|Live Services||“Go into all the world…”; The Need For Fasting|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||What Will Be the Conditions During the Great White Throne Judgment Period? (Part 5)|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
“Go into all the world…”; The Need For Fasting
On December 12, 2015, Norbert Link will present the sermonette, titled, “Go into all the world…,” and Kalon Mitchell will present the sermon, titled, “The Need For Fasting.”
The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (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.
by Dave Harris
Fulfilling our part in preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God must be done with true compassion and deep concern for those who are hearing the message God has ordained. While the focus is on future events, when God’s Kingdom will govern the entire world, the knowledge we are imparting has impact for people right now!
Of God, it is said that He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4); and, that He “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
When God calls someone to repentance, He is giving that person the opportunity to receive eternal life. Along with that calling, and following repentance and baptism, comes a brand new way of living through the power of God—His own Holy Spirit.
All of this astounding opportunity for us rests in the fact that God cares for mankind—He loves us! The measure of His compassion is ultimate and without parallel:
“‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’” (John 3:16).
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).
If we accept this truth of how much God cares, then we are bound to express the same kind of care as we complete the Work of God given to us:
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).
We focus on Germany’s decision to engage militarily in the Syrian war, which has caused some to issue strong warnings against such “illusionary” attempts without any clear prospect for success. We continue with covering the San Bernardino terror attack and outspoken comments by Donald Trump, which have met with harsh criticism.
We also describe dangerous Russian war-mongering propaganda against Berlin, Washington and Istanbul; a referendum of the Danish people against “more Europe”; and statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the effect that Israel could easily destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.
We continue with an article by an Arabic scholar debunking the Islamic claim regarding the Temple Mount; and we report on a remarkable find of righteous King Hezekiah’s royal seal.
We speak on a dumb-founding revelation that California owns all DNA of children born in the state since 1983 and what is being done with the blood of newborn babies.
We conclude with an article which, if true, would show incredible religious persecution of a Junior High School student in Texas, and attempts by the White House to give even further powers to the IRS
This Week in the News
“The War That Nobody Wants”
This is the headline of an article which was published by Deutsche Welle on December 4. The article continued:
“Germany is sending soldiers to Syria to combat the self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’ (IS) terror group. The government isn’t acting out of conviction, rather in response to external pressure…
“The Iraq War of 2003 should serve as a cautionary tale when it comes to this sort of ill-considered obedience…
“Nobody is questioning the murderous, deeply evil character of this terrorist group… They can attack anytime, anywhere, and everyone knows it. Despite this, the government is contributing to the illusion that ‘IS’ can be beaten with more air strikes. They are deluding themselves…
“Independent political and military experts have voiced serious doubts about the success of such a mission. Then, there are international legal concerns… There is already a long list of failed deployments in this young century: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya – all failed states where the seeds of terror were planted and continue to grow. Now, in Syria, military alliances are suddenly being formed that, just weeks ago, would have been likened by all parties to a pact with the devil… This alone shows just how helpless and desperate the West – and with it now Germany – has become.
“The German government has painted itself into a corner. It knows that the agreed deployment is highly risky for both the soldiers, and the German people. It will, of course, increase the risk of an ‘IS’ terrorist attack on German soil.
“There are jihadists living among us. And the horrific scenes from Paris are still fresh. There, it was mainly French citizens with a Muslim background who carried out the attacks. Now, out of an honest sense of solidarity, Germany is participating in a war for which there are no convincing political and military arguments…”
German Muslims Warn Against German Military Involvement in Syria
Deutsche Welle reported on December 5:
“The head of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims spoke out against German involvement in Syria on Saturday… Aiman Mazyek said that this type of strategy in the fight against terrorism had already proven a failure…
“According to Mazyek, a much better plan is to stop the delivery of weapons to the jihadists, to force regional powers to come together at the negotiating table and by focusing on a strategy of reconciliation, creating a perspective of hope and peace for Syrians and not one of continued misery and conflict… adding that groups like ‘IS’ and al Qaeda benefit from the West engaging them in violence because war is an important part of their political goals.
“Referring to Germany’s involvement in the protracted conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mazyek reminded readers that ‘we have sown war, and out of it came refugees and terrorism.’”
Undoubtedly, ongoing military engagement in Syria (which will not be successful in destroying ISIS) will maximize the ongoing migrant crisis.
Terror Attack in San Bernardino–a Political Nightmare for Obama
The Guardian wrote on December 4:
“There is never a good time for a commander-in-chief to learn of a terrorist attack on the homeland, but confirmation… could hardly have come at a worse time politically for Barack Obama. Just one week [ago] the president responded to mounting fear of terrorism with unusually forthright reassurance for Americans to ‘go about their usual activities’ during the US holiday season… the president also went out of his way to stress there was ‘no specific and credible intelligence indicating a plot on the homeland’.
