Finishing The Work
by Dave Harris
Long-time members of God’s Church often refer to the activity of preaching the gospel and caring for the membership as “the work.” By this, we are thinking in terms of the special calling of God and the subsequent responsibility God places on each Christian.
Jesus Christ gave account to the Father by saying, “‘I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do’” (John 17:5). He adds, “‘As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world’” (John 17:18).
Mark records the commission given to Christ’s disciples: “‘…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’” (Mark 16:15).
Jesus adds dimension—a time frame–to this endeavor when He prophesies, “‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come’” (Matthew 24:14).
We need to understand that Jesus will also make certain that His words and the work given to His faithful disciples will be fulfilled! Jesus remains the living Head of the Church of God (compare Ephesians 22-23; 5:23-24; Colossians 1:18). He is actively involved in finishing the work of the church given to Him by the Father, as well!
However, just as we are so clearly told through the record of the New Testament era of God’s Church, some were more zealous than others in finishing their part in the Work of God. Not everyone of that time remained faithful, and it would appear that the few instead of the many continued to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Of this era, Jesus said, “‘…I have this against you, that you have left your first love’” (Revelation 2:4).
Jesus Christ has much to say to His Church, and along with instructions about what we should be doing, there are somber warnings for us—all written down in the Bible for our guidance.
We must not take lightly the job that has been entrusted to us. We are to go where God leads us, to do what He inspires us to do—doing all of this with ever increasing zeal and knowing that we, fulfilling whatever our part is, are participating in finishing the Work of God!
We report on a wave of violent protests across the Muslim world–primarily aimed at the United States of America; address the growing rejection by some in France and Germany of extremists Muslim demands; include other angry confrontations between China and Japan; tell of Chicago teachers striking; and show the continuing strife in Russia.
In other news, we report on big changes in Europe as unification appears unstoppable, and we end with coverage of an influential papal visit to Lebanon.
This Week in the News
Anger Rages In The Mideast
The BBC wrote on September 15:
“More than three years ago, President Barack Obama famously told a Cairo audience that ‘we meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world’.
“His speech, titled A New Beginning, sought to transcend the acrimony of the Bush era.
“This week, as violent protests rage across the Middle East and beyond, the president might ask himself: What went wrong?
“The truth is that there is no single explanation.
“One answer is that last year’s wave of political uprisings, the so-called Arab Spring, is responsible.
“After all, protests began in Egypt, which last year became the most populous Arab democracy, and spread to Libya, which became the largest by area.
“The Arab Spring did indeed invigorate a range of Islamist movements and weakened the law enforcement capabilities of the affected states…
USA Today wrote on September 17:
“Hundreds of Afghans burned cars and threw rocks at a U.S. military base as a demonstration against an anti-Islam film that ridicules the Prophet Mohammed turned violent in the Afghan capital early Monday.
“And in Jakarta, Indonesians angered over the film clashed with police outside the U.S. Embassy, hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails and burning tires outside the mission. At least one police officer was seen bleeding from the head and being carried to safety by fellow officers.
“The low-budget film, privately produced in the United States, portrays Mohammed as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester. It sparked violent protests in many Muslim countries in recent days, many of them outside U.S. diplomatic posts around the world.
“The U.S. Ambassador to Libya was killed during an attack on the consulate in Benghazi last week; protesters have also stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tunis and held violent demonstrations outside posts in Egypt and Sudan. The U.S. has responded by deploying additional military forces to increase security in certain hotspots”
France Takes Precautions
The Wall Street Journal wrote on September 19:
“France will close embassies and French schools in 20 countries on Friday, its Foreign Ministry said, amid fears of a backlash after a French magazine published a series of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
“French authorities said they feared the cartoons published Wednesday in satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo could cause more outrage in the Muslim world, days after a video denigrating the Prophet Muhammad helped to fuel violent protests at U.S. and other Western embassies in several Muslim countries.
“Paris’s move to pre-emptively close its embassies highlights how Western governments are grappling to respond to a wave of protests whose flash points lie largely out of their control.
