Update 361


The Mystery of Justification

On Saturday, September 13, 2008, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “The Mystery of Justification.”

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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Always Be Ready

by Bill Koeneke

How adept are you in answering those outside the Church regarding all manner of queries including, for example, abortion, being “born again,” going to heaven, why does God allow the evil that continues to torment the world, or what makes you think you are part of the true Church of God? You call yourself a Christian; how do you define a true Christian?  From these examples you can readily perceive the type of questions that might be asked.  Could you, for example, quote or paraphrase the Scripture that defines a true Christian or that condemns homosexuality, and what about challenging the Trinity concept, and the notion that the Ten Commandments are no longer in force.

If our explanation is in accord with God’s Word, then disbelief or disapproval of the questioner does not make the truth any less true. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (New International Version). It is a matter of defending our faith—the faith that Jesus Christ gives us. It is also a matter of defending the Truth. If we are weak in this area, it may reflect negatively on the Church. It may even discomfort us and put off the other person if we find ourselves groping for a proper answer.

In order to be able to reply to questions we may be asked, and because some of us are occasionally plagued with a “forgettery,” we need to review what we have learned over the years, and then to review it again from time to time so as to improve our memory—and we certainly should ask God to help us in that regard. We need to give thought to areas similar to those mentioned above, keeping in mind that sometimes we are likely not to have a Bible handy to help us in our reply and in which case we will need God’s inspiration.

Our answer will need to be catered in such a way that it does not offend the questioners, realizing also that, perhaps, they are being called, and yet they may lack the Spirit of understanding on a particular matter.

Being aware that we are living in an atmosphere where most people are rich, as it were, with this world’s knowledge and poor in biblical knowledge, our answers need to be catered accordingly. And toward that end, and at that moment, we should pray a silent prayer for inspiration so that we are able to answer tactfully and correctly, not based on personal philosophy which dominates religious discussion in the world outside.

We need to be aware, also, of those who tease us with insincere or inappropriate questions…. “trying it on,” as it were, in which case Solomon tells us to answer according to that person’s folly (compare Proverb 26:4-5).

If, however, they are sincere, we might offer them access to a booklet or an internet reference on the subject, or put them in touch with a Minister. And we should also offer up a prayer for that person when we sense a genuine interest.

One of the most satisfying experiences we can have is to discover that the person who asked us a question was eventually called into God’s fold and who then responded to that calling.  Therefore, always be ready to answer those who ask, for how do you know if, perhaps, God was using you in that calling?

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Remembering September 11, 2001

Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 11, 2008:

“Most people in the world can remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the planes terrorists flew into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. This Thursday marks the seventh anniversary of the disaster, and since then a global ‘war on terror’ has been waged — but not won.

“With NATO support, the US has toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and established a new government, but not stabilized the country. A second war was started in Iraq with 9/11 as a justification — but on false premises, as most of the world knows now and many people already understood in 2003.

“Most of the world now has a new understanding of ‘security.’ Global terrorism of the sort practiced by al-Qaida finds targets that are not always easy to comprehend: a Danish embassy in Pakistan, nightclubs on Bali, trains in London and Madrid, wedding parties in Jordan, a synagogue in Tunisia, a British bank in Istanbul.

“To protect themselves, Western as well as non-Western states have passed new laws, some of them draconian. The United States set up a prison at Guantánamo Bay which has yet to be dismantled.

“The CIA has kidnapped and transported terror suspects all over the world, including people who weren’t especially suspect and have long been proved innocent. Arab nations have signed dubious extradition treaties to move terrorist suspects back and forth. Russia and China use the ‘war on terror’ for their own purposes — to declare Chechens and Uighurs potential terrorists, for example. The debate over torture, once thought to be settled in civilized nations, has enjoyed an unexpected and in some ways ignoble renaissance…

“Al-Qaida is not beaten. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri are still at large. A number of high-ranking members of the organization have been killed or arrested, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and others. But terrorism hasn’t stopped. Al-Qaida has retreated in Iraq, perhaps, but in Pakistan as well as North Africa, it has gained influence and space…”

Special EU Status for Britain?

