Update 387


"The Beatitudes" and "Are You Prepared?"

On Saturday, March 28, 2009, Kalon Mitchell and Michael Link will give split sermons, titled, respectively, “The Beatitudes” and “Are You Prepared?”.

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

On Tuesday evening, after sunset, April 7, 2009, is Passover, followed by the Night to Be Much Observed on Wednesday evening, April 8, after sunset.

On Thursday, April 9, 2009, is the First Day of Unleavened Bread. Rene Messier will be giving the sermon in the morning from Oregon, and Norbert Link will give the sermon in the afternoon from California. Further announcements will be given in next week’s Update.

For those of our scattered baptized brethren who need to partake of the Passover at home, we are giving pertinent information in this Update, under Feasts.

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The Passover

by Rene Messier (Canada)

In less than two weeks, baptized members of the Church of God will be partaking of the Passover service. It commemorates the Lord’s death and the tremendous sacrifice He made, not only for those called and chosen now, but for the whole of mankind.

Most of the world will be carrying on as usual on that day, oblivious to the supreme sacrifice made by our Savior some two thousand years ago. For those called now, it is a solemn and sober occasion–an annual commemoration of Christ’s death (compare 1 Corinthians 11:26). 

Before partaking of the Passover symbols, Church members should ask themselves questions like these: How has their relationship been with God and Christ the past year? How has their relationship been with fellow brethren and the rest of the world?

Paul admonishes us in 1 Corinthians 11:27, not to take the Passover in an unworthy manner. In one sense of the word, nobody is really worthy, but Church members are enjoined to partake of it worthily. Paul tells us in verse 28: “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” This requires prior self-examination (compare also 2 Corinthians 13:5), to make sure that when the hour of the Passover comes, they will be worthy.

Even though all of us have trials and tests, hopefully none of us will have to go through that kind of suffering, abuse, torture and mocking that Christ had to endure. Although He did ask that this cup pass from Him if it were possible (compare Matthew 26:39), He totally submitted to the Will of the Father. He understood that it was the only way for mankind to eventually be called and forgiven, and to receive the Holy Spirit, so that they could ultimately become born-again members of the God Family. All of us need to deeply appreciate the great sacrifice that was made on our behalf, even while we were still in our sins, as well as for the entire world (compare John 3:16-17).

Converted and baptized Church members must carefully examine themselves, so that they can partake worthily of the Passover, knowing that in the not-too-distant future, they will be able to partake of this service in the full presence of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ–when the Kingdom of God is established here on this earth (compare Luke 22:14-18).

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The Week in Review

In light of questionable U.S. lawmaking and financial politics, the National Post and the Financial Post ran a provocative article, titled, “Is This the End of America?” Questions are also justified in light of a perceived agenda by the Obama Administration to enact mandatory national service for all Americans (see our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Beware of the GIVE Act,”) and to seize more powers from institutions other than banks.

There are also concerns that the hypocritical actions of Congress to impose a 90% tax on bonuses (even though the AIG bonuses were included in the stimulus package which Congress adopted without reading it) may lead to a mass exodus of American bankers to Europe. This new law might very well be unconstitutional, but it is felt that the courts would not rule this way, given their historical deference to the actions of Congress.

Recently, former Vice-President Dick Cheney stated in an interview that the USA accomplished everything in Iraq that they had intended to do. This is hardly the case. As Der Spiegel reported this week, religious persecution of Christians in Iraq and other minorities is on the rise. Afghanistan proves to be another debacle. Even though President Obama wants to continue the war in Afghanistan by sending more troops, that war has been an utter disaster, and additional troops won’t improve the situation.

Poland has voiced deep concerns about Mr. Obama’s decision to place the missile shield program on hold, stating that, “We hope we don’t regret our trust in the United States.” And a rift between Mexico and the USA, as well as a transatlantic rift between Washington and Brussels, are widening.

The world also watches with anxiety a real possibility of a war with North Korea, and the attempts of Prime Minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government in Israel, fearing for the continuation of the ill-fated “peace process” in the Middle East.

Turning to Germany, retailers made the correct decision to take violent video games off their shelves, following a horrific school shooting last week. And finally, we are told that Arabs are willing to invest heavily in Germany, which could lead to events described in Daniel 11. (For more information, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”)

The End of America?

The National Post and the Financial Post ran a provocative article, titled, “Is This the End of America?” In the article, dated March 19, it was stated:

“Helicopter Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve is dropping trillions of fresh paper dollars on the world economy, the President of the United States is cracking jokes on late night comedy shows, his energy minister is threatening a trade war over carbon emissions, his treasury secretary is dithering over a banking reform program amid rising concerns over his competence and a monumentally dysfunctional U.S. Congress is launching another public jihad against corporations and bankers.

