Update 812


Friends, Friendship and Trust; The Girdle of Truth

On December 30, 2017, Christoph Sperzel will present the sermonette, titled, “Friends, Friendship  and Trust,” and Norbert Link will present the sermon, titled, “The Girdle of Truth.”

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.

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It Takes Work

by Eric Rank

In the context of maintaining physical strength and conditioning or mental acuity, the phrase “use it or lose it” is commonly applied. If muscles aren’t used, the body is designed in such a way that those muscles lose strength. If our minds aren’t engaged in active thought, memory is lost, and rebuilding our understanding becomes more difficult. The basic principle is simple — if we do not actively put effort into keeping what we have worked to obtain, we will lose it.

This principle applies to our spiritual growth and understanding as well. The job of a Christian is to learn about the Truth, to become converted in the way in which life is lived, and to overcome sin. There will always be more work for a Christian in this regard, until he or she becomes perfected at the time of Christ’s return. Along the way in the journey, milestones will be reached, successes will be experienced, understanding will be obtained, and battles against sin will be won. However, these achievements are fleeting unless effort is continually applied to the maintenance of those successes. If we do not use the understanding that we have obtained, and exercise our proven ability to overcome sin, we will fall backwards and begin losing the spiritual ground we have gained.

The topic of endurance is mentioned in several biblical writings to the early Church for this very reason (compare 1 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:3; 2 Timothy 2:12; Hebrews 10:36; Hebrews 12:2). The race of a Christian takes a lifetime to run, and if one begins to lose focus, and ceases to apply effort, he or she will not win the race and will fail to win the prize. Likewise, even when effort is applied in pursuing a direction that is unsupported by the Truth, the result is loss of understanding. With such loss also inevitably comes the loss of the promised full reward (2 John 8), and in extreme cases, salvation (Hebrews 2:1-3). To become converted, only to halt pursuing Christian growth results in failure. We must remember that conversion and baptism are just the beginning of a lifelong transformation that never ends.

The key to avoiding the dire outcome of a neglected conversion is simple. It takes work. By continually working to improve our understanding, and by application improve our way of life, we are destined to succeed. Jesus Christ provides us with this promise, “‘So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened’” (Luke 11:9-10). The point that we need to understand is that growth is provided to those who ask for it and actively seek it out. With diligence, our efforts to learn and apply the Truth will be rewarded (compare Hebrews 11:6).

If we are fortunate enough to be blessed with godly understanding in this day and age, then we are obligated to do something with this gift. We must remember that the Truth is powerful and provided for our use! We are urged to take advantage of it, using it to direct our spiritual growth. But the Truth will only work for us if we do our part and work to accept and apply it. The parable of the sower informs us that there are many ways in which the Truth can be received, but only one way that leads to success (compare Matthew 13:18-23). We have an active role to play in receiving and using the Truth. If we want to bear fruit that is pleasing to God, then we must never end our efforts to grow in our spiritual development.

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by Norbert Link

We begin with several articles about the origin and history of Christmas and the incredible attempts to justify the celebration of this pagan festival and its unbiblical customs.  In this context and for further revealing information, please view our new StandingWatch program, “Christmas Is Pagan…So What?”

We report on developments in Germany where Angela Merkel is still viewed as the “Queen of Europe”; and discuss Austria’s unique and special role, which is described as “a small republic heir to a great multinational Empire, a natural bridge between East and West, with a political culture… it will be able to make a difference.”

We continue with focusing on the divided view point of Christians and governmental leaders regarding the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital which is largely due to the recognition or rejection of biblical prophecies regarding the return of Christ; and the adversarial relationship between UNESCO and Israel and the USA, which will contribute to America’s and Israel’s worldwide isolation. Please view our most recent StandingWatch program in this regard, titled, “The Fight for Jerusalem.”

We conclude with North Korea’s response of revenge to the UN’s “declaration of war” against the Pyongyang regime; and a deeply disturbing article on access to water.

Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.