The Daily Mail reported on September 9, 2008:

“The architect of the despised European Constitution has reopened old wounds after he attacked Britain for ‘hampering’ the creation of an EU superstate. Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who spearheaded the drafting of the constitution – only to see it soundly rejected by his own countrymen – said the UK should be given a ‘special status’ to prevent it blocking closer integration. The former French president said Britain’s attempts to curb the expansion of power in Brussels was ‘exhausting for all concerned, and disappointing’.

“The arch Europhile, who was speaking at a conference in Westminster on Britain’s future relationship with Europe, has always been committed to a continental-wide ‘superstate’. As the president of the EU convention he played a key role in drafting the constitution – which was then dumped by French and Dutch voters in 2005. It was revived last year as the Lisbon Treaty, which Labour forced through Parliament in March…

“M Giscard d’Estaing insisted closer integration of the EU’s 27 member states would continue. But he suggested Britain should have a ‘special status’ which would maintain close links with the EU but prevent us from ‘acting as a brake’. He condemned the UK for its ‘permanently antagonistic standpoint’ towards the EU.

“The EU Treaty creates a permanent European president, a foreign affairs minister and a legal personality for the EU which would allow it to sign international treaties on Britain’s behalf. Despite being rejected by Irish voters in June, the EU has vowed to push ahead with it.”

“European Court of Justice Violates National Jurisdictions”

The EUObserver wrote on September 10:

“The European Court of Justice needs to be stopped from undermining national jurisdiction, former German President Roman Herzog and Lüder Gerken, the director of the Centre for European Policy, have warned… The sharp words come in the wake of similar arguments coming from Denmark and Austria accusing the court of stepping beyond its bounds.

“Several cases analysed by Mr Herzog prove, in his view, that the European Court of Justice ‘systematically ignores fundamental principles of the Western interpretation of law’, that it ‘ignores the will of the legislator, or even turns it into its opposite’ and ‘invents legal principles serving as grounds for later judgements’…

“Mr Herzog’s comments come amid growing frustration amongst Danish leaders that a ruling by the court regarding Irish legislation covering the residency rights of non-EU citizens who are spouses of citizens, is having a knock-on effect on similar Danish legislation… In 2006, former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel also attacked the European Court of Justice after it forced Austrian universities to open its doors to more foreign students, arguing that the court was interfering in education, ‘a clear national competence,’ he said at the time.”

Sarah Palin a Former Practicing Pentecostal

CNN reported on September 8:

“For more than two decades, current Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was a practicing Pentecostal. She belonged to the Wasilla Assembly of God church in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska… she attended the church from her teenage years through to 2002…

“Palin’s former pastor, Tim McGraw, says that like many Pentecostal churches, some members speak in tongues, although he says he’s never seen Palin do so. Church member Caroline Spangler told CNN, ‘When the spirit comes on you, you utter things that nobody else can understand … only God can understand what is coming out of our mouths.’ Some Pentecostals from Assembly of God also believe in ‘faith healing’ and the ‘end times’ — a violent upheaval that they believe will deliver Jesus Christ’s second coming…

“The McCain campaign says the Governor doesn’t consider herself Pentecostal… Palin’s former pastor says he has no doubt her religious beliefs will influence her decision making when it comes to government policy… Six years ago, Palin left Assembly of God… But the Assembly of God says she still returns for special conferences and events, such as the graduation of ministry students in June…

“Palin now attends the [non-denominational] Wasilla Bible Church. She was there on August 17, just days before entering the national spotlight. David Brickner, the founder of Jews for Jesus, was a speaker. He told congregants that terrorist attacks on Israel were God’s ‘judgment’ of Jews who haven’t embraced Christianity… The McCain campaign says his comments do not reflect her religious views. Palin’s spokeswoman says she is pro-Israel.

