Update 503


How to Recognize Sin…

On August 6, 2011, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “How to Recognize Sin…”

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.

Back to top

The Real Cause of the Debt Crisis


Why are so many countries and families on the edge of financial disaster? Is it poor financial planning? A tax code that is too liberal or conservative? Absolutely not! The real cause of our financial problems is not the budget deficit, but a deficit of true knowledge. It’s because neither politicians nor people know or follow the Bible.

What does the Bible say about personal and public finance? A lot more than you might imagine!

The Bible tells us a lot about work. It tells us…

  • to work (1Thessalonians 4:11)
  • why to work (1Thessalonians 4:12; Ephesians 4:28)
  • how to work (Colossians 3:23-24; 1 Peter 2:18-20) 
  • when to work (Exodus 20:9)
  • when not to work (Exodus 20:10).

The Bible contains work regulations regarding…

  • how employers must treat employees (Deuteronomy 24:14; Colossians 4:1)
  • how employees must treat employers (Ephesians 6:5-8; Titus 2:9-10)
  • what will happen if either violates these regulations (Malachi 3:5; Luke 16:11-13).

The Bible includes a system to care for the poor (and even aliens) through…

  • paying at certain times a specified portion of our income (Deuteronomy 14:27-29; 26:11-15)
  • giving privately to those in need (Deuteronomy 15:7-10)
  • providing for our own families (1 Timothy 5:3-8).

It even provides examples of how to fund worthy public works (2 Chronicles 24).

Regarding debt, the Bible advises us to…

  • stay out of debt if we can (Proverbs 22:7)
  • pay back our debts if we have them (Psalm 37:21)
  • eventually relieve those who are unable to repay their debts (Deuteronomy 15:1-2; 31:10-11).

Unlike laws invented by partisan politicians, the Bible provides a perfect balance between discipline (2 Thessalonians 3:10-14) and mercy (2 Thessalonians 3:15; Leviticus 19:10).  It encourages generosity (Proverbs 19:17) and diligence (Proverbs 21:5; 27:23), while warning against stinginess (Proverbs 11:24), laziness (Proverbs 6:6-11; 10:4) and greed (Proverbs 28:8).

Believe it or not, the Bible even commands us to pay a specified portion of our income to God (Malachi 3:8-10; Proverbs 3:9-10; Luke 11:42) and to save money every year to spend on good food and good times with friends and family, while attending God’s annual worship services (Deuteronomy 14:22-26. See also our free booklet “The Meaning of God’s Fall Holy Days”).

There are well over 3 million words in the U.S. tax code. Yet, as events of the past weeks have proven, it has not produced sustainable personal and national prosperity. In less than 800,000 words, however, the Bible provides comprehensive, compassionate, proven instructions on every aspect of private and public life.  Those who know, understand and practice them have a wonderfully peaceful, happy, prosperous and eternal future ahead of them (Revelation 22:12, 14).

Back to top

We report on America’s debt-ceiling compromise; the setback of Libyan rebels; dangerous developments in and pertaining to Iran; Germany’s controversial military deal with Saudi-Arabia; joint military ventures between Germany and France; the desire of the British people to leave the EU; new doubts regarding the concept of global warming; and the eerie phenomenon of lake waters in Texas turning red as blood…

Back to top

New Law Allows Raise of Debt Ceiling

Deutsche Welle reported on August 2:

“US President Barack Obama signed into law a measure to raise the federal debt ceiling, shortly after it was approved by a wide margin in the Senate. The Senate vote came just hours before the midnight deadline given by the Treasury Department. Failure to pass the deal would have put the United States into default, sending shockwaves across the global economy. The Senate voted 74-26 to approve the legislation, which cleared the House of Representatives on Monday 269-161. Twenty-eight Senate Republicans joined 45 Democrats in voting for the deal.

“… many on the left and right were still unhappy with it. Progressives had wanted to balance spending cuts with new revenues through taxing the wealthy and corporations, while conservative Republicans had hoped for even more drastic budget cuts… Despite unhappy lawmakers in the US, international figures breathed a sigh of relief as the bill finally passed.”

As was to be expected and as we announced in our StandingWatch programs, the authority was ultimately granted, before the deadline of midnight of August 2, to raise the debt ceiling. However, this does in no way solve our financial problems.

America in Deep Trouble

The Daily Mail wrote on August 2:

“For now, the American debt crisis is over… To many of us here in Britain, the dispute seemed a bizarre exercise in brinkmanship, with posturing politicians taking the world’s largest economy to the verge of default.

