Update 155


Coming Out of Babylon

On Saturday, August 7, 2004, J. Edwin Pope will be giving the sermon, continuing his series on “Coming Out of Babylon.”

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by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

I recently returned from a two week holiday where I was able to rest, relax and read. I did quite a lot of reading, including newspaper reports of both domestic and international matters. It reminded me that the frog in boiling water was alive and kicking. We have written about this syndrome before, but for those few who have not heard the story about this creature, it is worth briefly repeating — and it can even serve as a reminder to those of us who have used this expression in the past. Being cold blooded means that frogs are unable to regulate their body temperature independently of their environment. As the water was heated, almost imperceptibly, the frog in the water didn’t know what was happening. It was boiled alive, as the temperature increased. Isn’t that an almost perfect description of the way society has progressed over eons of time, but particularly in more recent years?

With the hectic pace of life today, we generally may only have time to review things superficially, without looking at the profound consequences of a deterioration in standards of personal and family life. This is certainly true in the UK, where we observe an increasing legislative process, which generally doesn’t favor standards of normalcy and decency. The UK, as well as other Western European nations, is also swamped with governmental intrusion where there should be no influence. If we add to this the pressure groups which promote Biblically unacceptable practices, we find that the mix is less than encouraging. The man in the street generally accepts these changes with little opposition because they come so very slowly. If they came apace, there would be much more adverse reaction. Satan knows how to manipulate society, but God’s people are not to be ignorant of his ploys (2 Corinthians 2:11).

On my vacation, I read of so many situations where God and His way were not considered, were ignored or summarily dismissed as irrelevant. God’s people have to be aware of the story about the frog in boiling water. Because of our hectic lifestyles, we can be so busy that we can become less and less perceptible to this crafty Satanic approach. We do need to make time to review what is going on and to make sure that we are not caught unawares. Let us always remember that frog!

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Israel and the Dietary Laws

On June 24, 2004, Arutz Sheva Israel National News published an interesting commentary by Ariel Natan Pasko, titled, “Israeli Government: Kosher on the Outside Only.”

In the article, it was pointed out: “The Israeli Supreme Court, in contradiction to thousands of years of Jewish tradition, and Israeli Law, overturned the 1956 Law of Authority, which granted city governments special authority to enact regulations banning the sale of pork products within their municipality. Many cities in Israel have such a ban, and at issue were petitions to the court to remove that power from municipalities. The nine-judge panel voted unanimously to allow the sale of pork and instructed municipalities to enact new regulations conforming to guidelines set down by the court. The guidelines include taking the character of individual neighborhoods into account when enacting restrictions on sales of non-kosher meat. The guidelines allow pork to be sold in neighborhoods where the overwhelming majority of the population wants to buy pork, or are indifferent to its sale; i.e., where there are few religious or traditional Jews. In mixed neighborhoods, the city would be allowed to decide for itself.”

The article continued to explain: “Throughout Jewish history, kashrut observance, i.e., Jewish dietary laws (as seen in Leviticus, chap. 11 and elsewhere), has been a hallmark of Jewish life. Historically, if you asked most non-Jews about Jews and Judaism, the things they would know most about were the Sabbath, Passover and matzot (those funny dry crackers), Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – and that Jews keep kosher and they don’t eat pork.

“After their conquest and occupation of Judea, the Syrian Greek Hellenists (c. 168 BCE) attempted to ‘break’ the Jews. They set up an idol and began offering pigs to their pagan deity in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. When they began to spread their heresy among the Jews, they started in a small town called Modi’in. They set up an altar in the town square and instigated some weak Jew to offer a pig up as a sacrifice in plain public view. Public acceptance was meant to imply that the Jews were repudiating the Torah and their covenant with the G-d [sic] of their fathers. But in a clear example of the ‘Law of Unintended Consequences’, it sparked a national revolt instead, when a priest by the name of Matityahu took a sword, stabbed the turncoat Jew and the Syrian Greek officials, and declared, ‘Whoever is zealous for the Torah and is steadfast in the Covenant, let him follow me.’ The revolt spread, and ultimately was successful, leading to a liberation of the Judean homeland from occupation. The Jews cleaned-up the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and re-lit the menorah. And Hanukah is celebrated until this day, throughout the Jewish world, as a holiday of the liberation of the Jews and Judaism from pagan culture.”