“Pastor Ed Kalnin, the senior pastor of Palin’s former Pentecostal church, has also come under fire for his comments. In 2004, he told church members if they voted for John Kerry for president, they wouldn’t get into heaven. He told them, ‘I question your salvation.’ Assembly of God issued a statement online in response which said Kalnin was ‘joking’…”

Still Unfavorable Relations Between USA and Europe

Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 10:

“According to a major survey, Europeans want the Democrats to win back the White House this year. But Barack Obama’s positions on Iran’s nuclear program and Afghanistan are not widely supported in Europe…

“According to the latest ‘Transatlantic Trends,’ 47 percent of those polled across 12 European countries agree that there would be an improvement in relations between Europe and the US if Obama moved into the White House. By contrast, just 11 percent of those surveyed thought there would be a similar improvement under a President John McCain…

“These figures clearly do not back up the assumption that relations between Europe and the US have already relaxed… The image of the US in Europe has remained almost unaltered during the second Bush administration. Then as now, only 36 percent of Europeans view America’s role as a superpower positively (before the Iraq War that figure was still 64 percent.)…”

Worship of “the Virgin Mary”

Vatican Information Service (VIS) reported on September 7:

“Benedict XVI departed from Rome’s Ciampino airport, landing at the airport of Cagliari-Elmas on the Italian island of Sardinia… Having greeted the political, civil and ecclesiastical authorities, he travelled to the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria, which he visited briefly… the Pope celebrated Mass in the presence of 100,000 people on the esplanade in front of the Marian shrine…

“Going on to refer to the hundredth anniversary of the proclamation of the Virgin as patroness of the island, the Pope called on the faithful ‘to give thanks to Mary for her protection and to reiterate our faith in her, recognising her as the ‘Star of the new evangelisation’… [He] asked the Virgin to help the people of Sardinia ‘to bring Christ to families… May Mary, he said, ‘help you… evangelise the world of work, of the economy and of politics’… At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, Benedict XVI performed an act of consecration to Mary which concluded with the consignment of a golden rose to Our Lady of Bonaria.”

High U.S. Unemployment Rate in August

The Wall Street Journal wrote on September 6:

“A jump in the unemployment rate to 6.1% in August, the highest in nearly five years, underscored the economy’s fragility and deepened political debate over whether a second stimulus package is needed. The jobless-rate jump, from 5.7% in July, was larger than anticipated, reflecting how energy prices and problems in the housing and financial sectors have radiated outward to slow overall economic activity.”

U.S. Government’s Take-Over of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

CNN reported on September 7:

“Federal officials on Sunday unveiled an extraordinary takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, putting the government in charge of the twin mortgage giants… The move, which extends as much as $200 billion in Treasury support to the two companies, marks Washington’s most dramatic attempt yet to shore up the nation’s housing market, which is suffering from record foreclosures and falling prices… Fannie… and Freddie…, which were created by the U.S. government, have been badly hurt in the last year by the sharp decline in home prices as well as rising mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures. All told, the two firms have racked up about $12 billion in losses since last summer…

“Fannie and Freddie have become virtually the only source of funding for banks and other home lenders looking to make home loans… The two firms buy loans, attach a guarantee, then sell securities backed by the loans’ income stream. All told, they own or back $5.4 trillion worth of home debt – half the mortgage debt in the country.

“… the cost to taxpayers [will] largely depend on the future financial performance of Fannie and Freddie. Another unintended yet unavoidable consequence may be the impact to the nation’s banks. Some of the nation’s largest financial institutions… own a big chunk of the estimated $36 billion in preferred shares of Fannie and Freddie… Those stakes are at risk of being wiped out…”

US Stocks Fall

The Financial Times wrote on September 10:

“US stocks suffered their worst fall of the year as a 45 per cent drop in Lehman Brothers shares renewed fears about the health of the global financial system… Lehman is expected to have suffered billions of dollars in credit-related writedowns in the third quarter.”

