Update 635


No Hiding Place

On April 19, 2014, Brian Gale will give the sermon, titled, “No Hiding Place.” 

The live services are available, over video and audio, at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

NOTE: Morning and Afternoon Services will be conducted on the last Day of Unleavened Bread, Monday, April 21, 2014. The times are 9:00 am and 1:00 pm Pacific Time.

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by Eric Rank

After participating in the Passover and while we are in the midst of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, many of us have similar thoughts running through our minds. Foremost, the sin that we acknowledged during our personal examination of ourselves in preparation for Passover has become starkly clear. We are all sinners (1 John 1:8-10), and the wages of the sin we commit is death (Romans 6:23). Because of this, God required that His Son be sacrificed so that we might have the opportunity to live forever as part of His Family. These facts describe the bottom line of Christianity – the ultimate plan of God. If we want to participate in that plan, we have some responsibilities.

The fundamental starting point occurs during the Passover, with the acknowledgement of our sin, when we take personal responsibility for causing the death of Jesus Christ. The Days of Unleavened Bread follow, giving us the instruction to continue from that acknowledgement of sin, and work to remove it from our lives. It is a common and intended phenomenon for us to become acutely aware of our inadequacies and weaknesses during this time, so we specifically know the areas where we need to improve. This is heavy stuff to take in, and this is the season of the year when these truths generally penetrate the deepest. It is enough to trigger a great deal of guilt, knowing that individually we have directly caused the death of our Savior – and that we have so, so much to work on.
Becoming paralyzed by guilt is not something that we should allow, however. While we live lives that include sinful actions, which might cause us to feel unworthy of Christ’s Sacrifice, our remorse must transform into repentance. Our willingness to change our behavior to be in accordance with God’s laws proves to Him that even though we sin, we are working to improve. Bearing fruits of repentance is what God looks for in our lives. That shows God that we are not behaving unworthily of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Repentance takes work because it is so contrary to the way of this world in which we live. However, it is something that God believes we are capable of performing, with His help, and He is glad to offer us the opportunity. It is, after all, His good pleasure to offer us the Kingdom of God (Luke 12:32). For this awesome opportunity to repent, we should be thankful.

Even though the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life! What we have to remember is that God wants us to take advantage of the opportunity He provides to us. Jesus Christ was not sacrificed so that we might continue to feel guilty and unworthy, but rather, so that we might claim it, change our lives, and be grateful. The guilt of our sin, transformed by repentance into good behavior, should make us grateful. Do you offer God your sincere thanks for this gift? Now is certainly the time to do so.
But even after partaking of the Passover, we find that we sin again. The Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us that we have to continue, with God’s help, to conquer the sin that stares us directly in the face. We must remember how God wants us to respond. We must not become paralyzed by the faults we recognize, leading us to inaction. Instead, we must be thankful for the opportunity to be saved and actively express that gratitude by bearing fruit of repentance.

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As rumors of serious military conflicts loom in our news, we begin with a report on Israel’s stringent requirements for military service; we note the burdensome tax structure in America; we offer several articles focusing on the crisis in Ukraine–noting how this event is spiraling into a realignment of Europe’s self-defense.

We conclude with a report and note of caution on the false claims being offered to explain “heavenly signs.”

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Virtually No Conscientious Objection in Israel

The Telegraph reported on April 14:

“Israeli teenagers risk being sent to prison by refusing to join the army… Draft-age pupils in Israel have defied the law and Benjamin Netanyahu by telling him they will not join the army after leaving school… All men and women are obliged to join the Israeli Defence Forces at age 18, although exemptions exist for Arab citizens and ultra-Orthodox Jews engaged in religious studies.”

We can be thankful that the USA does not have similar restrictive laws, prohibiting religious freedom of sincerely held beliefs against fighting in war. Also, to compel women to fight in war is extremely troublesome.

American Companies Flee Overbearing Tax Liabilities

The Financial Tines wrote on April 13:

“Walgreen has come under pressure from an influential group of its shareholders, who want the US pharmacy chain to consider relocating to Europe, in what would be one of the largest tax inversions ever attempted. At a private meeting in Paris on Friday, investors owning close to 5 per cent of Walgreens’ shares lobbied the company’s management to use its $16bn takeover of Swiss-based Alliance Boots to re-domicile its tax base…

“Existing rules mean that a US company can forgo its domestic tax status through a deal that transfers more than 20 per cent of its shares to foreign owners. A tax inversion by Walgreens would be likely to face strong political resistance in the US, where the practice has become increasingly popular during the past two years…”

With ridiculous American tax laws, those practices should surprise no one. As usual, America is digging its own grave in so many different ways.