“As an aghast world — from China to Chicago and Chihuahua — watches, the circus-like U.S. political system seems to be declining into near chaos. Through it all, stock and financial markets are paralyzed. The more the policy regime does, the worse the outlook gets. The multi-ringed spectacle raises a disturbing question in many minds: Is this the end of America?

“Probably not, if only because there are good reasons for optimism… It’s happened many times before, except for once, when it took 20 years to rise out of the Great Depression.

“Past success, however, is no guarantee of future recovery, especially now when there are daily disasters and new indicators of political breakdown. All developments are not disasters in themselves. The AIG bonus firestorm is a diversion from real issues , but it puts the ghastly political classes who make U.S. law on display for what they are: ageing self-serving demagogues who have spent decades warping the U.S. political system for their own ends. We see the system up close, law-making that is riddled with slapdash, incompetence and gamesmanship.

“One test of whether we are witnessing the end of America is how many more times Americans put up with congressional show trials of individual business people and their employees, slandering and vilifying them for their actions and motives. And for how long will they tolerate a President who berates business and corporations as dens of crime and malfeasance? If the majority of Americans come to accept the caricatures of business as true, then America is closer to the end of its life as a global leader, as a champion of markets and individualism.

“But America is at risk in other ways, especially in the technical business of setting and executing policy. The presidency of Barack Obama has set out on a course that has no precedent in U.S. history…

“Reform of health care, environmental policy, education, energy, banking, regulation — every nook and cranny of the U.S. economy has been put on alert for major change. Expansion of government spending, plunging the U.S. into unprecedented deficits, is without parallel. In economic policy, through regulation and control of energy output, financial services and monetary expansion, the U.S. government has embarked on a fundamental reshaping of America. It is designed, in short, to bring on the end of America…

“Under the chairmanship of Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve is in the midst of a giant economic experiment, flooding the world with U.S. dollars, hoping that flood will stimulate economic activity… For the rest of the world, however, the worry is that America is at risk of becoming the fountainhead of a new inflationary outburst. The U.S. dollar is now in decline, gold is moving sharply higher, and new global currency turmoil is on the horizon.”

Mass Exodus of American Bankers to Europe?

The Financial Times wrote on March 20:

“Bankers on Wall Street and in Europe have struck back against moves by US lawmakers to slap punitive taxes on bonuses paid to high earners at bailed-out institutions. Senior executives on both sides of the Atlantic on Friday warned of an exodus of talent from some of the biggest names in US finance, saying the ‘anti-American’ measures smacked of ‘a McCarthy witch-hunt’ that would send the country ‘back to the stone age.’

“… ‘Finance is one of America’s great industries, and they’re destroying it,’ said one banker at a firm that has accepted public money. ‘This happened out of haste and anger over AIG, but we’re not like AIG…’ Bankers at Deutsche Bank said it could benefit from the proposed legislation by poaching its US rivals’ most talented employees.”

Bonus Law Probably Unconstitutional… But Do the Courts Care?

Bloomberg wrote on March 20:

“Courts probably will uphold Congress’s effort to tax employee bonuses at American International Group Inc. and other companies receiving federal bailout funds, several legal experts said… The measure raises a number of legal questions, and New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg yesterday [as well as former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney and former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee] said the legislation was unconstitutional. Still, any legal challenge will meet a significant obstacle: the historic reluctance of the Supreme Court to second-guess Congress on tax issues…

“The House took several steps to shield the measure from that argument, said Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School [and legal advisor to President Obama]… The measure doesn’t single out employees at AIG and instead uses general language affecting all companies receiving more than $5 billion in federal bailout money. Bonuses for employees at Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley would be affected.

“Tribe also pointed to a provision in the measure exempting executives at companies that repay enough bailout funds to reduce the government’s investment below $5 billion. That provision ‘makes it clear that the goal is not to punish corporate executives generally, but is simply to ensure the appropriate use of government funds,’ Tribe said in an e-mail…

“‘Courts have been fairly deferential to Congress if the language is written in sufficiently general terms,’ said Jonathan Adler, a law professor and director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland.

“McCaffery, who teaches at USC’s Gould School of Law in Los Angeles, said opponents also would be able to press a legitimate — if not ultimately successful — argument against the measure based on the Constitution’s due-process clause… Opponents would have to show that Congress imposed punishment, bypassing the criminal court system… Even so [this might be the case], he said, ‘you’re swimming upstream because of the general tendency of the courts to stay out of tax legislation…'”

Beware of the GIVE Act

Fox.news reported on March 18:

“The House of Representatives passed a measure Wednesday that supporters are calling the most sweeping reform of nationally-backed volunteer programs since AmeriCorps. But some opponents are strongly criticizing the legislation, calling it expensive indoctrination and forced advocacy. The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, known as the GIVE Act… was approved by a 321-105 vote and now goes to the Senate.