The article continued to ask and answer the following question: “Why is the pig so detested in Jewish tradition? If you look closely at chapter 11 of Leviticus in the Torah, dealing with dietary laws, you’ll find the defining characteristics of kosher land animals: they must ‘chew their cud’ and they must have ‘split hoofs’. Several animals are given as examples of those that chew their cud but don’t have split hoofs. The pig is given as the example of that animal having split hoofs, but that does not chew its cud. The Torah clearly says just following the pig example, ‘don’t eat their meat’… So, it’s very clear that Jewish law forbids eating pig. The pig has even entered the popular culture of Jews as the symbol of hypocrisy, because it looks kosher on the outside – you can see it has split hoofs – yet it is treif, i.e., not kosher, on the inside – it doesn’t chew its cud. In Yiddish (one of the thirty-some Judeo-vernacular languages that Jews created in their 1,900-year-exile from their homeland), a ‘chazzer fissel’ (lit. ‘pig’s foot’) was what one called a hypocrite.

“And so, the most beautiful thing just happened, the G-d [sic] of Israel made His manifest will clear for all to see. Usually one fumbles around, good intentions, good behaviors, but you’re never really sure if you’re doing the right thing. Then, once in a while, comes a blessed moment, and G-d’s [sic] message is as clear as day. This court decision on pork comes at a time when the Israeli government is attempting to carry out an ethnic cleansing campaign against part of its own Jewish population. Ariel Sharon, current prime minister and the ‘father of the settlements,’ who for years encouraged Jews to ‘take to the hilltops’ and set up ‘outposts,’ has agreed in the Roadmap to ‘painful concessions,’ which includes dismantling those very same outposts. Those so-called outposts are actually new neighborhoods – only extensions of existing towns – within the legal boundaries of town limits. Some were set up without permits (a technicality), but many others do have all their paperwork done.

“But Sharon, for his own political purposes, has allowed the image of the outposts to be portrayed in the Israeli and world media as ‘wildcat settlements’ that are patently illegal. And now, with his ‘Gaza Disengagement Plan,’ Sharon is determined to evacuate, expel, ethnically cleanse Jews from their legally lived in homes, from their legally lived in towns, from historically Jewish Gaza, a part of the Biblically promised ‘Land of Israel’. Sharon looked kosher all these years to many on the Right in Israel – retired general and war hero, supporter of settlement activity, tough on terror, the opposition to Oslo. Yet, in the end, he’s willing to give away a part of the Land of Israel without any quid-pro-quo from the ‘Palestinians’. He’s willing to allow Gaza to become a Terror State launching pad to wipe out the rest of Israel (the security fences won’t stop Hamas missiles). And he’s going far further than any left-wing politician who supported Oslo.”

Spain a new Leader of Europe?

On July 29, euobserver.com published an article, titled: “Zapatero: Spain should be with Franco-German motor.” The article continued: “Spanish premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has said that he believes his country should be alongside France and Germany as the ‘decisive countries for the European construction.’ In an interview with French daily Le Monde, Mr Zapatero – who recently celebrated his first 100 days at the head of his Socialist government – said, ‘France and Germany are the two decisive countries for the European construction and Spain should be there.’

“Spanish government sources have said that Spain, France and Germany will hold an informal summit meeting after the summer break. ‘The European Union will not move forward just by virtue of the big countries or the little countries, but because of ideas, initiatives and proposals,’ he added. Furthermore, Mr Zapatero believes that Spain has re-joined the European family after the departure of his predecessor Jose Maria Aznar, who had, according to Mr Zapatero, ‘one foot in Europe … and one outside to slow it down.'”

It is very possible that, based on history, Spain will play a major role in the future of Europe.

Computer glitches threaten air traffic

“Computer Glitch Causes Air-Travel Delays!” With this headline, Associated Press published an article on August 1, 2004, showing once more how fragile our sophisticated highly-technological societies in the Western World really are. The article continued: “A computer glitch grounded American Airlines and US Airways flights from coast to coast Sunday morning, causing delays that were expected to last all day. American had its planes back up after two hours, while US Airways flights were grounded for about three.”

The article continued: “US Airways spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said the airline’s flight-operation database malfunctioned, due to ‘an internal technology problem.’ A similar problem affected American’s flight plan system, grounding about 150 flights, spokesman John Hotard said… The problem forced US Airways, based in Arlington, Va., to delay about 100 flights.”

Recently, flight cancellations or delays occurred in the UK, due to technical computer glitches. One needs to ask: What if those glitches were to occur within military operations, and what if they were not right away determined as being computer glitches. The possible nightmarish consequences could be catastrophic.

