Update 353


The Good Samaritan

On Saturday, July 19, 2008, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “The Good Samaritan.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Focus on the Bigger Picture

by Norbert Link

As had been announced in recent Updates, Paul L. Voss, a long-time deacon in the Church of God, died from cancer on his birthday, May 23, 2008. He was 76 years old. Following the memorial service on Sunday, July 13, a private inurnment service with full military honors was conducted on July 14. Before he became a member of the Worldwide Church of God, Paul had joined the Navy and fought in the Korean War. Lieutenant Commander Ralph Sage, SWOUSN, retired U.S. Navy Third Class Petty Officer and long-time friend of Paul and his family since 1974, had been invited to explain to those in attendance the symbolic meaning of the flag-folding ceremony.

Most had never heard of the religious and ethical principles associated with that ceremony. Before the flag was presented to Joan Voss, it was folded twelve times. The different folds symbolized, among others, our belief in eternal life; our weaker nature, “for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for divine guidance”; “in the eyes of the Hebrew citizens… [the glorification of] the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”; and “in the eyes of the Christian citizens, [a representation of] an emblem of eternity and [glorification of] God the Father, The Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit.”

Of course, some of these symbols do not agree with biblical teaching (such as the reference to the Trinity in the last phrase, and other statements not mentioned herein). However, it could be seen that there were certain values attached to the original flag-folding ceremony, which, in today’s world, have been lost and forgotten.

In the subsequent spiritual message, I emphasized the fact, among other things, that we have entered the Biblical times of the “beginning of sorrows”–a time filled with violence, war, hatred, terrorism, economic hardship, food rationing, famine, and disease epidemics–and that much worse times will arrive soon. I explained that man’s feeble attempts–however well-intentioned they might be–will never free this world from war, pain, suffering and death, but that God WILL do so, in His due time. I also pointed out that man’s sin–the transgression of God’s spiritual Law of Love towards God and neighbor–has caused–and is causing–all the evils which we experience today.

The prospects of a great depression for the United States and the entire world is becoming more and more a real possibility. Banks have begun to falter and fail in the USA, and experts tell us that within the next few years, more than 300 American banks could go bankrupt. Another war with Iran before the end of this year, which may be started by Israel with the support of the USA, appears more and more likely. Such a war and its terrible consequences of the loss of human life and the astronomical rise of oil prices, in combination with other prevailing circumstances, could bring the USA to its knees with lightening speed.

Are we watching world events and praying that God will find us worthy to escape all these things which will surely come to pass? Man and man’s institutions will not be able to protect us, and our money will soon be without value. Only GOD can give us true security.

Some feel today that they do not need to focus on prophecy–that they do not need to watch world events–that the Church of God does not need to continue to preach the warning message of the soon-coming Great Tribulation and the good news of the Kingdom of God in all the world as a witness. They think that it is ONLY necessary to care for the Church–to “prepare the Bride.” However, this is a selfish and short-sighted approach. We can compare it with the servant who received a talent and hid it in the ground, rather than using it for the benefit of OTHERS.

God did not call us today so that we can GET salvation. Rather, we have a JOB TO DO. God gave His Church a commission to warn this world UNTIL the very end of time. This idea of just preparing the Bride ignores the fact that only those who are involved in Christ’s Work of preaching the gospel and feeding the flock are the ones who overcome the most and prepare the best for Christ’s return. Those who neglect to do so might NOT be protected during the terrible times to come, and they are NOT preparing themselves in the right way for the return of Christ.

Man will continue to try to solve the world’s problems in the way he has done for the last 6,000 years, but man has utterly failed in succeeding. This world’s problems can only be solved–and they WILL be solved–through a “mighty hand from somewhere”–the “stone… cut out of the mountain without hands” (Daniel 2:45). Jesus Christ–the Stone and the Rock (Matthew 7:24-25; Matthew 21:42; 1 Corinthians 10:4)–will return to this earth in a very few years from now to “set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44). And you and I have the tremendous and awesome privilege to announce His coming to the world, and to rule with and under Christ in the Kingdom of God, IF we qualify: “Then the kingdom and dominion And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (Daniel 7:27).