“… the bill’s opponents — and there are only a few in Congress — say it could cram ideology down the throats of young ‘volunteers,’ many of whom could be forced into service since the bill creates a ‘Congressional Commission on Civic Service.’

“The bipartisan commission will be tasked with exploring a number of topics, including ‘whether a workable, fair and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the nation.’

“…some critics on the right suggest that the president’s push for national service goes too far, and the recent congressional steps toward expanding the federal role in volunteerism and ‘civilian service’ smacks of a larger agenda. They point to a campaign speech the president made last July in which he suggested national security could be entrusted to a civilian force.

“‘We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that is just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded,’ Obama… said during a Colorado Springs rally.”

Senate Rubberstamps the GIVE Act

In the meantime, the Senate approved this Act as well.

Note the following “enthusiastic” article by the New York Times, dated March 23:

“Following overwhelming House passage last week, the Senate tonight voted 74 to 14 on a procedural move that essentially guarantees a major expansion of a national service corps, a cornerstone of volunteerism that dates back to the era of President Kennedy. It’s akin to a call to arms by President Obama, who has harkened back to those early days to demand giving back by those who voted for him.

“In fact, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the senior Democrat from Massachusetts whose battle with brain cancer has oft kept him absent from the Senate these days, appeared on the floor to welcomes all around as he cast his approving vote as a co-sponsor. From President Kennedy’s days to the creation of Americorps by then President Bill Clinton, the notion of public service has become a rallying cry. Tonight’s vote, propelled by President Obama’s urging of an expansion, would mean a growth in such work from 75,000 community service jobs to 250,000.

“According to the Congressional Budget Office, the cost of the Senate bill at least would be an outlay for the fiscal year 2010 of $418 million to about $5.7 billion from 2010 through 2014. It’s an historic vote in the sense that a national service corps, an army dispersed to help with education, health services and the environment, would vastly enlarge the notion of ‘community organizing,’ and allow, as Senator Barbara Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, said tonight, for about 7 million people to be engaged in such work.

“The bill enjoyed extraordinary bipartisan support, including namely the major co-sponsor, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, who tonight even recommended reading the biography of R. Sargent Shriver, relative by marriage to the Kennedys and who directed the original Peace Corps from 1961 to 1966. In addition, Senator Hatch mentioned that the Rev. Rick Warren, the evangelical minister of Saddleback Church… was an enthusiastic supporter of this effort, as was Senator John McCain, the former Republican presidential nominee…

“Eleven senators did not cast a vote. The 14 Republicans, some of whom cited the cost in voting against the proposal, are: Senators Sam Brownback of Kansas, James Bunning of Kentucky, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Michael Crapo of Idaho, Jon Kyl of Arizona, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, John Ensign of Nevada, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Jim Risch of Idaho, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, both of Alabama, Tom DeMint of South Carolina and John Thune of South Dakota.”

However, there are DEEP concerns with this bill.

As Infowars.com reports on March 24:

“A passage contained in section 6104 of the original House version entitled ‘Duties,’ in subsection B6, states that a commission will be set up to investigate, ‘Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed.’ This language has been dropped from the version passed by the Senate.

“However, Section 120 of the bill discusses the ‘Youth Engagement Zone Program’ and states that ‘service learning’ will be ‘a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency.’ This part remains in the version passed by the Senate.

“Roles which will be staffed by members of the programs, labeled ‘Required National Service Corps,’ include ‘criminal justice,’ ‘environmental stewardship,’ and ‘public safety.’ Aside from the programs aimed at college students and young people, others will be specifically targeted towards, ‘Retired and other former law enforcement, fire, rescue, and emergency personnel, and other individuals with backgrounds in disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery.’”

Please make sure to watch Norbert Link’s new StandingWatch program, titled, “Beware of the GIVE Act.”

Sen. Judd Gregg–Hopelessly Confusing

The Associated Press reported on March 22 about a blatantly inconsistent statement by Republican Senator Judd Gregg, pertaining to the Obama financial policy. The article stated:

“The top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee says the Obama administration is on the right course to save the nation’s financial system. But Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire also says President Barack Obama’s massive budget proposal will bankrupt the country. Gregg says he has no regrets in withdrawing his nomination to become commerce secretary. He pulled out after deciding he could not fully back the administration’s economic policies. The senator said Obama’s spending plan in the midst of a prolonged recession would leave the next generation with a country too expensive to live in.”