Mounting Problems in Iraq

As the Drudge Report announced on August 1, 2004, “JUSTICE LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO MISSING IRAQ BILLION.” The article continued: “The Justice Department has launched an urgent investigation after U.S. civilian authorities in Baghdad failed to keep track of more than a $1 billion, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. Investigators have found multiple examples of fraud and abuse in millions of dollars worth of contracts to rebuild Iraq that used U.S. taxpayer and Iraqi funds. Word of the Justice Department investigation spread throughout official Washington late Sunday.”

It should become more and more obvious to any objective observer that Almighty God has not blessed America’s war against Iraq.

Why did America Go to War?

We are printing excerpts from the following article, not because we want to take sides in this hotly-debated issue, but because we want to show how many people in England feel about it. This attitude is also pervasive in many European contries — especially Germany:

On July 28, 2004, Great Britain’s “the Guardian” published an article by John Chapman, titled, “The real reasons Bush went to war.” John Chapman is a former assistant secretary to the civil service, in which he served from 1963-96.

In the article, it is stated: “There were only two credible reasons for invading Iraq: control over oil and preservation of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Yet the government has kept silent on these factors… Saddam controlled a country at the centre of the Gulf, a region with a quarter of world oil production in 2003, and containing more than 60% of the world’s known reserves… Iraq has capacity second only to Saudi Arabia. The US, in contrast, is the world’s largest net importer of oil… By invading Iraq, Bush has taken over the Iraqi oil fields, and persuaded the UN to lift production limits after the Kuwait war… Oil and dollar were the real reasons for the attack on Iraq, with WMD as the public reason now exposed as woefully inadequate. Should we now look at Bush and Blair as brilliant strategists whose actions will improve security of our oil supplies, or as international conmen?”

Germany’s view on John Kerry

Last week, Bild Online published several articles to discuss what a President John Kerry, referred to in the press as “JFK,” would mean for Germany and Europe. The paper uttered the opinion, in its article, dated July 29, that Kerry would in all probability be good for Germany and Europe, as he is expected to create better relationships between the U.S. and Europe. The paper claimed that Bush and Kerry share one “dark secret” – that they are allegedly both members of the order, “Skulls and Bones,” one of the most “influential and farcical orders in the U.S.” Bild Online commented on July 30: “It will have to be seen, with anticipation, how exactly the relationship between the U.S. and Germany will develop, if John Kerry becomes the next President.” In a commentary of July 28, the paper stated: “It is no secret that many Germans and Europeans desperately hope that Kerry becomes President… He would listen more closely to the advice of his European allies… But, Kerry would be determined, too, in the pursuit of his Iraq policy, to strongly demand military and financial assistance from Germany and France.”

It will indeed be interesting to see who the next American President will be — Mr. Bush or Mr. Kerry. We do not endorse or promote any political candidate – fully realizing that it is God who is in control over world affairs. The Bible teaches that it is “the Most High” who “rules in the kingdom of men,” and that He “Gives it to whomever He will” (Daniel 4:17) – so that His plan here on earth can be accomplished.

Germany’s Homosexuals

As AFP reported on August 2, 2004, “Gay politicians in Germany quitting the closet.” The article continued: “Has homosexuality become fashionable in German politics? Perhaps not quite, but a recent clutch of movers and shakers ‘coming out’ points to something afoot in the halls of power. Guido Westerwelle, the head of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), caused a splash this summer when he appeared at a tony reception with his companion Michael Mronz, head of a regional equestrian society… Westerwelle, who has nevertheless declined comment on Mronz, is gunning for the post of foreign minister if the FDP and Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) manage to unseat the center-left coalition of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in 2006. By laying his cards on the table now, he avoids making his sexuality an issue during the campaign and could even begin tapping new reservoirs of political support…

“The mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit of Schroeder’s Social Democrats, stole the fire of his potential critics when he was running for office in 2001 with the now immortal line: ‘I’m gay and it’s just as good that way.’ The crowd roared. In the conservative camp, Hamburg Mayor Ole von Beust was reelected in a landslide in February after his ‘coming-out.’ And among the Greens, junior partners in the national coalition government, deputy Volker Beck has made no secret of his sexuality either.”

The article continued: “Tolerance, however, has its limits. Nine percent of women say that a candidate’s homosexuality could influence their voting decisions, and the figure is twice as high among men…”

However, due to the open confessions of German politicians and others as to their sexual preferences, it is now being asked in the German media how far public school teachers should go in discussing homosexuality with their pupils. The media points out that this has been the practice for years in countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden, and that “only in Great Britain it was prohibited, until recently, to even talk about homosexuals and lesbians in school” (Bild, August 2, 2004).

