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The Good Fight–Why the Days of Unleavened Bread?
On Monday, April 5, 2010, is the Last Day of Unleavened Bread. Dave Harris will be giving the sermon in the morning from Colorado, titled, “The Good Fight,” and Norbert Link will give the sermon in the afternoon from California, titled, “Why the Days of Unleavened Bread?”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm Pacific Time, respectively (which is 11:00 am Mountain Time; 12:00 pm Central Time; 1:00 pm Eastern Time for the morning service; and 3:00 pm Mountain Time; 4:00 pm Central Time; 5:00 pm Eastern Time for the afternoon service). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
by Rene Messier (Canada)
Although this Editorial was written prior to Passover, by the time it is published, Passover will be over. Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread are a time to examine ourselves and to make an effort to put sin out of our lives. In the Bible, leaven is many times compared with sinful, hypocritical and proud conduct. During the Seven Days of Unleavened Bread, we are reminded of the physical and spiritual applications of sin and righteousness. The physical removal and avoidance of leavening, which we must not neglect, points to the spiritual and symbolical meaning, which is even more important not to neglect.
Passover is a time to re-commit ourselves to our calling from God, and to stay engaged in the efforts that fulfill the purpose of our calling–to preach and publish as a witness the gospel of the Kingdom of God to this sick and dying world, prior to the return of Jesus Christ.
Our efforts to put sin out of our lives are important, since this process helps us to draw closer to God. Sin acts as a barrier in our relationship with God, and especially at this time of year, we are reminded that we must be distancing ourselves from sin. Isaiah 59:2 says: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.”
Since separation from God is the effect of sin, then the benefit of removing and abstaining from sin is that we can draw closer to God, and that He hears us as a result. Sin is our enemy, and we must recognize this and deal with it. We cannot ignore sin or attempt to sweep it under the rug, as it were; otherwise, sin will overpower us and the results will be devastating.
To remove sin from our lives is of course not just a “once-a-year” exercise, but it must be done on a continual basis, in order to maintain the positive effect of God hearing and answering us. We understand that it is through the Sacrifice of Christ that we obtain forgiveness of our sins. We also need God’s help to overcome and conquer sin. We cannot do it on our own. And so, God gives us His Spirit to overcome sin–but we must use His Spirit to do so.
It is important for us to carry forward into the balance of the year the vital lessons that these Spring Feast Days picture. They remind us of our responsibilities toward God to stay committed to His Work and purpose for us, and to maintain a state of continual removal of sin. When we remain close to God, He will respond to our prayers and requests throughout the whole year, and He will help us to fulfill the purpose of our calling. As we read in 1 Corinthians 15:57-58:
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
This Week in the News
This week, we focus on the EU deal pertaining to Greece, showing Germany’s dominant influence in Europe. The BBC wrote it was a deal “on German terms,” and MSNBC commented that it was “a clear victory for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.” The mass tabloid Bild wrote: “By taking on our chancellor, Europe has bit off more than it can chew.” And Der Spiegel Online said that all EU member states fell in line “like dominos.” Reuters concluded that “the masks have fallen” and that we have now reached a “more German Europe,” with the possibility that for those “outside the euro zone or the EU, the outcome could be a two-class Europe in which an inner core, under strong German influence, increasingly calls the shots.” Times on Line warns of a future clash between Germany and Britain.
In other news, the number of deaths or injuries of American troops is sky-rocketing, while America refuses to sell any major weapons to Israel, but it is more than anxious to sell advanced weapons to Egypt and the Arab League states, including Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. At the same time, Arab nations are uniting against Israel, asking Europeans to help them in their endeavor.
Insurance companies are already beginning to circumvent the mandates of the new U.S. Health Care law, and its constitutionality is being challenged in court. Suicide Chechen bombers killed innocent civilians in Russia, allegedly in “retaliation” of the brutal treatment of Chechen civilians by Russian soldiers, showing that violence only breeds more violence.
The widening worldwide Catholic sex scandal has been described by CNN as the worst crisis the Catholic Church has ever faced. However, the Vatican and the Pope remain defiant, and while denying many of the allegations, they become more and more aggressive toward those who criticize them. Irresponsible claims by an irate leading Catholic publisher were made this week on CNN’s Larry King show, shouting that there was “no shred of evidence” for any culpability of the pope or the Vatican. Other Catholic leaders even went so far as to blame the “attacks” on the pope on the devil. Lack of trust by Germans–Catholics and non-Catholics alike–in the pope or the Catholic Church has reached unparalleled low levels, as more and more scandals are being revealed almost on a daily basis and the roles of the current and former popes in these scandals are being scrutinized.
Der Spiegel Online asked in an editorial why the pope does not simply resign, concluding that this is unlikely, due to his [false] claim that he is the spiritual successor of the Apostle Peter. The magazine also warned about the dangerous course of conduct Ratzinger has been taking since becoming pope: “… he has done more damage to his church than good. He has strained relations with Jews several times, he played with fire in relations between Christians and Muslims with his Regensburg address, he angered the indigenous people during his Latin America trip, he has alienated Protestants and he has shown himself to be conciliatory to Holocaust deniers. Even loyal Catholics have been stunned by the course of action he has taken.”