ARE we qualifying? Or do we ignore world events, as they are unfolding in front of our very eyes in the light of Biblical prophecy? Have we become indifferent–tasteless, worthless salt? We are supposed to be the salt of the earth. But Christ warned all of us, in Luke 14:34-35, when He said: “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be salted? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Rather than placing our trust in man and man’s accomplishments–his financial institutions, his weaponry, his political systems and leaders–we MUST place our trust and confidence in GOD. And we must DO what He commands us to do, even if human reasoning might try to persuade us otherwise. If our individual involvement in the Work of God might seem “little” and “insignificant,” it counts mightily in the eyes of God. He knows that the one who is faithful in little will be faithful in much.

Are you faithful in little? Are you ever striving to overcome your shortcomings, while focusing on the bigger picture–the soon-coming return of Jesus Christ to make an end to man’s mis-rule and to establish the glorious Kingdom of God here on earth? If you do, BLESSED are you (Matthew 25:34).

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America’s Banks Are Failing–The Handwriting IS On the Wall

The Associated Press reported on July 11:

“The last thing the Bush White House and the rest of the country needed in these economically trying times was another financial crisis. But they got one. The Republican administration and Democratic-run Congress now are facing the possibility that mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, once staid and stable, could need a bailout or even go under. Their default would send shock waves through already distressed financial markets, drive the U.S. economy further into recession territory and make it even harder for people to obtain mortgages or refinance their homes…

“Bush told reporters that [Treasury Secretary Henry] Paulson had briefed him on financial markets and ‘assured me that he and (Federal Reserve Chairman) Ben Bernanke will be working this issue very hard. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are very important institutions,’ Bush said.

“Bush, the first U.S. president with an MBA degree, may have been assured, but investors apparently weren’t. They dumped stocks in response to the woes of Freddie and Fanny, pushing the Dow Jones industrials at one point below the 11,000 mark for the first time in two years before recovering slightly. The two companies’ stocks are now at their lowest levels in 16 years, down 80 percent from just a year ago.”

Please make sure to watch our recent StandingWatch program on YouTube titled, “Coming–The Great Depression?”

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–an “Unmitigated Disaster”

Bloomberg reported on July 14:

“The U.S. Treasury Department’s plan to shore up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is an ‘unmitigated disaster’ and the largest U.S. mortgage lenders are ‘basically insolvent,’ according to investor Jim Rogers. Taxpayers will be saddled with debt if Congress approves U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s request for the authority to buy unlimited stakes in and lend to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Rogers said in a Bloomberg Television interview. Rogers is betting that Fannie Mae shares will keep tumbling…

“‘I don’t know where these guys get the audacity to take our money, taxpayer money, and buy stock in Fannie Mae,’ Rogers, 65, said in an interview from Singapore. ‘So we’re going to bail out everybody else in the world. And it ruins the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet and it makes the dollar more vulnerable and it increases inflation.’… The U.S. economy is in a recession, possibly the worst since World War II, Rogers said. ‘They’re ruining what has been one of the greatest economies in the world,’ Rogers said… ‘[They] are bailing out their friends on Wall Street but there are 300 million Americans that are going to have to pay for this.”’

US Government Not to Expect to Help More Lenders

The Associated Press reported on July 13:

“The U.S. government is signaling it won’t throw a lifeline to struggling financial companies – except for mortgage linchpins Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – marking a shift to a new and potentially more volatile phase of the credit crisis.

“Such an approach could mean beaten-down investment banks like Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and regional banks must now fend for themselves as they try to recover from billions of dollars in mortgage-related losses. That is bound to unnerve Wall Street, already anxious as it awaits financial companies’ earnings reports that are expected to be down a stunning 69 percent from a year ago when all the numbers are in…

“‘The credit crisis has obviously entered into a new phase – the government has one bailout left in them, and this is it,’ said Jeffrey Gundlach, chief investment officer of TCW Group in Los Angeles, which invests $160 billion. ‘One consequence of Freddie and Fannie is that other firms are allowed to go under,’ he said.”

IndyMac Bank Seized by Federal Regulators

The Los Angeles Times reported on July 12:

“The federal government took control of Pasadena-based IndyMac Bank on Friday in what regulators called the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history. Citing a massive run on deposits, regulators shut its main branch three hours early, leaving customers stunned and upset…

“Based on a preliminary analysis, federal authorities said the takeover of IndyMac, which had $32 billion in listed assets, would cost the FDIC between $4 billion and $8 billion. Regulators said deposits of up to $100,000 were safe and insured by the FDIC. IndyMac’s failure had been widely expected in recent days. As the bank was shuttering offices and laying off employees to cope with huge losses from defaulted mortgages made at the height of the housing boom, nervous depositors were pulling out $100 million a day. The bank’s stock price had plummeted to under $1 as analysts predicted the company’s imminent demise.