“The message was a direct response to what Obama said were ‘understandable’ fears about terrorism in the wake of the recent Paris shootings. But it also came as he was facing unprecedented levels of criticism from political opponents about failing to take seriously the threat from Isis and those potentially inspired by its violent extremism…
“In the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s shooting, Obama focused exclusively on gun control as a policy response – suggesting the attack fitted into a ‘pattern of mass shootings in this country’. By Thursday, after the identity of the attackers had become clear, the president acknowledged that terrorism was a possibility but still spoke mainly about the need to pass gun control legislation – even though it now looks possible that the assault rifles in the attack may have already been illegal under California law.”
Incredible–Falwell Jr. Encourages Students to Buy Guns
Newsmax reported on December 5:
“Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Christian-based Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, is encouraging students to carry concealed weapons on campus for protection, a local newspaper reported. Falwell made his remarks at the school’s weekly convocation on Friday night, according to The News & Advance in Lynchburg. The comments came two days after a shooting in San Bernardino, California left 14 people dead and in the wake of other shooting sprees in the United States, including some on college campuses.
“‘It just blows my mind when I see that the president of the United States [says] that the answer to circumstances like that is more gun control,’ Falwell said, according to the newspaper. ‘I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in.’ Later on Friday, Falwell clarified via Twitter that he was referring to Islamic terrorists, not all Muslims, the paper reported.
“Falwell, whose [late] father Jerry Falwell Sr. was an evangelical Southern Baptist pastor, televangelist, and conservative political commentator, urged students to take free classes offered by the university’s Police Department to obtain a concealed weapon permit, the newspaper reported. ‘Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,’ he said. Liberty University is a private institution with about 14,500 students taking courses on campus and another 95,000 enrolled online, according to the school’s website.”
Newsmax added on December 7 “that… Jerry Falwell Jr. defended his stance that his students should be carrying guns on campus, saying the policy has been in effect since the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings that killed 32… Students have to be 21 years old to carry weapons on campus, he said.”
Others, such as Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump, have made similar claims and recommendations.
However, all should be well advised to read Christ’s statements to Peter, in Matthew 26:52: “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword [or a gun] will perish by the sword [a gun].” The warning is repeated in Revelation 13:10: “… he who kills with the sword [a gun] must be killed with the sword [a gun].” Christ introduced this warning in verse 9 with, “If anyone has an ear, let him hear.”
Falwell and others have not been listening so far, and neither have millions who think that they will live safer lives by carrying a gun and by willing to use it. The opposite is true.
Franklin Graham Blasts “New York Daily News” over Prayer Article
Newsmax wrote on December 4:
“Christian evangelist… Franklin Graham is blasting a prayer-shaming headline and story in the New York Daily News.
“… the son of famed preacher Billy Graham… decries the attitude that prayers don’t do much to prevent mass shootings like the [terrorist attack by a heavily-armed radical Muslim couple] that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif. ‘The New York Daily News front page touts “God isn’t fixing this” in regards to the San Bernardino mass shooting,’ Graham writes.
“‘And they have the audacity to criticize politicians who had publicly offered prayers and asked for God’s comfort following the killings, calling them “cowards who could truly end gun scourge.” Shame on them! … ‘It’s evident that this group is bashing the importance of prayer in order to promote their own gun control agenda,’ he adds.
“Graham argues prayers aren’t ‘“meaningless platitudes” as they say on their cover.’ ‘Prayer does make a difference in heartbreaking situations like this,’ he writes.”
“Most Controversial” Statements by Donald Trump So Far—“Complete Shutdown on Muslims Entering the USA”
NBC News reported on December 7:
“Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on Monday called for a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’ [‘until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.]… Trump released a statement citing polling data he says shows ‘there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.’…
“Trump’s announcement comes the day after President Barack Obama addressed the nation, calling on Americans ‘to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country.’…
“‘Donald Trump always plays on everyone’s worst instincts and fears and saying we’re not going to let a single Muslim into this [country] is a dangerous over reaction,’ Carly Fiorina told NBC News after a campaign stop in Iowa.
“‘This is the kind of thing that people say when they have no experience and don’t know what they’re talking about,’ Chris Christie said during a radio interview. ‘That’s a ridiculous position,’ he added.”
Lindsey Graham tweeted that ‘Every candidate for president needs to do the right thing and condemn’ Trump’s comments. Ted Cruz said ‘that is not my policy.’ A spokesperson for Ben Carson said, ‘Everyone visiting our country should register and be monitored during their stay as is done in many countries. We do not and would not advocate being selective on one’s religion.’
