|Live Services||Great Pain; For Life|
|Editorial||The Rise of Fakery|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||Can Satan Influence Us Whilst We Are Asleep?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
Great Pain; For Life
On May 6, 2017, Kalon Mitchell will present the sermonette, titled, “Great Pain,” and Norbert Link will present the sermon, titled, “For Life.”
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.
The Rise of Fakery
by Dave Harris
So called, “Fake News,” makes it difficult to accept what we read or hear. “Alternative facts” in political statements leave us wondering what we can really believe.
In a recent issue of Time Magazine (March 23, 2017), the cover image asked a startling question: “Is Truth Dead?” The subject of this cover and an article in the issue was President Donald Trump–about the way he has handled truth and falsehood in his career and now as president. Mr. Trump has become the focus of constant fact-checking reporting. His seemingly contradictory statements have dismayed world leaders. Confidence in United States leadership is now severely eroded.
This is but one example, and we certainly understand that the battle between truth and deception is a global concern and that it is orchestrated by the ruler of this age—Satan the Devil (2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19). He is called “a liar and the father of it,” by Jesus. Satan rules this world by lying, and the world believes him (Revelation 12:9). It is little wonder, then, that human leaders follow the lead of Satan.
However, what we are witnessing is a smothering of truth as falsehood GAINS POWER in the world. Of our time, God says:
“In transgressing and lying against the LORD, And departing from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off; For truth is fallen in the street, And equity cannot enter. SO TRUTH FAILS, And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey…” (Isaiah 59:13-15).
Knowing that his time to rule is short (Revelation 12:12), Satan will especially attack those who have the TRUTH. The reason the people of God—Christians—will suffer persecution is because we know and practice the TRUTH!
While headlines in the news may focus on the veracity of a particular statement by various leaders or their aides, the bigger picture is more foreboding. Worldwide deception—supported by miraculous signs—is coming!
It will be against this backdrop of all-encompassing deceit that the Church of God will stand up for and stand in the TRUTH. It is what we are to be doing now, as well. It is the fulfilling of our commission to preach the TRUTH—the good news of the coming Kingdom of God!
by Norbert Link
In this issue, we are focusing on Brexit guidelines adopted by the EU and tough Brexit talks ahead; as well as the EU’s commitment to establish a common “security defense”; and we continue with the election in France and its importance for the survival of the EU. We also speak on persecution of Jews in Europe and Europe’s decision regarding the visa waiver program for Americans and Canadians.
We speak on the volatile situation regarding North Korea and the mixed messages coming from the White House; and we discuss Donald Trump’s “first hundred days of chaos”; a welcome clarification regarding IRS restrictions for churches; and the successful attempt to rush through a new healthcare bill in the House with devastating consequences for many insured. We also address the enactment of a highly controversial spending bill allowing the US government to continue operations until the end of September; and Puerto Rico’s unprecedented declaration of bankruptcy.
We address Turkey’s ongoing descent into a totalitarian dictatorship; and we point out the deteriorating relationship between Germany and Israel, as well as between Germany and Russia.
We conclude with articles about Britain’s intolerance towards those who emphasize biblical standards; and Pope Francis’ controversial comments about existing concentration camps in Europe.
This Week in the News
EU Countries Agree on Brexit Guidelines
The Telegraph wrote on April 29:
“The EU 27 have unanimously agreed their guidelines for the forthcoming negotiations with the UK, in a meeting that lasted ‘one minute’ and ended in spontaneous applause, as the draft guidelines were ratified without a single major alteration… French President François Hollande said the UK must ‘pay the price’ for its decision to leave the EU.
“… Only a small number of amendments were made to the draft guidelines, which now list securing protections for EU citizens resident in the UK ahead of its financial obligations – reversing the previous position. Along with citizens’ rights, the disputed ‘divorce bill’ the UK will have to pay on exit – estimated at a potential £50 billion – and the question of how to maintain a free-flowing Irish border are among the key issues. Mr Tusk said ‘sufficient progress’ on all three were needed before the EU’s future relationship with Europe and trade deals could be addressed, in spite of Ms May’s call for parallel talks…”
Tough Brexit Talks Ahead
The Telegraph wrote on May 1:
“The European Union has warned that it is ‘more likely than not’ that Brexit talks will fail after Jean Claude Juncker accused Theresa May of being ‘deluded’… The President of the European Commission launched a scathing attack on Mrs May after the meeting on Wednesday last week… telling the PM ‘I’m leaving Downing Street 10 times more sceptical than I was before.’ He reportedly… threatened to end talks without a trade deal if Britain refuses to pay a ‘divorce’ bill.
“The Prime Minister said that the UK is not legally obliged to pay the EU anything as it leaves the EU. Mr Juncker and his colleagues responded by saying that Britain cannot simply cancel its membership of the EU as if it was a ‘golf club’…
“After the meal Mr Juncker called Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, saying that Mrs May was ‘living in another galaxy’… His call led to Mrs Merkel publicly warning that Britain was suffering from ‘illusions’ about Brexit. Mrs May subsequently highlighted her comments and said that EU nations were ‘lining up’ to oppose Britain and that talks would be ‘tough’…
“The European Union also appeared to reject calls by Mrs May for talks to remain confidential… The European Commission said that this would be ‘impossible’ given the need to consult member states and the European Parliament over discussions. ‘All documents must be published,’ the report suggested.”