While the Catholic Church is confronted with its abominable sex scandal, Germany’s openly homosexual Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, announced that he will be the official patron of the eighth annual Gay Games in Cologne this summer, and scientists spend over 10 billion dollars in their vain and futile attempts to learn more about the beginning of the universe.
This is the crazy world we are living in!
German Deal on Greece….
BBC News reported on March 26:
“All 16 eurozone countries have backed a financing plan to help debt-laden Greece, which will include IMF money… The plan was worked out at a summit in Brussels. Greek PM George Papandreou called it ‘a very satisfactory’ move. The president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, said the deal was significant ‘not just for Greece, but for the stability of the eurozone’…
“It was, as is so often the case, German approval that swung it, and it is a deal done on German terms. Early on in this crisis the idea that the IMF would be involved in bailing out Greece was regarded as a humiliation for Europe; but Germany insisted that the IMF would play a role, and so it will, alongside loans from individual members of the eurozone.
“There’s more in the deal that Germany wanted – a call for strengthened surveillance of economic and budgetary risks and a task force to look at what further measures are needed.”
MSNBC and the Associated Press wrote on March 25:
“The deal at a summit meeting Thursday night in Brussels was a clear victory for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had taken a tough line on any bailout. She demanded that a rescue for Greece only come when the country runs out of other options and said it must include the IMF… Germany sees itself as a fierce defender of prudent budget spending and is unwilling to use its taxpayer money to help Greece, which overspent and faked budget figures for years…”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on March 26:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel managed to convince the rest of the euro zone to back her concept for a Greek bailout…
“In the end, it was like dominoes. French President Nicolas Sarkozy indicated his agreement early in the week; the rest of the euro zone leaders followed just prior to the beginning of the European Union summit in Brussels on Thursday evening. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Luxembourg’s leader Jean-Claude Juncker, European Central Bank boss Jean-Claude Trichet — one European torch-bearer after the next gave up their opposition to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“… Merkel was able to bask in a brief ray of domestic popularity as a result. Even the tabloid Bild found room for a bit of Merkel-related triumphalism. ‘By taking on our chancellor, Europe has bit off more than it can chew,’ read the paper’s Thursday headline…
“Merkel sees the new German toughness as providing a way forward for the euro zone. Someone has to stand up for the currency’s stability, seems to be her position. Indeed, she even appeared prepared to abandon her famous pragmatism in her defense of the euro…”
A More German Europe
Reuters wrote on March 26:
“The masks have fallen. From now on, we will all be living in a more German Europe, with economic policy driven by Berlin’s hair-shirt export-or-die model. That is the lesson of a deal among euro zone leaders on a financial safety net for debt-stricken Greece, adopted largely on German conditions on Thursday after months of wrangling that battered confidence in the single European currency.
“‘The politics of the EU are undergoing a fundamental change at present, with Germany becoming increasingly willing to cast off the shackles of the past and make its voice heard,’ said RBS analyst Timothy Ash in a research note… ‘This will ultimately lead to German political and financial hegemony without sublimation,’ said Ulrike Guerot of the European Council on Foreign Relations…
“In the tradition of EU leadership, it was euro co-founders France and Germany who negotiated the compromise on Greece that was then ratified by the other 14 euro zone members, and eventually by the whole 27-nation EU… France made most of the concessions to convince Merkel not even to open her chequebook but at least to agree to show it… Merkel’s domestic weakness may have made her more assertive in Brussels and others more willing to accommodate her…
“Britain and Poland were irritated that decisions affecting the continent’s future, including on EU budget discipline, were being taken by the 16 euro zone leaders while they were in the dark, waiting outside the room. Even those inside the meeting had little option but to accept Germany’s conditions for a fallback mechanism to protect the euro zone against a possible sovereign default. ‘Next time we might as well just phone to find out what’s been agreed by France and Germany,’ one EU diplomat said…
“For those outside the euro zone or the EU, the outcome could be a two-class Europe in which an inner core, under strong German influence, increasingly calls the shots.”
The Bible prophesies that Europe will unite and that Germany will play a leading role. Ultimately, we will witness the emergence of ten European nations or groups of nations–a “core” Europe–being led by a charismatic political and military leader of German or Austrian descent.
Coming Clash Between Germany and Britain?
Times On Line wrote on March 27:
“David Cameron was facing the unwelcome prospect last night of a referendum on Europe after Germany called for a new EU treaty to strength the rules of the eurozone. The demand from Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, left the Tory leader — or Gordon Brown if he is re-elected — on course for an early clash with Germany over plans that would be seen as heading towards a European economic government.
“Both Labour and the Conservatives are committed to a referendum on future treaty changes but none had been on the agenda until the Mrs Merkel’s intervention yesterday. The move is particularly unhelpful to Mr Cameron, who would want to develop a good working relationship with the EU after years of hostility, and particularly with its Centre Right leaders. Tories fear that any referendum in Britain could turn into a wider debate on whether Britain should stay in the EU…
“Mr Cameron could argue that Mrs Merkel’s demands would not directly affect Britain and need not trigger a referendum. She will also have difficulty convincing France, Sweden and others that a new EU treaty is needed after the drawn-out process of passing the Lisbon Treaty.”
