|Live Services||That You Bear Much Fruit|
|Editorial||No Shortcut to God|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||Will God’s people be protected from the terrible times to come?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
That You Bear Much Fruit
On January 28, 2012, Eric Rank will give the sermon, titled, “That you bear much fruit.”
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.
No Shortcut to God
by Robb Harris
In 1918 a German-born Jew by the name of Fritz Haber won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing the Haber-Bosch process. His process of synthesizing ammonia from natural deposits was a milestone in industrial chemistry. His techniques were used to mass produce fertilizers–without which the diet of today’s humanity would not be possible. In the 1920’s researchers at Haber’s institute developed a cyanide gas formulation, Zyklon A, an insecticide used to keep grain stores safe from pests.
Haber’s own research into and involvement in deploying chemicals during WWI coined him as the “father of chemical warfare.” During WWII his research of Zyklon A was refined by the Nazis into Zyklon B and was used in their gas chambers to exterminate Jews.
Solomon said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25).
Haber contributed greatly towards the benefit of mankind. “The annual world production of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is currently more than 100 million tons. The food base of half of the current world population is based on the Haber-Bosch process.” (Wikipedia). The reason Haber’s process was needed in the first place was because of mankind’s rejection of God’s Laws. Haber sought a way to nourish land that could not sustain continuous farming. God, several millennia previously, set up simple practices that would achieve the same results: “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove” (Exodus 23:10-11).
What seems sensible, cutting-edge or even forward thinking, has proven throughout human history to usually be focused away from God’s simple plan for mankind. Men tried to reach out to God in their own way by building a tower into the sky, but failed to understand God. Today we glimpse millions of years into our past—to the far reaches of space–searching for a better understanding of our universe. But no matter how far we look, man still has little understanding of the magnificent Being whose mere word caused us to exist, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth” (Psalm 33:6).
Calling us lights in a world filled with darkness is not hyperbole! Mankind has truly failed to come to an understanding of God, blinded by their own disobedience. The precious opportunity we have been granted must be used! We cannot rely on our own wisdom, our own shortcuts—as mankind has done—to understand God. What was true in Solomon’s time is true today—man’s way leads to death. Let us all watch and pray that the way we are heading leads to life!
We begin with a sobering reminder of how the Holocaust became reality at a now infamous gathering at Wannsee, a villa in a suburb of Berlin, at which the plans of fifteen men altered the course of history. We report on the “monumental shift” in Egyptian politics as the Muslim Brotherhood gains decisive control. We follow with a report on the shocking violence of bomb attacks in Kano, Nigeria, by a self-proclaimed radical Islamist group called Boko Haram. We note the continuing emergence of Islamic influence in Egypt, Nigeria, Iraq and Syria. Iran’s cat and mouse game with the West remains a brooding story. We note the Croatian vote to join the EU, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls for greater power for the EU and end with reports from both Britain and Los Angeles–further marking the downfall of the British and American people.
This Week in the News
J-Wire published the following on January 21, 2012:
“On January 20, 1942, the Nazi leadership gathered in a villa on the outskirts of Berlin and adopted the ‘Final Solution to the Jewish Question.’ The Wannsee Conference, as this became known, from the suburb where the meeting was held, formalized the process that exterminated so much of European Jewry…writes Danny Ben-Moshe.
“As we mark the 70th anniversary of that 90-minute meeting in which 15 people condemned millions to death, there are many crucial lessons to learn from the Holocaust…”
The Jerusalem World News, on January 25, 2012, adds:
“Presiding over the conference was SS-Lieutenant General Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Security Police and Security Service. In attendance were 14 high-ranking German military and government leaders, among them Adolf Eichmann. Imagine, over lunch 15 men in 90 minutes changed the world forever. January 20, 2012 marks the 70th anniversary of that fateful conference. We dare not let this dubious anniversary pass without marking how little time it takes to alter the course of history.
“As events of the 1930s led ominously toward a Second World War, the Nazis under Hitler searched for a ‘final solution’ for what they considered to be ‘the Jewish problem.’ As the meeting began that day, Heydrich was determined that none should doubt his superiority or his authority, which was not limited by geographical borders. He briefed those in the room on the measures that had already been taken against the Jews in an attempt to eradicate them from both the German culture and the German homeland.