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When Christmas Made History

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 24:

“There is virtually no evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was born on December 25th. The date was… already celebrated by other major [pagan] religions as the supposed day of winter solstice. One of these religions was the Roman Sol Invictus cult, officially set up by Roman Emperor Aurelian on December 25th 274 AD…

“The mighty Frankish King Charlemagne united much of Europe under his banner even before being crowned emperor in 800 AD. On Christmas that year, Pope Leo III named him ‘emperor of the Romans,’ marking the legendary leader as a successor to ancient Roman caesars. Charlemagne’s rule ushered in an age of… Christian expansion…

“The US civil war ended with the defeat of the southern Confederation in 1865. On December 24th of the same year, a group of confederate veterans met in Tennessee to establish a secret society dubbed the Ku Klux Klan. The infamous organization uses violence in the name of alleged white superiority…”

December 24 and 25 have nothing to do with the birth of Christ, but it is interesting that important famous and infamous historic events took place on these days; showing that the god of this world is the real ruler and originator of Christmas who is busy to work out some of his schemes on these very days. It is well-known that, especially in the Western world, Christmas is high season for insane and unaffordable spending; suicide; drunkenness and other abusive behavior; as well as broken relationships.

The History of the Christmas Tree

The Week wrote on December 24:

“As with many Christmas traditions, its roots go back to pagan times. Some Northern European pagans believed that the sun was a god and that he went through a yearly period of ill health in winter. They put up evergreen boughs on the winter solstice, around Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year — the evergreens reminding them of all the greenery that would grow again when the sun god regained his strength and spring arrived. Ancient Egyptians followed a similar tradition, adorning their homes with green palm fronds to mark the return of Ra, a hawk-headed god who wore the sun as a blazing crown. And ancient Romans used fir trees to decorate their temples during Saturnalia, a winter festival in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture…

“The Eastern European cities of Tallinn and Riga both claim to have hosted the first Christmas tree: Tallinn in 1441, Riga in 1510… Around the same time, medieval Germans were incorporating evergreens into their own Christmastime rituals, via the ‘Paradise Tree’: an apple-adorned fir… Christmas trees didn’t make it into the home until Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant Reformation…

Legend has it that as George Washington was crossing the Delaware River on Dec. 25, 1776, Hessian mercenaries fighting for the British were busy decorating trees and getting drunk. Suffice to say, they were in no state to fight the ensuing battle, and lost…”

In fact, Christmas trees are even much older than that. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah strongly condemns their use in Jeremiah 10.

Crazy Justifications of Christmas Lies

The Week, December 21:

“Christmas is a magical time of year, especially for children…  many parents worry about whether they should encourage their children’s belief in the physical reality of Santa, about the potential impact of lying to them and what to do when their children realize they’ve been duped…

“Research in the field of developmental psychology suggests that such fantastical beliefs are not actually harmful, but are associated with a number of positive developmental outcomes… With age, a child’s thinking develops to the point where they start to notice Santa does magical things that physical objects can’t…

“If you choose to extend your child’s belief in Santa, and your child realizes you have deceived them, how will they respond?… it is highly unlikely a single lie will cause irreparable damage. Children are also discovering the truth about Santa at around the same time they are starting to understand that some lies, like Santa lies, are told with good intentions… It might be a good idea to give modest gifts from Santa and save the big ones for parents, because no matter what your family income, every child deserves to feel loved by Santa on Christmas morning.”

This ridiculous article was written by an assistant professor of psychology. It shows how ungodly this world is… and due to their wrong education and false premises, psychologists belong on the top of the list of deceived and deceiving “experts.”

Angela Merkel Still the Queen of Europe

Politico wrote on December 21:

“… it’s too soon to count out the veteran chancellor, the EU’s longest-serving leader, who’s been in office since 2005. Merkel is likely to bounce back in 2018 with a new government committed to moving European integration forward in partnership with Emmanuel Macron…

“SPD leader Martin Schulz has identified reviving the European Union as the urgent priority that justifies reversing his party’s decision to go into opposition… The former European Parliament president convinced his comrades to explore a renewed coalition with the conservatives by brandishing the goal of a ‘United States of Europe.’… Schulz’s message was in tune with the German political and business establishment

“Older German politicians recall how conservatives Wolfgang Schäuble and Karl Lamers took ambitious proposals to Paris in 1994 for a ‘core Europe,’ allowing what would become the eurozone to move ahead faster in integration… Merkel has made clear she believes she finally has a French partner with whom she can work on strengthening the eurozone, boosting European defense and reforming EU migration and asylum policies…

“People who have talked to Merkel say she was reluctant to run for a fourth term and only resolved to do so after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency, raising fears of a leadership vacuum in the Western world. Those worries have proved well founded. With America no longer dependably committed to free trade, multilateral governance or economic cooperation, and Britain durably sidelined by Brexit, the chancellor is the last experienced Western stateswoman capable of calm, steady leadership in a dangerous world.