These talks could become so tough that Theresa May may just walk away from them without a deal, as British media suggests and advocates. She stated that Britain will under no circumstances pay any “divorce bill” of £50 billion to the EU.
Explosive Crisis Ahead?
The Daily Mail wrote on May 3:
“Brussels admitted yesterday that it faces an ‘explosive’ political crisis if the UK refuses to pay a [by now 100 billion] pound Brexit bill…
“The bloc called for EU citizens who arrive in the UK just a day before Brexit to be granted full residency rights which can later extend to their families. It also demanded that millions of EU migrants in the UK should be governed by Brussels rules for decades to come – even if this means providing better benefits than Britons receive…
“The EU’s latest demands were rejected by Brexit Secretary David Davis. He also dismissed threats from Brussels to use the issue to block a trade deal, insisting Britain will not pay a penny if talks collapse…”
EU to Intensify “Defense Cooperation”
AFP wrote on April 28:
“Led by France and Germany, the European Union has identified defence cooperation as a key area for rebooting the crisis-hit bloc after Britain’s traumatic vote to leave… This could include efforts to relaunch a so-called rapid response force, which was approved as a rotating battle group led by member states a decade ago but never deployed…
“Britain, nuclear armed and with a permanent veto at the United Nations, long opposed such efforts, fearing the creation of a ‘European army’ commanded from Brussels. But Brexit has taken Britain out of the equation…
“German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said it was ‘impressive to see that now all 27 member states (minus Britain) are ready to put the security and defence union on a good path…. We see this year as the year of implementation.’”
These developments will lead to the prophesied establishment of a European Army.
French Election and Europe’s Future
On April 29, Joschka Fischer (former German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor from 1998-2005) wrote in project-syndicate.org:
“A lot can happen between now and the second round of the French presidential election on May 7, so it is still too early to celebrate. But, even with the nationalist, populist candidate Marine Le Pen still in the running, many observers are genuinely hopeful that the first-round winner, Emmanuel Macron, will be France’s next president.
“With Macron’s victory, Europe would avoid self-destruction yet again. A President Le Pen would almost surely bring about the end of the European Union. Taking France out of the eurozone, as Le Pen has promised, would lead to the collapse of the euro itself. After that, the EU common market and other core institutions would fall like dominoes. Europe would plunge into the abyss, and 60 years of political, economic, and social progress would be lost…
“For starters, it is in Europe’s interest that a President Macron not fail. The EU’s future, and particularly that of Germany, depends on a successful Macron presidency to lift France from its long economic malaise and resolve its paralyzing identity crisis… At the same time, a strong, self-confident France is necessary for the EU’s long-term survival… The EU is a complicated entity that can be led only by a strong French-German axis working in concert with other member states. That, too, is a lasting lesson that European leaders should take from the French election…
“As the French presidential election reaches its conclusion, the description of Europe as a ‘community of destiny’ still holds true, even after 60 years. On May 7, France will decide not just its own fate, but that of the EU, too. Europeans should rejoice – but then they must get down to work.”
At this point, the EU will not fall into the abyss or the bottomless pit, out of which it has been coming (Revelation 9:1-2; 17:8), until it has carried out its prophesied purpose.
Persecution of Jewish Beliefs and Practices in Europe
JTA wrote on May 2:
“Considering Marine Le Pen’s historical gains in the French presidential elections, the Dutch far-right’s rise and the assault on ritual slaughter in Belgium, this spring is shaping up to be a life-changing time for Europe — its religious minorities in particular…
“Did a majority of Dutch lawmakers show respect and tolerance for the country’s religious minorities when they passed a ban on ritual slaughter in 2011 — despite passionate pleas by Jews, Muslims and many Christians?
“The prohibition eventually was overturned by the Dutch Senate. But in recent weeks, two of Belgium’s three regions introduced plans to ban the custom, ignoring the pleas of a Jewish community leader to ‘not repeat the actions of the Nazis,’ who had introduced Belgium’s previous ban…
“Even if… Macron beats Le Pen 60-40 percent in the final vote on May 7, she will still have more than doubled the showing of 18 percent that her father had in 2002 – the first time the National Front made it to the second round. In Jewish communities across Western Europe, the rise of Marine Le Pen – who despite distancing herself from the rhetoric of her father has vowed to ban ritual slaughter as well as the wearing of both the kippah and Muslim garb in public – is seen as an existential threat…
“Indeed, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the Luxembourg-born president of the Conference of European Rabbis, told me that he believes that Le Pen’s popularity already is emboldening initiatives to ban ritual slaughter and circumcision in Belgium and beyond…”
Europe’s intolerance for religious and ethnic minorities will continue…
EU Rules Out Suspension of US, Canada Visa-Waivers
The Associated Press wrote on May 2:
“The European Union says it has decided not to suspend visa-free travel arrangements with the United States and Canada given good progress made on resolving the standoff. The United States is refusing to allow visa-free travel to citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania until they meet the requirements of U.S. law. Canada has limits on certain categories of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens. But the European Commission said Tuesday that ‘contacts have been re-launched with the new U.S. administration’ and Canada has pledged to lift all outstanding visa restrictions by December… EU lawmakers are pressuring the European Commission to suspend the visa waiver with both countries.”