Jeb Bush wrote on Facebook that Trump is “unhinged” and that his “policy proposals are not serious.” He later speculated whether Trump and Clinton were engaged in a conspiracy so that Clinton would win; and reporters on MSNBC “speculated” quite seriously whether Trump was making those controversial comments so that he could lose.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said he disagrees with Trump. “[His] habit of making offensive and outlandish statements will not bring Americans together…” he said in a statement. Former Vice President Dick Cheney said that “such a policy goes against the spirit of America.” The White House and the Democrats universally condemned Trump’s proposal.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said that Trump’s proposal “is not what this party (GOP) stands for. And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”
The Washington Post wrote:
“In the past month… Trump has called for greater scrutiny of Muslims — including Muslim Americans who are legal residents of the country. He has said he would support heavy surveillance of mosques, bar Syrian refugees of all religions from entering the country and would consider establishing a database to track all Muslims in the country. But Trump’s statement on Monday was his most controversial proposal yet.”
The Huffington Post wrote: “Trump goes full fascist.”
Fox News host Shepard Smith said that Trump “is representing the worst, darkest part of all that is America.”
In Germany, Trump’s comments made the headlines in almost every news outlet. Bild Online wrote about Trump’s newest “provocation,” adding that Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, confirmed via Email that Trump’s demand to exclude Muslims does not only refer to refugees, but also to tourists and students. (Trump later “clarified” that his proposal would not apply to US citizens and Muslims living in the USA, and a Trump spokesperson said that his comments were meant to apply “only” to immigration). Trump also said that there would be exceptions for some, without giving any specifics. Die Zeit wrote that Trump found a new scapegoat—the “hateful” Muslims.
Trump was also highly criticized in Great Britain.
Deutsche Welle characterized Trump’s comments as “racist” and wrote on December 9:
“British hostility towards… Donald Trump is a hot commodity across the United Kingdom… nearly a quarter of a million people [have been] signing a petition to ban the US presidential candidate from Britain… [Trump said:] ‘We have places in London… that are so radicalised that the police are afraid for their own lives.’
“The latter comment drew outrage and fury from across Britain’s political establishment. London Mayor Boris Johnson lashed into Trump. ‘I think he is betraying a quite stupefying ignorance that makes him frankly unfit to hold the office of the president of the United States,’ Johnson told ITV News. The mayor also told the BBC, ‘Crime has been falling steadily… in London…’
“Prime Minister David Cameron – who now leads the same conservative party once led by Margaret Thatcher – said the US presidential candidate’s statement [banning all Muslims from entering the USA] was ‘divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.’…
“Trump’s comments prompted an outraged Scottish government Wednesday to drop him as a business ambassador for the country, where he owns golf courses and hotels… The petition will now be considered for debate by parliament as it has over 100,000 signatures, and will receive a written government response…”
The Associated Press wrote on December 7:
“[Trump] did not respond to questions about whether it would also include Muslims who are U.S. citizens and travel outside of the country, or how a determination of someone’s religion might be made by customs and border officials. There are, for example, more than 5,800 servicemen and women on active U.S. military duty and in the reserves who self-identify as Muslim and could be assigned to serve overseas.
“Trump was also unclear on whether his ban would apply to Muslim allies in the fight against Islamic State militants. Ari Fleischer, a former aide to Republican President George W. Bush, tweeted, ‘Under Trump, the King Abdullah of Jordan, who is fighting ISIS, won’t be allowed in the US to talk about how to fight ISIS.’…
“Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said of Trump’s idea, ‘It’s just foolish.’ But will it hurt his campaign? ‘I have no idea,’ McCain said. ‘I thought long ago that things he said would hurt his prospects, and he continues to go up.’”
On the other hand, the following two articles give a slightly different picture.
The New York Times wrote on December 8:
“His remarks ignited widespread condemnation that crossed ideological and social lines in many countries… But Mr. Trump’s position also had its admirers. His stance on Muslim immigration drew several hundred favorable comments on China’s Twitter-like social media site, Weibo, where supporters linked his idea to their own fears of the Uighurs, a minority Muslim group in China’s northwestern region, some of whom have resorted to militancy and violence…
“Mr. Trump’s views were more recognizable in Europe than most people liked to admit and… his stances resembled those of not just Ms. Le Pen [note the next section in these Current Events] but also other larger-than-life politicians who appealed to voters fed up with the political mainstream… in a world in which terrorism has come to be associated with radical Islam, Mr. Trump’s stance resonated among people who perceive a similar threat…”
Bloomberg reported on December 9:
“Almost two-thirds of likely 2016 Republican primary voters favor Donald Trump’s call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S., while more than a third say it makes them more likely to vote for him.”
Trump’s proposals, if they are indeed serious and not just unrealistic comments to get votes, become more and more troublesome. But in times of war, when “enemies” are found or designated, they are not surprising. In Nazi Germany, Jews became the scapegoats for everything which was “bad” in Germany, and they were persecuted mercilessly. In the USA under President Franklin Roosevelt, during World War II, unconstitutional restrictions were placed on American citizens of Italian, German and Japanese descent, culminating in American “detention camps” of innocent Japanese civilians. Is history beginning to repeat itself… and are much worse times ahead?