It is very likely that Britain will ultimately exit the EU.
Number of U.S. Troops’ Deaths and Injuries on the Rise
The Associated Press reported on March 27:
“The number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan has roughly doubled in the first three months of 2010 compared to the same period last year as Washington has added tens of thousands of additional soldiers to reverse the Taliban’s momentum. Those deaths have been accompanied by a dramatic spike in the number of wounded, with injuries more than tripling in the first two months of the year and trending in the same direction based on the latest available data for March…
“After a summer marked by the highest monthly death rates of the war, President Barack Obama faced serious domestic opposition over his decision in December to increase troops in Afghanistan, with only about half the American people supporting the move. But support for his handling of the war has actually improved since then, despite the increased casualties…
“A rise in the number of wounded – a figure that draws less attention than deaths – shows that the Taliban remain a formidable opponent. The number of U.S. troops wounded in Afghanistan and three smaller theaters where there isn’t much battlefield activity rose from 85 in the first two months of 2009 to 381 this year, an increase of almost 350 percent. A total of 50 U.S. troops were wounded last March, an average of 1.6 per day. In comparison, 44 were injured during just the first six days of March this year, an average of 7.3 per day.”
America’s attempts to play a decisive role in foreign affairs are doomed. God announced thousands of years ago that because of America’s unwillingness to obey Him, He will withhold His blessings from the nation.
No More American Weapons for Israel?
A7 News reported on March 25:
“The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) revealed in a January report that was updated recently that… over the last year, the Obama administration has refused to approve any major Israeli weapons requests. Government sources asserted that the refusal represents a new White House policy to link arms sales to the Jewish state with the Netanyahu government’s willingness to submit on Washington’s demands that Israel surrender Judea, Samaria and most of Jerusalem to the American-backed Palestinian Authority…
“[There are] American plans to sell F-16s, Harpoon Block 2 anti-ship missiles, Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, fast attack craft and helicopters to the Egyptians. In addition to the advanced weapons sold to Egypt, Washington has also approved more than $10 billion worth of arms sales to Arab League states, including Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates…
“According to the report, the failure to sponsor Israel’s qualitative edge, which violates a pledge given more than 40 years ago to maintain Israel’s military superiority over its neighbors, began not with Obama but under the previous administration of President George W. Bush… A major U.S. policy shift came in 2004, when the Bush Administration needed Gulf Arab help for the American-led invasion of Iraq – particularly after Turkey denied Bush entrance into Iraq from the north – and wanted to bolster Washington’s influence and ability to deal with regional problems…
“According to the report, the U.S. aid to Arab states has hampered Israeli military cooperation with Washington…”
America is trying to buy allies in the Arab world, but this attempt is not sanctioned by God and doomed to fail.
Arabs vs. Israel
AFP wrote on March 27:
“Arab leaders open their annual summit on Saturday determined to send a clear message to Israel that any plan to ‘Judaise’ Jerusalem would spell doom for the Middle East peace process. The summit is the first to be hosted by Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, the longest-serving Arab head of state who considers Israel the ‘enemy’ and has frequently lambasted Arab countries who seek peace with the Jewish state.
“It comes amid a spiral of violence that an Israeli general said killed two soldiers and four Palestinians on Friday as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to stay the course with his east Jerusalem settlement policy… Pro-Western and radical Arab leaders have also been angered by the opening of a restored 17th century synagogue near the Al-Aqsa mosque compound — home to Islam’s third holiest site…
“Libya, which wants the summit to be one of unity, has also invited UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to address Saturday’s opening session. Ban arrived Friday and met with Arab officials, including Abbas, to brief them on last week’s meeting of the Middle East Quartet — the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations — which called on Israel to halt settlements.”
The Bible prophesies that many Arab nations will unite against Israel, and that Germany will ultimately be part of that anti-Israel confederation. Are we beginning to see the fulfillment of this prophecy?
The New Health Care Law…
The New York Times wrote on March 28:
“Just days after President Obama signed the new health care law, insurance companies are already arguing that, at least for now, they do not have to provide one of the benefits that the president calls a centerpiece of the law: coverage for certain children with pre-existing conditions. Mr. Obama, speaking at a health care rally in northern Virginia on March 19, said, ‘Starting this year, insurance companies will be banned forever from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.’
“The authors of the law say they meant to ban all forms of discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions like asthma, diabetes, birth defects, orthopedic problems, leukemia, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease. The goal, they say, was to provide those youngsters with access to insurance and to a full range of benefits once they are in a health plan.
“To insurance companies, the language of the law is not so clear. Insurers agree that if they provide insurance for a child, they must cover pre-existing conditions. But, they say, the law does not require them to write insurance for the child and it does not guarantee the ‘availability of coverage’ for all until 2014.
“William G. Schiffbauer, a lawyer whose clients include employers and insurance companies, said: ‘The fine print differs from the larger political message. If a company sells insurance, it will have to cover pre-existing conditions for children covered by the policy. But it does not have to sell to somebody with a pre-existing condition. And the insurer could increase premiums to cover the additional cost.'”