“Initially, steps had been implemented to allow German Jews to immigrate to whatever countries would accept them, but the move proved to be too slow for the Fuhrer and the Reich. Now the men had gathered to implement Hitler’s new solution. Heydrich provided a list of Jews in each country, a total of 11 million Jews were to be involved. In his zeal, he determined, ‘In large, single-sex labor columns, Jews fit to work will work their way eastward constructing roads. Doubtless the large majority will be eliminated by natural causes. Any final remnant that survives will doubtless consist of the most resistant elements. They will have to be dealt with appropriately, because otherwise, by natural selection, they would form the germ cell of a new Jewish revival.’ Translation: All will die.
“According to the minutes of the meeting, Jews were to be purged beginning in Germany, Bohemia, and Moravia. From there they were to be expunged in Europe from east to west. Many questions arose as to how to identify those who were to be considered Jews. The issue was not resolved during the Wannsee meeting.
“Of course, this was not the beginning of the extermination of the Jewish people. Many of those in attendance had already participated in the murders since the summer of 1941. Even before the gathering at Wannsee, more than a half-million Jews had been murdered behind army lines. The question was how to attain the goal of mass extermination in areas outside the battle zone. A more efficient way needed to be found to eliminate larger numbers. No, the meeting was not called to determine how to begin the process, but rather to spell out how the ‘final solution’ would be achieved. By the following January, death camps equipped with gas chambers were under construction.
“The ordinary citizenry of Germany did not enter the war determined to annihilate six million of their neighbors. It began with a subversive program of anti-Semitism aimed at blaming the Jewish people for all the ills that had beset Germany following its losses in World War I. Even Hitler did not begin with total extermination in mind. That seed began to germinate only after Jews were denied entry into other countries. It seemed to him that he had been given a green light to do whatever he wished with the Jewish population.
“The accusations resonate yet again today as Israel is routinely accused of crimes worthy of its being wiped off the map. Given the state of the economy—an integral factor in Hitler’s rise to power—anti-Semitism is being reborn at a sickening rate, even as Holocaust denial has reached alarming proportions. Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has jumped on the bandwagon with others in the Arab world, as well as the likes of British author and Holocaust denier David Irving, an active anti-Semite and racist whose books are widely read.”
The fact that seventy years have passed is significant, because as time slips by, the bitter lessons of what occurred at this conference are fading into history. Already, rumblings of extreme nationalistic and far right outcries in some European nations are arousing a dark foreboding for what might be happening all over again!
As the articles cited correctly point out, it was astounding how quickly everything changed! Biblical prophecy warns of a time immediately ahead in which even greater atrocities will take place and, as before, will take place so abruptly that the vast majority will find themselves totally unprepared!
In Egypt, Islamists Win!
From The Guardian, January 21, 2012:
“The final results in Egypt’s first parliamentary elections since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak have confirmed an overwhelming victory for Islamist parties.
“The Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned under Mubarak’s regime, won the biggest share of parliamentary seats (38%), according to the High Elections Committee. Its Freedom and Justice party (FJP) has named Saad al-Katatni, a leading Brotherhood official who sat in the old parliament as an independent, as speaker of the assembly.
“The hardline Islamist Al-Nour party came second with 29% of the seats. The liberal New Wafd and Egyptian Bloc coalition came third and fourth respectively.
“The result means that Islamists will wield major influence over a new constitution, which is set to be drafted by a the country’s first freely elected parliament.”
Reuters also reported on January 21, 2012:
“Having secured the biggest bloc, the FJP named Saad al-Katatni, a leading Brotherhood official who sat in the old parliament as an independent, as speaker of the assembly.
“While the strong Islamist performance has alarmed liberal Egyptians and Western governments who had close ties to Mubarak, it is unclear if rival Islamists will team up in the assembly.
“The FJP expressed its ‘confidence that Katatni will be at the same distance from all representatives, either those of the FJP or other parties.’
“This would ‘uphold the principle of democracy and consolidate the rules of political participation,’ the party said in a statement.
“The rise of the Islamists in Egypt’s first election since Mubarak’s overthrow in February last year marks a monumental shift from the past when parliament was a compliant body stuffed with members of his National Democratic Party and the Muslim Brotherhood was officially banned but tolerated.”
