Germany is ‘in waves, it’s ups and downs,’ he said.
“Zelenskyj also criticized European heads of state and government, whom he had asked for weapons and sanctions ‘daily’. ‘If everyone knew that Putin was going to invade our country, why didn’t they impose sanctions? It’s absolutely ridiculous when you all stand up for us publicly and still like to dodge sanctions or withhold guns,’ he said.
“Regarding the support of allies in the first days of the Russian attack on his country, Selensky said: ‘I’m not saying that it went ideally.’ He will give an honest answer to the question of whether he is satisfied when the war is over.”
Huge Earthquakes in Turkey
The Daily Mail wrote on February 6:
“Turkey was hit by two massive earthquakes less than ten hours apart on Monday, killing more than [19,000 people, as reported on February 9] and leaving scores trapped under collapsed buildings – and plunging the region into an unfolding humanitarian crisis. [Many more deaths are expected.]
“The initial 7.8-magnitude night-time tremor, followed hours later by a slightly smaller one, wiped out entire sections of major Turkish cities in a region filled with millions of people who have fled the civil war in Syria and other conflicts…
ABC News reported on February 6:
“Monday’s [first] quake was as powerful as the strongest ever recorded in Turkey… A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck northeastern Turkey in 1939, killing approximately 30,000 people. Monday’s quake in southeastern Turkey had the same magnitude, according to the United States Geological Survey. Earthquakes frequently occur in Turkey, which is situated on top of major fault lines. Some 18,000 people were killed in powerful earthquakes that hit northwestern Turkey in 1999.”
Much more powerful earthquakes are prophesied to occur in these end times. It was pointed out that a huge earthquake in California is a certainty, which would be at least as strong as the ones in Turkey, but probably much stronger.
British Army Would Last Just One Afternoon
Daily Star wrote on February 3:
“General Sir Richard Barrons, former Joint Forces chief, says years of government neglect have left Britain’s military ill-equipped for a major conflict…
“His words echo a warning from the Royal United Services Institute in December that said Britain’s ammunition stockpiles were ‘woefully deficient’ and that in any serious armed conflict the Army would run out of ammunition in a week…
“Sir Richard adds, ‘we have a war in Europe, and our Armed forces are smaller and less ready to fight than at any time in living memory. The Army is on track to slip below 76,000 troops, about half the size of our Cold War force’.
“In the Commons earlier week, Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Defence Select Committee, said that the war in Ukraine had ‘exposed serious shortfalls in the war fighting capability of the British army.’”
The Sun added on February 2:
“Unless we restore our defences, all our hopes for all our lives will rely on our friends protecting us and our enemies leaving us alone. Unless our ministers take bold steps now, our security is lost.”
It is indeed. Even Britain’s friends will turn out to be their enemies.
Norway Strengthens Its Armed Forces Through the Purchase of German Tanks
EDR (European Defence Review) On Line wrote on February 3:
“The government has decided to acquire 54 tanks of the Leopard 2 type from German Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. An option has been entered for the purchase of a further 18 vehicles. The first new tanks are expected to be delivered in 2026…
“By purchasing German tanks, we ensure that Norway has the same type of tanks as our Nordic neighbors and close allies. We are also forging closer security policy ties with Germany, says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre…
“Germany is one of our main cooperation countries in the area of defence and security policy. A procurement and industrial cooperation with Germany builds on and reinforces an already established strategic materiel and industrial cooperation, says the Minister of Defence.
“The government primarily wants to buy 54 tanks, but is open to being able to acquire a further 18 tanks…”
“German Social Democrats Grasp at World Power”
On February 1, 2023, the World Socialist Website (WSWS) wrote the following surprising article about their comrades or “Genossen”, the Germany’s Social Democrat Party (SPD):
“The Social Democratic Party (SPD)-led German government is aggressively stepping up its war policy. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s announcement of the delivery of Leopard-2 battle tanks to Ukraine last week has been followed by calls for the delivery of aircraft. While Scholz still rejects this, at least publicly, SPD Co-Chairwoman Saskia Esken, interviewed on last Sunday’s ‘Report from Berlin’ program, did not rule out sending fighter jets to Kiev…
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the ruling class regards the NATO war against Russia as an opportunity to implement its long-cherished plans to become a world power and once again make Germany the leading military force, 90 years after Hitler seized power…
“A strategy paper recently presented by the SPD’s ‘Commission on International Politics’ titled ‘Social Democratic Responses to a World in Transition’… emphasizes that the 100-billion-euro Bundeswehr special fund serves not only to arm the German army, but also to militarize Europe…
“More than a century after the SPD’s historic betrayal on August 4, 1914, when it agreed to the Kaiser’s war credits and supported World War I, social democracy is the leading party of German imperialism. The Left Party and the Greens support it in this, forming coalitions with the SPD at the federal and state level…”
Will Germany Again Become a Mighty Military Power?