The Bible is clear on the issue of homosexuality. But the question is, are our “advanced” Western societies willing to accept the clear teaching of the Bible – or do they think that they know it better than God does?

Warsaw Uprising

Associated Press reported on August 2, 2004, how “Western Leaders Mark Warsaw Uprising.”

The article continued: “German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder joined Poles in honoring the 1944 Warsaw uprising against the Nazi occupation, voicing shame but also the hope that history’s wounds are healing. Joined in Warsaw on Sunday by Secretary of State Colin Powell and British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Schroeder – the first German chancellor invited to an uprising anniversary – had the hardest mission. An estimated 200,000 Polish fighters died in the 63-day battle that began Aug. 1, 1944, led by the Home Army resistance movement. Most of the victims were civilians, including many children and teenagers. After the revolt collapsed, the Germans razed most of the city and sent many civilians to concentration camps or into slave labor.

“‘Today we bow in shame in the face of the Nazi troops’ crimes,’ Schroeder said to applause at the official ceremony. ‘At this place of Polish pride and German shame, we hope for reconciliation and peace. Never again must we allow such terrible wrongs. This task unites the peoples of Europe.’

Sadly, Biblical prophecy for the future of Europe indicates otherwise. For more information, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

Catholic Church Condemns Feminism

As Associated Press reported on August 2, 2004, “The Vatican on Saturday denounced feminism for trying to blur differences between men and women and threatening the institution of families based on a mother and a father.” The article continued:

“The pamphlet by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican’s orthodoxy watchdog, was published during a Vatican campaign to protect what it terms the Christian family. Earlier salvos have blasted same-sex marriage and appealed to politicians, regardless of their religion, to prevent such unions from winning legal recognition. The document, addressed to bishops worldwide, contended that new recent approaches to women’s issues were marked by a tendency ‘to emphasize strongly conditions of subordination in order to give rise to antagonism: women, in order to be themselves, must make themselves the adversaries of men.’ Such an attitude, the document said, ‘has its most immediate and lethal effects in the structure of the family.’

“The document also said that feminism wrongly tends to deny the differences between men and women ‘in order to avoid the dominance of one sex or the other.’ The consequences of obscuring the differences between men and women, it said, included calling ‘into question the family, in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father,’ giving homosexual and heterosexual couples an equivalent status… The document also expressed the Vatican’s concern that blurring of differences between sexes could pose a challenge to church teaching, including the belief, in a reference to Christ, that ‘the Son of God assumed human nature in its male form. From the first moment of their creation, man and woman are different, and will remain so for eternity,’ the document said. Many Italian politicians pay close attention to the pronouncements of the church, with its headquarters a few minutes away from the Italian parliament.”

We note that the Bible reveals that a great religious power will reign “over every tribe, tongue, and nation” (Revelation 13:7). These events, so long ago prophesied in the Word of God, are now well on the way to their final fulfillment. These are things we all must watch and pray fervently about. We encourage you to write for our free booklets covering these subjects, or to simply view them at our website-www.eternalgod.org.

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How do you view the issue of adopting children?

Before answering this question specifically, let us briefly review why children are being adopted. Adoption in this day and age is usually done because the couple do not have children of their own and want to raise one or more children, or, if they do have their own children, they wish to add to the family fold. This last possibility requires the co-operation of the other children, since it will impact them. In addition, single parents may also want to adopt children. An unfortunate modern trend is for homosexuals and lesbians to adopt children, bringing them up to accept their “alternative lifestyle,” which is clearly condemned by God in the Bible, for instance, in Romans 1:24-27. This unbiblical development only compounds the problem by the social acceptance and proliferation of more deviant sexual behavior. (You may want to read, in this context, our article in the World News Headlines section on “Germany’s Homosexuals.”)

We are addressing in this answer a “normal” adoption by heterosexual families who live in a God-ordained way. Even then, adoption is a life-long commitment, as well as a legal requirement, to care for, love, feed, nurture and educate children for the duration they are at home, and after they leave home, to continue to love them and to treat them as their own, including providing for them via an inheritance in one’s will. Therefore, if approved by Scripture, a decision to adopt children must never be taken lightly. It requires, in any event, a life-long commitment. It would have to be based on the financial ability, emotional commitment and responsibility to raise, educate and care for the adopted children.