Ukraine Crisis Escalates

AFP wrote on April 13:

“The UN Security Council has held emergency talks after Ukraine declared a ‘full-scale’ military operation against pro-Russia forces, amid deadly clashes in its restive east. Russia and the West locked horns over the escalating crisis in Ukraine with Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin saying ‘there has already been bloodshed and a further escalation must be swiftly stopped’…”

“Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced the launch of a counterstrike against the armed separatists in the eastern Donetsk region early on Sunday morning… US ambassador Power urged Russia to explain why 40,000 of its forces are massed on the Ukrainian border and find constructive ideas to stop armed attacks on government buildings in eastern Ukraine.”

This crisis will not end any time soon…

Russia’s Preparations For Ukrainian Occupation

AFP wrote on April 16:

“Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday said Ukraine was on the verge of civil war as Kiev authorities launched a military operation against pro-Kremlin militants in the separatist east. ‘I will be brief: Ukraine is on the brink of civil war, it’s frightening,’ the country’s former president was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.”

The Local added on April 16:

“Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Chancellor Angela Merkel that Ukraine was on the verge of civil war after the Kiev government sent in the army against separatists in the east of the country, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.”

Apparently, Russia is preparing the occupation of Ukraine and providing the West with a “justification” for their anticipated actions. One should not be fooled by Russia’s promises to cooperate with the West in regard to Mr. Putin’s militant separatists.

Global Military Spending

Deutsche Welle reported on April 14:

“Global military spending totaled $1.7 trillion (1.23 trillion euros) in 2013, a decrease of nearly 2 percent from the previous year. However, the drop in overall investment in the armed forces was by no means a sign of countries across the globe of nations slowing down military development, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said on Monday… the  major cause of the 2-percent drop stemmed from changes the United States’ military budget, the top spender in the world. Washington-approved budget cuts led to a 7.8 percent drop year-on-year, down to $640 billion. The withdrawal from Iraq and the winding down of operations in Afghanistan also contributed to the decrease in spending.

“Meanwhile, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia sharply increased their spending between 2012 and 2013. Beijing invested 7.4 percent more in its armed forces, bringing its total budget to $188 billion. Saudi Arabia rose from seventh to fourth in the world. In 2013, its military expenditures totaled $67 billion, an increase of 14 percent from the previous year…

“France, Britain, Germany, Japan, India and South Korea were among the top spenders. The SIPRI report also noted stark growth in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East as the West spent less.

“SIPRI ranked Russia number three on its list, noting that it had invested a greater percentage of its GDP in its military in 2013, beating out the US for the first time in a decade. Moscow spent 4.1 percent of its GDP on its armed forces, barely overtaking Washington, which spent only 3.8 percent of its GDP on the same sector…

“Moscow’s deployment of troops along its southwestern border with Ukraine has worried Western leaders, who are trying to de-escalate tensions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the transitional government in Kyiv. The SIPRI report noted that the perceived threat of Russian military aggression could also have an influence on EU military spending, which has dropped in the face of the eurozone crisis.”

These statistics are highly significant, in light of biblical prophecy, which predicts the military decline of the USA, and the rise of military spending in Russia, China and Europe.

Germany Warns of War in Europe

The Local wrote on April 14:

“Germany warned of war in Europe on Monday, with vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel stating the continent was being ‘dragged’ into a ‘smoldering conflict’ with Russia over Ukraine… He said that good news several months ago from Ukraine – including an end to bloody violence against protesters – had since given way to ‘an ongoing military confrontation’ and the realization that ‘Russia is apparently willing to let tanks cross European borders. Suddenly, we are being dragged from the observer’s position into a long smoldering and incendiary conflict, which is also demanding a price from Europe in the form of sanctions against Russia,’ he said.

“Foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier meanwhile, called the danger of Europe splitting a ‘ dal one’…

“He told the paper that he believed Russia was testing the West through it’s handling of Crimea. ‘ [It] cannot be, seven decades after the end of the second world war and 25 years after the end of the cold war, that we start changing borders based on ethic, linguistic or religious factors.’ Berlin also said it saw indications Russia was supporting pro-Kremlin militias who seized government buildings in eastern Ukraine.