“Had the Americans been forced to default, the result would probably have been a second global recession, spelling disaster for thousands of British businesses and piling agony upon agony for hard-pressed families. But the truth is that although disaster has been averted for now, the U.S. debt crisis has been a troubling sign of seismic change… the American economy is in deep trouble…

“After decades of having it all, many Americans refuse to believe that they simply must slash their debts. Faced with the choice of cutting spending or raising taxes, they prefer to pretend the dilemma will go away. The results are becoming clear. Hobbled by massive debts, the U.S. economy posted dreadful growth figures for the first half of 2011… It is no exaggeration to say that the American economy is at a crossroads… At some future moment, the American people will look around and wonder where it all went wrong. But by then, of course, it will be too late…”

Yes, indeed…

Incredible—US Borrowing Has Almost Reached NEW Debt Ceiling

The Washington Times wrote on August 3:

“U.S. debt shot up $239 billion on Tuesday — the largest one-day bump in history — as the government flexed the new borrowing room it earned in this week’s debt-limit increase deal. The debt subject to the statutory limit shot way past the old cap of $14.294 trillion to hit $14.532 trillion on Tuesday… That increase puts the government already remarkably close to the new debt limit of $14.694, which means one day’s new borrowing ate up 60 percent of the $400 billion in space Congress granted the president this week.”

We Brought It Upon Ourselves…

CNN wrote on July 28:

“Did you know that there is only one other country in the world that even has a debt ceiling?  That’s Denmark, a strange anomaly, and its debt ceiling is deliberately kept very high so that it will never need to be raised. Why does no one else have a debt ceiling? Because when a legislature votes to authorize spending at a certain level but authorizes tax revenues at a lower level, it is assumed that the government will have to borrow the difference. The vote to have higher expenditures than tax revenues is – in effect – a vote to borrow money to cover the difference. And in the United States, Congress – including Republicans – voted for a budget in which expenditures exceeded tax revenues… To come at it now after the budget has been passed is like getting your Visa bill and calling up the company to say, ‘Actually we don’t want to buy all that stuff we bought.’ That’s not how it works. First you pay the bill, then you can change your spending habits.

“So why do we have a debt ceiling? Ironically, it was put in place during World War I so that Congress didn’t have to authorize every new issue of debt. It was assumed that it would be a formality to raise it. Since 1960, the debt ceiling has been raised 78 times. My basic point is that this is a crisis that we have manufactured out of whole cloth. We have created a circumstance in which the world doubts our credibility, rating agencies are thinking of downgrading our debt and the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency could be jeopardized. Please understand that none of these things are happening because the United States is running deficits. There was no indication – by any metric– that the United States was having difficulty borrowing money one month ago. In fact, the world has been lending money to the United States more cheaply than ever before. We face downgrades and investor panic not because of our deficits but because we are behaving like deadbeats, refusing to pay our bills, pouting while the bill collector waits at the door.

“We do have a large deficit and debt and we do need to get it under control… The tragedy here is that the damage may already have been done. From now on, every time the debt ceiling needs to be raised, the world will wonder: Will the U.S. stand by its promises or will it break them? Something that was taken for granted – the credibility of the United States – is now surrounded by uncertainty… IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde says that ‘Global markets have always had a positive bias towards the United States but that is now eroded somewhat.’ For this erosion, we have only ourselves to blame.”

It is true that much of the damage to the reputation of the US in all the world has been caused by our own irresponsible conduct—especially that of all of our politicians—and not only in the area of finances. But to try to justify constantly raising our exorbitant debt ceiling to enable us to borrow even more money, as CNN suggests, is beyond human comprehension.

The Shocking Increases of Our Debt Limit…

CBS News reported on August 1:

“The bill [signed by President Obama] to increase the federal debt limit [will] increase that limit by up to $2.4 trillion, which [is] the largest increase in the debt limit in U.S. history by a margin of half a trillion dollars… In fact… the two largest debt-limit increases in U.S. history [have] come in back-to-back years, both during the presidency of Barack Obama. Up until now, the largest increase in the debt limit was the $1.9 trillion increase passed by Congress and signed by President Obama on Feb. 12, 2010. That law increased the debt limit from $12.394 trillion to $14.294 trillion.

“Up until now, the second largest historical increase in the debt limit was enacted on March 27, 2003, when President George W. Bush signed a law that lifted the limit by $984 billion—from $6.400 trillion to $7.384 trillion. The third largest historical increase in the debt limit was enacted on Nov. 5, 1990, when the senior President George Bush signed a law that lifted the limit by $915 billion—from $3.230 trillion to $4.145 trillion.

“Prior to Sept. 28, 1987, the Treasury did not have the legal authority to run a national debt of $2.4 trillion—let alone increase the debt limit by that amount. On that date, President Reagan signed a law lifting the debt limit by $448 billion—from $2.352 trillion to $2.8 trillion. The total debt of the federal government did not hit $2.4 trillion until November 1987, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. According to Treasury’s Monthly Statements of the Public Debt, the national debt equaled $2.3848 trillion at the end of October 1987 and $2.409572 trillion by the end of November 1987.”

One wonders when the next increase in the debt ceiling will occur—and for how much? One of these days, no increase of the debt ceiling, no matter how high the amount, will prevent the total collapse of our economy.

“The Risky Victory for Obama”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on August 1:

“On August 2, the United States will be able to pay its bills again. Global financial markets will be able to breathe a little easier and the feared Armageddon will have been averted. During the next decade, US federal government expenditures are to shrink by $1 trillion, and a special committee in Congress is expected to outline an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by the end of November.