The New York Times wrote on February 24:
“The German chancellor Olaf Scholz told Parliament that that [Russian] attack [on Ukraine] marked a Zeitenwende, a historic ‘turning point’ for Europe and Germany. There could be no doubt that Putin wanted to build a Russian empire, Scholz said. Germans must therefore ask, ‘What capabilities do we need in order to counter this threat?’ He announced, among other measures, a 100-billion-euro fund to bolster the German military. The plan, if implemented, would represent the largest absolute jump in German military spending since World War II.
“Parliamentarians gave Scholz a standing ovation. That level of support would have been almost unthinkable before the invasion. In Germany, skepticism of the merits of military strength has enabled a long post-Cold War process of disarmament. As a result, Germany is a historic anomaly in the heart of Europe — an economic leviathan but a military minnow. Now German leaders are vowing to transform the country into a military power capable of taking responsibility for Europe’s security. The question is whether they — and a hesitant German society — can follow through on this promise…
“It was the Russian threat that led to the resurrection of the German military during the Cold War; it’s once again the Russian threat that may lead to its revitalization…
“Germany has long occupied an exceptionally comfortable place in the world. It has an export-dependent economy, selling its cars and machines far and wide — and many tanks and submarines, as one of the world’s largest arms exporters. But when it comes to countering perceived security threats — whether the Islamic State or Putin — it has allowed allies to take the lead. German leaders sent troops to Afghanistan but largely avoided referring to it as a ‘war,’ even as German soldiers engaged in ground combat there for the first time since World War II.
“Germany’s aversion to military power has been sustained by one glaring fact: Its defense is guaranteed by the world’s pre-eminent superpower, the United States, within the framework of NATO. President Donald Trump, who tended to reduce foreign policy to questions of who was ripping off whom, was particularly obsessed with what he saw as German defense freeloading, calling Germany ‘delinquent’ on military spending. But it wasn’t just Trump. Every recent U.S. administration tried, and mostly failed, to get the Germans and other European allies to strengthen their militaries and meet the NATO defense-spending target of 2 percent of gross domestic product, a goal Germany has long undershot…
“As part of his Zeitenwende speech, Scholz vowed to meet the NATO defense-spending target ‘from now on,’ though his government has since been noncommittal about when that might happen… Should German leaders deliver on their promises, Germany would become the third- or fourth-biggest military spender in the world. Before the war, such an increase would have been highly unpopular. But in a poll conducted for German public television soon after the invasion, 69 percent of Germans supported it.”
Compulsory Military Service in Germany?
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 3:
“A familiar discussion has begun in Germany… Should compulsory military service be reintroduced? Some countries, for example Latvia, have recently reintroduced it, and German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius fueled the debate when he said earlier this week: ‘It was a mistake to suspend compulsory military service.’… until 2011 German men between the ages of 18 and 27 were obligated to either serve in the nation’s military… or perform an alternative service for a limited period of time in civilian areas such as emergency management or medical care…
“Over the past two decades, the Bundeswehr has shrunk from more than 317,000 soldiers to just over 183,000…
“In his interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung national newspaper, the German defense minister admitted compulsory military service would not help Germany at all in the next two or three years. But Pistorius… believes there must be an open discussion again about the benefits of mandatory military service.
“A spokeswoman for the German Defense Ministry said in response to a DW inquiry: ‘Currently the Defense Ministry has no plans to reintroduce conscription… different tasks… require well-trained and specialized personnel… we have opened our armed forces to women for the past 20 years… The former format of compulsory military service would be impossible to implement in the current structures and would be an additional burden. Recruitment, training, and accommodation of conscripts alone would result in a considerable need for investment…’
“For defense commissioner Eva Högl, the debate about compulsory military service is, therefore, a ‘theoretical debate,’ and Finance Minister Christian Lindner… has brushed it aside as a ‘discussion about ghosts.’
“… the Bundeswehr still has a massive diversity problem in 2023. Only one in eight soldiers is female…”
Not too long ago, Eva Högl advocated compulsory military service. The debate is ongoing. Ultimately, we can expect that compulsory military service will be instituted in Germany.