“In the European Union… only Merkel can call the shots and strike a balance between North and South, East and West, left and right. ‘She is still the queen of Europe,’ said an EU diplomat… ‘If you want to get something done, you go to her.’”

Even though Angela Merkel’s reputation within the German public has diminished drastically (half of those asked in a recent poll prefer that she resigns before the end of her next term), Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz would prove to be an interesting leadership team, especially when it comes to the future of Europe. Note the next article.

Martin Schulz… Gone and Back?

The EUObserver wrote on December 27:

For a few brief weeks in early 2017, it appeared Martin Schulz was set to make one of the most dramatic political career trajectories in recent EU history – from president of the European Parliament to German chancellor, and de facto the most powerful leader on the continent. But it wasn’t to be. After a few weeks on the campaign trail for his Social Democratic Party (SPD), the ‘Schulz Effect’ turned out to be the ‘Schulz Bubble’. That bubble duly burst, and by the end of 2017, Schulz had taken his party to their worst result in 70 years. It was a bitter comedown for the man who only a few years previously was accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the EU…

“Schulz battled on as party leader of the SPD, and – in a bizarre twist – may now find himself in 2018 returning to the centre-stage as German foreign minister, or one of the other senior posts in Angela Merkel’s cabinet in another ‘Grand Coalition’. That is because of the dramatic and unexpected collapse, in November, of the so-called ‘Jamaica’ coalition being negotiated between the victorious CDU of Merkel, and its sister Christian Social Union party from Bavaria, the Greens, and the liberal pro-market FDP.

“Despite an earlier pledge that his SPD would be returning to opposition to lick its wounds, Schulz will now begin formal talks in early January with the woman who defeated him in September, and if coalition negotiations are successful, will take the foreign ministry or one of the other top jobs in Berlin in early 2018.

“A remarkable return… For Schulz, hopeful and then humiliated at the ballot box in September, his political career resembles nothing less than a (badly-burnt) phoenix arising from the ashes.”

Austria Hope for a United Europe?

The EUObserver wrote on December 21:

“[Austrian Chancellor Sebastian] Kurz’s vision of the EU future seems more conducive to continental unity than most alternatives on offer… the young leader pledged to support a strong Union… He explained that this would mean stronger integration in strategic fields such as foreign policy, defence and a new asylum system… He also defended a euro governance based on rigorous fiscal rules…

“Kurz’ sober and moderate Europeanism makes him an ideal advocate of the European project

“Austria is in many ways special. A small republic heir to a great multinational Empire, a natural bridge between East and West, with a political culture… it will be able to make a difference.”

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 24:

The Austrian chancellor has urged the EU to consider establishing ‘safe areas’ in refugees’ countries of origin [rather than redistributing them in European countries]. But in a controversial twist, he said Brussels should organize it and ‘back it militarily.’”

Christians Divided on Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

The Los Angeles Times wrote on December 24:

“The divide between evangelicals and other Christian denominations reflects two views of Jerusalem — one traditional and political, the other literal and theological. The key to understanding this rift is the evangelical belief in what is necessary to pave the way for the second coming of Jesus

“Hours before the declaration on Dec. 6, Jerusalem’s Orthodox Christian patriarchs and heads of local churches sent Trump a letter predicting that ‘such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division.’…

“When Vice President Mike Pence announced that he would be visiting Israel — a visit that was later postponed — many members of the local Christian clergy said they would refuse to meet with him…  evangelical Christians constitute less than one-tenth of 1% of the population of Israel… [about] 2% of the country’s population… belong to… Orthodox and Catholic denominations…”

The  New York Post added on December 24:

“Pope Francis called for a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during his traditional Christmas Day speech in a stinging rebuke to President Trump who inflamed tensions in the region by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel…

“It’s the second time that the pontiff has criticized Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. Earlier in December, he noted that the Holy City is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims and called for its identity to remain unchanged.”