In Nigeria, Islamists Attack!
On January 21, 2012, BBC News wrote the following update concerning Nigerian violence:
“Co-ordinated attacks by Islamist militants in the northern Nigerian city of Kano on Friday killed about 150 people, witnesses and reports say.
“Hospitals are struggling to deal with the numbers of killed and injured.
“A series of explosions ripped apart police buildings, passport offices and immigration centres around the city, which is now under a 24-hour curfew.
“Boko Haram militants said they carried out the attacks, which would be their bloodiest assault to date.
“The group has said it wants to overthrow the national government and install an Islamic state.
“Its members have frequently attacked police stations and other symbols of state power, but the group has also bombed churches and killed hundreds of people – including many Muslim and Christian civilians…
“Boko Haram, which loosely translates from the local Hausa language as ‘Western education is forbidden’, has been behind a string of attacks in recent years.
“The group wants Islamic law across Nigeria, whose population is split between the largely Muslim north, and the south where Christianity and traditional beliefs predominate.”
Iraq Becoming A Police State
The washingtonpost.com wrote on January 22, 2012:
“Iraq ‘cracked down harshly’ on freedom of expression and assembly in 2011 by intimidating, beating and detaining activists and journalists, Human Rights Watch said Sunday in announcing its World Report 2012.
“‘Iraq is quickly slipping back into authoritarianism as its security forces abuse protesters, harass journalists and torture detainees,’ said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. ‘Despite U.S. government assurances that it helped create a stable democracy, the reality is that it left behind a budding police state.’
“Many of the problems reported by Human Rights Watch occurred before Dec. 18, when the final U.S. troops left the country. The group reported similar problems last year.
“But in its new report, the organization also highlights recent incidents.
“In the weeks leading up to the U.S. withdrawal, Iraqi security forces rounded up hundreds of Iraqis accused of being former Baath Party members, according to Human Rights Watch. Most of them ‘remain in detention without charge,’ the group said.
“This month, according to Human Rights Watch, Iraqi authorities were able to curtail anti-government demonstrations by flooding weekly protests with pro-government supporters and undercover security agents.
“’Dissenting activists and independent journalists for the most part said that they no longer felt safe attending the demonstrations,’ Human Rights Watch said.”
Despite all of the self-congratulatory claims by U.S. officials, Iraq is not an example for claiming victory; rather, the United States has left Iraq ripe for a dramatic move into Islamic extremism–just as we see now happening throughout Northern Africa and much of the Middle East.
U.S. Threatens to Close Embassy in Syria
Reported in the washingtonpost.com edtion on January 20, 2012:
“The Obama administration is preparing to evacuate American personnel and close the U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria, by the end of this month unless the embattled government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad provides additional security for the facility, senior administration officials said.
“Officials said they have not reached a final decision and are engaged in talks with the Assad government, but there so far have been no tangible results in providing more protection for the embassy.
“’We have serious concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Damascus, including the recent spate of car bombs, and about the safety and security of embassy personnel,’ a State Department release Friday evening said. ‘We have requested that the government of Syria take additional security measures to protect our embassy, and the Syrian government is considering that request. We have also advised the Syrian government that unless concrete steps are taken in the coming days we may have no choice but to close the mission.’
“A drawdown of the staff at the embassy, which is located on a busy street in Damascus, began last week after three unexplained car bombings in recent weeks jarred the previously calm capital and left as many as 80 people dead.
“Government claims that al-Qaeda was responsible for the recent attacks were widely scorned by activists who accused the government itself of responsibility. Although the administration has not ruled out Syrian government involvement in the attacks, U.S. officials said signs point to Syrian and Iraqi militants that have been affiliated with al-Qaeda.
“‘It smells like a terrorist attack and looks like a terrorist attack, but none of us knows for sure,’ said a senior Obama administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in discussing the sensitive situation.”
The article adds this very insightful report:
“If even a small number of Sunni extremists from Iraq have become involved in the Syrian conflict, it would add an alarming new dimension to what has been an overwhelmingly peaceful uprising that has been brutally attacked by the decades-old dictatorship.”
Unmistakably, the U.S. is facing a diminishing role throughout most Arab nations. In the face of the unrelenting insurgency by Islamist extremists, such as al-Qaeda, it appears that America and its allies are either backing down or relinquishing once dominant positions of infuence in this volatile part of the world.