Far Right Anti-Muslim Party Wins Stunning Victory in France
The EUObserver wrote on December 7:
“The [far-right] National Front [under party leader Marine Le Pen] has come first [with a 27.9 percent share of the votes] in half of the regions in a first round of local elections in France. The results were expected but they created a shock in French politics… The Front National is ‘without contest the first party of France,’ Le Pen told supporters Sunday evening… The Socialist Party (PS) of president Francois Hollande and prime minister Manuel Valls came only third with around 23 percent.”
The Associated Press wrote on December 8:
“France’s options are no longer as simple as left and right. The far-right, anti-establishment National Front has ridden a wave of anger over migration and extremist attacks straight into the political mainstream — where experts predict it will stay. The party’s historic results in Sunday’s first round of regional elections were the latest in a series of electoral inroads, with scores that shamed and destabilized the traditional parties. The conservative party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Francois Hollande’s Socialists — the long-standing anchors of French political life — scrambled to find ways to block the ascent of the far-right before the December 13 final round.
“The showing of the National Front… will dynamize leader Marine Le Pen’s planned bid for the presidency in 2017. In the traditionally Socialist northeastern region where she was running, the party won more than 40 percent of the vote. Her niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, had a similar showing in the southeastern Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, a stronghold of the traditional right…
“The party… is opposed to the European Union and the euro currency and fears that Muslim immigrants will supplant French civilization, replacing church bells with calls to prayer… Marine Le Pen replaced her father, party co-founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2011. She immediately set about changing its anti-Semitic image to make it less toxic to voters and undo its pariah status. In its former life, people were often too ashamed to reveal that they had voted for the National Front…
“Far-right parties have made inroads across Europe in recent years, from Greece to Hungary, Austria, the Netherlands and elsewhere. Le Pen heads a powerful far-right group in the European Parliament. All are feeding on the migrant crisis… German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the National Front’s strong performance must be a ‘wake-up call for all democrats in Europe.’”
JTA wrote on December 7:
“According to Haaretz, the result is the strongest electoral achievement for a far-right European party since World War II. Le Pen’s father, National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, had a history of anti-Semitism, though his daughter has distanced herself and the party from him and his record. Following publication of the results, CRIF, the umbrella body of French Jewry, called on French Jews to vote against National Front in the runoff. ‘On this coming Sunday, go out and vote by the masses to block the National Front, a xenophobic and populist party,’ the CRIF statement read. ‘Do not allow the Republic to fall.’”
War Is in the Russian Air
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 5:
“The popular Russian rock band Va-Bank released a new music video on Wednesday. It’s called ‘And After Berlin’ and… contains current political messages. International sanctions, Crimea and the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin are mentioned before the chorus comes: ‘First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.’
“Since the annexation of Crimea, war and conquest fantasies have become commonplace in Russia. You hear them from politicians, journalists and pundits. Apocalyptic photomontages depicting a future war between Europe and the United States are making the rounds on social media…
“The threat of nuclear weapons… now surfaces regularly… ‘Russia is the only country in the world that is truly capable of turning the USA into a heap of radioactive ash,’ star moderator Dmitri Kisseljov said on state television [on March 16, 2014].
“Since then, prominent personalities have continued to swing the nuclear club. Right-wing populist Vladimir Shirinovsky, the deputy parliamentary chairman, has threatened to reduce first Kyiv, then Berlin, then Washington to dust. Most recently, he was toying with the idea of throwing a nuclear bomb into the Black Sea near Istanbul. Then the Turkish city would be washed away by a giant wave, Shirinovsky reasoned during an appearance before parliament on Tuesday…
“The ‘expectation of war’ is hanging in the air these days, the Moscow-based journalist and blogger Alexander Plushev told DW. He said the media were mainly responsible for spreading such sentiment.
“Turkey’s downing of a Russian military jet on its border with Syria at the end of November appears to have heated up Russia’s war rhetoric even more… Even some journalists loyal to the Kremlin have shown concern. At the end of November, Ulyana Skoibeda of the tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda questioned the jingoism in the wake of the Turkey conflict… Her column disappeared from the paper’s website a few hours after it was published…”
It is interesting that the article mentions a coming war between Europe and the USA… as this is exactly what will happen, according to biblical prophecy.
Denmark Says No to More Europe
On December 4, the EUObserver published an article with the following headline: “Denmark says No to more EU, casts shadow on UK vote.”
“Danish voters, on Thursday (3 December), responded with a clear No when asked to integrate deeper with the European Union. The referendum resulted in a large majority – 53.1 percent No, against 46.9 percent Yes – refusing to join EU justice and home affairs policies. Denmark opted out from this part of EU policy when ratifying the Maastricht treaty 22 years ago.”