Spahn’s Corona Botch
Bild Online wrote on February 8:
“During the pandemic, the government bought as many masks as it could… A total of 5.8 billion masks are said to have been shipped to the federal government. In addition, the federal government is said to have raised a further 320 million euros for external consultants, lawyers, transport, storage and quality control for the years 2020 and 2021.
“According to BILD information, huge quantities of FFP2 and surgical masks did not even leave their country of manufacture and are now to be destroyed! And: Apparently, the Federal Ministry of Health itself does not know exactly how many tons are still in a warehouse in the city of Jiaxing near Shanghai… The Ministry of Health estimates the cost of destruction at around 375,000 euros. A snap against the previous costs of storage. They amount to 11 million euros!
“According to the latest research by ‘Welt’, several federal states have also destroyed almost 20 million masks in Germany. So now the Federal Ministry of Health wants to destroy several hundred million masks that never made it to Germany.”
More Botches from Spahn – the “Social Compulsory Year”
Merkur wrote on February 3:
“Again and again there are discussions about a compulsory social year for young people. The idea behind it: wouldn’t it be worth considering involving female citizens in a kind of community service? Jens Spahn, CDU politician, advocates such a construct. ‘The vast majority of the younger generation wants to get involved and would like more community spirit and cohesion. An attractively paid company year for the 21st century contributes to this,’ said Jens Spahn of the Frankfurter Rundschau… Otherwise, voluntary work would quickly become arbitrary. ‘With a mandatory year of society, the conditions are the same for everyone. Whether in the hospital, in the army or elsewhere, everyone should be able to decide for themselves,’ says Spahn. This also makes a discussion about renewed compulsory military service unnecessary…
“A compulsory social year is highly controversial. Young people criticize the fact that they are not even being listened to and that the idea is instead being discussed over their heads… So far there has been no majority in the traffic light government. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has concerns that forced service could violate the Basic Law…”
In Germany everything has to be done by force…
Twitter Under Threat
Bloomberg wrote on February 6:
“In the turbulent months since Elon Musk bought Twitter, the threat of greater scrutiny has been looming, but the fear from some EU officials was that Twitter may not actually have enough users to fall under the enhanced set of rules imposed on social media companies by the bloc’s Digital Services Act. Now, it appears it does.
“Twitter and the Commission are gearing up for the company to be designated a ‘very large online platform,’ according to people familiar with the matter. That means the company will have to report on how it’s blocking harmful posts and could even be forced to change its algorithms. For Musk, it means his stripped-down company will be subject to a much more intrusive regulatory system and could face significant penalties if it doesn’t comply.”
Europe’s way to dictatorship and suppression of free speech is ongoing.
IFN (International Family News) wrote on February 1:
“[The] European Union of January 4, 2023… [implemented] regulation EU 2023/5… authorized the use of Acheta Domesticus (house cricket) powder on the European market, as a new ingredient in foodstuffs for mass consumption…
“[An] important omission is that the shell of these insects contains chitin. Although chitin is used as a cosmetic without any problem, this polymer is a potent allergy generator when ingested by humans. Mammals, with rare exceptions such as bats, do not have enzymes capable of digesting chitin. Our intestine does not assimilate it.
“Nor have they said anything about these insects containing metamorphic steroids. In particular, ecdysterone which is an anabolic used by cheating bodybuilders to artificially build muscle. The consumption of these steroids is prohibited because of their harmful effects on health.”
The Pope and Homosexuality
The Associated Press wrote on February 5:
“Pope Francis was backed by the ceremonial head of the Anglican Communion and top Presbyterian minister in calling for gays to be welcomed by their churches as he again decried laws that criminalize homosexuality as unjust. The three Christian leaders spoke on LGBTQ rights during an unprecedented joint airborne news conference Sunday while returning home from South Sudan…
“South Sudan is one of 67 countries that criminalizes homosexuality, 11 of them with the death penalty… During the news conference on the way back to Rome, Francis specifically didn’t repeat that ‘being homosexual is not a crime,’ perhaps to not antagonize his South Sudanese hosts, who had originally objected to his comments to the AP. ‘If he (Pope Francis) is coming here and he tells us that marriage of the same sex, homosexuality, is legal, we will say no,’ Michael Makuei Lueth, South Sudan’s information minister, said after the pope’s AP interview and before his visit.