More Sanctions Against Iran!
Voice of America wrote on January 23, 2012:
“The European Union has imposed an oil embargo on Iran, effective July 1 – taking away 20 percent of Iran’s current oil sales. The embargo is intended to increase pressure on Iran’s government to allow inspections to ensure its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, as Iran’s leaders say it is.
“The ban on importing oil from Iran was unanimously approved by the 27 European Union foreign ministers during a meeting in Brussels Monday. Its effective date was delayed to give some members time to implement existing contracts and to enable the ministers to review Iran’s reaction, and any change in its behavior, before putting the ban into force. But EU members will not sign any more contracts for Iranian oil, effective immediately.
“The EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said the embargo is aimed at convincing Iran to return to talks about its nuclear program.
“’I hope that Iran will respond positively to the letter that I sent, that it will respond positively to the messages we have sent, and come back to the negotiating table,’ she said.
“The EU also froze assets of the Iranian Central Bank that are deposited in the EU and banned trade with Iran in gold, diamonds and precious metals. And it tightened restrictions on selling Iran technology that has military applications.”
In a related report on January 24, 2012, The New York Times wrote:
“As the Obama administration and its European allies toughened economic sanctions against Iran on Monday — blocking its access to the world financial system and undermining its critical oil and gas industry — officials on both sides of the Atlantic acknowledge that their last-ditch effort has only a limited chance of persuading Tehran to abandon what the West fears is its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
“That leaves open this critical question: And then what?
“While the United States and Israel have not taken military options off the table, pursuing them is unpalatable, at least for now. Several American and European officials say privately that the most attainable outcome for the West could be for Iran to maintain the knowledge and technology necessary to build a nuclear weapon while stopping short of doing so. That would allow it to assert its sovereignty and save face after years of diplomatic tensions.
“While that might seem to be a big concession on the part of the United States, Iran would first have to make even bigger ones: demonstrate that it could be trusted and drop its veil of secrecy so that inspectors could verify that its nuclear work was peaceful, steps Iran has resisted.
“In other words, Iran would have to become a country like Japan, which has the capability to become an atomic power virtually overnight, if need be, but has rejected taking the final steps to possessing nuclear weapons. ‘If you’re asking whether we would be satisfied with Iran becoming Japan, then the answer is a qualified yes,’ a senior European diplomat said. ‘But it would have to be verifiable, and we are a long ways away from trusting the regime.’
“Today’s Iran is nothing like Japan, which has a deep aversion to nuclear weapons dating to the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And settling for an Iranian state that could quickly produce a nuclear weapon would be hard for the United States to embrace because of Israel’s deep antipathy toward Iran and Western and other nations’ fears of setting off a regional arms race.”
Of all the issues arising in the Middle East, the most explosive is that of the Iranian stand-off with Western powers! While sanctions and embargoes play out over time, the Iranians skillfully negotiate delaying tactics, giving them more and more time to achieve the technology needed to create nuclear weapons! The wild card in all of this is the grave potential that a random and unplanned “event” might just trigger an all out confrontation–especially involving Israel and the United States.
Croatia Wants In!
The New York Times wrote on January 22, 2012:
“Croats voted by a two-to-one margin on Sunday to join the European Union, signaling that the bloc retains its allure despite the debt crisis engulfing the euro currency that many of its members use.
“The state referendum commission said that with almost all the votes counted, about 66 percent in Croatia supported membership, while 33 percent were opposed and 1 percent of the ballots were invalid. The commission put the turnout at about 44 percent of eligible voters.
“Once seen as a sure route to prosperity, membership in the union has been tarnished lately by the bloc’s struggle to come to grips with debt crises in several of the 17 member nations that use the euro. Even so, nearly all leading politicians and members of the Croatian Parliament came out in support of a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum.
“If Croatia is admitted to the European Union as scheduled on July 1, 2013, it would be obliged to adopt the euro as well, though not immediately — that would not occur until the nation of 4.5 million people could meet the economic criteria for joining. The Croatian prime minister, Zoran Milanovic, has said that that would not happen before 2015 or 2016.