The Daily Mail wrote on December 24:

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has used his Christmas Day sermon to reflect on the terrorist atrocities and deceitfulness of ‘populist leaders’ witnessed in 2017… The Archbishop this year publicly spoke out against Mr Trump when he shared videos from far-right group Britain First via Twitter.”

Anti-Semitic Iran Opposes Israel and Hypocritical UN Remains Silent

Daily Wire wrote on December 27:

“On Wednesday, the government of possibly the most anti-Semitic government on earth shocked the world by announcing that Jerusalem will never be the capital of Israel and the Jewish people… the government of Iran passed a bill declaring Jerusalem forever as the capital of the non-existent country ‘Palestine’… Predictably, there were 207 ‘yes’ votes and no abstentions or opposition.

“Despite the fact that Iran declared Jerusalem the capital of ‘Palestine,’ the United Nations somehow missed the opportunity to pass, let alone offer, a resolution condemning the announcement. Last week, of course, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

Turkey and Europe vs. the USA and Israel

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 28:

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed hope for good relations with the European Union and Germany, after a year of tense relations between Berlin and Ankara… ‘We don’t have a problem with Germany, the Netherlands or Belgium. It’s exactly the opposite, the leaders of those countries are old friends of mine,’ Erdogan said…

“‘On the issue of Jerusalem, I wanted support from them; they are on the same page as we are,’ Erdogan said, referring to opposition to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the contested holy city as the capital of Israel. He said he called German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier recently to thank him

“‘Now some other necessary steps need to be taken. In this context, a Palestinian state should be recognized,’ he said. ‘Some countries will recognize a Palestinian state; a number of EU states would immediately recognize Palestine.’”

The Bible shows that Turkey will work with Europe and many Arab nations against the USA and the state of Israel.

Moving Embassies to Jerusalem?

The Jewish Press wrote on December 24:

“Liviu Dragnea, leader of Romania’s Social Democratic Party and President of the Chamber of Deputies, announced last week: ‘We have to take the United States as an example and move our embassy in Israel… All the central institutions in Israel are in Jerusalem, ambassadors and embassy staff are going from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I think we should seriously consider moving the Romanian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.’…

“Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN after Trump’s declaration that ‘many countries are ready to move their embassy to Jerusalem,’ including Romania. The Czech Republic and the Philippines have announced their intent to move their embassies to Jerusalem.”

Newsmax reported on December 24 that “Guatemala President Jimmy Morales announced on Sunday that his country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.”

Israel Withdraws from UNESCO

The Jewish Press wrote on December 24:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Friday to submit his official letter of withdrawal to the organization. Israel joins the United States in its withdrawal from UNESCO. The U.S. gave its notice in October, and plans to leave the organization at the end of next year in accordance with the rules of the organization… Israel… will end its membership at the end of 2018 as well… the decision was made due to the attempts by UNESCO to ‘disconnect Jewish history from the land of Israel.’

“… the prime minister’s decision to pull Israel from UNESCO also came as a show of support for the United States… Nevertheless, the withdrawal letter will also contain a proviso that allows Israel to rescind its decision, should UNESCO revise its conduct and change its behavior and attitude towards Israel before the end of 2018.”

UN Sanctions “Act of War” against North Korea?

The Telegraph wrote on December 24:

“North Korea warned on Sunday that the latest round of United Nations sanctions were tantamount to an act of war and complete economic blockade… Sunday’s statement was the culmination of the latest round of warmongering rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington after US Defence Secretary James Mattis cautioned on Friday that ‘storm clouds are gathering’ over the Korean peninsula…

“The UN security council unanimously voted to step up its sanctions against North Korea on Friday in retaliation against its most recent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test in November 29, which it claimed was capable of carrying a nuclear weapon to the US mainland… The US-drafted restrictions seek to ban nearly 90 per cent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea… The resolution also caps crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year, and threatens to reduce the quantity even further if Pyongyang carries out another nuclear or ICBM test…

“The pariah regime continued that its nuclear weapons were a ‘self-defensive deterrence’ to counter America’s ‘blackmail and hostile moves’ and that those who voted for sanctions would face revenge… The White House has ‘dramatically’ stepped up preparation for a military solution in recent months amid fears diplomacy is not working… Meanwhile, American troops based in South Korea have been told to remain alert and report suspicious individuals…”

Water Not Free

The Alternative News Network wrote on December 27:

“Is water a free and basic human right, or should all the water on the planet belong to major corporations and be treated as a product? Should the poor who cannot afford to pay these said corporations suffer from starvation due to their lack of financial wealth? According to the former CEO and now Chairman of the largest food product manufacturer in the world (Nestle), corporations should own every drop of water on the planet — and you’re not getting any unless you pay up…

“This is a company that actually goes into struggling rural areas and extracts the groundwater for their bottled water products, completely destroying the water supply of the area without any compensation

“As reported on by Corporate Watch, Nestle and former CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe have a long history of disregarding public health and abusing the environment to take part in the profit of an astounding $35 billion in annual profit from water bottle sales alone. The report states: ‘Nestlé production of mineral water involves the abuse of vulnerable water resources. In the Serra da Mantiqueira region of Brazil, home to the ‘circuit of waters’ park whose groundwater has a high mineral content and medicinal properties, over-pumping has resulted in depletion and long-term damage.’ Nestle has also come under fire over the assertion that they are actually conducting business with massive slavery rings

“Nestlé… has done nothing for more than one billion people worldwide who have no access to drinking water. It, instead, has a proven track record of exploiting labor, destroying the environment, engaging in human rights violations, and of course of making big profits. Consider this:

“Brabeck chairs the 2030 Water Resources Group, a collaborative effort between business (includes PepsiCo and the Coca-Cola Company), government and other organizations that looks for ‘practical solutions’ to address water scarcity. PepsiCo, the Coca-Cola Company and Nestle rake in a combined $110 billion a year selling bottled water worldwide… Nestlé controls one-third of the US market and sells 70 different brand names for which it draws water from 75 springs located all over the country…”

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.

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Who is the Great Multitude in Revelation 7?

Will it consist of people who have already died? Will they be part of the 144,000? Will they go to heaven before Christ’s return?

In the previous Q&A, we discussed the question, “Do the 144,000, mentioned in Revelation 7, describe spiritual Israelites prior to the Great Tribulation including those who have already died?”

We explained that Revelation 7:1-8 describes 144,000 Israelites who will be sealed after the beginning of the Great Tribulation to be protected from the plagues of the Day of the Lord. In addition, Revelation 7:9-10, 13-17 continues to describe a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, who came out of the Great Tribulation.

Many ideas exist as to who the great multitude describes. Some claim that the great multitude is identical with the 144,000, or that the 144,000 are part of the great multitude. Some claim that the multitude consists of all Gentile Christians from the beginning of the creation of man, and that the number is innumerable as it is not yet determined. Some claim that the great multitude will be in heaven after the beginning of the Great Tribulation, but before the Day of the Lord begins.

Halley’s Bible Handbook gives a most confusing picture of these different concepts, saying:

“The ‘144,000’ of verse 4, and the ‘Great Multitude,’ of verse 9, seem to be two different groups. One is the Elect of Israel. The other is from All Nations. With one group the scene was on Earth. With the other the scene is in Heaven. One group was sealed against a Coming Tribulation. With the other group, the Tribulation is Past. Yet they may be One and the Same group, under different aspects…”

Just about all of these comments are incorrect. For instance, when relating to the 144,000, we saw in the previous Q&A that they will be sealed BEFORE the Day of the Lord begins… meaning that they too had to go through and experience the beginning of the Great Tribulation. As for the remaining comments quoted above, the only correct assessment is that two different groups are described, as we will explain (even though that assessment is questioned in the last sentence of the quoted paragraph above by the same commentary.)

First of all, let us note the time setting as to when the 144,000 and the great multitude are described. It clearly relates to protection from the Day of the Lord (Revelation 6:17). The question is asked there: “For the great day of His wrath is come, and who is able to STAND?” In describing the great multitude, we read in Revelation 7:9 that they STAND before the throne of God and the Lamb. In Luke 21:36, Christ admonishes us to “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to STAND before the Son of Man.” Even though the great multitude won’t be worthy to escape the Great Tribulation, as we will see, they WILL BE counted worthy to escape and be protected from the plagues of the Day of the Lord, and to STAND before the Son of Man—the Lamb—and the throne of God.

Therefore, the great multitude does not consist of or include people who died prior to the beginning of the Day of the Lord.

What is meant with the term, “great multitude which no one could number”? Does this mean, as some say, that the number is not yet determined and that therefore no one, not even God, could tell us the exact number of the great multitude?