“The takeover of IndyMac came amid rampant speculation that the federal government would also have to take over lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together stand behind almost half of the nation’s mortgage debt.”

Reuters reported on July 14:

“IndyMac Bancorp Inc customers lined up outside a branch at the company’s headquarters on Monday, hoping to withdraw their money after regulators seized what was once one of the largest mortgage lenders in the United States… IndyMac is the fifth U.S. banking company to fail this year, and the largest since the 1980s savings-and-loan crisis… Gerard Cassidy, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, on Sunday estimated that 300 U.S. banks might fail over the next three years because of credit losses and tight capital markets…”

U.S. Economic Tempest Overtakes Europe

On July 16, Der Spiegel Online re-published the following article from the New York Times:

“Spain, Ireland and Denmark are either in a recession or on the brink. Italy is stagnating. France is weakening fast. And Germany, the sturdy locomotive of European growth, is suddenly faltering — dashing most residual hopes that Europe could escape the upheaval in the United States. On Tuesday, an influential poll of German investors by the Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim found that confidence had plummeted to its lowest level since the survey was started in 1991…

“While most economists had predicted that Europe would suffer fallout from the financial market chaos and the broader American malaise, the speed of the deterioration has been surprising… The tense mood in the United States is pushing investors to sell dollars and seek refuge in the euro. For all the storm clouds here, Europe still looks like a safe harbor in comparison to the United States… Still, the strong euro — combined with high oil prices — is exacting a toll on Europe’s export machine.”

How long will Europe allow the weak U.S. dollar to damage or destroy its economy? When will Europe begin to make drastic changes? For sure, it can’t be too long from now. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

Temporary Rebound of the U.S. Dollar

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 17:

“The greenback staged a surprising, though brief, rally when oil prices fell. But don’t mistake an uptick for a bottom.

“On July 15, traders in Europe knocked the dollar to an all-time low of $1.6020 to the euro and a three-month low against the British pound. It was hardly a surprise: Investors around the world were appalled by the US government’s need to rescue the multitrillion-dollar mortgage behemoths, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, last weekend… The Asian markets duly punished banks that held Fannie and Freddie paper.

“But to the surprise of many traders, instead of plunging to uncharted depths, the dollar managed to bounce back and was trading at about 1.584 to the euro on July 16. ‘A lot of hedge funds were confused by the price action,’ says Stephen Jen, currency strategist at Morgan Stanley in London.

“Jen and other analysts think several factors have helped — at least, so far — to keep the dollar from going into the out-of-control downward spiral that many fear could be coming. For one thing, the greenback is already quite cheap, especially against the euro, making investors wonder how much lower it can go. But what may be even more important is that the wave of economic misery that began in the US last year is clearly starting to hit European economies, as well.

“… the dollar’s decline is hurting the US, because the weakness is being passed along to consumers in the form of higher energy prices, which, among other things, have largely negated the Bush Administration’s tax rebates.

“Awareness in the markets that intervention [of the U.S. government] is a growing possibility is probably another reason the dollar didn’t plunge further on July 16. The sharp selloff in oil prices that began on July 15 was also positive for the dollar. Indeed, the fact that the greenback kept its head above water could signal a turn, or at least a temporary bottom. But don’t count on it.”

US Faces Global Funding Crisis

The Telegraph wrote on July 15:

“Merrill Lynch has warned that the United States could face a foreign ‘financing crisis’ within months as the full consequences of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage debacle spread through the world. The country depends on Asian, Russian and Middle Eastern investors to fund much of its $700bn (£350bn) current account deficit, leaving it far more vulnerable to a collapse of confidence than Japan in the early 1990s after the Nikkei bubble burst. Britain and other Anglo-Saxon deficit states could face a similar retreat by foreign investors…”

President Bush Backs Israeli Plan for Strike on Iran

The Sunday Times wrote on July 13:

“President George W Bush has told the Israeli government that he may be prepared to approve a future military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities if negotiations with Tehran break down, according to a senior Pentagon official. Despite the opposition of his own generals and widespread scepticism that America is ready to risk the military, political and economic consequences of an airborne strike on Iran, the president has given an ‘amber light’ to an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s main nuclear sites with long-range bombing sorties, the official told The Sunday Times.