“Because of its legacy of nationalist politics, Croatia was not included in the last two waves of union expansion, in 2004 and 2007. Of the states that, with Croatia, formerly made up Yugoslavia, only Slovenia has been admitted so far, in 2004.”
Bloomberg Businessweek on January 24, 2012, adds:
“Two decades after the country won independence in the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia, the government expects EU entry to boost investment and economic growth and cement its break from communism. Enthusiasm for EU unity is waning among its eastern members, including Hungary and the Czech Republic, as the continent faces a return to a recession and politicians balk at efforts to merge fiscal policies.
“’Citizens have voted for a European Croatia,’ Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic said on state television yesterday. ‘This is also great news for Europe. It’s a message to Europe that its values are still supported and recognized.’
“Membership in the world’s largest trading bloc may provide the Adriatic nation with hundreds of millions of euros in regional development and infrastructure subsidies. Companies such as Germany’s Siemens AG and Deutsche Telekom AG and Sweden’s Ericsson AB expect to expand into the Balkans as western Europe’s growth stalls over the debt crisis…
“’The European Union gives us a ticket to the world in which we can be successful,’ Davor Majetic, head of the Croatian Association of Entrepreneurs, said by phone. ‘We want to work and have an opportunity to turn our ideas into profitable products that can reach that market of 500 million people.’”
More Power to the EU
The euobserver.com reported on January 26, 2012:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said transferring more powers to EU institutions rather than increasing the size of the eurozone’s future bail-out fund is the way to overcome the euro crisis.
“‘We have said right from the start that we want to stand up for the euro, but what we don’t want is a situation where we are forced to promise something that we will not be able to fulfil,’ Merkel said Wednesday (25 January) in the opening speech of the World Economic Forum, an informal gathering of leaders and business magnates held every year in Davos, a Swiss mountain resort.
“Merkel resisted calls made by the International Monetary Fund and the Italian Prime Minister to increase contributions to the European Stability Mechanism, set to come into force in July with a firepower of €500 billion and aimed at lowering the borrowing costs of large euro-economies such as Italy and Spain.
“’Some say that it has to be double the size, then if that’s not big enough, others will say it has to be three times as big,’ she said.
“’If Germany, as the representative of all European countries, promises something that can’t be kept in the event of a harsh attack by the markets, then Europe would have a wide-open flank.’
“Instead, her solution is more ‘integration’, by transferring more powers from a national level to EU institutions such as the European Court of Justice, so that the continent is ‘turned into a Europe that works.’
“‘We have taken some steps closer to a fiscal union, but we can get faster, gain speed and become more decisive,’ she added, in reference to the inter-governmental treaty on fiscal discipline currently being negotiated among 26 member states, except Britain.”
Abortion Adverts in Britain
MailOnline reported on January 21, 2012:
“Private clinics that carry out abortions for profit are to get the go-ahead to promote their services with TV and radio adverts.
“Advertising watchdogs will trigger a storm of controversy by announcing the decision on Monday after years of argument, the Mail can disclose.
“Pro-life campaigners reacted with fury, saying the move would trivialise human life by putting the choice to have a termination on a par with buying washing-up liquid or cereal…
“More than 35 private hospitals in England currently offer abortion services, though many are better known for their maternity and fertility services.
“Critics say the reforms risk leaving the UK with among the most liberal advertising rules in the world…”
The Guardian, on January 21, 2012, also reported:
“Clinics offering a range of ‘post-conception advice services’ (PCAS), including counselling and terminations, will be free to advertise in broadcast media because there is no justification to prevent it as long as they are not harmful, offensive or misleading, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) said.
“Not-for-profit pregnancy services are already allowed to advertise on television and radio and for-profit clinics can already advertise in all other media, including newspapers.
“Under new rules clinics will have to make it clear in all advertising if they do not offer referral for termination…
“Matt Wilson, a spokesman for BCAP, said: ‘There is not going to be some sort of free-for-all saying “come to us to get an abortion”. They are not there to promote abortion, they have to promote an array of services. It is about being responsible and commercial pro-life pregnancy services will now be able to advertise too.’
“But the Tory MP Nadine Dorries told the Daily Mail: ‘What this is actually going to do is desensitise what abortion is and the seriousness of it, and making it sounds like it’s as easy as having your lunch.
Now It’s a Law!