“Christiane Wirtz, spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said: ‘There are many signs that the armed groups active in eastern Ukraine are receiving support from Russia,’ she said, adding that Merkel had discussed the crisis with British Prime Minister David Cameron by phone on Monday morning. ‘A look at the appearance, uniforms and weaponry of some of these groups hardly suggests that they are defense forces spontaneously formed by civilians,’ she said.”

NATO Reacts to Russia’s Threats

AP wrote on April 16:

“NATO is strengthening its military footprint along its eastern border immediately in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the alliance’s chief said Wednesday.

“Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO’s air policing aircraft will fly more sorties over the Baltic region west of Ukraine, far from the tensions in the eastern part of the country. He said allied warships will also deploy to the Baltic Sea, the eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere if needed.

“NATO’s supreme commander in Europe told reporters that ground forces could also be involved at some point, but gave no details.

“NATO members Poland and the Baltic countries Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia have been wary following Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula, demanding a more robust military posture to counter neighboring Russia.’
“Rasmussen said the new NATO deployments are about ‘deterrence and de-escalation” in the face of Russia’s aggressive behavior in Ukraine, which is not a member of the 28-nation alliance…

“Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said multiple nations have approached him with offers of ground forces that will be included in a plan of operations he will give to NATO later Wednesday or Thursday.

“Breedlove said the package of new military moves is designed to remain in place through Dec. 31.”

One certain outcome from Russia’s gamesmanship is the awakening in Europe to the fact that their military strength must increase! The US has proven itself to be weakened and can no longer be looked to as their first line of defense.

Signs in the Heavens?

The Daily Mail reported on April 14:

“Popular televangelist claims four blood moons are sign of ‘world-shaking event… Four complete lunar eclipses will appear in the sky starting on April 15. Pastor John Hagee, of Texas’ Cornerstone Church, believes God is trying to communicate with humans through these celestial signs….

“Bestselling author and televangelist Pastor John Hagee claims the four blood moons that will soon appear in the skies over America are evidence of a future ‘world-shaking event.’ The blood moons are part of a tetrad, a set of complete and consecutive lunar eclipses that will begin on April 15 and continue in roughly six-month intervals until October 2015…

“The April 15 event happens during Passover. On Oct. 8, the blood moon will occur during the Feast of Tabernacles. Another blood moon will occur during Passover on April 4, 2015. The last will happen on Sept. 28, 2015, another Feast of the Tabernacles.”

Technically, all the predictions don’t match the times of God’s Holy Days. In 2014, the Passover was already in the evening of April 12. It is true, however, that the Days of Unleavened Bread fall from the evening of April 14 until sunset of April 21. Further, the Feast of Tabernacles 2014 BEGINS at sunset—at the end of October 8. In 2015, Passover will be in the evening of April 2, and the Days of Unleavened Bread will begin with sunset of April 3. In 2015, the Feast of Tabernacles will be celebrated, according to the Hebrew calendar, from the evening of September 27 until October 5. Even though close, Hagee’s dates are not completely accurate.

In any event, we must be careful not to assign “heavenly signs” to events like the ones described by Hagee. The biblical heavenly signs will cause tremendous catastrophes… they involve much more than just inconsequential visible constellations or eclipses. Also, from a time sequence standpoint, the heavenly signs will occur AFTER the BEGINNING of the Great Tribulation. The Great Tribulation did not begin with Passover of 2014, and it is not to be expected that it will begin in 2015 either.

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The Last Great Day Further Elaborated