Reuters added on September 11:

“Washington Mutual Inc… shares sank below $2 for the first time since 1990 as anxiety grew about the largest U.S. savings and loan’s mortgage losses, capital needs and survival prospects… Wall Street is worried that Washington Mutual, like Lehman Brothers… may not have time to right itself… Washington Mutual has said mortgage losses could reach $19 billion through 2011… the falling stock price could make further capital raising prohibitively expensive.”

USA–“$407 Billion in the Hole”

CNN reported on September 9:

“The budget deficit will jump by $246 billion to $407 billion this year, the Congressional Budget Office [CBO] estimates in a report released Tuesday… The budget deficit shot up 153% from last year’s shortfall of $161 billion… Federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid alone is expected to jump 30% in the next decade… [Peter] Orszag [director of CBO] said… ‘The nation is on an unsustainable fiscal course.'”

Russia’s Cat-and-Mouse-Game with the West

The Associated Press reported on September 9:

“Russia announced Tuesday it would keep 7,600 troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia for the foreseeable future, asserting power in the breakaway regions even as it began a pullout from positions deeper in Georgia. The Kremlin’s plans for a heavy military footprint in the enclaves mock Georgia’s hopes that a revised peace agreement will lead to a complete Russian withdrawal from the fractured country at the heart of a bitter fray between Moscow and the West…

“A senior U.S. official… told lawmakers… that the United States is reviewing how to help Georgia rebuild its military. Georgia blames Russia for the war and is calling for a complete withdrawal of Russian forces, including from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. ‘There is no way Georgia will ever give up a piece of its sovereignty, a piece of its territory,’ Saakashvili said Tuesday.”

Ukraine Disappointed Over Germany

The EUObserver wrote on September 9:

“EU and Ukraine leaders will celebrate a ‘great day’ as they unveil plans for a new bilateral treaty in Paris [referred to as “Association Agreement”]…, but behind the fanfare, Ukraine diplomats are disappointed… Nine EU members including Poland, the UK, Sweden, the Czech republic and the Baltic states had pushed for the Paris declaration to ‘recognise’ Ukraine’s EU membership ‘perspective’… Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg blocked any suggestions of future EU expansion into post-Soviet territory, however…

“French diplomats have explained that while the title ‘Association Agreement’ is reminiscent of treaties signed with countries such as Poland in the run-up to the 2004 round of enlargement, it carries no special promise, as ‘association’ deals also exist with Chile or Morocco…

“Ukrainian diplomats see the summit declaration as a sell-out… ‘I feel like we have thrown away our European future,’ one Ukrainian contact said.”

Ukraine Could Be Next

The Wall Street Journal wrote on September 10:

“Perhaps the most urgent question in the world affairs today is whether Russia’s invasion and continuing occupation of Georgia was a singular event. Or was it the onset of a distinct, and profoundly disturbing, national security and foreign policy agenda? Much as one would like to cling to the former theory, the evidence favors the latter…

“Apart from Estonia and Latvia… by far the most likely target is Ukraine… Mr. Putin has made his contempt for Ukrainian sovereignty clear, most notably at the NATO summit in Bucharest last April when, according to numerous reports in the Russian and Ukrainian press, he told President Bush that the Ukraine is ‘not even a real state,’ that much of its territory was ‘given away’ by Russia, and that it would ‘cease to exist as a state’ if it dared join NATO… Whatever the operational specifics, the Russian political barometer seems to augur storms ahead.”

Russia’s Continued Threats

AFP reported on September 10:

“Russia could point missiles at strategic US targets in central Europe, including planned American missile shield sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, a senior Russian general said Wednesday. ‘I can’t exclude that if such decisions are taken by our military-political leadership, the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic and other such objects could be chosen as designated targets for some of our inter-continental ballistic missiles,’ General Nikolai Solovtsov said… Moscow ‘is obliged to take corresponding measures that prevent under any circumstances the devaluing of Russia’s nuclear deterrent…’

“The comments came as tensions mounted between Russia and the United States over last month’s Russian military surge into Georgia and the fraught question of missile defence… Moscow sees the plans for new US missile defence facilities in central Europe as part of an effort to encircle Russia. Washington insists the planned facilities are directed against ‘rogue states’ such as Iran and in no way threaten Russia.”