Time.com wrote on January 25, 2012:
“Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed into law this week an ordinance requiring porn actors to wear condoms while performing.
“The law will take effect 41 days after it is posted by the city clerk, which could happen before the end of the week, the Associated Press reports.
“Porn producers say the regulation may prompt them to leave L.A., which is regarded as the porn capital of the nation. As many as 90% of all porn films produced in the U.S. are made in L.A., mostly in the city’s San Fernando Valley. But porn producers, who insist that films with performers wearing condoms don’t sell as well as those without them, are threatening to move their productions outside of city limits.
“The L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation helped write the new law and has advocated for the regulation for many years. The group says condom requirements are crucial for protecting the health of porn actors — a cause that was bolstered by a recent moratorium on production after an L.A. adult-film actor tested positive for HIV.”
With laws permitting and “regulating” such abominable activities as reported from both Britain and Los Angeles in these last two articles, is it any wonder that our nations are unable to find success in those things that should matter most–stable families with successful marriages; healthy people; the blessings of a robust economy; and a relationship with the God who has created us? Rather, we find ourselves spiraling into deepening problems with no solution seemingly available!
Will God’s people be protected from the terrible times to come?
In previous Q&As, including the Q&A on “Matthew 24” and the Q&A on the “events which will occur after the Great Tribulation has begun”,we discussed that mankind will have to endure a time of unparalleled sorrows and suffering.
We also pointed out in the past, that just prior to Christ’s return, some in God’s Church will be protected from the Great Tribulation, while other Christians will have to go through that terrible time.
In one Q&A, we explained the Scripture in “Revelation 12:17,” and in another Q&A, we set forth the “biblical proofs for our teaching that members of the Church of God will be protected at a particular ‘place of safety,’ here on earth, during the Great Tribulation.”
In addition, we explained that following the beginning of the Great Tribulation, which is Satan’s wrath, God will pour out the plagues of His wrath during a time referred to as the Day of the Lord. We also showed that God will protect at that time many of those who will have experienced and survived the trials of the Great Tribulation. However, there is no indication that God will bring those survivors to the place of safety as well; rather, He will protect them wherever they will be at that time. We have addressed the protection of those servants of God in our Q&A on the “144,000” and the great multitude.
It appears that the 144,000 and the great multitude will consist mainly of people who will come to conversion during the trials of the Great Tribulation. Especially addressing the great multitude, for example, we read in Revelation 7:14: “These are the ones who COME OUT OF the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” We also read in Jeremiah 30:7 that later on, the modern descendants of the house of Jacob or Israel will be saved OUT OF the Day of the Lord.
In addition, it is possible that some who will be protected during the time of God’s great wrath will include converted members in God’s Church (commonly referred to as those belonging to the lukewarm “Laodicea” group in Revelation 3:14-22) who were not found worthy enough to be protected at the place of safety from the Great Tribulation, but who worked on their conversion with fear and trembling and who overcame their nature, Satan and society IN and DURING the Great Tribulation. They survived these terrible times and will be declared worthy to be protected from God’s wrath during the Day of the Lord.
But we must note an important point, lest we misunderstand what God is telling us. It is easy to assume and conclude that all those who will be at the place of safety will be those converted members who were worthy of protection, while none of those who won’t be at that place would be worthy. Both concepts are wrong, if carried to an extreme.
First, we are assured that young children and teenagers of those members who are counted worthy will be protected as well (Proverbs 14:26). Since children or teenagers would not be converted and would not have received the Holy Spirit, they would not be “worthy” per se, but God promises their protection because of the “worthiness” of their parents or parent. It is also not inconceivable that well-meaning adults could be protected, who are not yet converted, but who understand and accept God’s calling and promises… as God looks at the heart and does not judge as man judges. Remember that during the time of the Exodus, not only Israelites were departing from Egyptian slavery, but also a mixed multitude (Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4).
One might ask, why would God consider “unconverted” people worthy of protection at the place of safety, while He would not protect certain converted, but lukewarm members. The answer is, again, that God looks at the heart, and He expects more from converted members than from those who may not yet be converted. It is interesting to see how enthusiastic and zealous, as well as teachable, prospective members can be, who are being introduced to the truth, while at the same time, certain converted members in God’s Church who have been in the Church for many years, might have lost their original zeal and their first love and their humility, having allowed to slip and to become proud, ending up as being neither hot nor cold.