“The French government said that although freedom of speech rules applied in France, the magazine’s publication of the cartoons was ill-timed. ‘It is dangerous, even irresponsible, when we know the general climate, to pour oil on fire,’ Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters in Paris on Wednesday…
“Charlie Hebdo defended its decision to publish the prophet cartoons. ‘If we start to wonder whether we have the right to draw Muhammad or not, or if it is dangerous to do it, we will have to start to wonder whether we can draw Muslims or human beings in the paper,’ the weekly magazine’s editor in chief, known only as Charb, told French radio RTL. ‘Eventually, we won’t be drawing anything, and a bunch of extremists in the world and in France will have won.'”
Global Ban on Insults to Islam?
cnsnews.com reported on September 17:
“Six months after declaring that all churches in the Arabian peninsula should be destroyed, Saudi Arabia’s top cleric called at the weekend for a global ban on insults targeting all religious ‘prophets and messengers,’ a category that, from a Muslim perspective, includes Jesus Christ.
“Saturday’s demand by Saudi grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh came on the same day that another of Sunni Islam’s most prominent figures, Egypt’s Al-Azhar University grand imam Ahmed el-Tayyeb, made a similar appeal.
“Both men were reacting to an amateur video satirizing Mohammed, whose emergence on the Internet has been blamed for protests targeting American diplomatic missions across the Islamic world. According to wire services at least 12 deaths have been linked to the protests since Thursday, with deaths reported in Tunisia, Sudan, Pakistan, Yemen, Lebanon and Egypt.
“The two clerics’ calls are a new salvo in an unremitting campaign by Islamic political and religious leaders, spearheaded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to pressure non-Muslims to treat Islam with deference.
“In a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Asheikh ‘appealed to all countries and international organizations to criminalize acts ridiculing all prophets and messengers (peace be upon them).’”
Germany Rejects Rollover to Extremists!
On September 18 Spiegel Online International wrote:
“Germany is considering forbidding a far-right party from publicly screening the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” in Berlin in November. But editorialists in the country say a ban would be wrong because it would play into the hands of extremists on all sides.
“The German far-right party Pro Deutschland has said it plans a public screening of the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” in November, prompting fears that the event could trigger violence in Germany.
“The issue has prompted a heated debate in the country, and Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday the film should not be shown if it endangered public safety. “I can imagine that there are good reasons for this,” she said, adding that a ban on the public screening was currently being considered.
“Religious blasphemy was a crime in Germany until 1969, when the law was changed. At present, acts of blasphemy are only deemed criminal if they could disrupt public peace.
“On Tuesday, most German media commentators said that even though the 14-minute film is disgusting rubbish, its screening should not be prohibited because it would breach the right to freedom of expression.”
Influential writers in Germany are mirroring the dominant attitude of their countrymen–it is time to quit giving in to extremist Islamists. More and more, Germany is creating a leadership that will solidify Europe’s role in the world.
China Protests Target Japanese
Reuters wrote on September 15:
“Hundreds of people protested in front of the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Saturday, throwing objects at the building as police struggled to keep control, amid growing tensions between Asia’s two biggest economies over a group of disputed islands.
“On Tuesday, Japan brushed off stern warnings from China and said it had bought the islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, from a private Japanese owner.”
Voice of America reported on September 16:
“As tensions between China and Japan escalate, anti-Japanese protests have spread to Hong Kong. Pro-democracy activists in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory are taking a surprising lead in the pan-Chinese nationalism movement.
“An estimated 5,000 demonstrators marched on the Japanese consulate in Hong Kong Sunday. The demonstration occurred in the build-up to the anniversary this week of the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria.
“Tokyo enflamed Chinese emotions last week by purchasing contested islands, known as the Diaoyu in China, the Senkaku in Japan, from their private Japanese owners.”
The Christian Science Monitor wrote on September 17:
“Hundreds of Japanese businesses and the country’s embassy suspended services in China on Tuesday, expecting further escalation in violent protests over a territorial dispute between Asia’s two biggest economies.