It does not appear that Denmark or the UK will be part of the final configuration of ten European core nations or groups of nations, as prophesied in the Bible.
EU Will Fall Apart Unless…
Express wrote on December 9:
“The European Union is at risk of falling apart over the next 10-years due to the migrant crisis, the head of the European Parliament suggested. Martin Schulz said the EU was in danger as there are forces trying to rip it apart… Mr Schulz said: ‘No one can say whether the EU will still exist in this form in 10-years’ time…
“Mr Schulz added no country could single-handedly tackle challenges like migration, adding this was only possible as a unified EU.”
According to the Bible, ten nations or groups of nations will emerge out of the EU “in this form.”
Israel Could Easily Destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque
The Times of Israel wrote on December 3:
“Israel could easily destroy Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque, but emphatically does not want to, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. In remarks to Likud colleagues, Netanyahu said Israel could rid the Temple Mount of the mosque with little effort, but that to do so would contradict everything that Israel represents…
“The mosque atop the Temple Mount — which is the holiest place in Judaism as the site of the two biblical temples — has been at the heart of a wave of Palestinian terrorism and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in recent months. Palestinian leaders and media have alleged that Israel intends to change the decades-long arrangements under which Jews are allowed to visit but barred from praying on the Mount — something Netanyahu has repeatedly insisted is not the case.”
However, the Bible shows that a Third Temple will be built and that sacrifices will be given by the Jews on the Temple Mount prior to Christ’s return. This suggests that the Al-Aqsa mosque WILL BE destroyed.
Outright Derision between USA and Israel
JTA wrote on December 5:
“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at an annual U.S.-Israel confab, said Israel’s government must consider the consequences of evolving toward a single state incorporating the Palestinian areas… Kerry’s forceful questioning of Israeli policy as well Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon’s outright derision of U.S. Middle East policy the previous evening underscored the divisions that continue to dog the governments of President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu…
“Kerry’s bluntness matched Yaalon’s in his claim the previous evening that the Obama administration had forfeited leadership in the region to Russian President Vladimir Putin… Netanyahu, in a last-minute addition, delivered a 10-minute video address Sunday rebutting Kerry’s warning. He said the core issue hindering Israeli-Palestinian peace was the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state…
“Much of the recent spate of deadly violence in the West Bank and Israel has been stoked by tensions surrounding the Temple Mount…”
No Connection Between Temple Mount and Islam
Israel National News reported on December 6:
“Renowned Egyptian scholar Youssef Ziedan, a specialist in Arabic and Islamic studies [said] that there is actually no connection between Jerusalem and ancient Islam. When Islam was founded during the 7th century, he says, Jerusalem was a holy city to the Jews, while the Mosque of Omar was not even built until 74 years after Muhammed’s death. The reason it was built, Ziedan says, is because the builder wished to detract from the centrality of Mecca in Islam.
“Prof. Ziedan is the director of the Manuscript Center and Museum in the Library of Alexandria. He is a public lecturer, university professor, columnist and prolific author of more than 50 books. He won the 2009 International Prize for Arabic Fiction for his work Azazeel, which was also translated into Hebrew… ‘Al-Aksa is not ours,’ he emphasizes, ‘and though the word comes from the word “extreme,” it does not refer to the far mosque on the Temple Mount, but rather to a mosque that is the “further” of two mosques in Mecca.’
“According to Ziedan, Muslims are purposely and falsely turning a political struggle between Israel and the Arabs into a religious one. ‘The religious aspect of the conflict is nonsense… The only reason why Muslims insist on the sanctity of Jerusalem is simply politics.’…
“Prof. Ziedan’s claims support knowledge long held by Jewish historians. Muslims have historically attached themselves to Jerusalem only when political expedient, beginning with Mohammed himself. In a barefaced attempt to win over the Jews living near him, the founder of Islam decided to announce that prayers would be directed towards Jerusalem – but when the Jews scorned his advances, he slaughtered many of them, and proceeded to direct his followers’ prayers towards Mecca instead.
“Not only did Mohammed never mention the city in the Koran, but later, when Moslems conquered the Holy Land, they totally ignored Jerusalem and established their capital in Ramle…”
Impression of King Hezekiah’s Royal Seal Unearthed
The Jerusalem Post wrote on December 2:
“An unprecedented impression of the royal seal of King Hezekiah from the First Temple period was unearthed by a Hebrew University of Jerusalem archeological team during excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount, the university announced on Wednesday. Dating back to 727–698 BCE and measuring 9.7 mm by 8.6 mm., the oval impression… was imprinted on a 3-mm.- thick piece of clay, measuring 13 mm. by 12 mm…
“The impression bears an inscription in ancient Hebrew script stating: ‘Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah,’ accompanied by a two-winged sun with wings turned downward, flanked by two ankh symbols serving as emblems of life…
“King Hezekiah is described favorably in the Bible (II Kings, Isaiah, II Chronicles) as well as in the chronicles of the Assyrian kings Sargon II and his son, Sennacherib, who ruled during his time. ‘Hezekiah is depicted as both a resourceful and daring king, who centralized power in his hands,’ the university said. ‘Although he was an Assyrian vassal, he successfully maintained the independent standing of the Judean kingdom and its capital, Jerusalem, which he enhanced economically, religiously and diplomatically.’