The flipside of the coin is also true. Not everyone who would “normally” be worthy of protection at the place of safety, will be there. This is self-evident for the two witnesses. They are prophets of God who stand before God, and who preach His Word for 3 ½ years during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11:3-4). God will give them great powers during the time of their preaching (verses 5-6), but at the end, He will allow them to be killed and to be dead for 3 ½ days (verses 7-9). Following that event, God will resurrect them to eternal life (verses 11-12), together with all the other saints who have died in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). But as we can see, the two witnesses will not be at the place of safety. It is, again, not inconceivable that other converted members who would “normally” be worthy of protection at the place of safety, will assist and work with the two witnesses. Recall that many times, God’s prophets did not act alone, but they were accompanied and supported by other disciples or followers. This is true for Moses and Aaron (we might think of Joshua, as well as the elders of Israel or the Levites etc.); Elijah and Elisha and their disciples, John the Baptist, and even Jesus Christ, as well as, of course, the original apostles.
This will bring us to another important point. It would be a grave mistake to think that God’s followers will not have to suffer any persecution, before the Great Tribulation begins. Remember, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse will have already begun to ride, and the combination of religious deception and “holy” wars will cause much suffering. It is true, of course, that those whom God will protect during the Great Tribulation and the Day of His Wrath will have to be protected, physically, during the times preceding these events, but this does not mean that they won’t suffer any persecution. It does also not mean that every otherwise worthy disciple of Christ will escape violent death prior to the Great Tribulation—we are only told that those worthy disciples who will be alive at the time when the Great Tribulation begins, will be protected at a place of safety.
As we have seen, the fifth seal in the Book of Revelation describes the Great Tribulation (Revelation 6:9-11). It refers to a future martyrdom of the saints. It undoubtedly includes many (but not necessarily all) who are converted members, but who have allowed themselves to slip, become lukewarm and embrace the spirit of compromise, pride and self-sufficiency. But we are also told that future martyrdom will be a continuation of a prior deadly persecution (compare verse 11). It appears that all of Christ’s original apostles—with the possible exception of John—endured a violent death. This is also true for subsequent apostles, such as Paul. Over the centuries, many true Christians were tortured and killed for their beliefs. They were not protected at that time at a physical place of safety.
In Matthew 24:9, Christ tells us that “they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” This will apparently occur—at least to an extent—before the Great Tribulation begins (compare the continuation of Christ’s warning in Matthew 24:15-28). The same conclusion can be reached, when reading the parallel passage in Luke 21:12-19, apparently referring to events prior to the Great Tribulation, and in Luke 21:20-24, apparently referring to events that begin with the Great Tribulation.
Compare also the parallel account in Mark 13:9-13, speaking first of persecution of God’s true servants in the end time, which will be followed by the Great Tribulation (compare Mark 13:14-23).
There are many more passages telling us about future persecution, apart from the general truism that everyone who wants to live godly will encounter and suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus said in John 15:20: “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” Matthew 10:16-26 tells us about future persecution, and Luke 11:47-52 speaks about past and future persecution of God’s prophets and saints in very vivid terms.
We should always remember that no trial will come upon us that will be too difficult for us to bear, and that God will show us the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). If God has the confidence in us that we will be able to endure persecution, who are we to doubt Him? What all of this means is that we have to be willing to accept God’s Will for us, whatever that Will might be. Christ had to do this (Matthew 26:42), and so must we. Rather than concentrating on the thought that we have to be among those whom God will bring to the physical and temporary place of safety, we ought to concentrate on qualifying and doing everything we can to allow God to make us worthy to be able to enter the eternal and immortal Kingdom of God at Christ’s Coming (Matthew 25:34).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
The StandingWatch Radio Program is now in its fourth week of play on ten radio stations. This weekly program can also be listened to on our website, www.standingwatch.org. The titles for these programs are: “The four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” “Destruction and Hope,” “The Great Tribulation,” “The Seventh Seal,” “The Seventh Seal, Part 2,” and “The Seven Bowls.”
Our annual Church Conference will begin on Thursday, March 15, 2012, continuing through Tuesday, March 20th. Meetings will be held in the San Diego area.
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