“If they are unable to reach a deal on the additional savings, then cuts will automatically be made across the board, including to the defense budget and to social welfare payments — two extremely expensive programs that are championed by conservatives and liberals. In exchange, the US debt ceiling will be raised in two stages by up to $2.4 trillion over the current level of $14.3 trillion. This will enable the US government to remain solvent and pay its bills — at least through 2012, and past the next presidential election…

“But can Obama truly breathe any easier?… Left-leaning members of the Democratic Party and ultra-conservative Republicans aligned with the Tea Party movement in both houses are unhappy with many of the details in the agreement… The spending cuts will hit programs that are particularly coveted by the left-wing of the Democratic Party — programs aimed at seniors, the poor, children and young people.

“At the same time, the Republicans have also managed to keep the issue of raising taxes taboo, despite the fact that the majority of the US population would prefer a mix of austerity measures and a rise in tax revenues. Currently, America’s tax ratio is the lowest it has been in decades… In the planned second round of consultations on spending cuts, tax adjustments could also be back on the table — at least in theory. But they wouldn’t stand any chance of passage. Of the 240 Republican members of the House of Representatives, 234 have signed a pledge stating they would not approve tax increases, regardless of the circumstances…

“The compromise also marks a break from Obama’s political course up until now. The [Democrats] long pushed for greater government spending in order to stimulate the stagnant economy. Now, however, the focus will be on austerity, even if many economists feel that is the wrong step given the stagnant US economic growth of 1.3 percent…

“Sunday’s compromise can’t really be chalked up as any major success for Obama, not least because it was largely the Republicans who succeeded in getting the concessions they had demanded… At the same time, it is the very Republicans who are now celebrating who might help steer Obama out of the crisis — including the one within his own party. If they agree on a presidential candidate who scares left-leaning Democrats, then they will once again flock to Obama — for better or for worse.”

“For better or for worse”—nicely put.

German Reactions…

Der Spiegel wrote on August 3:

“The German press has heavily covered the US debt ceiling debate, which is often juxtaposed with the current debt crisis in the euro zone. Editorial cartoonists, too, have tackled the issue. Some have even featured pictures of vultures, an image associated in Germany with someone or something that is bankrupt. One cartoon showed Mount Rushmore with four vulture heads replacing those of the four presidents. And a cartoon in the Financial Times Deutschland Wednesday shows a vulture running from Capitol Hill, uttering a promise that he will return.

“Concerns about the debt crisis play themselves out Wednesday in the editorial pages of German newspapers, where some commentators continue to analyze what the debate in Washington over the debt ceiling means for the world.

“The conservative daily Die Welt writes: ‘… it is without a doubt that the last-minute compromise between Democrats in the Senate and congressional Republicans has only pushed off dealing with the conflict to another day… On the one hand, there are the social democratic policies à la Obama, which in the spectrum of the US belong to the left wing. On the other hand are the father-knows-best austerity policies of the Tea Party. The Republicans block out the fact that in 2001 George W. Bush took over a solid budget from Bill Clinton, then waged a war without end in Afghanistan, and an unnecessary one in Iraq, all the while lowering taxes for those on the top. At issue is the role of the last superpower in maintaining peace and balance in the world.’

“The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘…Cuts of $2.1 trillion sound huge, but spread out over 10 years they make up only 1.5 percent of US economic output in today’s dollars. With inflation and growth this percentage would grow smaller…’

“The conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘In Washington, as an election year approaches, the parties and experts are arguing over who were the winners and losers in the debt compromise. The debate shows how far the political landscape has moved from the actual concerns of the American people. The biggest loser of the compromise is clearly the average American on Main Street… Even though a default has been prevented, the insecurity over the economic and financial policies in the US has risen, not declined. Despite good profits and overflowing company coffers, businesses are holding back on investment. A badly needed tax reform, that would sink the corporate tax rate, which is at a record level in international comparisons, has no chance with the ideologically dogged Democrats.’”

And so, politics reigns, and the average American citizen loses…

It All Looks Very Strange…

Der Spiegel published the following article on August 4:

“This week, the United States nearly allowed itself to succumb to economic disaster. Increasingly, the divided country has more in common with a failed state than a democracy. In the face of America’s apparent political insanity, Europe must learn to take care of itself… The US is a country where the system of government has fallen firmly into the hands of the elite. An unruly and aggressive militarism set in motion two costly wars in the past 10 years. Society is not only divided socially and politically — in its ideological blindness the nation is moving even farther away from the core of democracy…

“America has changed. It has drifted away from the West… it [has become] self-destructive… One can no longer depend on politics in America… From a European perspective, it all looks very strange: it’s a different political culture. There are other rules at play, different standards. More and more we view America with the clear notion that we are different… Nevertheless, at least one good opportunity springs from America’s fate: The further the United States distances itself from us, the more we will (have to) think for ourselves, as Europeans. The West? That’s us.”

And so, as prophesied, Europe will become more and more exclusive and antagonistic towards the USA…

“America’s Fiscal Situation Remains Deeply Problematic”

The Financial Times wrote on August 3:

“In the aftermath of the debt ceiling agreement there will be calls for further stimulus for America’s economy. This would be a grave mistake… [The] $800bn American stimulus package was largely a waste of money that sharply enlarged the fiscal hole now facing our economy. President Barack Obama’s administration has consistently overestimated the benefits of stimulus.