“Congressional Democrats were furious when they learned that some insurers disagreed with their interpretation of the law…”
… Will It Survive?
The Washington Times wrote on March 29:
“The same Supreme Court justices whom President Obama blasted during his State of the Union address this year may ultimately decide the fate of his crowning achievement as more than a dozen states have called on the courts to strike down the health insurance mandate of Democrats’ health care overhaul – a move that would threaten the entire law.
“Two major constitutional challenges have been levied against the new law, one by the state of Virginia, which enacted a law exempting its citizens from the federal health insurance mandate, and another by Florida and 12 other states. Legal scholars are divided on the merits of the cases, and even Congress.. has said it’s an open question whether the provision could pass constitutional muster.
“At issue is the scope of the federal government’s power over states and individuals. Critics of the law say the requirement that all Americans buy insurance or pay a fine, if allowed, would mean that Congress has virtually boundless authority to compel actions. Proponents argue that legal precedents support an expansive reading of the legislative branch’s license to regulate such activity… The mandate, which doesn’t take effect until 2014, is central to Democrats’ goal of insuring about 32 million more Americans.”
After all the time, money, political maneuverings and efforts spent and waisted on the new health care laws, it might have been all for nothing… As the Bible says: When the Lord does not build the house, the laborers toil in vain.
Suicide Bombings in Russia
Deutsche Welle reported on March 31:
“The Islamist group ‘Emirate of the Caucasus’ has claimed responsibility for this week’s Moscow metro bombings, a Chechen Internet site said on Wednesday. In a video statement recorded on Monday, the leader of the group, Doku Umarov, said the purpose of the attack had been to avenge ‘the massacre by Russian invaders of the poorest residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia, who were picking wild garlic in the Arshty village on February 11, 2010, to feed their families.’
“In the video… Umarov warned of fresh strikes against Russia, saying soldiers stabbed their victims to death and then ‘mocked’ their corpses. He told Russians that ‘war will come to your streets, and you will feel it with your own lives and skins.’
“The video – the authenticity of which couldn’t be independently confirmed – was the first claim of responsibility for Monday’s metro bombings in Moscow that killed 39 people. In response, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered security forces to apprehend the masterminds, saying they would be caught even if police had to ‘scrape them from the sewers.'”
Even though these kinds of suicide bombings must be condemned, it is true that the Russians have dealt with utmost brutality in their “fight” against Chechen civilians. As Christ said: “When you take the sword, you will perish by the sword.”
Vatican Under Attack
The New York Times wrote on March 24:
“Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit. The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.
“The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer. The Wisconsin case involved an American priest, the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who worked at a renowned school for deaf children from 1950 to 1974…
“Father Murphy not only was never tried or disciplined by the church’s own justice system, but also got a pass from the police and prosecutors who ignored reports from his victims, according to the documents and interviews with victims. Three successive archbishops in Wisconsin were told that Father Murphy was sexually abusing children, the documents show, but never reported it to criminal or civil authorities.
“Instead of being disciplined, Father Murphy was quietly moved by Archbishop William E. Cousins of Milwaukee to the Diocese of Superior in northern Wisconsin in 1974, where he spent his last 24 years working freely with children in parishes, schools and, as one lawsuit charges, a juvenile detention center. He died in 1998, still a priest…
“The Vatican’s inaction is not unusual. Only 20 percent of the 3,000 accused priests whose cases went to the church’s doctrinal office between 2001 and 2010 were given full church trials, and only some of those were defrocked… To many, Father Murphy appeared to be a saint…”
In a related article, the New York Times wrote on March 24:
“The fallout from the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church settled across Europe on Wednesday, as prosecutors said they were weighing criminal charges against a priest suspected of molesting children in Germany, and Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of a bishop accused of mishandling allegations of abuse in Ireland.
“… church officials in Munich said the priest, the Rev. Peter Hullermann — whose transfer in 1980 to an archdiocese led at the time by Benedict, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, has drawn the pope himself into the nation’s child abuse controversy — had been accused of molesting a minor as recently as 1998.
“The latest revelation comes as church officials in northern Germany say they have “credible evidence” of at least two other cases of sexual abuse committed by Father Hullermann in the 1970s, adding to a trail of accusations that suggest a pattern of abuse over two decades. During that time, church officials repeatedly transferred Father Hullermann to new parishes and allowed him to work with children, even after a 1986 conviction for sexually abusing boys.”
On March 25, The New York Times published the following editorial:
“Pope Benedict XVI’s latest apology for the emerging global scandal of child abuse by predatory priests — an issue that the Roman Catholic Church should have engaged years ago — is strong on forgiveness but far short of the full accountability that Catholics need for repairing their damaged church.
“With the scandal spreading across Europe, Benedict apologized to Irish Catholics last week for the “sinful and criminal” sexual abuse of thousands of children across decades. But he made no mention of the need to discipline diocesan leaders most responsible for shielding hundreds of priests from criminal penalties by moving them from parish to parish to continue their crimes.