Americans in Dire Financial Need

News Seattle Times reported on March 21:

“A MetLife study released last week found that 50 percent of Americans said they have only a one-month cushion — roughly two paychecks — or less before they would be unable to fully meet their financial obligations if they were to lose their jobs. More disturbing is that 28 percent said they could not make ends meet for longer than two weeks without their jobs…”

More Power to the Government?

The Washington Post wrote on March 24:

“The Obama administration is considering asking Congress to give the Treasury secretary unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy, according to an administration document. The government at present has the authority to seize only banks.”

“Washington-Brussels Divide”

Der Spiegel Online reported on March 24:

“As the G-20 club of the world’s wealthiest nations prepares to meet in London on Apr. 2, observers have focused increasingly on an alleged clash between the US and Europe about how to deal with the global financial crisis…

“US-style domestic stimulus would have only limited effect in export-oriented economies such as Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and many Eastern European countries…

“To be sure, [European Central Bank President Jean-Claude] Trichet fueled talk of a US-Europe rift when he seemed to tell the Wall Street Journal that American policymakers should put their money where their mouths are.”

America’s Stimulus Package a “Road to Hell”

The Associated Press reported on March 25:

“The president of the European Union slammed President Barack Obama’s plans to have the U.S. spend its way out of recession as ‘a road to hell,’ underscoring European differences with Washington ahead of a crucial summit next week on fixing the world economy. Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, told the European Parliament on Wednesday that Obama’s massive stimulus package and banking bailout ‘will undermine the liquidity of the global financial market.’

“Other European politicians kept their distance from the blunt remarks, with some reproaching the Czech leader for his strong language and others reaffirming their good diplomatic ties with the U.S. European governments, led by France and Germany, say the focus should be on tighter financial regulation, while the U.S. is pushing for larger economic stimulus plans — but nobody has so far escalated the rhetoric to such strident levels.

“Topolanek’s remarks are the strongest criticism so far from a European leader as the 27-nation bloc sticks to its position that its member countries are already spending enough to stimulate demand… Topolanek, whose government lost a vote of confidence Tuesday but who will remain EU president until a new Czech government is established, bluntly said that ‘the United States did not take the right path.'”

England Can’t Afford Another Stimulus Package

The Times wrote on March 25:

“The Governor of the Bank of England laid bare tensions between Gordon Brown and the Treasury yesterday by warning that Britain could not afford a second economic stimulus in the Budget.

“Mervyn King… spoke as the Prime Minister, beginning an international tour to co-ordinate measures for next week’s G20 gathering in London, called on leaders to do ‘whatever it takes to create growth and the jobs we need.’ President Obama, Mr Brown’s main stimulus ally, writes in the same vein in The Times today, saying that America is ready to lead the world out of recession, while calling for swift and robust action to stimulate growth ‘until growth is restored.'”

Strain in US-Mexico Relations

The Wall Street Journal wrote on March 25:

“Mexico’s economy is being dragged down by the recession to the north. American addicts have turned Mexico into a drug superhighway, and its police and soldiers are under assault from American guns. Nafta promised 15 years ago that Mexican trucks would be allowed on American roads, but Congress said they were unsafe.

“United States-Mexican relations are in the midst of what can be described as a neighborly feud, one that stretches along a lengthy shared fence. That border fence, which has become a wall in some places, is another irritant.

“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives in Mexico on Wednesday for what will be the first in a parade of visits by top administration officials, including President Obama himself next month, to try to head off a major foreign policy crisis close to home. They will find a country mired in a deepening slump, miffed by signs of protectionism in its largest trading partner, and torn apart by a drug war for which many in Mexico blame customers in the United States…

“Mr. Obama, like President George W. Bush before him, is finding that these foreign challenges touch on some of the thorniest issues in domestic politics, including immigration, free trade and gun control. The Bush administration disturbed relations by failing to deliver on its promise of immigration reform. And the Obama administration, in its first weeks in office, has set off new tensions with a series of conflicting signals and false starts…

“The bloody drug war, which has caused 7,000 deaths in 16 months, has become the principal sore point between the countries… 90 percent of the guns used by Mexican drug cartels originated in the United States…

“The suggestion by Mr. Obama that American troops might be moved toward the border to combat drug cartels prompted Gen. Guillermo Galván, Mexico’s defense secretary, to assert that no deployment of foreign soldiers would be allowed on Mexican soil. History was at the root of the concern here, as even Mexican schoolchildren know of the war a century and a half ago in which the United States seized half of Mexico’s territory…”

Mission Accomplished in Iraq?