“’Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack and tell us when you’re ready,’ the official said. But the Israelis have also been told that they can expect no help from American forces and will not be able to use US military bases in Iraq for logistical support.

“Nor is it certain that Bush’s amber light would ever turn to green without irrefutable evidence of lethal Iranian hostility. Tehran’s test launches of medium-range ballistic missiles last week were seen in Washington as provocative and poorly judged, but both the Pentagon and the CIA concluded that they did not represent an immediate threat of attack against Israeli or US targets.

“’It’s really all down to the Israelis,’ the Pentagon official added. ‘This administration will not attack Iran. This has already been decided. But the president is really preoccupied with the nuclear threat against Israel and I know he doesn’t believe that anything but force will deter Iran.’ …

“Senator Barack Obama’s previous opposition to the war in Iraq, and his apparent doubts about the urgency of the Iranian threat, have intensified pressure on the Israeli hawks to act before November’s US presidential election. ‘If I were an Israeli I wouldn’t wait,’ the Pentagon official added…

“The one thing that all sides agree on is that any strike by either Iran or Israel would trigger a catastrophic round of retaliation that would rock global oil markets, send the price of petrol soaring and wreck the progress of the US military effort in Iraq… How genuine the Iranian threat is was the subject of intense debate last week, with some analysts arguing that Iran might have a useable nuclear weapon by next spring and others convinced that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is engaged in a dangerous game of bluffing…

“Obvious targets would include Iran’s Isfahan plant, where uranium ore is converted into gas, the Natanz complex where this gas is used to enrich uranium in centrifuges and the plutonium-producing Arak heavy water plant. But Iran is known to have scattered other elements of its nuclear programme in underground facilities around the country. Neither US nor Israeli intelligence is certain that it knows where everything is.”

Whom to Believe…?

Reuters reported on July 11:

“An Israeli military spokesman described as ‘utterly baseless’ media reports on Friday about Israeli warplanes secretly training in U.S.-controlled Iraq for possible attacks on neighbouring Iran. The Baghdad government and the Pentagon similarly played down a report, carried on the website of the Jerusalem Post and quoting a Iraqi news network, that Israeli jets were practising in Iraqi airspace and landing on U.S. airbases in the country… Recent months have seen a flurry of high-level contacts between Israel and the United States, which accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge.

“The talks have stoked global speculation that the allies are planning pre-emptive military strikes… The Iraqi report carried by the Jerusalem Post referred to an airbase in western Anbar province near the town of Haditha. The airbase is controlled by the U.S. military. The Israeli newspaper said it could not confirm the veracity of the report.

“Security for Anbar is still formally in the hands of the U.S. military, although control is expected to be transferred to Iraqi security forces soon. Iraq has security control over nine of its 18 provinces.”

Iran and the Bomb

The Wall Street Journal wrote the following on July 15, voicing the opinion that military confrontation in the near future between Israel and Iran appears more and more likely–perhaps with the support of the USA. Please make sure to watch our new StandingWatch program on YouTube, titled, “”Is War With Iran Coming Soon?

“Iran’s test salvo of ballistic missiles last week together with recent threatening rhetoric by commanders of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards emphasizes how close the Middle East is to a fundamental, in fact an irreversible, turning point.

“Tehran’s efforts to intimidate the United States and Israel from using military force against its nuclear program, combined with yet another diplomatic charm offensive with the Europeans, are two sides of the same policy coin. The regime is buying the short additional period of time it needs to produce deliverable nuclear weapons, the strategic objective it has been pursuing clandestinely for 20 years.

“Between Iran and its long-sought objective, however, a shadow may fall: targeted military action, either Israeli or American… If Iran reaches weaponization… the Middle East, and indeed global, balance of power changes in potentially catastrophic ways. And consider what comes next for the U.S.: the Bush administration’s last six months pursuing its limp diplomatic efforts, plus six months of a new president getting his national security team and policies together. In other words, one more year for Tehran to proceed unhindered to ‘the point of no return.’