This is good news. In spite of the Trump Administration’s controversial stance towards some EU countries, the EU decided not to make it more difficult for Americans and Canadians to visit the EU, at least for the time being. Another strange move this week was the Trump Administration’s singling out Europe when issuing a travel warning to American tourists visiting Europe… as if it would not be equally dangerous, if not more so, to travel within the USA or to non-European countries.
Trump’s Stance on North Korea Missile Defense “Chaotic”, says South Korean Media
The Guardian wrote on May 1:
“The South Korean media has accused Donald Trump of weakening bilateral security ties at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula after he said Seoul should pay for a controversial missile defence system. The US president was accused of dropping ‘a barrage of verbal bombs’ and sending ‘confusing and contradictory’ messages over Washington’s commitment to the country’s security.
“… However, Trump’s national security adviser, HR McMaster, reportedly told his South Korean counterpart on Sunday that the US would shoulder the costs for the system, which is designed to intercept North Korean missiles in mid-flight.
“… The US and South Korea originally agreed that Washington would pay for Thaad in return for South Korea providing land for missile batteries, radar and other facilities.”
These contradictory messages from the Trump Administration are truly embarrassing. President Trump has refused to state how he will deal with North Korea if they were to continue with their missile tests, which is to be expected.
“Trump Says He’d ‘Be Honored’ to Meet North Korea’s Kim”
Newsmax wrote on May 1:
“President Donald Trump said he would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amid heightened tensions over his country’s nuclear weapons program if the circumstances were right. ‘If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,’ Trump said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg News. ‘If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.’
“North Korea has become the most urgent national security threat and foreign policy issue facing Trump as his first 100 days in office passed. Kim’s regime has continued development of its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile program in defiance of international condemnation and sanctions. Kim has never met with a foreign leader since taking charge after his father’s death in 2011 and hasn’t left his isolated country… Tensions have escalated since Trump vowed in January that he wouldn’t let North Korea develop a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, and North Korea has labeled American military moves in the region as acts of ‘intimidation and blackmail.’ North Korea has continued to test missiles this year after carrying out its fourth and fifth nuclear tests in a decade last year.”
How can the US President feel “honored” to meet with a criminal and murderer like Kim Jong Un?
Trump’s 100 Days in Office and His Wish for Dictatorship
The Guardian wrote on April 29:
“On his 100th day in office on Saturday, facing historically low popularity ratings, a succession of intractable foreign crises and multiple investigations of his links with Moscow, Donald Trump… declared himself ‘disappointed’ with congressional Republicans… He blamed the constitutional checks and balances built in to US governance. ‘It’s a very rough system,’ he said. ‘It’s an archaic system … It’s really a bad thing for the country.’…
“He has failed to get any of his priorities turned into legislation in the face of party disunity, and his attempt to rule by executive order has been largely hollow. His decrees have been either meaningless, like his one-page, detail-free tax reform plan, or have been blocked by the courts, such as his travel ban for Muslim countries and refugees…
“But his core supporters have remained faithful, choosing to believe that the mainstream media are purveyors of fake news…”
To attack the US Constitution in such a way is troublesome. President Trump’s major accomplishment during his first 100 days in office has been the replacement of the late conservative US Supreme Court Judge Anthony Scalia with conservative Judge Neil Gorsuch.
“100 Days of Chaos”
Der Spiegel wrote on April 28:
“With his attacks on judges, journalists and critics, U.S. President Donald Trump is chipping away at the foundations of democracy. Is the American Constitution strong enough to withstand the assault?… Trump has never made a secret of his intense disdain for the institutions that are necessary for a vigorous democracy: an independent judiciary, a critical press and a healthy opposition. Essentially, Trump would be happy to do away with all of that, or at least marginalize it. Following the ruling from San Francisco, he indicated that he is broadly dissatisfied with the federal judges there and threatened to curtail their power…
“[Trump] harbors admiration for autocrats. He has often praised the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin and one of his first visitors in the White House was Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. Furthermore, he could hardly congratulate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fast enough following his victory in the recent constitutional referendum that brought the country a giant step closer to becoming a dictatorship…
“After 100 days of chaos, Trump is the least liked of all modern presidents…”
Freedom of Churches and the IRS
Newsmax wrote on May 3:
“President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Thursday that rolls back at least some of the restrictions religious organizations have when it comes to getting political. Thursday is the National Day of Prayer, and Trump will host religious leaders at the White House to mark the occasion.