“On Sunday, Francis referred to his Jan. 24 comments to the AP and repeated that such laws are ‘unjust.’ He also repeated previous comments that parents should never throw their gay children out of the house. ‘To condemn someone like this is a sin,’ he said. ‘Criminalizing people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice.’”
God does clearly condemn the practice of homosexuality as sinful. Does God commit a sin in the eyes of the pope?
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 consume food that contains unclean insects?
There is an ongoing debate, especially in parts of Europe, regarding the consumption of insects or food which contains ingredients of unclean insects.
An article in Report 24 of January 16, 2023, points out:
“Looking at the ingredient list should be part of grocery shopping. EU citizens who do not want to ingest insects unknowingly should be particularly careful: the EU Commission has already approved four types of insects in different processing forms as ‘edible insects’. The most recent approval was on January 5: From now on, after mealworms, grasshoppers and crickets, the grain mold beetle (“Getreideschimmelkaefer”) can also be used as an ingredient in foods such as bread, soups, pasta, snacks, peanut butter and chocolate products…”
The website of the European Commission, Representation in Germany, provides the following information on the issue of insects in food: https://germany.representation.ec.europa.eu/news/insekten-lebensmittel-die-fakten-2023-01-19_de
“Four insects are approved as food in the European Union. The dried yellow mealworm was the first insect to receive approval in May 2021. Most recently, the Commission authorized ‘partially defatted powder from Acheta domesticus (domestic cricket)’ for the EU market by implementing regulation 2023/5. Foods that contain insects must state this clearly and understandably in their list of ingredients. The indication that allergic reactions are possible in people with an allergy to crustaceans and molluscs as well as to house dust mites must be included in the immediate vicinity of the list of ingredients. When it comes to approval, the EU rules on novel foods apply…
“So far, the European Commission has granted four approvals for insects as food: the mealworm, the locust, the so-called buffalo worm [our annotation: buffalo worms are the larvae of the glossy grain mold beetle] – as well as in February 2022 for the domestic cricket (Acheta domesticus) and in January 2023 for partially defatted powder from the domestic cricket…
“It must be clearly labeled that a food contains an insect (with Latin and German names) and also in what form (e.g. as a powder). Appropriate allergy information is also mandatory.”
We also addressed the consumption of locusts and crickets in our Q&A.
With this information, what should our stance be regarding the consumption of food containing unclean insects? In our Q&A about gelatin products, we stated:
“… an orthodox rabbi has certified gelatin as kosher, although [it] is extracted from the skins of beef, calf and pork. This certification was based on the belief of many that during the manufacture of gelatin the composition of the original material undergoes a complete change or metamorphosis, that is, its original source becomes unidentifiable. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not consider gelatin to be a meat product…”
However, there might be a distinction between gelatin products and certain products containing unclean insects.
Gelatin is derived from skin, bones, tendons and cartilage. It is obtained through a large, complex manufacturing process of hydrolysis. During hydrolysis, chemical compounds are broken down into smaller molecules by absorbing water; i.e., they are also purified. In regard to the production of “insect meal,” the process is much simpler, by just rearing, freezing, drying and grinding the insects. In this way, all the components from the body of the unclean insect are extracted as flour. In other words, the whole insect, or most of it, without a substantial or meaningful chemical alteration, is being consumed.
On the other hand, at what point do unclean insects become a food source? When they are specifically harvested to be included in various foods, they contain the very elements that should be avoided. Uncountable life forms eventually die and decompose in the earth, and clean, edible plants grow from that. Cows and other edible animals invariably consume unclean insects. However, their food source is not what we consume in any direct way. The milk of a cow doesn’t come to us with an ingredient list—rather, the cow converts its food to milk.
We feel that, generally, food that is labeled with unclean ingredients, which do not go through an “alteration” process, unlike gelatin products, should be avoided. That is, when we can, we should avoid them—looking at labels when available and asking when possible, just as we inquire at Mexican restaurants whether the beans are made with lard (pig fat); or as we inquire in Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants whether their dishes are made with oyster sauce.
However, to really know exactly what is in the food we eat is hard to tell. When it comes to foods and drinks that say “may contain” certain ingredients, it isn’t very clear and again poses the question, how do we really know what’s in there and how far do we want to go asking for an ingredient list wherever we eat? We need to take a balanced approach (Matthew 23:24 comes to mind), and ultimately, the decision is up to us individually whether, and in what circumstances, to partake of the products, keeping in mind that we must never eat or drink or do anything that violates our conscience if we feel that we would be compromising with the Word of God. However, having done our part, we leave the rest to God who can also protect us if we eat something inadvertently which happens to be unclean.