We say the following in chapter 9 of our free booklet, Is That In the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation:

“After that event [of sealing 144,000 Israelites], John sees a great multitude which ‘no one could number,’ from ‘all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues,’ standing before the Lamb with white garments (Revelation 7:9). They ‘came out of the great tribulation…and washed their robes and made them white’ (Revelation 7:14)… the great multitude had to go through the Great Tribulation, but they will be protected—together with the 144,000—from the plagues of the Day of the Lord.”

We read in Hebrews 12:22-24 that in prayer to God, we come to the heavenly Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the “innumerable company of angels,” the general assembly and church of the first-begotten registered in heaven, and to the spirits of the just men made perfect.

Now note the following excerpts from our free booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World”:

“Man has no comprehension of how many angels exist. The revealed number is indeed mind-boggling. In Revelation 5:11, the number of angels that had assembled before the throne of God is given as ‘…ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.’ Hebrews 12:22 goes even further: ‘But you have come to… an innumerable company of angels.’ The Greek word for ‘innumerable’ is ‘anarithmethos,’ literally meaning, ‘unnumbered’ or ‘without number.’ Certainly God knows how many angels He created but for man, angels are ‘without number.’”

The Greek word in Revelation 7:9 is arithmeo, where it is said that no one can number (arithmeo) the great multitude. This expression conveys the same meaning as in Hebrews 12:22, where we read about the “innumerable” (Greek: anarithmetos) company of angels—which is the opposite or the negative to something that you can number (compare W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:  “arithmeo to number”). The same Greek word arithmeo is also used in Matthew 10:30 and Luke 12:7 (“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered”).

The term “innumerable” (in Greek, anarithmetos) is also used in Hebrews 11:12: “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.” A similar expression is found in Revelation 20:8: “[Satan] will go out and deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number (Greek, arithmos) is as the sand of the sea.”

Even though it may be difficult for man to number all the descendants of Abraham, it is most certainly not difficult for God. The point is, the “innumerable” multitude of Abraham’s offspring is not innumerable for God.

We also find a reference to an innumerable multitude in Luke 12:1, saying that at the time of Christ’s first coming, “an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another.” However, the Greek word here is murias. It is also used in Hebrews 12:22, when referring to the “company” of angels. Vine’s defines it as “a myriad, of vast numbers.” Therefore, the “innumerable company of angels” in Hebrews 12:22 describes a myriad of angels which man would not be able to count if they manifested themselves to the human eye, as man could not count the sand of the sea or the hair on his head… but we understand that God can and DOES most certainly count and number them all.

What Revelation 7:9 describes is the fact that John saw in a vision a huge multitude of people—too many for him to count or to number.

Continuing with Is That In the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation:

“Strauss comments on pages 175–178: ‘The number … is beyond all counting, as far as man is concerned. The exact number is known to God (2 Timothy 2:19)… John saw ‘palms in their hands’ ([Revelation 7,] verse 9)… the palms may be in celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles… palm branches express the joy of complete deliverance (John 12:12–13). They are celebrating the triumph of having been brought through the awful period of tribulation…’”

When comparing the number (Greek arithmos, Revelation 7:4) of the 144,000 sealed Israelites with the great and “innumerable” multitude of Gentile nations, we must conclude that their number will far exceed 144,000. This would be in conformity with Paul’s statement in Romans 11:25, where we read: “… blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”  We find today a fulfillment of this phenomenon: While many members of “Gentile nations” respond, to an extent, to the gospel which is being proclaimed by the Church of God, stiff-necked and stubborn Americans, Brits, Canadians and other English-speaking peoples continue in their blindness and unwillingness to react to the message of God.

Something similar happened in Paul’s days, when he had to say: “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46). This is not to say that Paul ceased preaching to the Israelites, and God’s end-time Church will not cease either in preaching to the modern peoples of the Houses of Israel and Judah, but we have to conclude that a greater spiritual harvest from Gentile nations than from Israelite nations is prophesied in these very last days, just prior to the Day of the Lord. This fact might also be revealed in a prophecy for the end-time in Revelation 10:11 where an angel gives John a little book to swallow, stating: “And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy AGAIN BEFORE many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” (Authorized Version). The Greek word for “before” is epi and can also mean, “in the presence of.” Compare Mark 13:9 (“before rulers and kings”); 1 Timothy 6:13 (“before Pilate”). This might indicate that even in the end times, the gospel would first be preached “in the presence of” or to Israelite nations, but then again with strength and power to the Gentile nations.