Der Spiegel wrote on March 20:

“Europe is opening its doors to the first of a 10,000-strong group of mostly Christian Iraqis… They’ve been chased and threatened, exiled and robbed… Many of the families are Christians for whom living in Iraq has become extremely dangerous. Churches have been bombed, bishops murdered and anyone wearing a cross can quickly become a target. The Christians are too small a minority in the Muslim country to protect themselves…

“The refugees include people like Rita, who once owned a hair salon but had to give it up after receiving death threats. She lived a life of fear until, like many other Christians, she fled the country with her family. Now she has nothing to return to — her house has been occupied and her neighborhood has been ‘ethnically cleansed.’ Rita’s father was kidnapped because he is a Christian. His wife searched for him for one month and then fled to Syria. Police freed him after eight weeks, but it took him nine months to find out where his family had gone.

“Indeed, many of the Iraqi refugees survived horrible events and are traumatized. Sixteen-year-old Muhanad, for example, was kidnapped on his way to school at the age of 14. His kidnappers held him captive until his parents were able to raise $10,000 in ransom by selling jewellery and getting help from other family members. They took the money and dumped the boy in the street with two broken legs. ‘I cried for two weeks, but now everything is okay,’ he says. Muhanad’s family belongs to a Mandaean minority group, which like Christians and Yazidis, became the target of terrorism early on…

“The persecution was far from limited to religious minorities — it was also perpetrated against Muslims like a young man named Mohamed, who was terrorized by the Sunni terror network al-Qaida on one side and the brutal Shiite Mahdi Army on the other… There were loud calls for heightened political pressure on Iraq to respect basic human rights…

“Even though the Americans and the Brits are not without guilt in this matter, Iraq was already a state which showed little respect for human rights. Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party were unpredictable in their treatment of minorities…”

The Afghan Disaster

Der Spiegel Online reported on March 20:

“Afghanistan is on the brink of chaos… The elected government… can no longer compete with the Taliban…

“Internal reports by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) paint grim pictures of the situation. US generals say that they are seeing a ‘significant challenge from insurgents’ in Wardak, and their commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama, recently responded with a simple ‘no’ to the question of whether the United States and its allies are currently winning the war in Afghanistan…

“Instead of progress, NATO is constantly forced to report setbacks, even in areas that seemed to have been turned around after the Taliban regime was toppled in the fall of 2001… Peace has proven elusive after the supposed military victory over the Taliban seven years ago. Officials in the world’s capitals must now contemplate the terrible possibility of failure, the likelihood of defeat for NATO, the UN, the European Union and the United States…

“Obama’s announcement of his intention to negotiate with the ‘moderate’ Taliban looks like the move of a commander-in-chief who no longer believes in victory. His words are those of a leader who sees his position as so weakened that he must make concessions to the enemy. And they demonstrate that the world was misled over the situation in Afghanistan for years…

“Day after day, foreign soldiers are killed and Afghan policemen are murdered… In the east, along the supply routes in the Afghan-Pakistani border region, bridges are constantly being blown up and roads covered in rubble. Convoys are attacked on the Afghan side or destroyed by the enemy in Pakistan before they can even reach the border.”

Will Poland Be Disappointed by the USA?

Deutsche Welle reported on March 22 about the intention by the USA to reconsider the planned deployment of a anti-missile shield in Poland:

“‘We hope we don’t regret our trust in the United States,’ Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said… Russia was enraged by the US missile plans — which the last administration under George W. Bush said was needed to counter a threat from Iran — but has welcomed the review ordered by President Barack Obama.

“I am afraid Russian generals and even the Russian president continue to threaten us with the deployment of medium-range missiles,” Sikorski said…

“Russia has been bitterly opposed to the deployment of a US anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic ever since it was proposed by the former US President George W. Bush… But it was assuaged by Obama’s decision to order a review of the multi-billion dollar project…

“But Sikorski stressed that Poland had taken ‘something of a political risk’ in signing an agreement with the previous US administration. ‘When we started discussing this with the United States, the US assured us they would persuade the Russians that it was purely defensive and it would be a non-controversial decision,’ he said.”

North Korea Threatens War

The Associated Press reported on March 26:

“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday warned North Korea that firing a missile for any purpose would be a ‘provocative act’ that would have consequences. North Korea is loading a rocket on a launch pad in anticipation of the launch of a communications satellite between April 4 and 8.”

The Telegraph added on March 26:

“The US has deployed two warships with anti-missile capabilities in the waters off Japan as tensions mount over North Korea’s plans to test-fire a long-range ballistic missile capable of striking Alaska… North Korea, which has informed international agencies of its plan to fire the missile between April 4 and 8, says the launch is a ‘satellite test’ which it is entitled to make under international law… Japan has threatened to shoot down the missile if it crosses over Japanese territory, a move which Pyongyang has already said it would consider an ‘act of war.'”