“China’s worst outbreak of anti-Japan sentiment in decades led to protests and attacks on Japanese companies such as car makers Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co, forcing them to halt operations and prompting Chinese state media to warn that trade relations could deteriorate.
“More protests continued across China on Tuesday, which marks the anniversary of Japan’s 1931 occupation of parts of mainland China.”
Chicago Teachers Strike
Reported September 15 by Reuters:
“Thousands of striking Chicago teachers will march again on Saturday to keep the pressure on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to wrap up an agreement with their union so they can end a strike that has closed the nation’s third largest school district for a week.
“The ‘Standing Strong with Chicago Teachers Rally’ could be the largest demonstration against Emanuel’s education reforms since the strike began in Chicago on September 10.
“Labor union supporters from neighboring states are expected to converge on Chicago to join many of the 29,000 union teachers and support staff in the march…
“Emanuel angered the Chicago teachers by trying to ram through proposals to radically reform teacher performance evaluations and weaken job protection for teachers whose schools are closed or perform poorly academically.”
While this strike has reached a settlement, the underlying troubles between groups of special interests within the U.S. remain a matter for real concern.
Reuters wrote on September 9:
“Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through Moscow under streaming banners, flags and balloons on Saturday to demand an end to President Vladimir Putin’s long rule and to breathe life into their protest movement.
“Protesters chanted “Russia without Putin!” as they marched through central Moscow in the first big rally since June.
“Witnesses said opposition leaders appeared to have achieved their goal of attracting at least 50,000 people, enough to maintain the momentum of their movement but almost certainly too few to increase alarm in the Kremlin.
“The protest underlined anger over what liberal Russians see as tough measures to smother the opposition since Putin began another six years in the Kremlin in May, but protests have not taken off outside big cities and the opposition is not united.”
Radical Overhaul for Europe?
On September 18 The Guardian wrote:
“Five of the six biggest countries in the EU, excluding Britain, have called for a radical overhaul of European foreign and defence policies to create a powerful new pan-European foreign ministry, majority voting on common foreign policies to bypass a British veto, a possible European army, and a single market for EU defence industries.
“The German-led push, supported by 11 of 27 EU countries, embraces recent calls in Berlin and Brussels for a directly elected European president, sweeping new powers for the European parliament, and further splitting of the EU by creating a new parliamentary sub-chamber for the 17 countries of the eurozone.
“While the call for a European army was not supported by all 11, the document also calls for a new European police organisation to guard the union’s external borders and for a single European visa.
“Nine months of brainstorming over the future of Europe by the foreign ministers of the 11 countries, launched by Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, has resulted in a 12-page document crammed with policy recommendations. It will prove hugely contentious and, if implemented, will increase the pressure on Britain to quit the EU…
“The backers include Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland, five of the six biggest EU countries omitting Britain. The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Portugal and Luxembourg also signed up.”
Spiegel Online reported on September 12:
“The ruling on Wednesday by the Federal Constitutional Court on the euro bailout fund makes one thing very clear: The Karlsruhe-based institution will not stop European integration because it can’t. The justices have created expectations among the people that they are no longer able to fulfill.
“Never before has there been this much drama at Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court. One of the longest-serving police guards working there confided to a radio reporter that there has never been anything like this at the highest court in the land. The scene was thronged with journalists, satellite dishes, broadcast vans, cables and floodlights: The entire world had its eyes turned to this courthouse, a converted barrack on the edge of this western German city. All the fanfare was directed at one highly anticipated event: Eight judges, three of them professors, were about to publicly declare whether they intended to block efforts to resolve the euro debt crisis.
“So, what happened? Just what everyone expected: The European Union will not be stopped in its tracks. Germany can now ratify the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the permanent euro bailout fund, and the fiscal pact aimed at bringing economic governance to countries in the euro zone — albeit with a few conditions. What’s more, court President Andreas Vosskuhle repeated his usual warning that euro bailout packages cannot come at the cost of a loss of power for the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament. Everyone has now relaxed, and even the German DAX index of blue chip companies is climbing.”