Some claim that the 144,000 are identical with or part of the great multitude, but this is clearly not the case.

We say in our free booklet, Is That In the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation:

“In considering the Biblical revelation regarding the 144,000 and the great multitude, we can see the following: … The ‘great multitude’ is not a part of the 144,000, but it is a separate group of peoples… The ‘great multitude,’ which ‘no one can number,’ consists ‘of ALL [other, that is, non-Israelite] nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues.’ …”

Some commentaries understand that there is a clear distinction between the 144,000 and the great multitude. For instance, J.H. Blunt, The Annotated Bible, says:

“These [the great multitude] are clearly distinguished from the preceding body by being called an innumerable multitude, whereas the others are definitely described as being an hundred and forty and four thousand in number; and also by the statement that they are ‘of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,’ whereas the others are ‘of all the tribes of the children of Israel’ [verse 4].”

In addition, some commentaries understand that the great multitude will come out of the THE Great Tribulation—not only some trials in general:

The Wycliffe Bible Commentary states: “The other multitude is of a universal nature—certainly not confined to Israel… These… are they… that have come out of great tribulation…The great tribulation can be none other than that referred to in the Olivet Discourse (Mt 24:9,21,29).”

The Nelson Study Bible states:

“This vast majority has come out of the great tribulation, referring to the ‘hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world’ (3:10)… the great tribulation, predicted in Dan. 12:1, will be of an intensity ‘such as has not been since the beginning of the world unto this time, no, nor ever shall be’ (Matt. 24:21).”

The Ryrie Study Bible adds:

“This multitude is composed of many racial and geographic groups who will be redeemed during the tribulation period (vs. 14). In these difficult days, many will find Christ as Savior.”

Will the great multitude find protection after the beginning of the Great Tribulation and before the Day of the Lord and if so, how?

We state the following in our free booklet, Is That In the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation:

“The ‘great multitude’ had to go through the Great Tribulation as well. They will not be at a place of safety, to be protected from the Great Tribulation. Revelation 7:14 reads: ‘These are the ones who COME OUT OF the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’

“Today, neither the 144,000 nor the great multitude have turned to God. But they will—when they remember the message of the gospel of the Kingdom of God, which is being preached today, and which will continue to be preached by God’s Church (compare Matthew 24:14; 28:18–20), combined with the activities of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:1–6), the martyrdom of some of the saints (Revelation 6:9–11; 12:13–17) and the sufferings of national Israelites and Jews during the Great Tribulation, and the heavenly signs… When the 144,000 and the great multitude turn to God, become converted and receive the Holy Spirit, they will be protected from the plagues of the Day of the Lord. Their conversion is still in the future. It will take place after they have experienced the fiery trial of the Great Tribulation.”

We also say this in our Q&A, “Will God’s people be protected from the terrible times to come?” 

“It appears that the 144,000 and the great multitude will consist mainly of people who will come to conversion during the trials of the Great Tribulation. Especially addressing the great multitude, for example, we read in Revelation 7:14: ‘These are the ones who COME OUT OF the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ We also read in Jeremiah 30:7 that later on, the modern descendants of the house of Jacob or Israel [the 144,000] will be saved OUT OF the Day of the Lord. [To clarify, Jeremiah 30:7 does not convey that the 144,000 will only be saved “out of” the plagues of the Day of the Lord, after they had been punished by them. The New American Bible translates: “How mighty is that day—none like it! A time of distress for Jacob, though he shall be saved from it.” Similar the New Jerusalem Bible, and Tanakh says: “… he shall be delivered from it.” Still clearer the Revised English Bible: “How awful is that day: when has there been its like? A time of anguish for Jacob, yet he will come through it safely.”]

“In addition, it is possible that some who will be protected during the time of God’s great wrath will include converted members in God’s Church (commonly referred to as those belonging to the lukewarm ‘Laodicea’ group in Revelation 3:14-22) who were not found worthy enough to be protected at the place of safety from the Great Tribulation, but who worked on their conversion with fear and trembling and who overcame their nature, Satan and society IN and DURING the Great Tribulation. They survived these terrible times and will be declared worthy to be protected from God’s wrath during the Day of the Lord.”