“The pope’s apology fell short not only for Catholics in Ireland, but for those in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, where hundreds of new allegations are emerging to be investigated by a Vatican office that has but 10 workers to do the job…
“It was hard to see how Vatican officials did not draw the lessons of the grueling scandal in the United States, where more than 700 priests were dismissed over a three-year period. But then we read Laurie Goodstein’s disturbing report in The Times on Thursday about how the pope, while he was still a cardinal, was personally warned about a priest who had molested as many as 200 deaf boys. But church leaders chose to protect the church instead of the children. The report illuminated the kind of behavior the church was willing to excuse to avoid scandal.
“… what is most urgently needed was well described by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel — ‘truth and clarity about everything that took place.’”
… And Now Also in Italy…
MSNBC wrote on March 25:
“Revelations that the Vatican halted the investigation of a Wisconsin priest accused of molesting some 200 deaf boys have eerie echoes in Italy, where 67 deaf men and women accused two dozen priests of raping and molesting children for years… The two cases are the latest in a burgeoning abuse scandal on both sides of the Atlantic that now threatens to tarnish the papacy itself…”
What Did Pope John Paul II Know?
The Associated Press wrote on March 26:
“The Vatican is facing one of its gravest crises of modern times as sex abuse scandals move ever closer to Pope Benedict XVI – threatening not only his own legacy but also that of his revered predecessor… as attention focuses on Benedict, a perhaps thornier question looms over how much John Paul II, beloved worldwide for his inspirational charisma and courageous stand against communism, knew about sex abuse cases and whether he was too tolerant of pedophile priests.
“John Paul presided over the church when the sex abuse scandal exploded in the United States in 2002 and the Vatican was swamped with complaints and lawsuits under his leadership. Yet during most of his 26-year papacy, individual dioceses and not the Vatican took sole responsibility for investigating misbehavior.”
Should the Pope Resign?–Ratzinger a Dangerous Pope!
Der Spiegel Online published the following editorial on March 25:
“Allegations that Pope Benedict XVI may have had detailed knowledge about instances of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church continue to mount… With his authority eroded, why does he even remain in office?
“When is it time for a pope to resign? Margaret Kässmann, the former head of the Protestant Church in Germany, stepped down in February upon deciding that she no longer had the necessary moral authority for her office after being caught driving drunk. But how much authority does Pope Benedict XVI still enjoy?
“These days, what is left is disappearing almost daily. Each new detail about the role he played in his church’s handling of instances of sexual abuse erodes it further. But a pope doesn’t just resign. He is not the CEO of a company, not the head of a political party — he is the direct spiritual descendent of the Apostle Peter.
“It is, in theory, possible according to church law. Canon 332, Paragraph Two, provides for a papal resignation, allowing the pope to step down whenever he wishes and without asking anyone for permission. But in the long history of the Catholic Church, it is extremely uncommon. Pope Celestine V was the most recent church leader to resign — 700 years ago.
“And even if numerous abuse victims have long been calling for Benedict to stand down, it is simply not papal to turn one’s back on the papacy. Instead, the Vatican prefers to reject any accusations that have been made as being fully unfounded… The Church’s motto has long seemed to be ‘the perpetrators first.’ They were taken good care of — the victims, however, were left to their own devices.
“Since 1982, Ratzinger had been responsible for that part of the Vatican which deals with cases of sexual abuse. Who, other than he, was responsible for the Church’s path? You can rename Ratzinger ‘Benedict,’ SPIEGEL wrote in the face of the euphoria over the German pope that spread here after his election to the papacy in 2004, but you can’t take Ratzinger out of the pope. Since then, as pope, he has done more damage to his church than good. He has strained relations with Jews several times, he played with fire in relations between Christians and Muslims with his Regensburg address, he angered the indigenous people during his Latin America trip, he has alienated Protestants and he has shown himself to be conciliatory to Holocaust deniers.
“Even loyal Catholics have been stunned by the course of action he has taken. And now, on top of all that — one area where he has been consistent over the decades has been in his negligence in dealing with pedophiles within his own institution… What happened behind the facades of the Church is still far from being an open book… Evil has been perpetrated inside one of the highest moral authorities, one whose men have preached from the pulpit in the finest detail about what is right and what is wrong…”
Vatican’s Denials and Attacks
BBC News reported on March 25:
“The Vatican has condemned claims that Pope Benedict XVI did nothing about a US priest who is suspected of molesting up to 200 deaf boys decades ago. A Vatican newspaper editorial said the claims were an ‘ignoble’ attack on the Pope and that there was no ‘cover-up’… One victim told the BBC that the Pope had known ‘for many years’… But the Vatican’s rather lame excuse for lack of any action is that canon law, as Church law is called, ‘does not envision automatic penalties’…
“Meanwhile, one of the Pope’s top aides, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, told reporters there was ‘a conspiracy’ against the Church, without specifying who was responsible.”
Times On Line wrote on March 28:
“Pope Benedict XVI has opened Holy Week indicating that he will ‘not be intimidated’ by accusations against the Vatican over the clerical sex abuse crisis. In his Palm Sunday address the Pope said that Jesus Christ ‘leads us towards courage which does not allow us to be intimidated by the chatter of dominant opinions, towards patience which supports and sustains others’…
“Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, former archbishop of Milan and at one time a contender for the papacy, told an Austrian paper that priestly celibacy should be ‘reviewed’ as a possible cause of abuse by clergy. The Vatican has rejected suggestions that celibacy causes abuse, and Pope Benedict this month reaffirmed it as ‘a gift to God.'”