Germany’s Political Dilemma–Waiting for a Strong Leader

Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 9:

“Frank-Walter Steinmeier doesn’t seem to be looking forward to next year, and who can blame him. The Social Democrat candidate for the 2009 election has never campaigned for office and must unite a bitterly divided party. Few analysts rate his chances of beating Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“… the most likely outcome of the next general election is a continuation of the current grand coalition between Germany’s two main parties, Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and Steinmeier’s SPD. The two rival parties have been ruling Europe’s largest economy together since 2005 in a loveless marriage that has failed to produce significant economic reforms and has plunged the country’s already staid political scene into a dull torpor… Expect more of the same, is the depressing prediction by seasoned observers…

“Angela Merkel’s government is likely to come to a near-complete standstill over the next year as the SPD and CDU square off ahead of the election… The irony is that after that long election campaign the rivals will probably find each other seated round the exact same cabinet table next year.”

Iran–Is Time Running Out for Israel?

Reuters reported on September 9:

“Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant is nearing completion and the start-up of its reactor will soon become ‘irreversible’, the Russian state-owned company that is building the power station said on Tuesday. Russia has already delivered nuclear fuel under a $1 billion contract to build the Bushehr plant, on the Gulf coast in southwest Iran, and Iranian officials say the reactor is likely to be started up soon [i.e., December 2008 – February 2009]…

“Russia signed a contract to build the plant in 1995 on the site of an earlier project begun in the 1970s by German firm Siemens. Siemens’s project was disrupted by Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution and the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.”

Pakistan’s New President

The Associated Press reported on September 9:

“Repeatedly paying homage to his assassinated wife, new President Asif Ali Zardari… was long on platitudes but short on specifics while meeting with media after taking the oath of office in a short ceremony at the presidential palace. He was chosen to replace Pervez Musharraf, a U.S. ally who resigned under pressure last month… The United States came to depend heavily on Musharraf for cooperation to capture or kill al-Qaida leaders who plotted the 9/11 attacks on America and fled Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 toppled the Taliban regime. However, the Taliban revived on Musharraf’s watch, and al-Qaida chiefs Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri remain on the run, probably somewhere in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

“Washington has increasingly taken matters into its own hands in recent weeks, with controversy erupting every time civilians become casualties. Missile strikes in Pakistan’s northwest have killed dozens, and U.S.-led forces last week took part in a helicopter-backed ground assault that killed at least 15… The unilateral actions have sparked a public backlash, including official protests, although it appears that Pakistan, the Islamic world’s only nuclear power, is too dependent on the billions of dollars in U.S. aid to do much more than complain.”

Strained Relations Between Pakistan and USA

CNN reported on September 10:

“Pakistan’s military chief said Wednesday that no foreign forces will be allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan in light of last week’s ‘reckless’ U.S. military ground operation… The announcement came as Pakistan’s military resumed its battle against Taliban militants in its tribal region… A ground incursion last week by U.S. forces into Pakistan strained relations between the two countries. Pakistan summoned the U.S. ambassador in Islamabad to complain about the incident, which it said killed 15 civilians.

“The Pentagon has not confirmed the raid, but a senior U.S. official… told CNN… that U.S. helicopters dropped troops into the village of Angoor Adda in South Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan. The official said there was no evidence of any civilian deaths. The U.S. official said the operation was launched fairly quickly without formal permission from Pakistan’s government after it became clear that there was sufficient intelligence to take the risk of putting U.S. troops on the ground in a potentially hostile area of Pakistan.

“In the U.S., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, warned Congress on Wednesday that cross-border attacks into Afghanistan by militants in Pakistan’s tribal region are a problem… He added that the U.S. is ‘running out of time’ to win the war in Afghanistan and that sending in more troops will not guarantee victory. On Tuesday, President Bush announced the deployment of 4,500 additional troops in Afghanistan.”

