Update 123


Goals of Child Rearing

On Saturday, December 27, 2003, Edwin Pope will be presenting the sermon, “Goals of Child Rearing.”

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

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How Are You Doing With Your Sword

by Rene Messier (Canada)

A Samurai Warrior is an expert at using his sword for offensive as well as defensive means. He attains this level by training for many years under a tutor. He continues to practice and to keep his sword sharp and in a good condition. He is a fine example of practice leading to perfection. Professional musicians serve as additional examples for the need of continued practice. A famous violinist once said it was crucial for him to stay in form by practicing every day. He said if he did not practice for one day, he knew it. If he did not practice for two days, the critics knew it. If he failed to practice for three days, the audience knew it.

The question I would like to pose in this editorial is how are we doing with OUR sword? Are we PRACTICING the use of our sword? Our sword, according to Ephesians 6:17, is actually God’s sword that He gave us to be used by us, thereby accepting it as “our” sword. This sword is the Word of God — in other words, the Bible.

We can see how effectively Christ used His sword against Satan, as recorded in Matthew 4:3-10. Christ remembered and applied the Word of God to deflect the arrows of Satan, as it were, to defeat his attack on Him. Satan was attempting to get Him to sin, so that Christ would disqualify Himself as our Savior.

After this encounter, Satan left Him for a season or for another “opportune time” (Luke 4:13), which means he never quit. He just took a pause in his effort to bring Christ down. Bear in mind that Satan doesn’t rest from his efforts today to also bring us down. He is described as a roaring lion, walking about and “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

We, as brothers and sisters of Christ and children of God the Father, need to keep our swords sharp and ready for use. We do this by the continuous study of the Word of God. The Bible is our complete weapon to thwart the efforts of the adversary in his attempts to get us to fall short of our calling.

We should be studying God’s Word daily. We can find comfort in the recorded examples of how God dealt with His servants in the past. Internalizing God’s laws in our minds, and learning how to apply the laws and statutes in our daily lives, should be a top priority in our studies. We read in 2 Timothy 2:15, in the Authorized Version, that we should study to show ourselves approved unto God. Are we doing this?

As Christian soldiers, we need to ensure that we remain faithful in our responsibilities to God the Father and Jesus Christ. This means that we need to practice daily the use of God’s Word. We must keep our sword ready for use when required, and we need to show ourselves approved unto God by our daily study of His Word, the Bible. At the successful end of our training, brethren, we will enter the Kingdom of God — a goal well worthy of the effort that is required of us now.

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Mad Cow Disease


As Associated Press reported on December 24, 2003, “Federal officials insisted Wednesday that the food supply remains safe, even as a fallout began from the apparent discovery of the first case of mad cow disease in the United States. The impact was evident almost immediately: EIGHT [ASIAN] NATIONS, INCLUDING JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND TAIWAN, HALTED U.S. BEEF IMPORTS… JAPAN IS THE LARGEST OVERSEAS MARKET FOR U.S. BEEF…”
Japan imposed an indefinite ban and planned to recall certain meat products already on the market, according to USA Today.

Other articles pointed out that the second-largest overseas market for U.S. beef is South Korea, and that Japan and South Korea “were followed by other key Asian buyers such as Singapore, Malaysia, [Hong Kong], and Taiwan, while Australia and New Zealand said they would stop U.S. beef at their ports pending the outcome of U.S. [examination] on the infected animal.” As USA Today reported on December 24, in addition to the eight Asian nations, Mexico has also blocked the import of American beef.

As Bild reported, the European Union does not intend to block any further import of American beef, “as the import of most of the American beef into Europe is already banned, due to the treatment of American beef with hormones.”

Associated Press reported on December 25 that “A British lab provided initial independent confirmation Thursday that the United States has its first case of mad cow disease.” The article continued: “The [U.S.] government is trying to find the herd the cow was raised with, since the cow likely was sickened SEVERAL YEARS AGO from eating feed made partly from an infected cow. The incubation period in cattle is FOUR TO FIVE YEARS… Authorities were also scrambling to find where the meat cut from the animal was sent. The Agriculture Department already has issued a recall for 10,410 pounds of beef.”