Reuters stated on March 26:

“North Korea said on Thursday that if the international community punishes it for next month’s planned missile launch it will restart a nuclear plant that makes weapons grade plutonium… The planned launch… is the first big test for U.S. President Barack Obama in dealing with the prickly North, whose efforts to build a nuclear arsenal have long plagued ties with Washington.”

Developments in Israel

Die Welt reported on March 24:

“Prime Minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu made a coalition agreement with Labour Chief Ehud Barak Tuesday… On Monday, Netanyahu sealed a coalition deal with the Orthodox Jewish Shas party. He had already signed up the Yisrael Beitenu party led by ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman.

“But while enlisting those partners following Israel’s Feb. 10 election, Netanyahu made clear he preferred a broad-based coalition — a government of ‘national unity’. A sharp turn to the right within Israel’s government could raise international concern already heightened by Netanyahu’s promise to appoint Lieberman foreign minister.

“Lieberman has proposed transferring land where many of Israel’s 1.5 million Arab citizens live to a future Palestinian state in return for Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, and wants all Israelis to take a loyalty oath.

“Netanyahy could significantly widen his parliamentary majority if the centrist Kadima party, led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, changes its mind about going into the opposition. Netanyahu has not met her demand for a commitment to Palestinian statehood and a rotation agreement that would make her prime minister for part of the next government’s term.”

Arab Investments in Germany

Der Spiegel Online reported on March 25:

“Abu Dhabi’s stake in Daimler [secured by a payment of €1.95 billion] may herald a wave of Arab investments in German companies that are now available at bargain prices in the economic crisis. However, the new investors are likely to want a bigger say in corporate strategy than German executives have been used to.

“… there are strong signs that Arab investors will become increasingly active in Germany and Central Europe in the near future. Despite the financial crisis, they have ample cash. Besides, the stock value of major companies has nosedived and governments are so busy trying to rescue their economies that their resistance to supposedly dangerous foreign investors has evaporated…

“If the trend is confirmed, the times when Arab investors simply nodded through decisions by German management boards will be over… Arab investors will continue to focus on Europe and Germany, analysts say. In Europe, investors are interested in a broad range of industries, from machine production to carmaking.

“Another European advantage is the euro. ‘Many funds try to prevent the dollar share of their portfolios from getting too big,’ said Deutsche Bank’s Kern…

“The German government last year introduced legislation to give it the power to block major acquisitions of German firms by foreign investors from outside the EU… But the new rule, which allows the government to prevent foreign purchases of more than 25 percent of a firm’s voting rights if it deems the investment ‘a threat to public order and security,’ is unlikely to be used in these times of crisis. Given that many companies are badly in need of capital, authorities are unlikely to throw up any hurdles to acquisitions.”

Violent Video Games Off the Shelve

Der Spiegel Online reported on March 20:

“Following a horrific school shooting, German retailer Galeria Kaufhof has decided to pull violent video games from its shelves. A political debate on instituting an outright ban has also erupted… Beginning in April, the company announced this week, games with 18-plus ratings will no longer be sold in its department stores…

“On March 11, 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer shot 12 people to death at the Albertville secondary school — including nine pupils — before killing three more during his escape attempt. Investigators say the teenager was fond of playing ‘Counter Strike’ and had played ‘Far Cry 2’ on the night before his brutal rampage. Both games are considered excessively violent and cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18… [He also possessed a huge collection of violent Horror movies.]

“‘It’s well known that, in every case of school shootings, the perpetrator has exhibited a pronounced proclivity towards playing violent videogames,’ Heini Schmitt, the head of the police federation of Hessen told a regional radio station. ‘The means and ways in which these people commit crimes sometimes bares a striking resemblance to those of their virtual role models.’

“Germany already has one of the strictest ratings systems for violent games in Europe. The video game company Sega hasn’t even applied in Germany to sell its recently released ‘fight to the death’ Wii game Mad World, which requires players to mimic physically violent motions like carving out an opponent’s heart with a chainsaw.”

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Are Christians subject to the command to not wear mixed fabrics as specified in Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:11?

As a first step in answering this puzzling question, we must understand that all of God’s commandments were given for the good of mankind! King David extolled God and continually praised Him for His Way: “…For all Your commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172).

Very specifically, God chose the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for a unique relationship with Him. Note what He offered to Israel:

“‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…’” (Exodus 19:5-6).

As a part of the covenants (binding agreements) God made with His nation Israel, He included the laws written in the Ten Commandments along with other statutes and judgments by which to administer His government. Some of these had a very specific application for the time and especially for the conduct of the “holy nation” of Israel, even though their overall application was not limited to ancient times.