If All Fails–Blame It on the Devil…
The Catholic News Agency (CNA) wrote on March 31:
“Noted Italian exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth, commented this week that the recent defamatory reporting on Pope Benedict XVI, especially by the New York Times, was ‘prompted by the devil.’… ‘There is no doubt about it. Because he is a marvelous Pope and worthy successor to John Paul II, it is clear that the devil wants to “grab hold” of him.’ Father Amorth added that in instances of sexual abuse committed by some members of the clergy, the devil ‘uses’ priests in order to cast blame upon the entire Church: ‘The devil wants the death of the Church because she is the mother of all the saints.'”
Pope Can’t Testify–Enjoying Immunity as Head of State
Reuters reported on April 1:
“Pope Benedict, accused by victims’ lawyers of being ultimately responsible for a cover-up of sexual abuse of children by priests, cannot be called to testify at any trial because he has immunity as a head of state, a top Vatican legal official said on Thursday… the pope is protected by diplomatic immunity because more than 170 countries, including the United States, have diplomatic relations with the Vatican. They recognize it as a sovereign state and the pope as its sovereign head…
“The Vatican has taken off the gloves in its response to media reports alleging the pope mishandled a series of abuse cases before he was elected. It launched a frontal attack on the New York Times on Wednesday night by posting a long statement on its website… by Cardinal William J. Levada, who succeeded the pope… as head of the Vatican’s doctrinal department.”
The Catholic Church is a religious STATE, patterned after other STATES–a fact which has clearly been prophesied in the Bible. See Revelation 13:11-15.
Germans–Little Trust in Catholic Church or the Pope
The Local wrote on March 24:
“Trust in the Catholic Church has taken a heavy blow… with barely one in six Germans saying they had confidence in the Church in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal. German-born Pope Benedict XVI has also suffered a crippling blow to his authority, with fewer than one in four people saying they trusted him personally, the poll published by Stern news magazine found.
“Just 17 percent said they trusted the Church and 24 percent the Pope. That compares with 29 percent and 38 percent respectively in a similar poll taken at the end of January. The poll taken by the Forsa surveying firm found that, even among Catholics, only a minority trusted either the Church or the Pope. Just 39 percent had confidence in the Pope, down from 62 percent at the end of January, while 34 percent trusted the Church, down from 56 percent.
“Among non-denominational Germans, just 5 percent said they trusted the Church. By comparison, the Protestant Church’s standing has barely been affected by the recent resignation of its leader Margot Käßmann, who was caught driving drunk. Some 42 percent of Germans said they had faith in [the] Church compared with 44 percent at the end of January. Among Protestants, trust was at 65 percent, actually a slight rise on the 64 percent registered six weeks ago.”
As has happened in history on numerous occasions, when the pope or the leadership of the Catholic church were criticized, they responded by launching out–sometimes with violent means–against those who dared to question them. The current reaction of the Vatican or leading Catholics was to be expected. Many Catholics begin to see what their leadership is all about, but they are too much “Catholic” in their heart than to think of leaving the organization. However, God tells us: “Come out of her [modern Babylon], my people, least you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities” (Revelation 18:4-5).
Germany’s Foreign Minister Patrons Gay Games…
The Local reported on March 25:
“German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has agreed to be the official patron of the eighth annual Gay Games in Cologne this summer… On July 31, Germany’s first openly gay minister and vice chancellor, who is in a long-term relationship with entrepreneur Michael Mronz, will kick off the quadrennial games at the Rhein Energie Stadium.
“Westerwelle’s participation was a ‘clear signal for more tolerance and acceptance of homosexual people in our society,’ Gay Games Cologne 2010 director Annette Wachter said, adding that organisers hope this will enhance how the athletes are received in their daily lives. More than 12,000 athletes from around the world are expected at the games, which run from July 31 to August 7 in the city.
“The first Gay Games event took place in 1982 in the California city of San Francisco with the aim of fighting discrimination against lesbians, gays and bisexuals.”
In spite of modern “enlightenment,” God calls homosexuality a sin and does not endorse the practice.
The Atom Smasher…
The Associated Press reported on March 30:
“The world’s largest atom smasher threw together minuscule particles racing at unheard of speeds in conditions simulating those just after the Big Bang — a success that kick-started a mega-billion dollar experiment that could one day explain how the universe began. Scientists cheered Tuesday’s historic crash of two proton beams, producing three times more force than researchers had created before and marking a milestone for the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider.”
If scientists would only believe the Bible, all that money could be saved and used for proper purposes.
God tells us: “In the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). And: “All things were made through Him [the Word, Jesus Christ], and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). And: “God… has in these last days spoken to us by His Son… through whom also He made the worlds…” (Hebrews 1:2). And finally: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).
For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution–a Fairy Tale for Adults?”
Would you please explain Matthew 24:20?