It was also stated in the press that “Mad cow disease eats holes in the brains of cattle. It sprang up in Britain in 1986 and spread through countries in Europe and Asia, prompting massive destruction of herds and decimating the European beef industry. People can contract a form of mad cow disease if they eat infected beef or nerve tissue, and possibly through blood transfusions. The human form of mad cow disease so far has killed 143 people in Britain and 10 elsewhere, none in the United States.”

Der Spiegel Online explained that mad cow disease is caused by the practice of feeding to cattle recycled brains of animals, and “animal flour” (i.e., ground animal bones) in general. As one observer pointed out: “The food industry’s practice of using every last piece of slaughtered animal has meant that unwholesome remains now re-enter the food chain as food for another animal. Recent outbreaks of ‘mad cow disease’ have been caused by this practice… This would never normally occur in nature; left to their own devices, cows would not eat meat.”

According to Associated Press of December 25, “John Stauber, the author of ‘Mad Cow U.S.A.,’ said the U.S. hasn’t done enough to keep [Mad Cow Disease] out of the country. Cattle get sick by eating feed that contains tissue from the brain and spine of infected animals. The United States has banned such feed since 1997. ‘Here’s the problem, the feed ban has been grossly violated by feed mills,’ Stauber said… Stauber also said he believes the ban is ineffective because it exempts blood from cattle, which Stauber said could transmit mad-cow type diseases… Dr. Stanley Prusiner, a neurologist at the University of California at San Francisco [and a Nobel laureate], who discovered the proteins that cause mad cow disease, said he warned… recently that it was ‘just a matter of time’ before the disease was found in the United States.”


Associated Press reported on Tuesday, December 23, 2003:

“More aftershocks rattled the area Tuesday following a magnitude-6.5 earthquake that jolted the central California coast… Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger… declared a state of emergency for San Luis Obispo County… Residents from San Francisco to Los Angeles were shaken by Monday’s quake, the first to cause [two] fatalities in the state since a magnitude-6.7 temblor hit Northridge in 1994… The quake was centered on a series of faults that run parallel to the San Andreas Fault… Monday’s quake was the state’s most powerful since 1999, when a nonfatal magnitude-7.1 quake struck the desert near Joshua Tree. The last one of a similar size in the area was in 1952.”


Recently, the world has not heard much of Joerg Haider, governor of the Austrian State of Carinthia. This does not mean that Haider has become a non-entity. Quite to the contrary. Last week’s developments proved the opposite, and showed once again that Haider is a person to be reckoned with.

As Yahoo! Nachrichten and Der Spiegel Online reported on December 17, 2003, Haider questioned on Austrian public television that the Americans had in fact captured Saddam Hussein. He said that the person captured could be one of Saddam’s many doubles, and that the DNA testing of his saliva was meaningless, as they did not have a prior sample for comparison. He added that the reports of Saddam’s capture were “pretty much fraudulent” and constituted “an American play of ham actors.” He stated that the Americans needed a success story to help solve President Bush’s dilemma.

Haider continued by comparing President Bush with Saddam Hussein and Israel with a dictatorship similar to China and Iraq before the war. When asked whether he preferred Saddam to Bush, Haider said, “This is a tough call, because both have violated international law and both have violated human rights. The only difference is that one had the luck to lead a world power, and therefore the ability to make the laws, while the other was a weak dictator.”

Many Austrian politicians condemned Haider for his remarks. This prompted Haider to respond even further. As NEWS-Networld and “Kleine Zeitung” reported this week, Haider published one-page advertisements in newspapers in Carinthia, defending his statements and adding, “The truth hurts.” His ads stated that the goal of the American war “was not freedom and justice, but the possession of Iraqi oil.” He charged the United States with having “provided Hussein with weapons and poison gas in the past — as long as it served U.S. interests.” He claimed that “George Bush repeatedly misrepresented the facts to the world community,” and that Pope John Paul II and Mikhail Gorbachev share Haider’s position.

The further condemnatory reaction of Austrian politicians prompted Haider to additional press releases and statements. As NEWS-Networld reported, Haider said on Austrian radio that there was a difference between the published opinion and the public opinion. He claimed that he had received many phone calls from Austrians “who were happy that someone was saying what many in Austria were thinking.”