We would like to say, in passing, that this, of course, is true as well for one’s natural children. To bring children into the world, perhaps as a result of temporary sexual “adventures,” is totally irresponsible. If it happens, though, abortion is NOT a solution (For more information, please read our free booklet, “Are You Already Born Again?”). In such a case, perhaps adoption of the child by caring adults might be an option.

Let us see what the Bible says about adoption.

Many Bible translations, for example, the Authorized Version, the New King James Bible, the ASV, the FLS (a French translation), the LITV and the MKJV, include five places, where the word “adoption” is used. The original Greek word (“huiothesia”) is defined by “The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible,” under # 5206, as: “… the placing as a son, i.e. adoption (fig. Chr. sonship in respect to God): -adoption (of children, of sons).” The ALT version adds: “the formal and legal declaration that we are His children.”

The Scriptures in question are (using the rendering of the New King James Bible):

(1) Romans 8:15: “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom [which] we cry out ‘Abba, Father.'”

(2) Romans 8:23: “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”

(3) Romans 9:4: “… who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises…”

(4) Galatians 4:5: “… to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

(5) Ephesians 1:5: “… having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…”

However, we need to point out that many translations render the Greek word as “sonship” — not as “adoption.”

For instance, the NIV, RSV, Moffat and the Rotherham rendition translate Romans 8:15 as: “you have received the [a] spirit of sonship.”

So do the German Elberfelder Bible and the Menge Bible (“Geist der Sohnschaft”). Luther says: “you have received a spirit of children” (“einen kindlichen Geist”). The New English Bible and the Jewish New Testament by David Stern say: “…but a Spirit which makes us sons.” The Diaglot, containing the Original Greek Text, translates the above five scriptural reverences as “Sonship.”

As pointed out, the Greek word literally means, “placing as a son.” It COULD refer to adoption, but here, MORE is involved. When we receive God’s Spirit, we are not merely adopted children of God, but BEGOTTEN children of God. The Holy Spirit makes us sons by a begettal — not by adoption. We become God’s children, not only acquiring rights and privileges — as one does when he is adopted — but we acquire God’s very own, the divine nature (compare 2 Peter 1:4: “that… you may be partakers of the divine nature…”).

God does not just adopt us. Rather, He makes us part of His family, by begetting us as His very children. God is reproducing Himself — not just by adoption, but by actually multiplying Himself, in that He puts His very Spirit into His begotten children, so that they can become born again children in the resurrection — full God beings, with all the rights and privileges of God, but also with His very character and divine nature.

We have to therefore conclude that our relationship with God goes beyond adoption. It describes the process of literal sonship. However, we also conclude that our relationship of being begotten sons and daughters to be BORN AGAIN as Spirit beings — literal sons and daughters at the time of Christ’s return — encompasses the principle of adoption. God, in His great love and mercy, has given us the position of “sonship” which is inclusive of the principle of being adopted as His sons and daughters.

Therefore, strictly judging on a spiritual basis, the Bible does not prohibit adoption per se. This conclusion is supported by several positive Biblical examples, where children were raised in an “adoptive” environment. For instance, Joseph raised Jesus Christ as Christ’s stepfather (compare Luke 3:23). Jacob “adopted” his grandchildren, Ephraim and Manasseh, giving his name to them (compare Genesis 48:16). Moses was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2:10; Acts 7:21). In a sense, Samuel was “adopted” by Eli the priest — Samuel was “given” to Eli, to be raised by him, as a servant of the Lord (compare 1 Samuel 1:11, 27-28; 2:11, 18-21).

This means, then, that we cannot say that it is wrong for humans to adopt children, giving them the legal status of sons and daughters. Some have misunderstood the teaching of the Church of God in this matter, wrongfully concluding that Herbert W. Armstrong, the late human leader of the Church of God, had taught against adoption. Although some overly “zealous” ministers might have taught this, they only expressed thereby their own personal (mis)understanding — but never the official teaching of the Church. The Church, under Mr. Armstrong, has always permitted, or did welcome, adoptions in certain circumstances.

In conclusion, it is a personal decision whether or not to adopt children — but all individual circumstances need to be carefully considered first. The decision for a heterosexual couple or single parent to adopt rests on their ability to financially and emotionally take care of the children to be adopted.

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Jesus Christ – The Great Mystery!

Our newest booklet entitled, “Jesus Christ – The Great Mystery!” is progressing in its review process. We are anticipating having printed copies available at both the Feast sites in California and England.

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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

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