Some claim that the 144,000 and the great multitude will be in heaven to be protected from the Day of the Lord and/or to celebrate the marriage supper with the Lamb. However, this is an erroneous conclusion.

We address this question in our Q&A, “Where will the marriage supper between Christ and His Church be held?”

“Some have suggested that Revelation 14 [addressing 144,000 firstfruits] speaks of a marriage supper in heaven. However, Revelation 14 does not mention a marriage supper. It states that the Lamb and 144,000 of those ‘who were redeemed from the earth’ stand on Mount Zion (verse 1), and that they are ‘without fault before the throne of God’ (verse 5)… Even today, we appear daily ‘before’ God’s throne in heaven, through prayer…

“[Another] Scripture quoted to support the speculation that the marriage supper takes place in heaven is Revelation 7:9-17… We are told that a great multitude of all nations stands before the throne and before the Lamb. This is clearly another vision — such as the vision of dead souls under God’s altar that cry out with a loud voice (Revelation 6:9-11). Still, even when analyzing carefully the text of the vision in Revelation 7, we find that the described event does not occur in heaven. Revelation 7:14 says that the saints ‘washed their robes and made them white.’ Verse 15 says, ‘Therefore they ARE before the throne of God, and SERVE Him day and night in His temple.’ This cannot be happening in heaven, as the last part of the verse says that God ‘WILL dwell among them.’ If this passage described a situation in heaven, God would ALREADY dwell among them. [In addition, God the Father will only dwell among them and all of His (by then) immortal Spirit-born sons and daughters when He comes down from a new heaven to a new earth, long AFTER the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment, compare Revelation 21:1-3].

“The passage conveys, however, that those of the great multitude, who had to go through the Great Tribulation to become spiritually clean, will from that time on serve God daily in His temple — the Church, a spiritual organism, the bride of Christ. We are today the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:17; Ephesians 2:21). But we are not in heaven.”

The conclusion that the great multitude is not pictured as being in heaven, is shared by The New Unger’s Bible Handbook, stating:

“They are apparently unglorified people on the earth, envisioned as ‘saved’ and therefore seen ‘before the throne and in front of the Lamb… they have experienced unparalleled suffering in the Great Tribulation… having been brought to salvation by the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom…”

In conclusion, the great multitude consists of people from all nations who will be ALIVE when the Great Tribulation begins. They will come to conversion during the Great Tribulation and before the Day of the Lord. They will be protected from the plagues of the wrath of God and they will become worthy to STAND before the Son of Man, when He appears. Sadly, they will have to suffer much before they accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, obtain forgiveness of their sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Those who hear God’s message today should respond at once to be spared from the terrible times to come upon this world in a VERY few years from now.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

compiled by Dave Harris

“The Fight for Jerusalem,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Also, Mr. Link presents a German AufPostenStehen program, “Der Kampf um Jerusalem,”—which covers the same topic. Here is a summary:

The UN Security Council condemned the USA and President Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Subsequently, the UN General Assembly, with the support of some US “allies,” declared the US declaration “null and void.” But a few countries opposed that totally inappropriate UN vote, while others abstained or chose to be absent. The US stated that they will take names of those countries that voted in favor of the UN resolution. This program will do just that and identify the major countries within the UN opposing or supporting the USA and Israel; and we point out why this is important in the light of biblical prophecy.

“Wie man (k)ein Pharisäer ist!” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link.

Title in English: “How (Not) To Be a Pharisee.”

“Are You Happy,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Christoph Sperzel, is now posted. Here is a summary:

What is our answer when we are being asked this question? Let´s look deeply into ourselves. Is our answer “yes”, is it “no” or even “maybe”? Do we say “I don’t know” or even “I’m not sure”?

“The Battle for Your Mind,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted. Here is a summary:

Our minds are one of our most important assets. We are constantly under siege from all sides. How can we ensure that we protect our minds from the many unseen dangers that we fight against? Where can we turn when our minds cannot find a solution, a way out?  The importance of our minds is clearly outlined in the Bible and how to lean on and turn to God so that we do not fail.

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How This Work is Financed

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

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

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

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

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

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

©2023 Church of the Eternal God