NEWS Online published on December 23 a commentary by popular Austrian columnist, Peter Pelinka, titled, “No good year for Europe.” He stated: “2003 was not a good year. Not for Austria…, not for the world (Joerg Haider is correct in one point: The politics of President Bush are indeed extremely dangerous, but one cannot compare him with the bloody dictator Saddam), and especially not for Europe…”


Austrian columnist Peter Pelinka stated in his commentary, published by NEWS Online: “It is truly a paradox: National borders have become meaningless in a globalized economy…, 80 percent of the laws (including for Austria) are made by the European Parliament…, the ‘old Europe’ grows together with the ‘new Europe,’ following historical rules… The U.S. author, Charles Kupchan… remains optimistic: He describes the United States as a decreasing and Europe as an increasin
g world power, based on the rules of world history. He sees Europe experiencing now what the United States accomplished in the 19th century.”


Der Spiegel Online published on December 20 an interview with Joschka Fischer, Germany’s foreign minister, following the failed attempt of the constitution summit to create a European Constitution. He called the failure “a beneficial shock.” He continued: “To my mind there won’t be a ‘European nucleus.’ Instead, there will be different nuclei, different speeds. But there will be A GROUP OF COUNTRIES WHICH ARE INVOLVED EVERYWHERE, the nucleus of the nucleus, so to speak.”

According to Reuters of December 13, 2003, French President Jacques Chirac had already “called for smaller ‘pioneer groups’ of countries to forge ahead with closer integration in defense, economic policy and justice… German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder… took a similar line: ‘If we don’t manage in the foreseeable future to reach a consensus, then there will emerge a Europe of two speeds.'”

The breakdown came when Poland and Spain insisted to uphold the Nice agreement in 2000, which gave Poland and Spain nearly the same voting rights as Germany, whose population is twice as large as theirs. On the other hand, Germany, France and Belgium were determined to change the agreement to gain more voting power.

The Bible predicts that in the end, there will be ten nations or groups of nations ruling over Europe. The most recent development could constitute a giant leap toward the final fulfillment of that prophecy. For more information, please listen to our recent split sermon on the issue, titled, “Europe — Now What?” The sermon has been posted at http://www.eternalgod.org/audio/index.php.


With this incredible headline, German boulevard paper Bild “informed” its readers on December 21 that the first European spacecraft will be landing on Mars on December 25. It continued, “In three days, Mars is German.” To “prove” this claim, the article stated, “Key portions of the landing device were made in Germany.” The name of the spacecraft is “Beagle 2.” It was the ship “Beagle,” on which Charles Darwin developed his key ideas of the evolution theory. And so, scientists are hopeful that they will now find traces of water and proofs for alien life on planet Mars.


This was one of the headlines of Spiegel Online, dated December 22. The article continued, “The political fight between the United States and the ‘old Europe’ has now reached science. In order to revenge itself for France’s ‘No’ to the Iraq war, Washington wants to prevent the construction of a development reactor, which will be worth billions of Euros, in Iter, France. The reactor,” said the magazine, “could solve man’s energy problem… The project has been worked on for eight years by the EU, Japan, the USA, China, Russia and South Korea. It will cost 10 billion Euros… The decision where to build the reactor was postponed until February 2004… While Russia and China preferred the location of Iter in France, the USA, South Korea and Japan voted for Rokkasho in Japan.”


The left-liberal German magazine, Der Spiegel, published an article, titled, “All Over the World for God.” It stated: “Thousands of German missionaries are trying to convert non-believers in far-off lands. While the large churches are gradually withdrawing, more and more Christian sectarians are disseminating MEDIEVAL SUPERSTITION by DUBIOUS METHODS. Both groups consider the THEORY OF EVOLUTION TO BE NONSENSE… they consider HOMOSEXUALITY TO BE A SIN, ABORTION EQUALLY SO, AND PREMARITAL SEX IS TABOO. Posing as foreign aid workers they also go about their missionary work in countries where Christians are unwelcome or even persecuted. THEIR CLAIM TO RELIGIOUS ABSOLUTENESS IS HARDLY LESS ZEALOUS THAN THAT OF MUSLIM EXTREMISTS. Many Jesus advertisers also show little concern for the fact that they are DESTROYING THE PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE OF LOCAL COMMUNITIES. No wonder that the Germans are sometimes unwelcome.”

