Update 77


Books of the Bible

Norbert Link will continue this Sabbath his series on the “Books of the Bible.” He will specifically focus on the Writings — the third and last section of the Hebrew Bible — and their importance and meaning for us today.

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”

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"Walk This Way"

by Rene Messier (Canada)

We have been called to a way of life that is not in alignment with the way the world does things — the way it worships God or the days that it keeps. We are admonished to follow the footsteps of Christ (1 Peter 2:21). Notice also that Revelation14:4 speaks about 144,000 saints who will stand in the future on Mount Zion with Christ: “These are the ones who follow the Lamb, wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” If we learn to follow our living God now as His begotten children, we will follow Him in the future as His born-again sons and daughters.

Revelation 14:4 describes a group of individuals who remained true to their calling, who were “not defiled with women,” and who had been following the Lamb – regardless of where He was leading them. Walking in the footsteps of Christ is not always an easy task. It takes determination and a willingness to be led by, and to follow the lead of God’s Spirit.

At times we face trials, as the early Church did. In Acts 9:1-2, we read that Paul was persecuting the Church. He was looking for those “of the Way,” that he may bring them “bound to Jerusalem.” The Church had to experience persecution at the very outset of its existence; therefore, we should not be shocked if we have to endure persecution now or in the near future.

This Way is not always well spoken of, as we can see in Acts 19: 9: “…some were hardened and did not believe but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude.” Christ also warned us in Matthew 24:9, what the world will do to us: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” We sometimes are not too happy about someone who doesn’t like us, but to be “hated by all nations” is something we have yet to experience. Also, notice verse 10, “Many will betray one another and hate one another.”

In spite of all this, we can draw strength from verse 13, “…he who endures to the end will be saved.” We have the sure word of God that if we remain faithful and endure to the end, continuing to walk the Way, our salvation is sure.

To do so has its trials, but also tremendous rewards – yet, we need to stay focused on the task given to us and continue to walk this way in spite of persecution. We need to always look to the Captain of our salvation, Jesus Christ, and continue to walk in His footsteps. I recall a quote from Mr. Armstrong, which I found very encouraging. His statement was, “Brethren, in the end, we win.”

Yes, we will win in the end, if we continue to “Walk This Way.”

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This week’s section on current events shows how steadily Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled in front of our very eyes. The Bible predicts a powerful Germany leading a United Europe, while the United States, Great Britain and Israel will become more and more isolated. The Catholic and Protestant Churches will also play an important role in the process.

Germany and France vs. the United States

The fear of a looming war of the United States against Iraq has prompted stronger and increased resistance by Europe and other world powers, and especially by Germany and France.

USA Today reported that “France, Germany, Russia and China have made it clear they will not be rushed by Washington’s timetable for war against Iraq, despite threats by the White House to move against Saddam Hussein without their approval.” The newspaper quoted French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, who declared Tuesday that France does not see any “justification right now for any military action.” He added that Paris aimed to mobilize the European Union to avert a war, and that it is “important that Europe speaks on this issue with a single voice.” This Wednesday, French President Jacques Chirac called a war “the worst solution.” According to Christian Malar of French TV Channel, 82 % of the French are against military action at this point. They want to see more proof that Saddam is in fact developing weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Malar stated in the Today Show that if the United States were to launch an attack without the backing of the United Nations, this would be a “terrible blow” to French-American relationships.

USA Today pointed out that German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder stated on Tuesday that Germany would vote against a new [15-nation] U.N. Security Council resolution on war, or that Germany would at least abstain. Earlier this week, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer had again warned of “disastrous consequences for long-term regional stability,” while a U.N. official pointed out that Iraq would face mass starvation if a rationing system to cope with 13 years of sanctions collapses during any U.S. invasion (Reuters).

“Though it wields no veto, Germany is set to assume a central role in Iraq war diplomacy when it takes over the council chairmanship [from France] in February,” according to USA Today. Schroeder added that Berlin’s position is increasingly being “understood by the European partners and in the world.” (USA Today). Der Spiegel Online pointed out on January 22, that only seven percent of the Germans would support a war against Iraq.

Germany joined the U.N. Security Council in January 2003 for two years. It will lead the Council for one month in February. Its affirmative vote has the same weight as that of the five permanent member states – United States, Great Britain, France, Russia and China. However, the five permanent member states have veto powers. If France should veto another U.N. resolution on war (it is certain that Russia and China will veto it), no such resolution, even with the votes of the United States and Great Britain, could be adopted.

The European Union and the United Nations vs. the United States and Great Britain

Reuters reported on January 21 that the European Union rejected Tuesday a war on Iraq without the backing of the United Nations. Speaking after a meeting with Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, Prime Minister Costas Simitis of Greece, EU president until the end of June, said that a war would harm peace and stability in the Middle East.