“We have almost certainly lost the race between giving ‘strong incentives’ for Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and its scientific and technological efforts to do just that. Swift, sweeping, effectively enforced sanctions might have made a difference five years ago. No longer…

“That is why Israel is now at an urgent decision point: whether to use targeted military force to break Iran’s indigenous control over the nuclear fuel cycle at one or more critical points… The alternative is Iran with nuclear weapons, the most deeply unattractive alternative of all… What will the U.S. do if Israel decides to initiate military action?…

“Israel sees clearly what the next 12 months will bring, which is why ongoing U.S.-Israeli consultations could be dispositive. Israel told the Bush administration it would destroy North Korea’s reactor in Syria in spring, 2007, and said it would not wait past summer’s end to take action. And take action it did… we should be intensively considering what cooperation the U.S. will extend to Israel before, during and after a strike on Iran. We will be blamed for the strike anyway, and certainly feel whatever negative consequences result, so there is compelling logic to make it as successful as possible. At a minimum, we should place no obstacles in Israel’s path, and facilitate its efforts where we can. These subjects are decidedly unpleasant. A nuclear Iran is more so.”

Could Iran Strike Europe with Missiles?

Reuters wrote on July 15:

“The Pentagon said on Tuesday that Iran has the ability to launch a ballistic missile capable of hitting sections of eastern and southern Europe… Older versions of the Shahab-3 have a 800-mile (1,300-km) range. But a new extended version is believed to have a range of up to 1,250 miles, making it capable of hitting targets as far away as Greece, Serbia, Romania and Belarus.”

“Two Coffins for a Murderer”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 16:

“Some had hoped that Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev [Israeli soldiers who were abducted in the 2006 raid] still lived. But on Wednesday, a deal negotiated by German intelligence led to Hezbollah handing over two coffins with their remains. In exchange, Israel turned over a brutal murderer — and a bit of its dignity… ‘Today is a great victory for the resistance movements and for Hezbollah,’ said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. ‘It shows that the only successful way to free the prisoners is by kidnapping soldiers’…

“That Olmert and his cabinet… agreed to the deal on Tuesday was largely attributable to the government’s weakness domestically. For months, the prime minister has been plagued by corruption investigations…”

Chaos and Upheaval in Belgium

Der Spiegel Online reported on July 16:

“Chaos has returned to Belgium’s capital: The government has collapsed, the prime minister has offered his resignation. German newspapers on Wednesday wonder if the linguistically divided country will ever get its act together. The Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme threw in the towel late on Monday night, saying he could not force through a consensus between the Flemish and French-speaking coalition partners…

“The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘In terms of economics, Belgium is the most successful “failed state” of all time. Its per capita income is way ahead of Germany, the world’s leading exporter… Belgium can continue to flourish without a national government for the simple reason that the cabinet doesn’t have to decide much anyway. Most authority has devolved to the regions … The central government is left to deal with foreign policy, defense and finance policy — all issues that are increasingly taken care of at the EU level… The Belgian government still controls spending on social welfare. And this is where the conflict has blown up between the two language groups, because rich Flanders wants to pay less for poorer Wallonia…’

“The conservative Die Welt writes: ‘Belgium had always prided itself on being a model for Europe: exemplifying, through the art of compromise and the virtue of tolerance, how nations and cultures can exist peacefully side by side. The country can no longer claim this. The latest political crisis sees the kingdom moving towards the limits of being governable… The question is how much solidarity people are prepared to show when times are tough… In the end it’s all about money.'”

EU’s Galileo Satellite for Military Use

Deutsche Welle reported on July 10:

“The European Parliament in Strasbourg approved by 502 votes to 83 the military use of the European Union’s Galileo satellite. The bill, proposed by German conservative politician Karl von Wogau, aims to create a space surveillance system to watch out for space debris and other threats. It was approved on Thursday, July 10. Changes to the bill proposed by the Greens to use the system purely for civilian purposes were rejected. Secure, independent and sustainable access to space was a basic requirement for the EU, the text of the draft bill said.

“The system was about acquiring information so that the EU could prevent conflicts, be effective during crises and increase world security by, for example, monitoring the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. ‘The EU and NATO are expressly called upon to start up a strategic dialogue on the politics of space and missile defense,’ the text of the bill said.”

America’s Shrinking Influence in the World

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 11:

“There is little consensus on whether the G-8 summit can be seen as a success for the climate. What is certain is that US President George W. Bush had little part in the efforts to save the world. He didn’t lead, he only followed — and the American superpower never before looked as small as it did this week… the president doesn’t want to understand and he doesn’t even want to go for a walk. That’s why at the meeting of the world’s eight most industrialized nations the most powerful man in the world had to have the world explained to him by seven less powerful leaders.”