Whether public opinion likes it or not, the theory of evolution IS false (see our booklet, “Evolution — a Fairy Tale for Adults”); homosexual conduct is sinful (see our Updates Nos. 99 and 104); and abortion and premarital sex are wrong (see, regarding abortion, our booklet, “Are You Already Born Again?”). Further, to follow God’s way of life will bring persecution. The Bible is replete with examples where the “peaceful coexistence of local communities” was destroyed, due to persecution from those who rejected God’s truth.


As der Stern reported on December 22, three right-extreme German musicians were convicted for creating and participating in a criminal organization. This is the first time that a German court has made such a judgment. The writer of the band received a jail term of three years and six months. The court found that he was guilty of disseminating Nazi propaganda and of committing a hate crime. The other two band members were set free on parole. The court found that the band members were partially responsible for right-extreme acts of violence, committed by third parties, as the band disseminated their music by CD in Germany (the CD had been produced in foreign countries). The band had only performed once in public. As Der Stern reported, the court held that “they had violated the dignity of man of many foreigners; they had glorified the Nazi time; severely badmouthed German politicians; and RIDICULED THE POPE and religious communities.”


According to “Kleine Zeitung,” a newspaper from Carinthia, Austria, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has demanded that German teachers, as well as any other public officials, do not wear kerchiefs. The article pointed out: “As justification, he stated that Germany is a secular country: ‘We are influenced by three great traditions: the Greek-Roman philosophy; the Christian-Judaic religion; and the inheritance of enlightenment.'”

One needs to ask: How can Germany be a “secular” country, if it is influenced by Christian and Jewish religions and by the Greek-Roman philosophy? The truth is, of course, that Germany is NOT a secular country, and that the separation between church and state, as it is known to exist in the United States, does NOT exist in the same way in Germany.


According to Associated Press of December 22, “Pope John Paul II said Monday that an expanding Europe must recognize the important contributions that Christianity has made to the continent over the centuries.” The article quoted the pope as saying: “I can’t but note that Europe is going through a CRUCIAL PHASE OF ITS HISTORY while widening its borders to other peoples and nations… It is important that Europe, enriched through the centuries by its Christian faith, confirms these origins and revives its roots.'”


As Associated Press reported on December 20, “the Vatican on Saturday attributed a miracle to the last emperor of Austria-Hungary, paving the way for the eventual beatification and sainthood of Charles I… Beatification requires evidence of a miracle after the person’s death (!) and is the last formal step before possible sainthood. Charles’ miracle reportedly came when a cloistered nun in Brazil prayed for his beatification in the 1970s and was cured of a deadly disease, [according to] the emperor’s grandson George Hapsburg.”

Emperor Karl I of Austria (1887-1922), known as Charles IV of Hungary, was Austria-Hungary’s last emperor. He became Austrian Emperor on November 21, 1916, and King of Hungary on December 30, 1916. He abdicated at the end of the war in 1918. He sought exile in Switzerland in March 1919. He was denied
domicile in Hungary, and died in Spain in 1922 of pneumonia. His wife, Zita of Bourbon-Parma, lived for a further 67 years, dying in Switzerland at the age of 96.


Associated Press reported on December 22, 2003, that “Labor unions in the Czech Republic demanded Monday that stores stop playing Christmas carols incessantly or pay compensation for causing emotional trauma to sales clerks. Some stores here play the same songs all day — and play them loudly. Employees say shifts have become unbearable… Unions in neighboring Austria have lodged similar complaints against stores there.”

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Who are the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation 7?

Much has been speculated as to the identity of the 144,000. However, if we let the Bible speak for itself, the answer becomes rather obvious.

Let us begin our analysis by quoting from a letter of the Worldwide Church of God, dated November 1987:

“In verse 1 [of Revelation 7] we find that the Day of the Lord — the time of terrible plagues — is to be delayed temporarily UNTIL the servants of God have been sealed. According to the sequence of prophesied events, this sealing is yet IN THE FUTURE. It will occur AFTER THE COMING GREAT TRIBULATION AND THE APPEARANCE OF THE HEAVENLY SIGNS, but just BEFORE THE PLAGUES of God’s judgments are poured out.

“Next, notice Jesus’ own explanation of the 144,000. They are 144,000 of the TRIBES OF ISRAEL, 12,000 of each tribe. The tribe of Dan is not mentioned — perhaps because they went to idolatry anciently, and will thus have to WAIT for God’s salvation (Gen. 49:1, 18). The 144,000 are to be given SPECIAL PROTECTION DURING THE DAY OF THE LORD.