“According to The New York Times, Trump may sign a directive that would cancel out a section of the federal tax code that prevents religious organizations from participating in politics because of their tax-exempt status. Organizations have complained for years about the speech restrictions placed on them simply because of their legal status with the IRS.”
This would be an important and necessary change, as the interpretation of the IRS pertaining to “political speech” of churches can be quite restrictive and overreaching.
CNN reported on May 4:
“The order will direct the IRS to exercise ‘maximum enforcement discretion’
over the Johnson Amendment, which prevents churches and other tax-exempt religious organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates…
“By directing the IRS to use its discretion in enforcing the Johnson Amendment, religious organizations are likely to escape punishment for backing political candidates. Religious leaders have argued the provision stifles their rights to free speech.
“The 1954 measure says any tax-exempt group can lose its exemption if it is found to have endorsed or actively opposed a candidate for political office…
“Trump himself vowed early in his presidential tenure to get rid of the measure, though completely striking the amendment would require an act of Congress…”
This is indeed an important and necessary change, as the interpretation of the IRS pertaining to “political speech” of churches can be quite restrictive and overreaching.Subsequently, Mr. Trump signed the executive order.
House to Rushed Through Healthcare Bill… Another Debacle in the Making
The Associated Press reported on May 3:
“The House will vote Thursday on GOP legislation to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, as Republicans finally aim to deliver on seven years of campaign promises that helped them gain control of Congress and the White House. But the move announced late Wednesday by GOP leaders also carries extreme political risk, as House Republicans prepare to endorse a bill that boots millions off the insurance rolls and may not even survive the Senate…
“After an earlier defeat when Republican leaders were forced to pull the bill for lack of votes, the decision to move forward indicated confidence on the part of GOP leaders. Failure would be catastrophic. But a successful outcome would make good on the GOP’s No. 1 goal of undoing Obama’s signature legislative achievement, and provide a long-sought win for Trump, who has been in office more than 100 days without a significant congressional victory save Senate confirmation of a Supreme Court justice.
“The White House had aggressively pushed House leaders to act, and Trump got heavily involved in recent days, working the phones and personally agreeing to changes earlier Wednesday that brought two pivotal Republicans back on board. Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Billy Long of Missouri emerged from a White House meeting with Trump saying they could now support the bill, thanks to the addition of $8 billion over five years to help people with pre-existing conditions…
“The latest iteration of the GOP health care bill would let states escape requirements that insurers provide a menu of basic services like preventive care and charge healthy and seriously ill customers the same rates — changes that brought a key group of conservatives on board last week. Overall, the legislation would cut the Medicaid program for the poor, eliminate fines for people who don’t buy insurance and provide generally skimpier subsidies. The American Medical Association, AARP and other consumer and medical groups are opposed. The AMA issued a statement saying the changes… ‘tinker at the edges without remedying the fundamental failing of the bill — that millions of Americans will lose their health insurance as a direct result.’
“If the GOP bill became law, congressional analysts estimate that 24 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026, including 14 million by next year.
“When the health bill does come to a vote Thursday it will be without an updated analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office about its cost and affect, a point Democrats complained about bitterly…”
It does not appear that there is anything godly or righteous about this new healthcare bill proposal…
Republican Obamacare Replacement Bill Passes House
CNBC wrote on May 4:
“Highlights of the GOP bill
“… Allow older adults to be charged premiums that are five times higher the premiums charged younger adults, instead of the 3:1 ratio established by Obamacare. Impose a premium penalty for people who do not maintain continuous health coverage… Give states power to request waivers for insurers that allow them to charge people with pre-existing health conditions higher premiums if they let coverage lapse…”
Deutsche Welle reported on May 4:
“The US House of Representatives has approved a bill to repeal major portions of Obamacare replacing it with a Republican health care plan. It’s a win for President Trump – even though passage in the Senate is uncertain. By a vote of 217-213, Republicans managed to obtain just enough votes to push the bill through the House, sending it to the Senate for consideration. No Democrats voted in favor of the House bill…
“In a push to pass the bill before representatives left on for a week in their home districts, the House voted before the bill could be assessed by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is in charge of estimating its cost and effect on insurance rolls. The bill will reportedly be assessed by the CBO and fixes will be made before the Senate can get to vote on it.
“In the Senate, where the Republican majority is narrow, lawmakers said the bill would face much greater scrutiny and skepticism… While private insurance companies also showed their disagreement with Obamacare, every major medical group, including the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) opposed the Republican bill introduced by the Trump administration…
“A number of skeptical Republican lawmakers got behind the bill after President Trump proposed a compromise, which would add $8 billion over five years to help cover the cost for people with pre-existing illnesses who could otherwise not afford insurance without Obamacare. However, health care consultancy and research firm Avalere Health believes that the Republican bill featuring Trump’s compromise could only cover 5 percent of enrollees with pre-existing conditions.”