“…expansion of public debt… requires higher taxes, retarding growth… America’s fiscal situation remains deeply problematic…progress will be needed, sadly much of which will probably have to await the outcome of the next US election. Yet progress must be made – or the impending crises of governments, signalled by possible downgrades of US debt, will make the 2008-09 recession look mild.”

Uncivilized Appalling Political Rhetoric by Our Leaders

Politico reported on August 1:

“Vice President Joe Biden joined House Democrats in lashing tea party Republicans Monday, accusing them of having ‘acted like terrorists’ in the fight over raising the nation’s debt limit, according to several sources in the room… ‘We have negotiated with terrorists,’ an angry Doyle said, according to sources in the room. ‘This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money.’ Biden, driven by his Democratic allies’ misgivings about the debt-limit deal, responded: ‘They have acted like terrorists.’

“Biden’s office initially declined to comment about what the vice president said inside the closed-door session, but after POLITICO published the remarks, spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said: ‘The word was used by several members of Congress. The vice president does not believe it’s an appropriate term in political discourse.’ Biden later denied he used that term in an interview with CBS… Earlier in the day, Biden told Senate Democrats that Republican leaders have ‘guns to their heads’ in trying to negotiate deals…

“Biden told Democratic lawmakers that the deal would take away the tea party’s ‘weapon of mass destruction’ — the threat of a default on U.S. debt obligations. ‘They have no compunction about blowing up the economy to get what they want,’ Doyle told POLITICO…”

Sadly, this unbecoming conduct and these condemnatory accusations are just a reflection and a mirror of the behavior pattern which has become commonplace in our civilized “Christian” society.

Worldwide Pessimism About Economy

The Los Angeles Times wrote on August 4:

“The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 350 points this morning as increasing pessimism about the economy overtook investors around the globe… Most stock markets in Europe were down at least 2% as the trading day there drew to a close after prices declined steadily during the day. Investors there are worried about increasing debt problems in Italy and Spain. The drop in the U.S. came after a one-day respite Wednesday from nearly two weeks of declines.

“Before trading opened on Wall Street, the Labor Department announced that the number of people applying for unemployment benefits last week fell slightly from the week before. But the report, following a raft of disappointing economic data in recent days, was taken by many gloomy investors to indicate only that the stalled job market is not improving…

“Investors have been moving into perceived safe havens such as gold, Treasury bonds and the Swiss and Japanese currencies. The value of the yen was down Thursday about 3% against the dollar after Japan’s central bank moved overnight to sell yen to protect the country’s export economy. Switzerland’s central bank took a similar step Wednesday to limit the value of the Swiss franc.”

Libyan Rebels in Disarray?

Deutsche Welle reported on July 29:

“Libyan rebel military chief Abdel Fattah Younes has been shot dead… in an incident that may point to divisions within the forces opposed to the rule of strongman Moammar Gadhafi… Younes’ death is likely to deal a severe blow to the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC), which has won the official recognition of some 30 countries… [The killing] is indicative of schisms that have been appearing within the TNC over the last few months …

“Younes was reportedly unhappy in recent months after the TNC appointed a former army general, Khalifa Hefter, as commander of the opposition. Since then, Younes and Hefter were reported to have frequently argued over… strategic military plans… regarding fighting tactics at the front.”

As we have expressed from the outset, a quick and decisive victory against Gadhafi is far from certain.

How Israel Wages War Against Iran’s Nuclear Program

Der Spiegel Online reported on August 2:

“One atomic researcher after the other has died in a series of recent murders in Iran. Is Israel’s Mossad trying to sabotage the construction of a nuclear bomb with the attacks? Officials in Jerusalem aren’t denying anything. Israeli military generals are even more hawkish, and their calls for air strikes on Iran are growing louder. ‘Israel is not responding,’ Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said earlier this week when asked if his country had been involved in the latest slaying of an Iranian nuclear scientist. It didn’t exactly sound like a denial, and the smile on his face suggested Israel isn’t too bothered by suspicions that it is responsible for a series of murders of physicists involved in the controversial Iranian nuclear program.

“There is little doubt in the shadowy world of intelligence agencies that Israel is behind the assassination of Darioush Rezaei. ‘That was the first serious action taken by the new Mossad chief Tamir Pardo,’ an Israeli intelligence source told SPIEGEL ONLINE. On July 23, Rezaei became the latest victim in a mysterious series of attacks over the past 20 months which has seen the virtual decimation of the Islamic republic’s elite physicists. The 35-year-old died after being shot in the throat in front of his daughter’s kindergarten in east Tehran. The Iranian press has reported that the two alleged perpetrators in the attack escaped on a motorcycle… the physics student had worked on the development of high-voltage switching systems, a key component that is crucial to setting off the explosions needed to trigger a nuclear warhead. The physicist had apparently been seen daily at a nuclear research center in northern Tehran… Rezaei is the third Iranian nuclear physicist who has paid for his job with his life since the start of 2010.