“This Bud Is For the EU”

The Associated Press reported on July 14:

“The maker of the King of Beers has agreed to go to work for the Belgian brewer InBev SA. Anheuser Busch Cos. said early Monday it had agreed to a sweetened $52 billion takeover bid from InBev, creating the world’s largest brewer… InBev is the world’s second-largest beer-maker, narrowly behind SABMiller. Swallowing Anheuser-Busch sees it leap ahead, capturing half of the U.S. beer market and a fifth of China and Russia… To some in St. Louis, losing Anheuser-Busch to a foreign buyer meant losing a little bit of history. From college buildings to theme parks to offices to the stadium where the Cardinals play baseball, the Busch name is virtually everywhere in the Gateway City.”

Religion and War

USA Today published an interesting article on July 14 about religion and war. Although much of the article must be rejected as inaccurate interpretation, here are a few worth-while excerpts:

“The specter of violent religion certainly hangs over us in these times, especially when it comes to certain followers of the world’s two dominant religions. Christian and Muslim conflict-mongers drone on against ‘Islamic terrorists’ and ‘Christian infidels,’ respectively, while violence continues erupting in the name of Islam, and conservative Christian figures in America… urge violent solutions to foreign policy problems…

“Yes, there appears to be considerable truth to the oft-heard claim that Christian-Muslim co-existence must be achieved lest our collective future turn out brief and brutal…

“As demonstrated by James Carroll’s powerful and dark new documentary, Constantine’s Sword, Christians over the centuries have too often wielded religion as a lethal weapon. Today that dubious distinction is most strongly associated with violent extremists from the Muslim world, who invoke Islam in terrorist strikes that have killed many thousands of innocents… Judaism, too, has had its spasms of violence, as have other major faiths and sects…

“So how we will know religion in the final analysis? By its peace or by its violence? The scriptures have had their say. It’s now up to the believers  — through their words and works  — to settle the account.”

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Why did Jesus ask John just prior to His death to take care of His mother Mary?

Some have concluded that Jesus was Mary’s only child, and that He therefore asked John to take care of His mother after His death, as there was nobody else in His immediate family who could have done so. However, this is not what the Bible teaches.

We read in John 19:25-27:

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother… When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”

Almost every biblical scholar agrees that the “disciple whom Christ loved” was the disciple John (Compare for additional references, John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7). Especially in John 21, John identifies himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (compare verses 20-24).

The fact that Jesus entrusted John, who was possibly one of His nephews [compare comments in the “People’s New Testament”], with the care of His mother, does not mean, however, that Mary did not have other children. The Bible clearly reveals that Mary and Joseph had additional children, AFTER Jesus was born.

Our free booklet, “Jesus Christ–A Great Mystery,” proves this fact in great detail in chapter 3, “Christ’s Relatives,” on pages 28-30. You might want to read the entire passage in the booklet, but here are just a few highlights:

“The ‘Virgin Birth’ is clearly taught in Scripture. However, the Bible does not teach that Mary stayed a virgin for the rest of her life. We read in Matthew 1:25 that Joseph ‘did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.’ The word ’till’ or ”until’ signifies that after the birth of Jesus, Joseph DID ‘know her,’ that is, he did have a sexual relationship with her…

“Luke 2:6–7 confirms this: ‘So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son…’ The Greek word for ‘firstborn’ is, ‘prototokon.’ It means, ‘first-born,’ but it does not describe an only child. The word for ‘only-born’ is ‘monogenes.’ In Luke 7:12, the word ‘monogenes’ is used, when describing a person who was ‘the only son of his mother.’

“The Jews knew that Jesus was not the only son of Mary. They knew very well that Jesus had brothers and sisters. We read the account in Matthew 13:53–56: ‘Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there. When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s Son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”‘…

“Some teach that Christ’s ‘brothers’ were in fact Christ’s cousins. This is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church, although this has recently been criticized by Catholic scholars who have concluded that the brothers were, in fact, Christ’s real brothers and not His cousins. The word for brother is ‘adelphos.’ This Greek word is used in Matthew 1:2 and 4:21, clearly referring to literal brothers. The word for cousin is ‘exadelphos,’ meaning ‘from brothers.’ When the Jews pointed out in Matthew 13 that Christ’s brothers were with them, they used the word ‘adelphos,’ not the word ‘exadelphos.’

“Some propose that the brothers and sisters mentioned in Matthew 13 were Christ’s spiritual brothers and sisters, not His physical siblings. But… the Bible makes a clear distinction between Christ’s physical brothers and His spiritual brothers. In addition… Christ’s physical relatives did not believe in Him and so they could not possibly have been referred to as Christ’s spiritual brothers and sisters.”