It was stated that the Senate would most certainly not adopt the bill in its present form. Any changes agreed upon by the Senate would have to be sent back to the House for its approval. So, the fight for Trumpcare and against Obamacare is far from over.
Unwilling to Let Go
The Huffington Post wrote von May 1:
“President Donald Trump is refusing to let go of his unsupported claim that former President Barack Obama ordered wiretapping on Trump Tower, despite multiple intelligence agencies and congressional investigations finding no evidence of any such activity. Trump revived the claim — again with no evidence — during an Oval Office interview with CBS’ John Dickerson that aired Monday. When asked to defend the claim, he ended the interview and walked back to his desk…
“Dickerson pressed the president on whether he still stood by the wiretapping claim. Trump wouldn’t say, but claimed ‘our side has been proven very strongly.’ ‘You can figure that out yourself,’ he said. ‘I don’t stand by anything. You can take it the way you want. I think our side has been proven very strongly, and everybody has been talking about it.’
“Dickerson repeatedly asked Trump to elaborate, but to no avail. ‘I just wanted to find out. You’re the president of the United States. You said he was sick and bad,’ Dickerson said, referring to Trump’s tweets on his allegation against Obama. ‘I want to know your opinion.’ ‘I gave you my opinion,’ Trump said.
“After several more refusals to answer, Trump dismissed Dickerson and ended the interview, angrily walking back to his desk. ‘OK, it’s enough. Thank you. Thank you very much,’ the president said.”
How To Keep the US Government Running
McClatchy wrote on May 1:
“Congressional negotiators have come up with a $1.07 trillion plan to keep the government running through the end of September – but there’s a lot missing from the 1,665-page bill. And much of it involves items that President Donald Trump promised during his campaign and the early days of his presidency.
“Here’s a list of GOP-friendly issues missing from the spending bill.
“The bill includes $1.5 billion for border security, but noticeably absent is any funding for a border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, a major promise of the Trump administration to curb illegal immigration. Instead, the money will go toward enhanced technology and improving existing infrastructure.
“There are no cuts for Planned Parenthood, a target of abortion opponents and many Republicans for its provision of abortion services. Republicans have threatened to shut down the federal government in the past over Planned Parenthood funding.
“During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to build a ‘new special deportation task force’ to remove millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. No funding goes toward such a force. The bill does, however, fund 5,000 additional detention beds.
“$18 billion cut in non-defense spending
“There is no sign of massive non-defense spending cuts, another goal of the Trump administration. The Environmental Protection Agency maintains nearly 99 percent of its funding, $295 million goes toward Medicaid in Puerto Rico and $4.6 billion is set aside to permanently grant health benefits to 22,000 retired Appalachian coal miners. In a March budget proposal, the Trump administration sought to cut EPA funding by $2.6 billion. It also aimed to decrease funding for the National Institutes of Health by $5.8 billion. Instead, NIH will receive a funding increase of $2 billion.
“So-called sanctuary cities – which limit cooperation with the federal government on immigration law in order to shelter immigrants here illegally – will not be deprived of federal funding. Trump has threatened to withhold funds from sanctuary cities in the past.
“The bill does not roll back President Barack Obama’s easing of economic and trade restrictions with Cuba, a goal of some Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. It contains no language barring Americans from bringing home merchandise from Cuba or doing business with companies owned by Cuban officials or family members. Travel for educational purposes is also still allowed. In February, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump would take a ‘full review’ of U.S. foreign policy on Cuba.
“The bill bars the Department of Justice from using funds to interfere with medical marijuana use in states where it is legal. Operators of marijuana companies will still have to deal in cash, as lawmakers rejected a proposal that aimed to make it easier for cannabis shops to use banking services.”
According to Eurozone Wirtschaft, dated May 3, the European economy has gained twice as much as the American economy in 2017.
Puerto Rico Declares Bankruptcy
The New York Times wrote on May 3:
“With its creditors at its heels and its coffers depleted, Puerto Rico sought what is essentially bankruptcy relief in federal court on Wednesday, the first time in history that an American state or territory had taken the extraordinary measure. The action sent Puerto Rico, whose approximately $123 billion in debt and pension obligations far exceeds the $18 billion bankruptcy filed by Detroit in 2013, to uncharted ground…
“While many of Puerto Rico’s circumstances are unique, its case is also a warning sign for many American states and municipalities — such as Illinois and Philadelphia — that are facing some of the same strains, including rising pension costs, crumbling infrastructure, departing taxpayers and credit downgrades that make it more expensive to raise money. Historically, Puerto Rico was barred from declaring bankruptcy. In the end, however, financial reality trumped the statutes, and Congress enacted a law last year allowing bankruptcy-like proceedings.
“… The island’s many creditors… are likely to receive far less of their money back than they want. Their predicament may turn out to be a cautionary tale for bond holders of other troubled states and cities. Puerto Rico’s case could show public workers and retirees that seemingly inviolate pension systems can be changed, too…”
A warning sign indeed for other US states and the entire USA.