In Matthew 24, containing the famous “Olivet prophecy,” Jesus Christ explained the “sign of His coming and the end of the age” (verse 3). After discussing the “beginning of sorrows” (verse 8), He pointed at the worldwide preaching of the gospel (verse 14), followed by the Great Tribulation (beginning with verse 15). In that context, Jesus said, in verses 19-22:
“(19) But woe to those who are pregnant and to those with nursing babies IN THOSE DAYS. (20) And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. (21) For THEN there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until THIS TIME, no, nor ever shall be. (22) And unless THOSE DAYS were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake THOSE DAYS will be shortened… (29) Immediately after the tribulation of THOSE days the sun will be darkened… (30) THEN the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and THEN all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Even though some commentaries state that Jesus’ sayings were restricted to the time of 69 A.D. and 70 A.D., when true Christians fled to the city of Pella before the Romans invaded and destroyed Jerusalem, it is clear from the context that those events, even though constituting a forerunner, did not describe the final fulfillment of the prophesied events. There was no “Great Tribulation” at the time of 70 A.D.–worse than it ever had been or will be–nor did those events precede “the end of the age”–this present civilization–and “the coming of Christ.”
It is true that Christ specifically addressed first “THOSE who are in Judea,” telling them to “flee to the mountains” (verse 16). But then, His statement is all-encompassing, stating in verse 20: “And pray that YOUR flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.”
Regarding His statement that the flight should not be in winter, John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible remarks about the winter season:
“When days are short, and unfit for long journeys, and roads are bad, and sometimes not passable, through large snows, or floods of water; and when to dwell in desert places, and lodge in mountains, must be very uncomfortable: wherefore Christ directs to pray to God, who has the disposal of all events, and of the timing of them, that he would so order things in the course of his providence, that their flight might not be in such a season of the year, when traveling would be very difficult and troublesome.”
Christ was clearly saying in verse 20 that the Sabbath (as well as “winter”) would still be in existence “in those days,” just prior to His return. Notice this: The Sabbath will still be in force and effect just prior to Christ’s Second Coming! The notion that Christ came to abolish the law of the Ten Commandments (including the commandment to keep holy the Seventh-Day Sabbath), is utterly false. Paul said in Hebrews 4:9: “It is therefore the duty of the people of God to keep the sabbath” (Lamsa translation). The New King James Bible translates, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God,” but in the Greek, the word for “rest” is “sabbatismos” and means, literally, “keeping of the Sabbath” or “Sabbath-rest.” The time of the Sabbath rest referred to here begins Friday evening, at sunset, and lasts to Saturday evening, at sunset, according to the Hebrew calendar.
At the same time, the Bible makes it clear that it is not a sin to “flee” on the Sabbath. The Bible says that the ancient people of Israel left Egypt on the First Day of Unleavened Bread (an annual Sabbath or Holy Day), and, according to tradition, they crossed the Red Sea during their flight from the Egyptians on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread (another annual Holy Day). Also, according to tradition, the Israelites invaded and conquered Jericho on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread.
Again, what Jesus says is to pray that our flight not occur during either of these times. Implicit in His instructions is the fact that should the flight fall during these periods, then real difficultly would follow. Also, His warnings do act as a preparation for us–watching and being ready to escape from the horrific events that will follow is something we must pay attention to. Examples from the Word of God do show that God warned righteous people in advance, and that He also saw to their safety and deliverance.
However, it would most certainly not be easy “in those days” to have to flee “in winter or on the Sabbath.” Remember, Christ said in Matthew 24:19: “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those with nursing babies in THOSE days.” A flight under those conditions might be very burdensome, and Christ was encouraging His end-time disciples who would be aware of the signs of the time, to pray that their flight would NOT be in winter or on the Sabbath.
Christ focused specifically on the Sabbath for several reasons:
At the time of the end, the Satan-induced governments of this world will have begun a thorough persecution of all those who keep the Sabbath. We read of a worldwide martyrdom of God’s disciples, who will keep the Sabbath. These martyrs will include those who will have rejected the “mark of the beast.” This “mark of the beast” includes those who keep Sunday, instead of the Sabbath, and man-made holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, instead of God’s annual Sabbaths or Holy Days.
As happened before in history, the followers of “orthodox Christianity” will persecute all those who don’t keep holy their “weekly day of worship”–Sunday, the day of a pagan sun-god, as well as their annual “holidays” such as Christmas or Easter–days originally dedicated to pagan sun-gods–and who instead insist on keeping holy God’s weekly Sabbath and His annual Holy Days.
The “mark of the beast”–designating those working or not working on certain days–will identify all those who belong to the universal “Christian” church in existence “in those days.” By extension, it will also single out those who do NOT belong to that universal church. For more information on the “mark of the beast,” please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “Is That in the Bible–The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”
We read that Satan will influence the governments of this world to persecute those who will be fleeing to a place of safety here on earth (compare Revelation 12:14-16). Those who keep the Sabbath and have probably already been under surveillance by the governments, will be in danger of additional persecution, and the governments might step in to prevent their flight. If that were to happen on the Sabbath, one can easily see how difficult, even mentally and spiritually, the conditions would be for the continuation of the flight.