“In January 2010, the nuclear physicist Masoud Ali Mohammadi died when a remotely detonated bomb rigged to a motorcycle exploded next to his car. Western experts considered Mohammadi to be one of Iran’s top nuclear scientists. On Nov. 29, 2010, unknown perpetrators committed two attacks which involved motorcyclists attaching explosive devices to their victims’ cars while driving. Majid Shahriari, a professor of nuclear physics who specialized in neutron transport, which is relevant for making bombs, was killed when his car exploded. His wife was seriously injured in the attack. Fereidoun Abbasi was targeted in a simultaneous attack. Abbasi, an expert in nuclear isotope separation, noticed the suspicious motorcyclist, however, and he and his wife jumped out of the car. They were both injured in the explosion. After Abbasi recovered, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed him as one of Iran’s vice presidents as well as head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization…

“Washington denies any responsibility: ‘We were not involved,’ a spokeswoman for the US State Department said in response to Rezaei’s death. Israel, for its part, has opted for a policy of ambiguous silence… According to sources in Israeli intelligence, the killings are part of a campaign to sabotage, or at least slow down, Iran’s nuclear program. The alleged campaign also involves other tactics as well as targeted assassinations. The cyber-attack using the Stuxnet computer virus, which paralyzed large parts of the Iranian nuclear program in the summer of 2010, is supposedly also part of Israel’s secret campaign against Iran. But for hardliners in the Israeli military, the covert action does not go far enough.

“The calls for bombing Iran are getting louder and louder, especially among Israeli Air Force officers, the informant told SPIEGEL ONLINE. There is apparently a heated debate about the effectiveness of such assassination campaigns and whether they can fulfill their goal, reported Yossi Melman, intelligence expert at the Israeli daily Haaretz. In addition, Israel has already faced fierce criticism over other assassinations allegedly committed by its agents in foreign countries. Until now, Mossad experts have been able to convince decision-makers that the construction of an Iranian bomb can best be delayed through attacks on key figures and nuclear facilities. But it is unclear how long Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to follow this advice. Politicians in Jerusalem know well that Mossad is also pursuing its own interests when it argues that its agents should play the leading role in the struggle against Iran… Whether there will be an open attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities in the future will partly depend on whether the Israeli military or intelligence wins the internal power struggle…”

On August 2, Haaretz quoted the article by Der Spiegel, clarifying the following:

“The man, who was killed last Saturday, was initially identified by state-run media as Darioush Rezaei, a physics professor and expert in neutron transport. The media then backtracked, with officials subsequently naming him as Dariush Rezaeinejad, an electronics PhD student. Foreign officials contacted by the Associated Press have verified the name, but say that Rezaeinedjad participated in developing high-voltage switches, a key component that is crucial to setting off the explosions needed to trigger a nuclear warhead.”

It appears almost certain that a war between Israel and Iran will ensue. This time, however, Israel might not win this war, as the Bible strongly indicates. Please compare the Current Events on Israel and Iran in our last Update.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander New President of OPEC

The Guardian reported on August 3:

“A senior Iranian revolutionary guards commander targeted by international sanctions has taken over the presidency of Opec after he became Iran’s oil minister on Wednesday. Rostam Ghasemi, head of the Khatam al-Anbia military and industrial base… is currently subject to US, EU and Australian sanctions and his assets have been blacklisted by US Treasury and western powers… Iranian state media interpreted the vote as a reaction by Iran’s parliament to international sanctions against the country, especially those which have targeted the revolutionary guards and the country’s nuclear programme…

“The appointment of Ghasemi as Iran’s oil minister automatically makes him the head of Opec which has a crucial role in determining oil prices. As its second-largest crude oil exporter, Iran took the presidency of Opec after 36 years last October and Ghasemi’s position will give the revolutionary guards a unique opportunity to influence an international organisation.”

Whether Iran will use this prestigious and influential position to determine oil prices to the detriment of America and the West, will have to be seen.

Mubarak on Trial

Reuters reported on August 3:

“Egyptians and their fellow Arabs were enthralled on Wednesday by the unprecedented sight of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, a leader of the region for three decades and the Arab Spring’s biggest scalp, being wheeled into court to face trial. Outside the courtroom in Cairo, they watched on a big screen as the octogenarian, who ruled Egypt for 30 years, lay on a hospital bed connected to a drip and denied involvement in the killing of protesters who ousted him…

“The opening of the trial coincided with a push by Syrian forces into the heart of Hama… Mubarak was not the first Arab leader to fall in the Arab Spring, but he is the first to stand trial in person. Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who was toppled first, fled to Saudi Arabia and was tried in absentia… If convicted, Mubarak could face the death penalty, though few expect that outcome even if some protesters wish it.

“Some dismissed the proceedings. A government adviser in Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally that tolerates no dissent and has no political parties, criticised putting Mubarak on trial. ‘You realise that these idiotic people are going to destroy whatever is left of the Egyptian state, this is a masquerade,’ the adviser said. ‘This is a humiliating spectacle for everyone. There is nothing to be proud of. Time will tell.’