UPI wrote on April 29:
“Turkey has blocked all access to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia inside the country on Saturday morning… Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority confirmed the bar citing a law allowing it to obstruct certain websites to protect public order, national security or general public well being… No reason was given for the action…”
German-Israeli Relations Take a Turn for the Worse
Der Spiegel wrote on April 28:
“It has long been one of the fundamental convictions of German foreign policy that, given the crimes committed by the Nazis in World War II, the country should hold back in its criticism of Israel. But this axiom no longer holds.
“One reason is Netanyahu’s construction of an increasing number of new settlements in the West Bank, thus imperiling the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. Another is the disquiet in both the Chancellery and the Foreign Ministry over the right-wing Israeli government’s harrassment of opposition groups…
“The impression has been growing for some time now within the Chancellery that Netanyahu is exploiting the German-Israeli friendship to serve his own purposes…
“Many in Jerusalem are now wondering if the unlimited solidarity Merkel claimed with the Jewish state in the Knesset in 2008 still applies. ‘Germany is a key country for Israel in Europe and the world,’ says Avi Dichter, the former head of the Israeli domestic intelligence agency and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Knesset… Dichter, a fellow member of Netanyahu’s party, visited the German capital at the end of March and returned to Israel feeling alarmed. Foreign Minister Gabriel had explained to his Israeli guest that it was growing increasingly difficult for the political elite to defend justified Israeli interests because the German population was growing increasingly critical of Israel…
“Indeed, there appears to be a sharp contradiction between the mantras of sworn friendship between Germany and Israel and the growing lack of understanding between the two countries. Members of the Israeli parliament and government have the impression that their German counterparts have become obsessive about Israeli settlement policy and are no longer taking legitimate Israeli concerns seriously. Most importantly, politicians in Jerusalem have the impression that the threat posed by Iran is being downplayed by the Germans… ‘Germany and the EU are closing their eyes to the Iranian threat,’ Dichter says, critically…”
In an editorial, Der Spiegel asked on May 1 why Germany feels it must bring peace to the Middle East. This is an interesting question in light of the fact that Europe, under German leadership, will try to do so in the future, using military means.
Russia vs. Germany
The EUObserver wrote on May 3:
“Differences between Germany and Russia were put on display on Tuesday (2 May), as German chancellor Angela Merkel visited Russia for the first time in two years. Merkel travelled to Russia in preparation for a G20 summit – an international forum of countries, including Russia – which Germany currently chairs. The German chancellor met with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Sochi and told a press conference that there was a need to continue dialogue despite their clashing views. But international reporters present at the press event noted that the atmosphere was tense, and that the two leaders barely made eye contact.
“Merkel said it was important that NGOs were allowed to work freely in Russia and voiced concern about attacks on gay men in Chechnya, a semi-autonomous Russian republic. The German leader asked Putin ‘to protect the rights of minorities’. Last month, a Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, reported that some 100 gay men had been detained or had disappeared.
“But Putin said Russian authorities had not broken any laws. He added that his law enforcement agencies, which are notorious for corruption and human rights abuses, were ‘far more restrained and lenient in their conduct than their colleagues in some European countries’. The Russian leader also said his government had ‘never’ tried [to] influence foreign elections, despite a US intelligence report in January that said Russia tried to sway last year’s vote.
“Merkel and Putin diverged on the war in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-armed and controlled forces were still fighting with the Ukrainian army… The two sides noted that, despite political differences, Russia and Germany had close economic ties, with Germany being ‘the number one investor in the Russian economy’, according to Putin.”
According to Die Zeit Online, dated May 2, 2017, Angela Merkel also confronted Vladimir Putin regarding the recent Russian prohibition of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and asked Putin to guarantee and defend human rights in his country. Putin denied that there were any violations.
The Independent wrote on April 28:
“Conservative MP Andrew Turner will stand down at the general election after a pupil at a school in his constituency wrote on Facebook that he had described homosexuality as ‘wrong’ and ‘dangerous to society’… Mr Turner has been the MP for the Isle of Wight since 2001…
“Labour shadow minister and elections chairman Andrew Gwynne had called for Mr Turner to be suspended as a Tory candidate and said: ‘These allegations are deeply worrying. There is no place for bigotry and hatred like this in modern society, and no one holding these views is fit for public office… I look forward to Theresa May doing the right thing and speaking out against these homophobic allegations and show that she is now serious about LGBT equality.’’
What is deeply shocking are the hypocrisy and intolerance of those who do not allow a public official to state the clear teaching of the Bible—that the practice of homosexuality IS wrong and a danger to society!
European Migrant Holding Facilities Concentration Camps?
Deutsche Welle wrote on April 30:
“The pontiff’s choice of words was met with shock in Germany and outrage among some Jewish organizations. But Pope Francis has said he stands by his choice of words – despite the swirling controversy. Pope Francis repeated his claim on Saturday that some migrant holding facilities in Europe are tantamount to ‘concentration camps,’ even after some Jewish organizations urged him to stop using the controversial term…
“The American Jewish Committee (AJC) sharply criticized the pope’s choice of words and urged him to reconsider…”
Acknowledgement and Disclaimer
These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.