Let’s consider the sin of adultery as a case in point. One of the overarching commandments of God as found in the Ten Commandments is, “‘You shall not commit adultery’” (Exodus 20:14). The penalty for such a transgression was for the offenders to be put to death (Compare Leviticus 20:10). In establishing the way to administer this law in Israel, God showed that this kind of immoral act was to be dealt with very severely, and He explained the reason: “‘…So you shall put away the evil from among you’” (Compare Deuteronomy 22:21, 22, 24).

Laws concerning agriculture, health practices, public policies and much more were to be administered by the leaders of Israel under God’s direct guidance. Among these is the law concerning mixed fabrics. Here is what is stated:

“‘You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you’” (Leviticus 19:19).

“You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together’” (Deuteronomy 22:11).

In the context of these statutes, we see from Leviticus 19:19 that God very specifically drew lines of separation—i.e., for livestock, for planting and for garments—clothing made, in this case, from an animal by-product and that made from plant derivatives. Also, in the context of Deuteronomy 22, verses 9 and 10 further elaborate the command by God to keep like things together.

In His recreation of life on the earth, God established plants and animals of tremendous variety, and of these, the Word of God states that each was to reproduce “‘according to its kind’” (Compare Genesis 1:11-12, 21, 24-25).

To quote from our booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound…”:

“Let us briefly review a few examples of Old Testament laws, which are clearly still binding today, as neither the letter, nor spiritual principles of the New Testament, nor any ritual character of such laws would indicate otherwise.

“For instance, Deuteronomy 22:5 prohibits cross-dressing. A man is not to wear women’s clothes and vice versa. This law deals with transvestism.

“Deuteronomy 22:9 forbids sowing a vineyard with different kinds of seed. The principle is to plant seeds together that will each continue to reproduce after its own kind, in order to avoid substandard products or hybrids. There is nothing wrong, then, with planting peas or beans among corn, or planting two pasture grasses together. On the other hand, cucumbers should not be planted with watermelons because they will cross and produce a perversion. Likewise, various members of the muskmelon and cantaloupe family should not be planted near pumpkins or certain types of squash, as they will mix.

“Finally, Deuteronomy 22:11 prohibits, correctly translated, the wearing of a garment ‘of different sorts, wool and linen mixed together.’ [The words, ‘such as’ have been added and do not appear in the original Hebrew.] Leviticus 19:19 contains the same prohibition. Wool is an animal product, while linen is a plant product. Such products should not be combined, as an improper blend, as they produce clothes of lesser quality.”

From the standpoint of practicality, mixing wool and linen together for the purpose of clothing degrades the quality. [From a spiritual or symbolic standpoint, wool is very warm on our bodies, but linen is cold. A combination of the two would result in wearing something which gives a “luke-warm” effect, compare Revelation 3:15-16].

Wool and linen both have unique characteristics in clothing and can each be crafted into garments of extremely high quality. As we consider this statute from God, let us also remember that He created the sheep and the flax plant with the knowledge that they would serve as a source of clothing. What He stipulates in both Leviticus and Deuteronomy is the proper use.

At the time of Israel’s emergence as God’s nation, cloth was made from raw materials that were spun into threads and woven on looms. Historical references cite silk, hemp, camel hair and goat hair, while cotton seemed less of a commodity in that part of the world. Animal skins were also commonly processed for clothing. With all of these choices available, God specifically limited the co-mingling of the threads of wool and linen to create garments worn by the people of Israel.

However, we also see that God commanded that special holy garments be made for Aaron and his sons “‘…for glory and for beauty’” (Compare Exodus 28:1-4). This priestly clothing was made according to God’s instructions:

“‘They shall take the gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and the fine linen, and they shall make the ephod of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, artistically worked’” (Exodus 28:5-6). NOTE: The italicized word thread is also rendered as material by the NASB and yarns by the TANAKH.

The variety of materials used in preparation for the Tabernacle and for the clothing to be worn by Aaron and his sons is also described in Exodus 35, verses 20 to 29. Additionally, in Exodus 39, further description of the materials is given. Please note that gold was also woven into these priestly garments as stated in verse 3.

While the exact appearance is not known, copies have been constructed in modern times—especially by organizations in Israel who seek to re-establish Temple worship. From these we see that both animal and plant materials were used for these garments that were only to be made for or worn by the priests of God. It is evident that the construction involved layers of clothing and unique appliqués.

Today, we might consider the wearing of a wool suit coat over a cotton shirt adorned by a silk tie as an example of wearing diverse clothing that each are made of pure materials BUT NOT MIXED TOGETHER IN THEIR FABRICATION. As we saw from the accounts in Exodus, though, the interweaving of some materials—such as gold—was allowed.

In recent times different materials have been developed for making clothing.