The Associated Press added on September 11:

“Pakistan’s prime minister on Thursday backed a harsh rebuke of the U.S. by the Muslim nation’s military chief, a sign of a strain in relations seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks forged the two countries’ anti-terror alliance. Pakistan’s public show of anger with the U.S. comes amid revelations that President Bush secretly approved new U.S. military raids in that country.”

Waste of Time and Money–The Large Hadron Collider

The Sun wrote on September 10:

“Scientists from 60 countries have been working 250ft underground on the project which is trying to recreate conditions in the first billionth of a second after the Big Bang dawn of the universe 14 billion years ago. They aim to fire beams of protons at almost the speed of light in opposite directions through a 17-mile ring-shaped frozen tunnel. Each beam will pack as much energy as a 93mph Eurostar train. The tunnel has been dug under mountain rock in the Alps along the border between Switzerland and France. Although the big switch-on took place today, the first high-energy collisions are not due until October 21.”

AFP added on September 10:

“Now that the beam has been successfully tested in clockwise direction, CERN plans to send it counterclockwise. Eventually two beams will be fired in opposite directions with the aim of recreating conditions a split second after the big bang, which scientists theorize was the massive explosion that created the universe.”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 9:

“Will the Large Hadron Collider… bring about the end of the world? Most physicists say no — but they are hoping for clues as to how the universe began… Physicists say that the €6.4 billion ($9.2 billion) project — the lion’s share of which came from European countries — may provide unique new insights into how our universe was formed, the existence of ‘dark matter’ and even the possible reality of a number of new dimensions…

“Still, despite all the hype and the hope, scientists truly don’t know exactly what they’ll find in this grandest of all scientific experiments…  for those expecting the end of the world, the wait will continue for another few weeks. The Large Hadron Collider won’t actually begin bashing protons against each other until later this autumn.”

If we could only believe God–and all that money could be used for much more needful purposes. The Bible TELLS you how the universe began. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution–a Fairy Tale for Adults?”

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Would you please explain Zechariah's vision of the "four chariots," as recorded in Zechariah 6:1-8?

As we mentioned in previous Updates (360 and 359) when discussing Zechariah’s visions of the “woman in the basket” and the “flying scroll,” as recorded in the fifth chapter, Zechariah’s visions must be viewed, foremost, as containing prophecies for us today.

In Zechariah 6:1-8, the following is recorded:

“(1) Then I turned and raised my eyes and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming from between two mountains, and the mountains were mountains of bronze. (2) With the first chariot were red horses, with the second chariot black horses, (3) with the third chariot white horses, and with the fourth chariot dappled horses–strong steeds. (4) Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, ‘What are these, my lord?’ (5) And the angel answered and said to me, ‘These are four spirits of heaven, who go out from their station before the LORD of all the earth. (6) The one with the black horses is going to the north country, the white are going after them, and the dappled are going toward the south country.’ (7) Then the strong steeds went out, eager to go, that they might walk to and fro throughout the earth. And He said, ‘Go, walk to and fro throughout the earth.’ So they walked to and fro throughout the earth. (8) And He called to me, and spoke to me, saying, ‘See, those who go toward the north country have given rest to My Spirit in the north country.'”

Many commentaries try to explain this vision by identifying the four chariots and horses as the world-ruling ancient empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Or, they identify them as the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, i.e., religious deception, war, famine and disease epidemics. However, in doing so, they miss the entire point of the vision, and replace the clear biblical explanation with human reasoning.