Papal Influence in Lebanon
The Daily Star wrote on September 16;
“During his three-day visit, which comes 15 years after the landmark visit of the late Pope John Paul II, the head of the Roman Catholic Church called for interfaith dialogue as a means to bring peace to the region.
“In a Sunday morning Mass attended by an estimated 350,000 people at the Beirut Water Front City, the pope urged the Arab countries and the world to propose solutions to end the conflict in Syria.
“’Let us ask her [Virgin Mary] to intercede with her divine son for you [Lebanon] and, more particularly, for the people of Syria and the neighboring countries, imploring the gift of peace,’ the pope said at the end of the Mass.
“’You know the problems that beset the region. There is a tremendous amount of pain … Why so much death? I call on the international community and Arab countries to propose solutions which respect human rights,’ he added.
“Sleiman, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati as well as MPs and Cabinet ministers attended the Mass. Other politicians in attendance included Future Movement MP Bahia Hariri and several Hezbollah deputies.
“During his visit, the Holy See met with various Christian and Muslim figures including Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani who delivered a letter to the pope and said Saturday that ‘any attack on Christians is in an attack on Muslims.’
“The pope, who said he represented a ‘pilgrim of peace’ during his stay in Lebanon, urged Christians in the country and the Middle East not to abandon their land.
“In a gathering Saturday with Arab and Lebanese youth at Bkirki, the seat of the Maronite Patriarchate, the pope said he was moved by the courage of Syrian youth and said he was saddened by the hardships of the people there.
“He reiterated his praise of Lebanon’s ‘beautiful coexistence’ and urged Muslim youths to work with their fellow Christians.
“During the ceremony, Benedict urged Christians not to abandon their land because of an ‘uncertain future.’
“’Unemployment and dangers should not force you to migrate for an uncertain future. Act as the makers of your country’s future and play your role in society and the Church,’ he said.
“The Holy See signed the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East Friday in a ceremony at Saint Paul Basilica in Harissa, north of Beirut, where he urged Christians not to be afraid but brave difficulties facing them in the region.”
Pope Benedict XVI’s acceptance in the Mideast country of Lebanon is remarkable in light of the raging anger that has emerged among extremist Moslems in the region. Biblical prophecy indicates that Rome will continue to attempt to influence matters in this part of the world–especially in Jerusalem and the land of Israel.
Why are you leaving your usual places of residence and staying in hotels, motels or trailers during the Feast of Tabernacles?
We read in Leviticus 23:42 that ancient Israel was commanded to “dwell in booths for seven days.” God commanded Israel to build temporary huts or booths out of tree branches and live in them during the Feast of Tabernacles (compare Nehemiah 8:14-18).
What is a booth? In the Hebrew, the word is “sukkah.” It means, literally, a “covering or a booth,” but as we will see, it conveys more than that.
The word “sukkah” is translated 12 times as “tabernacle” in the Authorized Version. In most cases, it refers to the Feast of Tabernacles (compare Leviticus 23:34; Deuteronomy 16:13, 16; 31:10; 2 Chronicles 8:13; Ezra 3:4; and Zechariah 14:16, 18-19).
The temporary nature of a “sukkah” is stated in Job 36:29, where we read: “Can any understand the… thunder from His canopy?” The Authorized Version translates, “tabernacle.” The Hebrew word is “sukkah.” It refers here to God’s dwelling place in Heaven. But God will not always abide there. Sometime after the Third Resurrection, He will come to the new earth to reside there.
In addition, the word “sukkah,” is used in many passages to convey a temporary shelter.
In Genesis 33:17, booths (“sukkah”) are built for Jacob’s livestock, to provide shelter for them.
In Job 27:18, we read that the wicked builds his house like a booth – or, as the margin of the New King James Bible puts it, as a “Temporary shelter.”
In Jonah 4:5, it is stated that Jonah “made himself a shelter,” according to the New King James Bible. The Authorized Version translates, “a booth,” but implying, quite literally, a temporary shelter.