“… the images of Egypt’s former president and a war veteran, who always presented himself as a father figure protecting the nation, gained him some sympathy…”

We tend to agree with the assessment of the government adviser in Saudi Arabia, as quoted above. As Die Welt wrote on August 3: “Instead of letting the old man die in peace, the military is playing a loathsome and dangerous game with public rage…”

German Government Sued Over Tank Deal with Saudi Arabia

Deutsche Welle reported on August 1:

“Former development minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, spoke out against the German government on Monday for the suspected sale of 200 ‘Leopard’ combat tanks to Saudi Arabia… ‘The tank deal with Saudi Arabia is a catastrophic decision,’ she said. In selling the tanks, Germany has ‘supported an authoritarian, despotic regime’… Wieczorek-Zeul’s comments came just a day after Germany’s opposition Green party announced it had launched a complaint with the country’s highest court over the sale of the tanks… Until now, it has been German government policy not to export heavy weapons to the authoritarian regime in Saudi Arabia.”

Please note our Q&A in this Update on the history and future of Saudi Arabia.

Joint German-French Ventures for Military Aircraft, Naval Construction and Torpedoes

The Local reported on August 1:

“Germany and France are reportedly considering a military ship-building alliance, an ‘EADS of the Seas,’ that could resemble their current arrangement for military aircraft.

“The European defence group EADS, owner of plane maker Airbus, manufactures military helicopters and the A400 military transport plane. Berlin and Paris are considering opening talks later this year on a similar alliance in the field of naval construction, which would involve the German ThyssenKrupp group and the French DCNS military dockyards… Germany had long rejected such a deal, fearing disputes with France over political control of the group and over which dockyards would remain open.

“Nonetheless, a recent failure by ThyssenKrupp to sell its Blohm and Voss dockyards to Abu Dhabi MAR has given new impetus to the project, which is backed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the [Financial Times Deutschland] said. A joint venture might see France take charge of the construction of frigates, while Germany would be responsible for submarines, the paper suggested.

“A recent deal between the French DCNS and the German electronic specialist Atlas Elektronik, a joint venture involving ThyssenKrupp and EADS, for manufacturing torpedoes could serve as an initial test for such a joint venture, the paper added.’’

While Germany and France are collaborating more and more in economic and military matters, Great Britain seems to be on her way out of the EU—see our next article.

British Citizens Want Referendum on EU Membership

The Daily Express wrote on August 2:

“The British public should get a referendum on European Union membership, a Daily Express poll confirms today. An overwhelming 99 per cent of our readers say the time has come for voters to decide if the UK should be freed from the shackles of Brussels, our exclusive survey reveals. Asked if Britons should be given a vote on quitting the EU, they answered with a resounding ‘Yes’. Support for our petition to force a vote smashed through the 40,000 barrier yesterday…

“The Government has said that it will consider any public campaign backed by 100,000 signatures for a debate in Parliament. After just three days of the petition being active we are well on the way to that target.

“This newspaper’s historic crusade – the first to demand that Britain must quit the EU – has already been backed by almost 400,000 people in a postal coupon campaign earlier this year. Now our readers can force the issue direct to the heart of Government again via the e-petition and by sending in letters of support. Last night the colossal surge of support was being viewed as a warning to Brussels that Britain has had enough of meddling, financial fears and an ever-growing tax burden.”

Once a referendum is placed before the British people, it is almost certain that the decision will be against staying in the EU.

Global Warming in Doubt

Yahoo News and Forbes reported on July 27:

“NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

“Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA’s Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models. ‘The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,’ Spencer said in a July 26 University of Alabama press release. ‘There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans’…

“The new findings are extremely important and should dramatically alter the global warming debate… In short, the central premise of alarmist global warming theory is that carbon dioxide emissions should be directly and indirectly trapping a certain amount of heat in the earth’s atmosphere and preventing it from escaping into space. Real-world measurements, however, show far less heat is being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere than the alarmist computer models predict, and far more heat is escaping into space than the alarmist computer models predict…”

This incident serves again as an example as to how stats and figures can be manipulated and misinterpreted by our scientific “experts” to reach a certain desired result.

“And the Waters Turned to Blood…”

Life Science and Yahoo News reported on August 2:

“A Texas lake that turned blood-red this summer may not be a sign of the End Times, but probably is the end of a popular fishing and recreation spot. A drought has left the OC Fisher Reservoir in San Angelo State Park in West Texas almost entirely dry. The water that is left is stagnant, full of dead fish — and a deep, opaque red. The color has some apocalypse believers suggesting that OC Fisher is an early sign of the end of the world, but Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries officials say the bloody look is the result of Chromatiaceae bacteria, which thrive in oxygen-deprived water…

“Texas is experiencing major drought this summer, with 75 percent of the state’s area in an ‘exceptional’ drought, the highest level, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC). The state had hoped for some relief from Tropical Storm Don last week, but the system fizzled and brought only an inch or two of rain to areas near the coast…

“Pictures of this blood-red pool circulated online in fishing forums and caught the notice of Indiana preacher Paul Begley, who said in a YouTube video that the lake might be evidence of the apocalypse as predicted by the Biblical book of Revelation. ‘The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died,’ the passage Begley cited reads. ‘The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.’

“Begley may not have any more luck at predicting the end of the world than did Harold Camping, the radio preacher who set the date for May 21, 2011. But for as long as the drought persists, the OC Fisher reservoir is a reservoir no longer…”

Considering the time line of the prophetic events, the quoted Scripture in the book of Revelation does of course not apply to the current situation in Texas—but it might give us a glimpse of the terrible occurrences which mankind will experience in the not-too-distant future.