In your weekly Update 112 for the Week ending October 11th, 2003, you discussed the Last Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles.   Do you still feel that this is the 8th day as there are those in the Church of God who think that this applies to the seventh day of the Feast?
We are happy to discuss this further.   The Q & A that you refer to can be found at http://www.globalchurchofgod.co.uk/qa/3525 .   In this answer, the last paragraph states the following:
“It is important to note what Christ said. He pointed out that the time would arrive when EVERYONE who thirsts could come to Him to receive from Him the gift of living waters — the Holy Spirit. That promise will not be fulfilled until the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-12) — AFTER the Millennium (Revelation 20:4, 6). While the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the Millennium, the Great White Throne Judgment is pictured by the Last Great Day or the EIGHTH Day. When THAT time has arrived, all persons who had not been called before will be resurrected to physical life and will then be given their first real opportunity to accept God’s calling. Christ’s words in John 7:37-39 speak of a time when God’s Spirit will be offered to all, for at that time, all will be CALLED to salvation.”
This is an important paragraph because it clearly shows that in John 7:37-39 Christ spoke of the time when EVERYONE who thirsted and who could come to Him to receive the gift of living waters – the Holy Spirit.   It is worth reiterating and emphasising this point because that time won’t come until the Great White Throne Judgment when all who have ever lived and have not been called will have their first opportunity to accept God’s calling.   That is why the Last Great Day, or the eighth day, pictures the Great White Throne Judgment.
But there is more.   The 7th day of the Feast of Tabernacles is not even a Holy Day – it is the last of 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles and in that context, the symbolism if the 7th day was that “great day of the Feast” wouldn’t really make sense. When the Bible designates an annual Holy Day—as distinguished from a weekly Sabbath—it oftentimes makes this distinction very clear. For example, when referring to the First Day of Unleavened Bread, it states in John 19:31, that “that Sabbath was a high day.”  (For further explanation, compare our free booklet, “Jesus Christ—A Great Mystery.”).  Likewise, in John 7:37, the terminology, “that great day of the Feast,” does not just refer to a “normal” day, and not even to a weekly Sabbath, but to an annual Holy Day.

It has also been stated that if the Last Great Day is a one day Feast, which would indicate that there are other days, how could it be called the Great Day of the Feast?   It is an interesting question.
In Matthew 26:17 we read “Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”   This shows that the Jews spoke about the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread as one period of time.
Barnes notes on the Bible states that “The first day … – The feast continued “eight” days, including the day on which the paschal lamb was killed and eaten, Exodus 12:15.   That was the fourteenth day of the month Abib, answering to parts of our March and April.”
Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible has this to say: “Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread – As the feast of unleavened bread did not begin till the day after the Passover, the fifteenth day of the month, Leviticus 23:5, Leviticus 23:6; Numbers 28:16, Numbers 28:17, this could not have been, properly, the first day of that feast; but as the Jews began to eat unleavened bread on the fourteenth,Exodus 12:18, this day was often termed the first of unleavened bread. The evangelists use it in this sense, and call even the paschal day by this name. See Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7.”
We can see that the period which would encompass the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread was seen by the Jews as a time which they celebrated as one.
In Mark 14:1-2 we read “After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people.”   Again we can see that there were two separate Feasts but for the Jews “Unleavened Bread” covered the whole period.
In Mark 14:12-16 we read – “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passoverlamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?”  And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him.  Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’  Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.”  So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover.”   Again, the Jews reckoned that the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread were one whole period and Feast.
Again, we read in Luke 22:1 we read this same terminology: “Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover.”
Having seen that the Jews lumped the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread together, we can better understand that, likewise the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day were also seen as one celebration.

In addition, if John 7:37-39 were to refer to the seventh day, and not the eighth day of the Tabernacles season, what then would the symbolic meaning be for the eighth day? Some say that it would refer to a time when God would colonize the universe or recreate the new heavens and the new earth. However, God’s annual Holy Days picture God’s plan for physical mankind, culminating in the final enlargement of God’s Family— the change of all of physical man into God beings or the extinction of those who maliciously refused to be part of the Kingdom of God. The eighth day pictures this final accomplishment for physical man. To now reduce this final step of God’s plan for physical man to the seventh day of the Feast and then add a totally new and unrelated thought to the symbolism of the eighth day—the colonization of the universe or the creation of new heavens and a new earth—makes little sense in consideration of the entire picture for mankind, as symbolized by God’s annual Holy Days.  
It seems clear, when reviewing all of the available information contained in the Word of God, that “… the last day, that great day of the Feast” (John 7:37) was the eighth day which pictures the Great White Throne Judgment.

Lead Writer: Brian Gale

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Mr. Link reported that three persons were baptized following last week’s Sabbath services in Germany.

Norbert and Johanna Link, Michael Link, Thilo and Anita Hanstein, and Christoph and Monique Sperzel met with a German attorney and a notary to sign the constitution and other papers for the purpose of registering the Kirche des Ewigen Gottes in Germany. These documents will now be filed with the government and the tax authorities to obtain legal status and tax exemption.

“Why Do YOU Keep Easter?,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Where did the celebration of Easter come from? Why did many Christians over the centuries never keep it, including the Reformers and the Puritans, and why don’t some Christians keep it today? How and through whom were Easter customs adopted by the American people? Does the Bible endorse their observance? Our free booklet on “Man’s Holidays and God’s Holy Days” is offered as well.

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How This Work is Financed

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

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

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

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

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

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

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