“The Bible states of Hezekiah: ‘There was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those before him’ (II Kings 18:5).”
Again, the Bible has been proven to be historically accurate.
California Owns Your DNA
CBS reported on November 9:
“… a non-descript office building in Richmond contains the DNA of every person born in California since 1983. It’s a treasure trove of information about you, from the color of your eyes and hair to your pre-disposition to diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.
“Using these newborn blood spots for research, the state is able to screen babies for 80 hereditary diseases. But the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is not the only agency using the blood spots. Law enforcement can request them. Private companies can buy them to do research – without your consent…
“The CDPH turned down a request for an interview and wouldn’t explain why it doesn’t ask permission to sell babies’ blood spots. But it said parents can have them destroyed. And CDPH says the blood spots are de-identified and can’t be tracked back to the child. But Yaniv Erlich with Columbia University and the New York Genome Center said there’s no way to guarantee that. His research demonstrated how easy it is to take anonymized DNA, cross-reference it with online data and connect it to a name…
“[Mrs.] Gatto thinks the state should have to at least ask her consent before storing and selling her daughters’ DNA… Gatto ended up requesting that her child’s blood spots be destroyed. Meanwhile, her husband – state Assemblyman Mike Gatto – introduced a bill this year that would have required signed consent on newborn screening. Opposition from the state and the industry killed it.”
This is rather shocking and disturbing. Is there anything in citizens’ lives which the US government and lobbyists do not take over and manipulate?
Incredible Religious Persecution… in Texas!
Fox News reported on November 28:
“12-year-old Jordan Wooley, the Texas girl who spoke out after her teacher made her say that God is a myth, says she has been bullied and told to kill herself after media coverage of the incident. It all began when Jordan’s teacher assigned a quiz asking students at West Memorial Junior High School in Katy, Texas, to label statements as ‘fact, assertion, or opinion.’
“Among the statements were ‘America is the most free country on Earth’ and ‘there is a God.’ After Jordan labeled the latter as a ‘fact,’ her teacher told her to deny God or get an ‘F.’
“The Katy Independent School District denied the incident ever happened and claimed no one could verify Jordan’s story. But that didn’t stop her from calling the board members ‘liars’ and asking for an apology in a statement on Monday…”
If this story turns out to be true, then the teacher and the responsible representative(s) of the Katy Independent School District should resign or be fired immediately.
Careful… Obama Administration and IRS Up to No Good?
Fox News reported on December 7:
“An Obama administration proposal to have some nonprofit charities report the Social Security numbers of donors giving at least $250 in one year is raising concerns about security, government overreach and another episode of IRS targeting. ‘There’s a big caution here. There’s a big yellow light that should be flashing for a couple of reasons,’ Illinois Republican Rep. Peter Roskam tells Fox News. ‘Number one, the IRS has not demonstrated its capacity to hold this type of information from confidentiality and a security point of view.’
“The change would impact organizations that fall into the 501 (c)(3) category, which includes churches and other religious or charitable groups. The Internal Revenue Service states the proposed change would be optional. But skeptics question whether it will eventually become the only option… attorney Cleta Mitchell… argues that the IRS cannot be trusted and that the change could have a devastating impact on charities’ ability to collect enough money to survive…”
What Will Be the Conditions During the Great White Throne Judgment Period? (Part 5)
In previous installments, we showed that in the Great White Throne Judgment, it will be “more tolerable” for some than for others. We explained that the implication is that some will be “punished” more severely than others–that their punishment will be greater than the punishment of others. We also showed that even in case of forgiveness of sins, there might still be a certain penalty which the sinner has to pay… and that this is of course even more true for those who did not repent of their sins.
Christ gives a remarkable parable in the book of Luke, explaining that punishment will differ, depending on the circumstances and individuals involved. He said in Luke 12:42-44:
“And the Lord said, ‘Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.”
It is obvious that Christ addresses true and “blessed” Christians in these verses who remain faithful. They will be “blessed and holy” and rule with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4, 6), and, ultimately, they will rule and reign forever and ever over all things (Revelation 21:7; 22:5; Hebrews 2:5-8).
Christ continues in Luke 12:45-46 to address true Christians who did not remain faithful, but fell away from God and lost the Holy Spirit. They will end up in the third resurrection to be destroyed:
“But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.”