Can Satan Influence Us Whilst We Are Asleep?
There are those who believe that Satan can influence us whilst we are asleep and others who think exactly the opposite. What does the Bible have to say on this matter? Where can we find Scriptural references that give us the answers?
To give you just one example of how wrong conclusions are reached, one commentator quoted Ephesians 6:12 where it states: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” He said that Paul was making it very clear that this fight that we face daily in this world is not against flesh and blood (other human beings) but against demonic forces, such as fallen angels and demons. “It is in this spirit realm that every human being enters when they fall asleep that the battles truly begin” (our emphasis). It is difficult to see how such a conclusion could be reached.
Job 4:13 is often used to support the idea about demonic influence whilst asleep. This reads: “In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men, Fear came upon me, and trembling, Which made all my bones shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; The hair on my body stood up It stood still, But I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; There was silence; Then I heard a voice saying: ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?’”
The Benson Commentary observes as follows: “These thoughts, it seems, arose from the visions of the night, which, probably, he had had before, and were the occasion of the fear mentioned in Job 4:14. Visions differed from dreams herein, that God imparted his mind to men in dreams when asleep, but in visions when they were awake.”
Barnes Notes on the Bible states: “From the visions of the night…..This was a common mode in which the will of God was made known in ancient times.”
Matthew Poole’s Commentary writes: “When deep sleep falleth on men; in the dead of the night, when men usually are in a deep sleep; though Eliphaz was not now asleep, as appears from the nature of a vision, and from the following words.”
Other commentaries agree with these observations that Eliphaz was not asleep and the vision was from God. However, they are wrong to conclude that this “vision” was from God. It was most certainly not godly, but demonic.
We state the following in our free booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World”:
“We read in Job 4:12–16 about Eliphaz’ encounter with a spirit: “Now a word was secretly brought to me, And my ear received a whisper of it. In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men. Fear came upon me, and trembling, Which made all my bones shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair on my body stood up. It stood still, But I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; There was silence; then I heard a voice…”
“Eliphaz saw some kind of a form before his eyes but he could not discern the appearance of the spirit. This indicates that it was a demon, as the Bible does not show that God’s angels appear to man in such a way. It was something like an apparition—a phantasm.”
At the same time, we need to emphasize that Eliphaz was not asleep. He was quite awake and had “disquieting thoughts”, but the encounter with the demon happened at night, when deep sleep falls on (other) men.
There are situations that are not specifically covered by the Bible and a classic case is that of smoking. If every facet of living was specifically covered in the Bible, it would be a much larger book than it is currently, and the Jews have their list of do’s and don’ts and it is still insufficient to cover all that they face in their lives in a world of increasing complexity. However, as a general practice, by reviewing God’s Word on smoking, we can see a number of Scriptures and principles that can be applied to this habit showing that it is not a Godly practice. The same approach can be applied to this particular question about Satan and whether he can influence human beings whilst they are asleep.
We can, and should, pray that God will help us in every facet of our lives and it is inconceivable that He would protect us whilst we are awake as we are able to make decisions and judgments with our full faculties but leave us to the devices of Satan and his demons whilst we are asleep and not able to fend off these invisible but highly dangerous adversaries. That would be an inconsistent stance to take and not compatible with the love that God has for His people.
God wants us to search the Scriptures (see John 5:39) as did the Bereans (see Acts 17:10-11). Let us look at some Scriptural evidence.
God gives us His armour to protect us as we read in Ephesians 6:10-18, as briefly mentioned above: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
“Wrestling” is an activity where the contestants are conscious and their minds awake and focused on the activity, and the same principle must apply when wrestling “against… principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” We simply couldn’t wrestle against these forces when asleep.
One area that we might want to meditate on is that Satan can influence us in our daily lives when we are conscious, and we know that this is true because Satan may tempt us to sin and we have to repent of any sins that we commit. It might be that when this is stored in our memory bank, any such contact may be on our mind and be reflected in any dreams that we may have afterwards. Our brain continues to function even when we are asleep, but this does not mean that demons “enter” our mind and brain while we are sleeping. On the other hand, we simply mustn’t get involved in the occult, séances or other demonic activities during the day as that would be counter-productive to our Christian lives and could also give opportunity for us to have dreams and nightmares at a later time. In these ways, demonic influence could be indirectly felt but surely God would not allow Satan and his demons “open season” to afflict us when we are in the unconscious state of sleep.
There are examples where God has “spoken” to different people in dreams; for example, Abraham, Abimelech, Pharaoh, Joseph, Solomon, Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar, Joseph, the step-father of Jesus, Pilate’s wife, Ananias, Paul, the apostle John – and others. These were all for positive purposes, as we would expect from the God of love. If Satan and his demons were to be allowed into our minds whilst we were asleep, it would always be negative and for evil reasons.
We can take a famous passage of Scripture and see relevance to the matter in hand. We read in Matthew 4:8 “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.”’ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” This is also recorded in Luke 4.