We should also understand that in such a case, we do not sin or become “unclean” in the eyes of God (compare Mark 7:15-19; note that the last clause in verse 19 should be translated: “…it is eliminated into the sewer which purifies all foods.” Compare also Matthew 15:17-20).
An interesting example of viewing this issue is by briefly addressing carmine (E120) and shellac (E904). In an article of the BBC, dated April 28, 2018, it was stated: “If you are horrified by the thought of eating insects, the bad news is that you have probably done so many, many times. This is because one of the most widely used red food colourings – carmine – is made from crushed up bugs… A staple of the global food industry, carmine is added to everything from yoghurts and ice creams, to fruit pies, soft drinks, cupcakes and donuts.”
Carmine is produced by heat-drying cochineal beetles until they are completely dehydrated, and then they are subsequently crushed into powder. The powder is then boiled in water which serves to extract carminic acid which is present in the powdered insects. Use of added chemicals causes the colouring and animal matters present in the liquid to precipitate into a red pigment. Carmines (E120) are used worldwide as natural food coloring agents of animal origin, with a widespread application. Carmines are known to cause allergic reactions.
Carminic acid, typically 17–24% of dried insects’ weight, can be extracted from the body and eggs, then mixed with aluminum or calcium salts to make carmine dye, also known as cochineal. Some feel it is non-kosher and suggest looking at the list of ingredients. It might say “natural red four”, “crimson lake” or just E120, to give carmine its European Union food additive classification number. It has also been pointed out that food-grade cochineal dye is put through many filters to remove insect parts.
E 904, called shellac, is partially derived from the female lac bug on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. However, Jewish rabbis give numerous reasons why it is kosher and permitted. Firstly, it is not actually from the bug but it is extracted from the trees, similar to the honey in a bee. Another reason is, the shellac is an inedible secreted substance which emanates from the insect. Shellac cannot be digested and it is therefore not considered food, but compared with eating a rock.
It appears to us that due to the nature and the process involved, products containing carmine and shellac could be treated similar to gelatin products.
In our Q&A on gelatin products, we concluded:
“Each Christian has to make the decision as to whether, and in what circumstances, to partake of the products as described herein. While it is true that the kingdom of God is not eating or drinking (Romans 14:17), and that ‘nothing that enters a man from the outside … can defile him’ (Mark 7:15), the prohibition of the consumption of unclean flesh is still clearly valid…
‘We must all strive to live our lives correctly administering the Biblical patterns revealed to us. As Jesus Christ so clearly explained in applying God’s Word, the religious leaders of His time had so burdened the people that the Way of God was stifled in long lists of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’. As we in the Church of God strive for a right balance, let us all seek God’s continual guidance so that we may do only those things, which are pleasing in His sight.”
Lead Writer: Norbert Link, with input from the ministry in the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“The Overlooked Story of the Holocaust,” a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
On January 27, 2023, the world remembered the Holocaust which started in 1933—90 years ago. But much about the Holocaust has been conveniently ignored or forgotten, which goes hand in hand with rampant Antisemitism, especially in Europe… with terrible consequences for the future, as the Bible clearly reveals.
A new German booklet, “Die Bedeutung von Gottes Heiligen Frühjahrsfesten”, translated from our English booklet, “The Meaning of God’s Spring Holy Days,” is being prepared for printing.
Our new booklet, “God the Father is the Highest,” has been sent to our printer. Written by Evangelist Norbert Link, copies will soon be mailed to our subscribers.
A Tech Team meeting was conducted via Google Meets on Sunday, February 5, 2023. Hosted by Eric Rank, topics included video publishing (YouTube and Rumble), booklet advertising, booklet reprinting and Feast of Tabernacles planning.
“Könnten Sie von Gott abfallen?” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “Could You Fall Away From God?”
“Willst Du gesund werden?” the sermonette presented last Sabbath in Germany by Mike Richter, is now posted. Title in English: “Do You Want to Be Made Well?”
“Submit to Whom?”, last Sabbath’s first split sermon, presented by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted. Here is a summary:
The Bible is clear that we must bring ourselves in submission to the Father and the Son. But is there more to whom we should be submissive to? Interestingly, the Bible is very explicit that we should submit to our fellow human beings, but how is this supposed to work?
“God’s Word Misunderstood,” last Sabbath’s second split sermon, presented by Michael Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
What are some of the most popular verses in the Bible people share and quote from the most, and how can we really understand what these verses mean so we can apply them in our lives?
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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