Those who commit the unpardonable sin will be burnt up with the “unbelievers” in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15; 21:8). Christ, in this parable, equates this with “cutting them in two.” The Authorized Version says that “he will cut him in sunder.” The NIV says that he will “cut him to pieces.” The New Jerusalem Bible says: “The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.”
Christ uses this terminology to show that their fate will be one of utter destruction. In the parallel account in Matthew 24:51, we read that the master of that servant “will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This last sentence is used many times in reference to the third resurrection of unprofitable servants (compare Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). Their fate will be “outer darkness”; that is, they will never see again the Light of God. Before they will be burnt up, they will weep and gnash their teeth in hate and utter defiance of God and His Way of Life.
In Luke 12:47-48, Christ proceeds to talk about those who will be in the Second Resurrection of the Great White Throne Judgment period. He now addresses a new category of servants and is not speaking any longer of the servant in verses 45 and 46:
“And that servant who KNEW his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did NOT KNOW, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”
We don’t read that any of these servants in verses 47 and 48 will be cut in pieces and end up in the lake of fire. Rather, they are those who are raised in the Judgment, and they will be punished with “stripes.” But their punishment is not the same. For some, it will be more tolerable than for others. On some, a more severe punishment will be inflicted than on others. It has much to do with what a person understood. Paul says in Romans 2:14-15 that “Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.”
Many, although not converted Christians in this life, do understand that it is wrong to murder or to commit adultery or to steal or to lie. If they live by these standards, they will receive a much more merciful sentence than those who also knew this but did not care to live by it. There will be an accounting in any case “in the day when God will judge the secrets of man by Jesus Christ” (verse 16), but the more serious sins will weigh much heavier. One does not need to be a converted Christian to know that killing millions of innocent people is wrong and unjustifiable. Hard-core criminals, terrorists, mass murderers, torturers and sexual perverts might have seared their conscience willingly (1 Timothy 4:2), “being past feeling” (Ephesians 4:19), and so they will have to receive many stripes to bring them to true repentance.
The Greek word for “stripe” is “plégé.” Many times, it is used to describe beatings (Acts 16:23, 33; 2 Corinthians 6:5; 11:23). In other places, it refers to a wound or a stroke (Revelation 13:3, 12, 14). But the word can also mean, “plague.” Revelation 22:18-19 uses this word in this context, stating:
“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the PLAGUES that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” When we read about the plagues which God will pour out on rebellious mankind (note especially Revelation 11:6; 15:1; 16:3, 4, 10, 18), we might get a clearer picture as to what kind of “stripes” Christ might be referring to.
For instance, we read that the two witnesses will have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy, continuing that they have power to strike the earth with all plagues (see again Revelation 11:6). This connection between lack of rain and plagues reminds us of Zechariah 14, when God will withhold rain from those in the Millennium who refuse to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. Zechariah 14:18-19 describes it this way:
“And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there shall be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the PLAGUE with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the PUNISHMENT of Egypt and the PUNISHMENT of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (verses 17-19).
We explained before that the conditions in the Millennium will be very similar to the conditions during the Great White Throne Judgment. And God will use the same kind of “stripes” or “plagues” or individual punishment during both time periods. They describe punishment for wrong conduct throughout the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment, but they also relate to punishment for their prior conduct in this day and age. Christ’s parable in Luke 12 does not relate merely to conduct AFTER His return; the emphasis is on conduct PRIOR to His Second Coming.
Let us note how the Bible uses the concept of stripes in other passages, showing that they describe just and righteous punishment, including for the purpose of betterment.
In Exodus 21:25 we read that the one who inflicts a stripe on another must receive a stripe himself… that is, he is to pay for the value of the stripe with which he beat another person.
Psalm 89:32 tells us that God will “PUNISH their transgression with a rod, And their iniquity with STRIPES,” while not forgetting His lovingkindness and His faithfulness (verse 33).
Proverbs 19:29 says that “JUDGMENTS are prepared for scoffers, And BEATINGS for the backs of fools.” The Authorized Version says: “… STRIPES for the back of fools.”
Proverbs 20:30 adds: “BLOWS that hurt CLEANSE AWAY evil, As do STRIPES the inner depths of the heart.” The NIV says: “Blows and wounds clean away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.” The interpretation of the Living Bible is quite interesting: “Punishment that hurts chases evil from the heart.”
In addition, when the people appearing before Christ’s throne hear that their sins have brought about the ETERNAL death penalty, since the wages of sin is eternal death, but that true and genuine repentance and believing in and accepting the Sacrifice of Christ will free them from that fate, it will be much more difficult for some than for others to truly repent and realize how evil their human nature has been, and that the death of Christ was necessary to atone for their sins.