Why, then, did Jesus ask John, rather than His brother James, to take care of Mary?

We need to realize that at the time of Jesus’ death, none of His brothers believed in Him. Also, John was the ONLY disciple who stayed with Christ until He died–showing His dedication and bravery and the intimate relationship between Christ and His disciple whom He loved. Christ KNEW that John would take care of His mother–more than His half-brothers would have been able or willing to do–and that from the very moment (or the “same hour”) of His death.

Even though the Bible does not specifically and expressly say why Jesus chose John, there are several important hints. Most commentaries which understand that Jesus HAD brothers and sisters, also give plausible explanations, based on Scripture, as to WHY Christ entrusted His mother to His beloved disciple who BELIEVED in Him–rather than to one of His brothers who did NOT believe in Him at that time of His death.

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible points out, in John 19:26, that Jesus said, in effect:

“‘… take that disciple whom my power shall preserve from evil for thy son; and, while he considers thee as his mother, account him for thy child.’ It is probable that it was because the keeping of [Mary] was entrusted to him that he was the only disciple of our Lord who died a natural death, God having preserved him for the sake of the person whom he gave him in charge. Many children are not only preserved alive, but abundantly prospered in temporal things, for the sake of the desolate parents whom God hast cast upon their care. It is very likely that Joseph was dead previously to this.”

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible elaborates, as follows:

“This was an honour put upon John, and a testimony both to his prudence and to his fidelity. If he who knows all things had not known that John loved him, he would not have made him his mother’s guardian. It is a great honour to be employed for Christ, and to be entrusted with any of his interest in the world… It would be a care and some charge to John; but he cheerfully accepted it, and took her to his own home, not objecting the trouble nor expense, nor his obligations to his own family, nor the ill-will he might contract by it… [Some commentaries say] that she lived to remove with him to Ephesus.”

Tradition and historical records report that John was later accompanied on his missionary travels by an elderly woman, who–it is felt–was none other than Mary, the mother of Jesus.

We might also add that John had more writing to do. At least five writings of his have been preserved and are part of the Holy Scriptures. He wrote the “gospel of John” (of which Mary was undoubtedly a good source of information), three letters (1 John; 2 John; and 3 John) and finally the last book of the Bible–the book of Revelation, while banished to the isle of Patmos.

It is true, that ultimately, as we explain in our afore-mentioned booklet, at least three of Christ’s four brothers came to the faith (James, Simeon and Jude, who wrote the letter of Jude). Perhaps Jose or Joseph became converted, too. We are also informed that James became a very influential leader in the early Church, and that he wrote the letter of James. But that happened LATER. Before then, Christ’s brothers were unbelieving and hostile toward Christ (compare John 7:5). They might have been envious and even perhaps hateful toward Him. He referred to them as enemies within His own household–being without honor in His own home.

At the time of the crucifixion, Christ did not think that Mary needed to experience further agonies from her own family. It was more than enough that she had to observe the brutal death of her beloved Son–feeling the sword piercing through her own soul also (Luke 2:35). Christ, in His wisdom and foresight, entrusted His mother to the care of John, knowing that he would be able to provide for her the physical and spiritual needs which Mary needed the most at that difficult time in her life.

As explained in our afore-mentioned booklet, tradition tells us that James, after his conversion and leadership role in the early church in Jerusalem, experienced a violent death in his faithful service to Christ. IF Mary was still alive by that time, a further transition of care for her would have been necessary. Christ, foreseeing this, entrusted the care of His mother to John, knowing that John would die long AFTER the death of His mother.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program has been posted on StandingWatch, Google Video and YouTube.  It is titled, “Is War With Iran Coming Soon?” In the program, Norbert Link is discussing the fact that we are hearing more and more the warning that Israel may strike Iran militarily before the end of this year. Is this possible or likely? What consequences would such an attack have for the United States and the rest of the world? Does the Bible give us any information as to what IS going to happen?

The following video-recorded sermon by Norbert Link was posted on Google Video:

Bible Study–In the Name of Jesus Christ, November 11, 2005

We are preparing for a free Public Bible Lecture, to be conducted by Norbert Link on September 7, 2008, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fort Collins, Colorado. The lecture will address developments in the United States and Europe in the light of biblical prophecy. More information will be forthcoming.

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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

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

©2024 Church of the Eternal God