In these passages, we see that Jesus was not asleep, when Satan approached Him, but He was quite conscious and able to resist the devil.
As followers of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we can take the same action that He took. A key verse is found in James 4:7 which states: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” We resist the devil whilst we are awake and are able to send him packing. Whilst asleep, we would not be in the same position and, therefore, how could God allow Satan free reign to influence us whilst we are not in a position to thwart his broadcasting?
Proverbs 3:21-24 is further vital information about wisdom and understanding where we read: “My son, let them not depart from your eyes— Keep sound wisdom and discretion; So they will be life to your soul And grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, And your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.” Our sleep could not possibly be sweet if our minds were being assailed by Satan’s evil broadcasting, and this is another proof that he cannot influence us whilst sleeping.
Psalm 3:4-5 conveys a similar thought: “I cried to the LORD with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah. I lay down and slept, I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.” Leviticus 26:6 even states: “I will give peace in the land and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid.” This would most certainly have to include demons while we are sleeping.
In 1 Timothy 2:4, the apostle Paul states this about God: “… who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Also, in Romans 11:26 we read; “And so all Israel will be saved…”, which is a phrase that should encourage us, knowing that God will do everything He can to facilitate this in spite of Satan’s best attempts to do otherwise, which begs the question why God would allow His Will to be put in danger by allowing evil influences to run riot in the minds of humans whilst they are not in a position to defend themselves? The answer is, of course, that God will not allow this.
It is not God’s Will that we should fail, and allowing Satan to play around with our minds for 7-8 hours a day as he pleases whilst we are asleep would inevitably thwart that desire. We know that the damage that can be done by Satan in a very short space of time can be immense, and God wants us to succeed and He is not going to put us through trying to win when the task is impossible.
Hypnosis is something else to consider. Let us quote very briefly from our Q&A on hypnosis entitled, “Should a Christian Use Hypnosis?”
“Romans 6:16 reads: ‘Do you not know that to whom you present (yield) yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?’ It is all about controlling our own minds and not letting anyone else into that territory. We are to yield wholly, fully and completely to God and His Will which is perfect. Hypnosis gives away that control to another person or another spiritual entity, such as a demon influencing the hypnotist to use his power.”
The full Q&A can be reviewed at http://www.globalchurchofgod.co.uk/should-a-christian-use-hypnosis
If we voluntarily submit our minds to the influence of a hypnotist, then it is possible that Satan or his demons might influence us while we are in that state. In fact, depending on the circumstances, this might be very likely. But hypnosis is not the same as normal sleep. That is why hypnosis is so dangerous.
In addition, once a person is totally possessed (as distinguished from just occasionally influenced), then the demon has gained complete control over such a person; regardless as to whether the person is asleep or awake.
There are those today who believe that God has spoken to them in a dream or a vision. Upon further investigation, this belief is erroneous in just about every case (only very rare exceptions might exist today), and there is no evidence that the prophecy in Joel 2:28 has yet begun. We read in this verse: “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.” This happened in part on the day of Pentecost just after Christ ascended to heaven. It was a preliminary fulfilment and there is more to come at the end of this age of man, but that time has not yet arrived.
Philippians 4:6-7 is a passage of Scripture which gives us the assurance that God will guard our hearts and minds: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
In conclusion, we can see that there is sufficient evidence from the Scriptures quoted and the general principles that we have briefly reviewed to see that a loving God would not allow our minds to be influenced at a time when we would not be in a position to fight back spiritually against a clever and cunning adversary.
This Q&A clearly shows that Satan cannot influence us whilst we are asleep, and regular prayer will keep us close to God and will help to reduce or eliminate any influence that Satan would like to exert whilst we are awake!
Lead Writers: Brian Gale (United Kingdom) and Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“Missverständnisse über König David,” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon. Title in English: “Misunderstandings about King David.” It’s part 1 of a new series on David.
We have posted several pieces of German literature on our German website, www.aufpostenstehen.de , including our new German booklet, “Himmel und Erde… vor und nach dem ersten Menschen” [this booklet is presently being printed]; and Q&A articles containing guidelines as to how to give a sermonette and the first part of our series on how the Church of the Eternal God is different from other organizations. All video-recorded German messages which were given during the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread season were also posted on our German website.
“Milk and Honey,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Michael Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
What does the Bible refer to when describing the Promised Land as a land flowing with milk and honey? Is there a connection between the physical meaning as well as a spiritual significance? What does the future hold for this world and for God’s people, the spiritual Israelites?
“Understanding the Work of God,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Is there a Work of God today? If so, what is it? Or, has the Work of God ended? Will it ever end? Is there a connection between the Work of God and the creation of man, the building of the tabernacle and the temple, the appearance of Jesus Christ as a Man, the Sabbath and the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God? How can you have a part in the Work of God? The Bible gives us astonishing answers and contradicts common beliefs about the Work of God.
We have also posted the recorded English messages which were given during the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread season.
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
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