Back to top

What does the Bible say about Saudi Arabia?

In our previous Q&A in Update No. 502, we showed that Saudi Arabia is the great nation that had been prophesied to Ishmael, the son of Abraham. Ishmael was born when Abraham was eighty-six years old. He was circumcised at the age of 13—a custom still followed today by the Arabs. Ishmael and his half-brother Isaac buried Abraham together. Ishmael died aged 137.

Ishmael had twelve sons—among them Ishmael’s second-born son, Kedar (“powerful”); Dumah (“silence”; compare Isaiah 21:11; Joshua 15:52); Naphish (“numerous”); Tema (“sun burnt”); and Jetur. The Bible, when addressing the descendants of Ishmael, sometimes refers to Ishmael, sometimes to Ishmael’s second-born son Kedar (synonymously used in Scripture with Ishmael); sometimes to Ishmael’s mother Hagar; sometimes to any of the other above-quoted names of Ishmael’s sons; and sometimes simply to “Arabia” (“wilderness”) or “Arabians.” Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible explains that “Arabia today consists mainly of Saudi Arabia. However, it also includes the two Yemens, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and the Sinai peninsula.”

As mentioned, the prophecy that Ishmael would become a great nation refers primarily to Saudi Arabia today.

Focusing on the biblical history of Ishmael and his descendants, we note that Joseph’s brothers sold him to Ishmaelites who in turn sold him to Potiphar (Genesis 37:27-28; 39:1).

Under David, an Ishmaelite officer was put in charge over camels (1 Chronicles 27:30). Previously, at the time of Gideon, Ishmaelites had the unusual custom of wearing golden earrings (Judges 8:24). At the time of Solomon, the kings of Arabia were famous for their riches in gold which they shared, in part, with Solomon (1 Kings 10:15; 2 Chronicles 9:14), and at the time of Jehoshaphat of Judah, the Arabians gave him valuable presents in the form of livestock (2 Chronicles 17:11).

We read about the nomadic nature of Ishmael and his sons, when the Bible refers to the tents of Kedar (Psalm 120:5; Song 1:5); or when it speaks of Arabians pitching their tents (Isaiah 13:20); or when it mentions the caravans of Tema, one of Ishmael’s sons (Job 6:19); or when it compares Israel with somebody sitting by the road like “an Arabian in the wilderness” (Jeremiah 3:2). Even though such nomadic nature would somewhat change in time, the Bible still uses those terms in respect to Ishmael and his descendants, when addressing prophetic events of the future.

The Bible describes the relationship between Israel or Judah and Ishmael and his descendants mostly as a hostile one. We read in 1 Chronicles 5:19 that the sons of Reuben, the Gadites and half of the tribe of Manasseh made war with some of Ishmael’s descendants, i.e., the Hagrites, Jetur, and Naphish.

1 Chronicles 5:10, 19-20 tells us that King Saul made war with the Hagrites, who are, as mentioned, the descendants of Hagar, the mother of Ishmael (The margin of the New King James Bible confirms that the Hagrites are descendants of Hagar.)

2 Chronicles 21:16 states that God stirred up the spirit of the Arabians, who were near the Ethiopians, against evil King Jehoram of Judah. Since raiders who came with the Arabians killed all the older sons of King Jehoram, his youngest son Ahaziah was made king over Judah, but he did not behave any better than his evil father (2 Chronicles 22:1-3). However, when later a righteous king came to the throne of Judah, namely King Uzziah, God helped him against hostile Arabians (2 Chronicles 26:7).

(In passing, we read that at the time of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, descendants of Ishmael’s second-born son Kedar, the “men of the East,” would be conquered, compare Jeremiah 49:28-29. It is not certain whether this prophecy has any dual application for us today.)

At the time of the prophet Jeremiah, we read in chapters 40 and 41 of the book Jeremiah, that an Ishmaelite slayed the governor of Babylon and all the Jews and Chaldeans who were with him (compare Jeremiah 41:2-3). Still later, Arabians opposed Nehemiah’s attempt to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem which had been destroyed by the Babylonians (Nehemiah 2:19; 4:7; 6:1-9).

On the other hand, we have seen that there were at times friendly relationships between Israel and Judah and the Arabs; for instance, when the kings of Arabia brought presents to Solomon and Jehoshaphat.

Turning to the New Testament, we find that Arabs were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost when God poured out His Holy Spirit on the New Testament Church (Acts 2:11), and that Paul, after his conversion, went to Arabia (Galatians 1:17) and stayed there for a while, perhaps, as Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible suggests, to associate with those Arabs who had been converted on the Day of Pentecost.

On the other hand, Paul states in Galatians 4:25 that Hagar is Mount Sinai in present-day Arabia, which is still not free, but enslaved to sin. This is true, of course, for the whole world today, which is cut off from God.

Focusing on our modern times, we read in Ezekiel 27:21 that Arabia and all the end-time princes of Ishmael’s second-born son Kedar would be the regular merchants of, and have regular bilateral economic trade relationships with mystical Tyre (symbolizing the end-time Babylonian system, as described in the book of Revelation).