“The 144,000 are sealed BY the Holy Spirit, IN their foreheads (minds). Revelation 14:1 shows that it is the Father’s name that is written there. Jesus’ very last prayer was that His Church would be kept in the Father’s name (John 17) [emphasis in original and added].”

This explanation is in accord with Mr. Armstrong’s writings, the late human leader of the Worldwide Church of God until his death in 1986. Please note the following excerpts from his booklet, “The key to the book of Revelation”:

“It is vital to understand the distinction between the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. The heavenly signs do not occur until AFTER the Tribulation (Matt. 24:29). But they are to come BEFORE the ‘Day of the Lord’ (Joel 2:31)… But just as we come to the time of the terrible DAY OF THE LORD to strike, an angel appears holding back the four winds (Rev. 7:1-3), which are the first four Trumpet plagues (Rev. 8:7-12) of the Day of the Lord.

“They are held back until the 144,000 are sealed, and the great innumerable multitude of ALL NATIONS turn to God and His protection.

“The 144,000 are 12,000 from each of the literal tribes of Israel. They are sealed by the Holy Spirit, IN their foreheads, and it is the FATHER’S NAME that is sealed there (Rev. 14:1). THE TIME OF THIS SEALING, THEN, IS YET FUTURE — AFTER THE TRIBULATION, AFTER THE HEAVENLY SIGNS… The innumerable multitude shall have COME OUT of THE Great Tribulation (Rev. 7:14… ) [emphasis in original and added].”

In considering the Biblical revelation regarding the 144,000, we can see the following:

1) None of the 144,000 have already been sealed.
2) The 144,000 will be sealed in the future, AFTER the Great Tribulation.
3) The 144,000 will be sealed in order to be protected from the plagues of the Day of the Lord.
4) The 144,000 are physical Israelites that will be alive at the time of their sealing.
5) 12,000 of each tribe of Israel will be sealed. Since the tribe of Dan is omitted, the tribe of Joseph is represented through Joseph and through his son Manasseh (Revelation 7:6, 8).
6) Since the 144,000 will be sealed AFTER the Great Tribulation, they will have to go THROUGH the Great Tribulation. There is no indication in the Bible that they will be protected from the Great Tribulation at a place of safety.
7) As the 144,000 will be protected from the plagues of the Day of the Lord, so the “great multitude” (Revelation 7:9) will turn to God for protection as well.
8) The “great multitude” is not a part of the 144,000, but it is a separate group of peoples.
9) The “great multitude,” which “no one can number,” consists “of ALL [other, that is, non-Israelite] nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues.”
10) The “great multitude” had to go through the Great Tribulation as well. They will not be at a place of safety, to be protected from the Great Tribulation. Revelation 7:14 reads: “These are the ones who COME OUT OF the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Today, neither the 144,000 nor the great multitude have turned to God. But they will — when they remember the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God, which is being preached today, and which will continue to be preached by God’s church (compare Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20), combined with the activities of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:1-6), the martyrdom of some of the saints (Revelation 6:9-11; 12:13-17) and the sufferings of national Israelites and Jews during the Great Tribulation, and the heavenly signs. When the 144,000 find themselves in the midst of the Great Tribulation, they will reflect and come to their senses. THEN they will repent — not before then. Speaking of the modern houses of Israel and Judah, we read a remarkable prophecy in Deuteronomy 30:1-3, 6, and 8. This prophecy refers to “the latter days” (Deuteronomy 31:29) and might also include a description of the conversion of the 144,000:

“Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you, and you RETURN to the Lord your God (i.e., REPENT) and OBEY His voice, according to ALL that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul (describing CONVERSION), that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity (which will be experienced by the modern houses of Israel and Judah during the time of the Great Tribulation)… And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, THAT YOU MAY LIVE (that is, that you might be PROTECTED from the PLAGUES of the Day of the Lord)… And you will again obey the voice of the LORD and do all His commandments which I command you today.”

When the 144,000 turn to God, become converted and receive the Holy Spirit, they will be protected from the plagues of the Day of the Lord. Their conversion is still in the future. It will take place after they, together with the great multitude of ALL [non-Israelite] nations, have experienced the fiery trial of the Great Tribulation.

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