USA Today stated that “Britain, America’s closest ally, is the only major military power virtually certain to join the United States” in a war. “Other countries with smaller armies, such as Australia, Canada and Bulgaria, could provide supporting military roles.”

Yahoo! News reported that Tony Blair stated that Britain would support an U.S.-led war on Iraq without United Nations backing if any countries imposed an “unreasonable blockage to a new Security Council resolution.” However, as Bild Online reported, Tony Blair is increasingly loosing support for his position in his own country. Sixty-two percent of the British are unsatisfied with his Iraq-policy. Between 77 and 81 percent of the British are against an invasion of Iraq solely by the United States and Great Britain. On the other hand, Michael Smith, London Daily Telegraph, stated in an interview with the Today Show that once the war has begun, most British would support it.

USA Today also reported that, “White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the United States could go to war with a select group of allies, even without Security Council approval.” Earlier this week, Secretary of State Colin Powell had remarked in an interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the United States had a duty to disarm Saddam, with or without support of the international community. Subsequently, Mr. Powell criticized in an unusually strong manner Germany and France for their refusal to unconditionally support the United States (Net Zeitung, January 22, 2003). U.S. Minister of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, was quoted in Stern Online, January 23, 2003, that he believes France and Germany constitute the “old Europe” and that they are an “isolated problem” in Europe. The magazine also reported that Germany wants a second report from the U.N. Weapons Inspectors about Iraq’s cooperation. “This would deepen the rift between the United States and Germany, as the United States does not see the need for such a report,” according to the magazine.

Germany and France on Thursday angrily rejected Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarks (Reuters, as reported by MSNBC News). Der Spiegel Online commented: “Thanks to Donald Rumsfeld… for liberating Europe. With his verbal accusations against France and Germany, he has perhaps contributed more to European unity than 40 years of the Elysee Treaty [see below]… With his remarks, Rumsfeld has forced Europe to do what Europe was afraid to do for a long time — to find a unified course of action in response to the warplans of the United States… The irony is that Rumsfeld, in attacking national pride, might create a supra-national alliance… Rumsfeld’s harsh reaction shows how nervous the United States are, when being confronted with European self-consciousness… If Rumsfeld has managed to accomplish that one says, ‘I’m proud to be a European,’ rather than saying, ‘I’m proud to be a German,’ or, ‘I’m proud to be a French,’ then the United States will have to deal with a new Europe.”

In addition, Ari Fleischer’s remarks, reflecting the U.S. approach, were especially resented by several U.N. diplomats, according to USA Today. One Western diplomat was quoted: “The Americans came here saying that if we don’t buy their line then they’re going ahead anyway and people are feeling very snubbed by that attitude. And so the response is that we’re not going to give Washington the blank check that they are looking for.”

U.N. concern has also increased following a Russian military report, as well as newspaper reports from Turkey, alleging that the United States would launch its war by the middle or the end of February (Yahoo! News, dated January 22, 2003). Vladimir Posner, Russian TV Channel, stated in an interview with the Today Show that 83 % of Russians are against a war without U.N. resolution. He pointed out that there is developing an anti-American sentiment among the Russian people at a grass-root level, because of a growing perception that the United States wants to have it their way. He pointed out that many Russians believe that the reason for the escalation with Iraq is “the oil, first and foremost.” They do not believe that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, or that he has the capability to develop them.

United States Divided Against Itself?

Only 23 % of Americans support a war against Iraq, based on the evidence presented, according to a report in USA Today. David Gregory stated in the Today Show on Thursday that 63 % of Americans are against a war without a U.N. resolution.
They expect the Bush administration to present more evidence that Saddam is in fact producing weapons of mass destruction. Der Spiegel Online remarked on January 22 that the popularity of President Bush is decreasing rapidly in the United States, mainly because of his foreign and economic policies. In addition, due to Mr. Bush’s threat to attack Iraq even without international support, the U.S. dollar has lost again this week in value relative to the Euro and the Swiss currency, according to Der Spiegel Online, January 22, 2003).

Is Germany Ready and Willing to Intervene?

Der Spiegel Online reported on January 18 that Germany has invited U.N. Weapons Inspector and Swedish Diplomat Hans Blix to Berlin for a report on the situation, so that the German government can educate itself independently about the matter. Joschka Fischer is scheduled to travel to the Middle East, to visit four Arabic capitals, and to evaluate the possibilities for a peaceful solution.

The Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches of Germany vs. United States

The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches in Germany have condemned a war against Iraq. Following the Pope’s statement that a war against Iraq is not “unavoidable,” and that it would demonstrate a defeat for mankind, the German Catholic Bishops declared that any preventive attack violates Catholic and International Law. The German Protestant Church went even further and stated that any war is against God’s will, and must be overcome. The declaration of the German Protestant Church was supported by the American “United Church of Christ,” according to Der Spiegel Online of January 18 and 20, 2003. At the same time, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Pakistan and the secretary-general of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan issued a similar statement (Zenit, January 21, 2003). So did the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (Zenit, January 19, 2003).

Germany and France – the Leaders of Europe

The leading European nations are clearly Germany and France. This week they marked 40 years of reconciliation with celebrations at the same Versailles palace where victorious Western powers forced a beaten Germany to its knees after World War I, and where Germany had proclaimed itself an empire, crowning William I as “Kaiser,” after beating France in an 1870-71 war. Forty years ago, former French President Charles de Gaulle and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer signed the Elysee Treaty, laying the foundation “for what arguably has grown into Europe’s cornerstone relationship,” according to Yahoo! News. The article continued that “French-German cooperation is vital in assuring peace and stability in Europe.” Chirac was quoted: “Once again, we have shown that the French-German engine, which is essential for European construction, is functioning well.”

How well it is functioning could be seen in joint declarations of Schroeder and Chirac, describing future cooperation between the two countries, including areas of European foreign, military and security policy (Der Stern, dated January 16, 2003). They also said that both countries want to be a leading force in Europe. The head of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank, Josef Ackermann, commented, “Europe needs a dynamic Germany. Who else, if not Germany – in concert with France – should take on the leading role?”

Der Stern published an article, dated January 21, quoting statements by two European officials, the German Guenter Verheugen and the French Pascal Lamy, stating, “When we want to build a United Europe…we must create here and now a German-French treaty. Other countries, supporting our goals, are invited to join the German-French treaty. We are not planing to create an island without bridges to the European Union.”


During a news conference, Ariel Sharon of Israel, who is running for re-election next month, stated that he is unhappy with the European Union and their peace plan proposal. He stated that Europe is not balanced toward Israel, and that only the United States and Israel are seeing eye-to-eye (In an interview last week with American television, Saudi Arabia accused the United States of not being balanced towards the Arab world, unduly favoring and supporting Israel). Sharon suggested that he would not be pressured by Europe. As long as Arafat is the head of the Palestinian people, there can’t be any progress toward peace. He said: “The EU does not understand that.” (Source: Top Stories Audio/Video NRP, “Sharon: ‘Europe is biased against Israel,’” Sunday, January 19, 2003).

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Q: Is it wrong to use slang expressions such as "gosh" or "gee"?

A: It is wrong. Such words are known as “euphemisms,” which are defined as the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for another felt to be too blunt or offensive.

God instructs us not to take His name in vain (Exodus 20:7). To casually use expressions such as “My God,” “O my Lord,” or “Jesus Christ,” just to utter surprise or emphasis, is therefore clearly prohibited. So is the casual use of a common German welcome greeting (“Gruess Gott” or “Gott zum Gruss”– meaning, “Greet God” or “God as a greeting”), or the casual use of the French or Spanish farewell expressions, “adieu” or “adios” (both meaning, “to God”).

Many common expressions such as “gosh” or “gee” are used as substitutes for God the Father or Jesus Christ. God instructs us to let “no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth” (Ephesians 4:29). This prohibition applies to careless speaking or using slang expressions or euphemisms which would profane God’s name, such as “gosh” or “gosh almighty” (a substitute for “God” or “Almighty God”) or “gee” (a substitute for “Jesus”). It also applies to the careless use of words describing characteristics or concepts clearly associated with God, such as “my goodness” (compare Matthew 19:16-17), “by heaven” or “for heaven’s sake” (compare Matthew 5:34; Revelation 13:6).

The same prohibition applies to curse words, such as “damn,” or “go to hell,” or euphemisms, such as “darn” or “go jump in the lake” (compare Revelation 20:14-15).

God wants us to use language pleasing to Him. Let us note how the New International Version translates Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

The Broadman Bible Commentary makes these insightful statements:

“Words are an index of character (Matthew 12:34). Good words are to be chosen over evil talk… Do our words build up the hearer’s character and make him a better man for his having heard your speaking? Do they meet his need? And do they in this way ‘bring a blessing’ by supplying that need?”

Whatever expressions we are inclined to use, we need to make sure that they are helpful, rather than unwholesome, offensive or even blasphemous. Christ warns us in Matthew 12:36-37, “But I say to you that for every idle [careless, thoughtless, useless] word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

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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

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