In Isaiah 4:6, it says that God will provide a “tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for shelter from storm and rain.” God will do this for Israelites who have not yet become born again Spirit beings in His Family. So, the shelter that God will provide for them is of a temporary nature, since once they have been made immortal, they don’t need a physical booth to protect them from heat.
Also, note 2 Samuel 11:11, where we read: “The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents.” The Hebrew word is “sukkah” and describes a temporary shelter or dwelling place.
So we see that the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Feast of booths, is associated with temporary dwellings, where God is sheltering His people and protects them from the dangers and troubles of this world.
The New Bible Commentary remarks about Leviticus 23:40-42, on page 163:
“The people are to live in booths for seven days that their generations may know that the Lord made the people of Israel dwell in booths, when He brought them out of the land of Egypt. .. The thought which is stressed is of course the frail and temporary character of the dwellings of the people during the wilderness sojourn. Thus Jerusalem is likened by Isaiah to a cottage (booth) in a vineyard (Isaiah 1:8).”
As pointed out correctly above, it is the very temporary character of the booth, which is stressed in Isaiah 1:8. A booth or a tabernacle is a temporary dwelling.
The Church of God (under Herbert W. Armstrong who died in 1986) has taught consistently that we do not have to build today literal booths of tree branches to dwell in them during the Feast. The spiritual point God wanted to convey was that we are to live in a temporary dwelling or shelter during the Feast.
The Good News of August 1980 states on page 13:
“It does not matter what the booths or dwellings are made out of. Back then they were made of branches. Today they may be canvas tents, aluminum trailers, brick motels, hotels or condominiums. The important point is that they be places of temporary residence.”
Likewise, we read in the Good News, September 1983, on page 7:
“The modern counterpart of these booths would be hotels, motels and other places of temporary residence.”
Also, lesson 30 of the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, published in 1986, states on page 14:
“A booth or tabernacle is a temporary dwelling. God commanded the ancient Israelites to live in temporary shelters made of tree branches while observing the Feast of Tabernacles. For God’s people who attend the Feast today in many different climates, tents, campers, motel or hotel rooms are appointed as temporary dwellings.”
The Church of the Eternal God and its international associations are upholding, practicing and teaching this vital understanding. In applying the spiritual intent and purpose of God’s command to “live in booths” during the Feast of Tabernacles, God’s people today leave their homes to live in “temporary dwellings” during the Feast.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
by Laura Harris
In December, my family moved in with my dad. It was supposed to be a temporary stay as we got our house ready to sell. A few days prior to our move-in date, my dad had a sudden decline in his health. We were able to get him stabilized, but he has slowly gotten worse. It became evident this summer that he can no longer live alone. Robb & I decided to permanently reside with my dad so he could continue to live as independently as possible.
Our current living arrangements have caused frustration for me and my dad as we decipher new boundaries and expectations. Oftentimes, I am abrupt with my dad as I feel inconvenienced by his constant need for assistance. Those who know me well know that patience is not my strongest attribute. My new role as caregiver requires more patience than I have. I’ve had to rely on God for help, asking for a gentler and more loving attitude when interacting with my dad.
English poet and playwright, Joseph Addison, is quoted as saying, “Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures.” I know that caring for my dad is a way of honoring him as a parent, as God commands us to do. This unforeseen situation has provided me the opportunity to spend meaningful time with my dad, which we haven’t done in decades. What seems like a trial now will be looked back upon as a blessing in the future.
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Reporting from Germany, Evangelist Norbert Link related that three people were baptized and others have expressed interest and are counseling for baptism. Mr. and Mrs. Link will soon depart for Deganwy, North Wales, to observe the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day.
September 26 (Wednesday) is the Day of Atonement; October 1-7 (Monday through Sunday, with observance beginning the evening of Sunday, September 30) is the Feast of Tabernacles; and, October 8 (Monday) is the Last Great Day. Due to our observance of these Fall Holy Days, the weekly Update will not be published until our return.
A reminder for those wishing to attend the Feast of Tabernacles with us for 2012–please review details posted on our website under the “FEASTS” heading. Our locations for this year are Pismo Beach, California, and Deganwy, North Wales.
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