Focusing more on end-time prophecies, we also find the remarkable statement that Kedar would not have changed their god in recent times—unlike the modern house of Israel which did (compare Jeremiah 2:10-11). Ever since the Arabs accepted Islam as their religion and began to worship Allah, they have over all stuck to that form of religious worship. The modern house of Israel, on the other hand, has totally abandoned the God of the Bible (Jeremiah 2:4, 9-11-13), and has instead adopted the worship of a “Trinitarian” god (the unbiblical curiosity of “one Person in three Persons”) with customs, practices and rites adopted from paganism. That God’s charge is directed against the house of Israel in our time is clear from God’s statement in verse 9 that God brings those charges against “you” and “your children” and “your children’s children.”

We also read, in Psalm 83:6 that Ishmaelites—the kingdom of Saudi Arabia—as well as other Arabic tribes, such as the Hagrites, will enter into an anti-Israeli confederacy with nations such as Edom (Turkey); Moab (parts of Jordan and perhaps Iraq); Ammon (Jordan); Amalek (perhaps today violent groups like the PLO); Philistia (Palestinians); Lot (Jordan); and, most noteworthy, Assyria or modern-day Germany.

When God intervenes in world affairs, He will begin to pour out His wrath and fury over all nations, by bringing the sword over them (Jeremiah 25:15-17), including Arabia and Tema, one of Ishmael’s sons (Jeremiah 25:23). This will happen during the Day of the LORD of God’s wrath (Jeremiah 25:33), which will begin approximately one year prior to Christ’s return.

We find a remarkable and somewhat detailed prophecy about the future of Saudi Arabia in Isaiah 21:13-17, stating:

“The burden against Arabia. In the forest in Arabia you will lodge, O you traveling companies of the Dedanites [apparently descendants of Jokshan, the son of Abraham by Keturah, Genesis 25:3, who settled in the region of Arabia Petrea]. O inhabitants of the land of Tema [see above], Bring water to him who is thirsty; With their bread they met him who fled. For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, From the bent bow, and from distress of war. For thus the LORD has said to me; ‘Within a year, according to the year of a hired man, all the glory of [Ishmael’s second-born son] Kedar will fail; and the remainder of the number of archers, the mighty men of the people of Kedar, will be diminished; for the LORD God of Israel has spoken it.’”

This Scripture tells us that “Arabia”–Saudi Arabia today–will experience defeat in war, and the time span of one year is given, apparently referring to the Day of the LORD. We are not specifically told who exactly will defeat the Arabs in war, but we note that in Old Testament times, the Assyrians did so, and most commentaries apply the prophecy of Isaiah to that occurrence. They overlook, however, that the prophecy is primarily for our times today (see below), but the question is whether the prophecy is dual, in that Assyria will again be the enemy defeating the Arabs in war, after they first had entered into an alliance with Assyria against Israel.

We also read that the Arabs are admonished to help those with water and bread who flee from the terrible weapons and distress of war—apparently referring to the war which will be started by the Babylonian system under Assyrian leadership, but it could also refer perhaps to the “retaliatory” war fought by the Russians and other Far Eastern nations against Babylon.

In that context, we note that the immediate context of this prophecy is the fall of the modern Babylonian system which is currently rising one more time in Europe (compare Isaiah 21:9, saying that “Babylon is fallen, is fallen”—referring to ancient and to modern times).

We are also told that Kedar—Saudi Arabia—and all the other Arab tribes will ultimately recognize and worship Jesus Christ after His return (Isaiah 42:10-13); and they will worship in Jerusalem and bring their gifts to that holy place where Christ will rule (Isaiah 59:20-21; 60:1-3, 7, 14).

What a time it will be when all nations, including the Arabs, will embrace the one and only true religion of the Bible, as taught in the Old and New Testament, and accept God the Father—the highest in the Godhead—and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as their one and only true personal Savior, without whom there is no salvation (Acts 4:12).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

Back to top

Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on our Web site (www.standingwatch.org) and on YouTube, titled, “What’s Behind the Norway Massacres?” The horrible mass murders in Norway have shocked the world. But disturbing is also the reporting of our media, using these incidents to further their own political agendas. Beware of false labels or the attempt to make you feel guilty for the atrocities of a lunatic.

The German version of the StandingWatch program, titled, “Was steckt hinter den norwegischen Massenmorden?,” was posted on our Web site (www.aufpostenstehen.de) and on YouTube. We are quite encouraged by the response, so far, of more than 2,200 views on YouTube and almost additional 600 views on other outlets.

A new German sermon was posted on the Web, titled, “Wie Man Suende Erkennt…” (“How To Recognize Sin…”)

Please feel free to proceed with making reservations for the Feast of Tabernacles 2011 with the Hilton Garden Inn at 601 James Way, Pismo Beach, CA 93449. When you call under 1-805-773-6020, please make sure that you mention that you are attending the Feast convention of the Church of the Eternal God. Further information is available on our Web site (www.eternalgod.org), under “Feasts.”

Back to top

How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

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

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

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

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

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

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

©2024 Church of the Eternal God