Nylon, Polyester, Spandex, and Acrylic are examples of petroleum-based synthetic materials that now make up some of our apparel; also, Rayon (or Viscose) is a cellulose-based semi-synthetic fiber made from wood pulp. Oftentimes these may be used with natural fibers—either as blends or as supporting parts.

As we are not to mix together animal and plant products, it would appear that linen (a plant product) should not be mixed together with an animal product. However, this prohibition does not apply to artificial products, so that combinations such as linen or wool with synthetic and semi-synthetic materials would not be problematic.

How then do we actually apply the restrictions in our apparel as commanded by God? Let’s consider the context of these rules. Understand that these statutes were given to the NATION of Israel that had the totally unique relationship of God’s direct rule through His appointed servants. However, God rejected both Israel and Judah because of their rebellion and their refusal to live by His laws.

When Jesus came as representative of God’s Kingdom and its future establishment on the earth, His disciples wanted to know if He would “‘…at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’” (Acts 1:6).

That did not nor has it yet happened!

Consider the example of the woman caught in adultery. When the scribes and Pharisees brought her before Jesus, they said, “‘Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?’” (John 8:5).When the accusers left without condemning her, Jesus said, “‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more’” (John 8:11).

At that time, Jesus did not enforce the PENALTY of God’s laws as given to the nation of Israel; However, He did UPHOLD THE LAW by admonishing the woman not to sin—which is the breaking of God’s law (Compare 1 John 3:4).

In the future, when God’s Kingdom is established on the earth, God’s laws will be used to govern the earth. Penalties will be exacted (Compare Zechariah 13:3).

In addition, we find that priestly clothing is again specified for the future in the restored Temple of God:

“‘And it shall be, whenever they enter the gates of the inner court, that they shall put on linen garments; no wool shall come upon them while they minister within the gates of the inner court or within the house. They shall have linen turbans on their heads and linen trousers on their bodies; they shall not clothe themselves with anything that causes sweat. When they go out to the outer court, to the outer court to the people, they shall take off their garments in which they have ministered, leave them in the holy chambers, and put on other garments; and in their holy garments they shall not sanctify the people’” (Ezekiel 44:17-19).

We see then, that God’s statutes, as well as its penalties, will be used to govern His future Kingdom, but how are we Christians to look upon the administration of God’s government NOW?

Christians are to abide by the laws of the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, unless the New Testament shows clearly, by letter or in the spirit, that certain Old Testament laws are no longer binding. For example, the New Testament shows that physical circumcision is no longer necessary.

We find an example in the issue of circumcision that arose as uncircumcised Gentiles were being converted to Christianity. Circumcision was strictly enforced among the Israelites; however, note how James and the other elders responded to the Gentile converts:

“‘They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”–to whom we gave no such commandment–it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell’” (Acts 15:23-29).

Paul further shows the application of God’s laws in the deeper, spiritual sense. Using the principle of Deuteronomy 22:10 as a basis, he taught the Church of God, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Christians today are not to carry out the physical penalties of the Old Testament (such as stoning) against others.

On the other hand, no New Testament passage indicates that those Old Testament laws, as set forth in Leviticus 19:19 or Deuteronomy 22:11, are no longer binding.

We should all make diligent effort to apply the spirit of the administrative statutes and judgments given to the nation of Israel. We need to take steps to avoid the inferior quality of blended fabrics used for clothing—including that of wool mixed with linen.

Lead Writers: Dave Harris and Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program, titled, “Why Most Americans Disapprove of Obama Administration,” was posted on StandingWatch, GoogleVideo and YouTube. In the program, Norbert Link points out that Mr. Obama’s approval rating is dropping. As the Wall Street Journal revealed, the overwhelming majority of Americans disagrees with his course of action, and this was even before the most recent scandal involving AIG bonuses. But many don’t even realize that the Obama Administration has begun attacking protection of speech, individual conscience and free exercise of religion.

An additional new StandingWatch program, titled, “Beware of the GIVE Act,” was posted on StandingWatch, GoogleVideo and YouTube. In the program, Norbert Link explains that on March 18, 2009, the House of Representatives approved “The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act,” or the “GIVE Act.” Why should America be concerned? What is this Act all about? Is it a move towards socialism, as some claim? Is it part of a frightening agenda of the Obama Administration to indoctrinate our young people and compel them to perform mandatory national service, as others fear?

Norbert Link’s new sermon, titled, “Bible Study–It’s Easter Time Again,” dated March 21, 2009, was posted on our Website and on Google Video.

Norbert Link’s new German version of the above-mentioned sermon, titled, “Warum kein Ostern in der fruehen Kirche” (“Why no Easter in the early Church”), dated March 24, 2009, was posted on Google Video.

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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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