Christ also prophesied that some outside the Church of God would keep the Sabbath. For instance, the Sabbath is being kept even today–more or less–in the state of Israel. Since it is possible that the place of safety will be located in the Middle East, it would be difficult to flee there, if it somehow involved a route through the state of Israel. According to prophecy, the Jews in Israel will have begun, by that time, to become more zealous in their religion; to build the Third Temple; and to re-institute the daily sacrifices. It stands to reason that true Christians would have to encounter resistance even from certain Jews if they had to flee on the Sabbath. (Since most Jews reject the New Testament, they would not take Christ’s warning seriously to flee to a place of safety to escape the Great Tribulation).
If most of the Jews in the state of Israel were to re-institute their (unbiblical) traditions regarding the Sabbath, which is highly likely, it would be very difficult to pass through their region on the Sabbath day. Note what the commentary of Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible has to say about the ancient traditions of the Jews:
“Long journeys were prohibited… The law of Moses did not mention the distance to which persons might go on the Sabbath, but most of the Jews maintained that it should not be more than 2000 cubits. Some supposed that it was 7 furlongs, or nearly a mile. This distance was allowed in order that they might go to their places of worship. Most of them held that it was not lawful to go further, under any circumstances of war or affliction. Jesus teaches his disciples to pray that their flight might not be on the Sabbath, because, if they should not go farther than a Sabbath-day’s journey, they would not be beyond the reach of danger, and if they did, they would be exposed to the charge of violating the law [as interpreted by the Jews–not taught by the Bible]. It should be added that it was almost impracticable to travel in Judea on that day, as the gates of the cities were usually closed.”
John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible gives a similar explanation, which, even though referring to the time of Jesus’ First Coming, might be applicable to a renewed, but misguided zeal of the Jews in the future:
“And the reason why our Lord put them on praying, that their flight might not be on the Sabbath day, was, because he knew not only that the Jews, who believed not in him, would not suffer them to travel on a sabbath day more than two thousand cubits; which, according to their traditions…, was a sabbath day’s journey; and which would not be sufficient for their flight to put them out of danger… And though the Jews did allow, that the sabbath might be violated where life was in danger, and that it was lawful to defend themselves against an enemy on the sabbath day; yet this did not universally obtain; and it was made a question of, after the time of Christ, whether it was lawful to flee from danger on the sabbath day.”
We read that Christ’s true disciples will be hated by all nations in those days (Matthew 24:9). This would include professing Christians, because true Christians won’t accept the pagan concepts and worship which have become part of orthodox Christianity. This would also include the Jews, because true Christians won’t accept Jewish traditions and they will confess Jesus Christ as the ONLY Savior of the world, which concept the Jews (as well as the Arabs and other non-Christian religions) universally reject. True disciples will become the target of worldwide persecution from every corner, and fleeing on the Sabbath would contribute to additional hostilities.
Christ’s statement also shows that the specific day of the flight is not yet fixed, but that it is within the Father’s authority to decide when exactly the day of the flight will occur. So let us pray then, that our flight will not occur in winter or on the Sabbath day.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new StandingWatch program was posted on the Web, titled, ” Is Obama the Antichrist? ” In the program, it was pointed out that according to a new survey, nearly a quarter of Republicans believe President “Obama may be the Antichrist.” What does the Bible say about the concept of “antichrist”? Did you know that Scripture does NOT teach that “THE” Antichrist will come in the future, just prior to Christ’s return? This program explains the TRUTH about “antichrist,” and what IS REALLY prophesied to happen.
Our new Internet ad campaign has begun in the USA, advertising our free booklet, “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?”
A new German sermon was posted on the Web, titled, “Krankheit und Heilung, Teil 1” (“Sickness and Healing, Part 1”).
Home Sweet Home
by Louise Amorelli
Several months ago, my husband and I experienced some very severe health trials, involving two of our family members. One of those health trials needed our immediate attention and caused us to leave our home promptly and travel a good distance, to serve those needs. We had to pack, make arrangements for the care of our home, cat, bills, and square away our work commitments, within one day! Needless to say, that was quite a harrowing and stressful occasion. We left all behind, not knowing when we would return. We put all things in God’s hands and hoped and prayed for the best, not only for our family members, but also for all we were leaving behind.
When we arrived at our destination, we didn’t know where we would stay, where we would be eating, and exactly how to handle the challenges ahead. We went to different relatives’ homes, sleeping on couches, trying to grab whatever we could eat and get some rest, while trying to get as much information from health care professionals as possible, and to make sound family health decisions.
Through all of this, I thought of how Jesus and His apostles left all to preach the Gospel. They left their homes behind, not knowing where they would eat or where they would sleep to get this Gospel out. They went on the faith that God gave them, through the Holy Spirit. Although on a much smaller scale, now I can understand better what they went through.
When we finally arrived home, a month later, we really did appreciate our home… ahhh… home sweet home!! But it made me realize even more, how temporary this life really is, and how one day, I will need to leave ALL behind to (hopefully) go to the place of safety, without my possessions of this world, even leaving my physical home. My REAL home is not in this life, but a spiritual one, being one of rulership with Jesus Christ! Jesus is preparing a place for me… a home that will last forever, one that I can really call… Home Sweet Home!!
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