The stripes might include the realization of how serious their sinful conduct has been, and that recognition will hit them “like a ton of bricks.” Some will have a very difficult time in dealing with that reality. That would also be true for those who think that they led pretty good lives, and that there was really no need for Christ to die for them. But we are told that everyone sins, and that there is no one who did not and does not sin (1 John 1:8, 10). Ecclesiastes 7:16 says: “Do not be overly righteous, Nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself?” Verse 20 continues: “And there is not a single man in all the earth who is always good and never sins” (Living Bible).
Self-righteousness is one of the most difficult sins to recognize and acknowledge. Think of Job who had to go through many trials, until he recognized his true nature. God HAD to allow this, because that was the only way for Job to see and repent of his self-righteousness. Although he was not a wicked person by any means (rather, his conduct was extremely righteous), he still had to receive “many stripes” so that he could ultimately be in God’s Family (James 5:11).
We read Christ’s stern warning to the self-righteous chief priests and the elders in Matthew 21:31-32:
“Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God BEFORE you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.”
The Revised English Bible, the New Revised Standard Version, and the New International Version translate that the tax collectors and harlots will enter the Kingdom of God “ahead of” the chief priests and elders.
Christ is addressing the fact that some will be able to repent earlier and quicker than others. It will be easier for them to repent, realizing the enormity of their sinful conduct, than for the chief priests and elders who were proud of their positions and did not even acknowledge their terrible sin of self-righteousness. Christ might have referred to some “tax collectors and harlots” in this life who recognize their sins and repent and will be inheriting God’s Kingdom at the time of His return, while others will have to wait until they will be given their opportunity for salvation in the Millennium or the Great White Throne Judgment. Christ spoke to the Pharisees in this way: “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘ We see.’ Therefore your sin remains” (John 9:41). They claimed to be able to see, but refused to repent. Without repentance there is no forgiveness, which means that their sin remained. (This is not to say that they committed the unpardonable sin, but they did not respond to Christ’s offer of repentance, and their refusal will lead to many stripes in the future.)
Some of the “tax collectors and harlots” repented and will enter the Kingdom of God when Christ returns. But this is of course not true for all harlots and tax collectors at the time of Christ, nor throughout the ages. Neither is it true that all harlots and tax collectors will enter the Kingdom before all chief priests and elders, because in the early Church, “a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).
The point remains that the sin of self-righteousness is very difficult to detect and overcome. For those who recognize their sins and are truly sorry, the Kingdom of God won’t be that far away (Mark 12:34). Others might only recognize later that the Kingdom had come near them (Luke 10:9), but they had been unwilling to respond, because they still wanted to hang on for a while to their wrong standards, ideas and habits. As a consequence, they might have to receive many stripes—in this life as well as the life to come—so that they can finally recognize, confess and forsake their sinful ways (Proverbs 28:13).
In future installments, we will review additional questions as to whether and how the concept of “stripes” could refer to converted Christians who will become immortal God Beings in the First Resurrection; and we will examine in this context the importance of true and genuine repentance. We will also focus in more detail on “stripes” which people might perhaps receive in this life… prior to the time of Christ’s return.
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A Tech Team meeting was conducted on Sunday morning, December 6, 2015, via SKYPE. Higlights include: resolving issues with our live video broadcast; the Search option for our CEG website has been enhanced; improvements in the stylesheet for printing the Update have been made; social media and marketing schedules were reviewed; and, new design and use elements for StandingWatch were scheduled.
“Did Jesus Keep Hanukkah?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
There is no biblical support for the idea that Christ participated in modern Hanukkah celebrations. The “miracle of the oil” which allegedly lasted for eight days is merely a legend and historically inaccurate. It was apparently adopted from pagan concepts at the time when the Babylonian Talmud was written, long after the Maccabees. But God does not accept our worship if we incorporate elements, which were used by pagans to observe their holidays.
“The Dark Side of Christmas,” is the title of another new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is the summary for this new SW program, which is now posted and which will be promoted starting on December 15. We will not send out a usual announcement of the program, as this will be done through Facebook ads, etc.:
Christmas is associated with beautiful Christmas trees and shining lights and candles in an attempt to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Light. But there is a very dark side to Christmas. Satan is the prince of darkness, but as the god of this world, he disguises himself as an angel of light. And even though Christmas may appear to be a joyful festival of lights, it is built on an evil and dark foundation which is actually associated with demon worship.
“Gelten Gottes Verheißungen an Abraham für uns Heute?” is the title of this week’s new German sermon. Title in English: “Are God’s Promises to Abraham Valid for Us Today?
“Depth of Field,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Eric Rank, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Living a Christian life requires that we resolve a paradox. How can we live a successful, spiritual life within a body and world that is necessarily physical? Part of the answer involves understanding how to focus our motivation. Just as the depth of field of a photograph determines what is in focus while many elements are in the frame, we too must ensure our motivations are focused properly.
“Who Will Listen?” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Much is said in the Word of God about people’s refusal to listen to God’s warnings and the consequences of such a heedless attitude! Christians are sternly warned to listen to God—are we?
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
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