(1) The Bible tells us very distinctly who and what the four horses with their chariots are. Zechariah 6:5 says that they are “four spirits of heaven,” that is, angelic beings. A few commentaries accept this explanation. For instance, Scofield Reference Notes points out:

“That which is symbolized by the four chariots with their horses is not the four world-empires of Daniel, but ‘the four spirits of heaven which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth…’ These ‘spirits’ are angels…”

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible agrees, stating:

“These are the four spirits of the heavens – They cannot be literal winds: for spirits, not winds, stand before God, as His servants, as in Job, ‘the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord’…”

In our free booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World,” we have explained at length the fact that the four spirits of heaven, as mentioned in Zechariah 6, are indeed angelic beings. We are setting forth below a few excerpts:

“Some Angels Look Like Horses

“We find additional accounts in the Bible, describing angels as fiery horses. Note, for example, 2 Kings 2:11–12: ‘Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more.’

“A similar account can be found in 2 Kings 6:15–17: ‘And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.’…

“The angel who spoke directly to Zechariah [in chapter 6] is described as a man [compare Zechariah 1:8, 10-11]. The horses walking to and fro throughout the earth are called ‘spirits of heaven.’ They are spirit beings, or angelic beings, that look like horses. In Revelation 5:6, some of those spirit beings are described as ‘seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits [better translated: “spirits” or “spirit beings”] of God sent out into all the earth.’…

“We find another description of angelic beings that look like horses in the famous passage in Revelation 19:11, 14, describing the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. Notice, however, what the Bible actually says in this little-understood passage: ‘Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war… And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.’

“We are told here that Christ and His armies in heaven will come, riding on white horses. These horses must be spirit beings, because they come from heaven down to this earth. The armies in heaven, riding on white horses, are angelic beings that presumably look like men… certain angels are ‘warriors.’ Their main function is to fight the forces of evil. Other angels, like those who look like horses, have different or additional functions, including the task to carry Christ and His warrior angels.”

(2) Since two of the four horses in Zechariah’s vision are sent into the “north country,” special emphasis is placed on its judgment. Most commentaries agree that the “north country,” as referred to in Zechariah 6:6 and 8, speaks of Babylon. The commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown states: “… ‘the north country,’ that is, Babylon…” The commentary adds: “The ‘white’ [horses] go after the ‘black’ horses to the same country [Babylon]; two sets being sent to it because of its greater cruelty and guilt…”

The commentary continues that the “south country” (mentioned in Zechariah 6:6) signifies “Egypt, the other great foe of God’s people.”

(3) We need to remember that the judgment and punishment of Gentile nations, as described in Zechariah’s vision, is mainly of future application.

The “north” country applies to MODERN Babylon, as described in Revelation 17 and 18. In addition, an interesting end-time reference to MODERN Egypt is found in Daniel 11:42-43, stating that “the land of Egypt shall not escape” the king of the North who will have “power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt.”

The Scofiled Reference Notes explains further:

“The vision… speaks of the Lord’s judgments upon the Gentile nations north and south in the day of the Lord…”

The Day of the Lord refers to the time when God begins to intervene actively in human affairs by pouring out His wrath on disobedient humanity–commencing about one year prior to Christ’s return. (For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.” )

Note also the following comments in the Ryrie Study Bible:

“… the vision may also depict the final subjugation of the world, especially ‘Babylon,’ during the Tribulation days…”

Even though the commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown applies Zechariah’s vision foremost to the destruction of world-ruling empires in Old Testament times, it does allow also for an end-time fulfillment. It points out that the “strong steeds” in verse 7 seem “to apply to all four horses, and here especially to the ‘red.’ Their office is to complete hereafter the work already in part executed by the previous three who have stilled Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Graeco-Macedonia; namely, to punish finally the last great foe of Israel, the final form assumed by the fourth world kingdom, Rome, which is to continue down to the second advent of Christ [and which is identified in Revelation 17 as the modern Babylonian system]. Hence they ‘walk to and fro through the earth,’ counterworking Satan’s ‘going to and fro in the earth’… in connection with the last awful development of the fourth world kingdom.”

(4) We also read, in verse 1, that the four horses and their chariots came from “between two mountains” of “bronze” or “brass” (Authorized Version).

The commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown speculates that the “two mountains” might refer to “the valley of Jehoshaphat, between Moriah and Mount Olivet… or the valley between Zion and Moriah, where the Lord [will be, Zechariah 2:10], and whence He sends forth His ministers of judgment on the heathen…” The commentary continues that “bronze” or “brass” is “the metal among the ancients representing hard solidity; so [is] the immovable and resistless firmness of God’s people (compare Jeremiah 1:18),” implying that the two mountains of bronze or brass might picture God’s firm and immovable judgment on disobedient nations.

We must point out, however, that the four spirit beings are sent out from heaven (Zechariah 6:5), eager to walk the earth (verse 7). Therefore, these two mountains ought to be understood as spiritual mountains in heaven–as the Bible records the existence of a spiritual Mount Zion in heaven (compare Hebrews 12:22-23; Isaiah 14:13-14; Ezekiel 28:14, 16).

(5) Commentaries are divided as to the meaning of Zechariah 6:8, saying that the angels have given “rest to My Spirit in the north country.” Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible seems to have the correct explanation, pointing out that the phrase should be translated as “‘These have quieted My spirit in the north country’ [compare Authorized Version], Or rather, ‘have made My anger to rest’ on, that is, have carried it thither and deposited it there, made it to rest upon them, as its abode, as John saith of the unbelieving, ‘The wrath of God abideth on him’ [John 3:36].”

The commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown agrees, stating that the angels “caused My ANGER to rest” on Babylon [Ecclesiastes 10:4; Ezekiel 5:13].”

God will destroy modern Babylon in His anger (compare Revelation 18:4-6, 8; 14:8). As we see in Zechariah’s vision, He will do so with the help of His angels. This fact seems to be confirmed in Revelation 18:21, where we read: “Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore.'”

God’s judgment on this disobedient world is sure and certain, and it will be swift. Most people will be caught unawares, but God warns His servants today to be awake and to watch world events, so that they can be prepared and ready for Christ’s return (compare 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4; Luke 21:28; Matthew 24:32-33, 44).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch, Google Video and YouTube. It is titled, “Should Bristol Palin’s Pregnancy Concern You?”

In the program, Norbert Link is asking: What is missing in the news media’s reporting on Bristol Palin’s pregnancy? Much debate revolves around the pro’s and con’s of abortion, the proper use of contraceptives, or even the question of statutory rape in Alaska. The undesired social phenomenon of unwanted teenage pregnancies has also been mentioned. But reference to the most important aspect has been overlooked or neglected.

The Sermon “A Remarkable Psalm” from August 6, 2005 by Norbert Link was posted on Google Video.

We would like to thank all of you for your prayers for a successful Public Bible Lecture, which was given by Norbert Link in Fort Collins, Colorado, on September 7, 2008, after being introduced by Dave Harris. Even though physical attendance was below expectation, the lecture was transmitted live over the Internet, and it was also video-recorded. 

The video recording of the Public Bible Lecture has now been posted on Google Video. It is titled, “Public Bible Lecture: Europe in Prophecy.”

Comments from our Readers and Viewers

“Thank you so much…I received it [the booklet, “Europe in Prophecy“] and read it the same night!  WOW!  It was great to have some things explained… excellent!  This is definitely the beginning of the end!  Quite scary, as there will be blood, sweat and tears before the marriage supper!”

“Thank you for all your videos. I am a new viewer, a single Mom and a strong believer in God. He has carried me through many trials and it is helpful to me to know what is coming. I prayed and asked him for the truth. I have to say that it is difficult to swallow. So, now I am going to pray more for even more guidance. Thank you for helping to make things clear.”

“These were my thoughts exactly when I was reading about Palin’s daughter: marriage was mentioned as well as keeping the child, but no one said anything negative about premarital sex.”

“You’re right on with your message. Abstinence is mocked by most folks as ineffective and outdated, while the promotion of ‘safe sex’ is hailed as responsible parenting/educating. What a backwards world. Please keep up the good work of teaching God’s truth.”

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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

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