February 16, 2018
A Generation Offered Up to Fire; In Jesus’ Name
On February 17, 2018, Robb Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “A Generation Offered Up to Fire,” and Dave Harris will present the sermon, titled, “In Jesus’ Name.”
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.
Politics Is Such a Dirty Business!
by Norbert Link
Last week’s events in Germany serve as a striking example as to HOW DIRTY politics is. Much of the world breathed a sigh of relief when Germany’s two leading parties, the CDU and the SPD, finally reached a grand coalition agreement under Angela Merkel (CDU) and Martin Schulz (SPD), thereby ending an historic time of political limbo after Germany’s election in September. But soon afterwards, due to political maneuvering within his own party, Schulz was forced to declare that he would not accept the contemplated role of foreign minister within the new government.
The German press recognized the true motives at play. Much blame was placed on Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) who presently holds the office of foreign minister in a “caretaker position”. Bild Online wrote on February 9 that Gabriel was using dirty tricks against Schulz; that the same party delegates who had voted for Schulz were now blackmailing him and used him as cannon-fodder; and that the entire situation confirmed almost every possible perception of the meanness and lack of principles in politics.
Bild added that a power struggle had engulfed the SPD; that Schulz was given an ultimatum; and that Gabriel hinted at an alleged agreement between him and Schulz that he would remain the foreign minister in consideration of giving the position of party chief to Schulz. But the German press claims that Gabriel only resigned as the leader of his party in order to escape responsibility if the grand coalition talks would fail (and most observers predicted at the time that they would fail).
In all fairness, even though Schulz had originally declared that he and his party would not be a part of a German government under Merkel, due to the intervention of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD), he changed his mind [or broke his word, depending on one’s viewpoint]… but so did all the major players in his party, including Sigmar Gabriel. And there can be no doubt that he worked out a masterful deal for the SPD. The Local wrote on February 7: “The SPD managed to wangle the Foreign Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Labor Ministry out of the talks. They appear to have done pretty well for themselves there… The only question is – with so many key ministries going to the other parties – what have the CDU kept for themselves?” The answer: Merkel managed to get the chancellorship… for herself.
With these many key positions for the SPD, that party should have been thankful to Schulz. Instead, they dropped him like a hot potato. The Telegraph commented on February 9 that “Mr. Schulz, a former European parliament president, was briefly talked of as Germany’s next chancellor when he returned from Brussels to enter national politics. He was elected SPD leader with 100 per cent support in 2016 and the country was gripped by ‘Schulzmania’ in the early part of last year. But he led the party to its worst ever result in September’s election. His political career is now almost certainly over…”
The German press echoed those sentiments. Bild Online wrote that Schulz is facing the end of his political career which began with 100 percent and ended with nothing, slipping “from 100 to Zero.”
We don’t share this conclusion. We had predicted that Donald Trump, when he announced his candidacy, would become the President of the USA, even though very few agreed with us at the time. We had predicted that Merkel and Schulz would hammer out a grand coalition agreement when most felt the opposite and thought that Merkel would enter a coalition with smaller parties, without the SPD (the so-called “Jamaica coalition”), and failing this, new elections would be held. We had said that Schulz would play an important role within the new German government. We still feel the same, even though the almost unanimous political viewpoint disagrees. Whether Schulz’s political career is indeed over will have to be seen. In the past, many politicians were viewed at one time as “yesterday’s news,” but they made spectacular comebacks. Just think of Napoleon, Mussolini, and last, but not least, Adolf Hitler. And so, historically, strange and unexpected things have happened in the dirty business of politics, and just maybe, the deadly wound which Schulz received might be healed in the future, which would indeed surprise the whole world.
We all know that politics is mean—rotten to the core. The recent example in Germany only supports this universal truth. Politicians are motivated and driven by lies, betrayal, backstabbing and broken words and promises, while totally lacking in principle and godly character. As the Bible says, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Politics is like a prostitute who embraces her lovers, but only as long as she can use them. Why is that so? Simply, because the originator of politics is none other than Satan the Devil—a dirty, mean, lying being without any principles or godly character. Satan rules this world. He designs the evil politics of this world, and he influences and inspires those who are engaged in this field. Nothing good will ever come out of it. That is why true Christians must have NOTHING to do with it. Rather, they ought to pray for God’s Kingdom to come very soon which will end, once and for all, the dirty business of politics.
by Norbert Link
We begin with explosive developments in Germany and discuss the ongoing public dissatisfaction with the current and proposed new government, while also addressing the uncertain and perhaps somewhat surprising future of Martin Schulz and Angela Merkel. (Also note this week’s Editorial on the developments in Germany, as well as our new StandingWatch program, “Germany’s Dirty Politics.” The program was also published in the German language, titled, “Deutschlands Schmutzige Politik.” ).
We continue with the short temporary shutdown of the US government; an agreed-upon budget pact of $400 billion; and President Trump’s proposed controversial $4 trillion budget for 2019; Dow Jones’ unprecedented rollercoaster ride; the sure expectation of a very bad recession within perhaps three years; the interesting perception that President Trump does not understand economics, combined with one of his proposals which seems to be dead on arrival; another court ruling blocking the implementation of his decision on DACA; his politically risky refusal to release the Democratic response to a Republican memo charging the FBI and others with wrongdoing; and his stance on domestic violence in the light of continued allegations against him of harassment and improper sexual conduct.
We address the horrific mass shooting in Florida; the volatile escalation of the situation in Syria, as it pertains to Israel and Iran as well as the USA, Turkey and the Kurds; and the interesting recommendation that in light of America’s total absence in the Syrian issue, Europe and especially Germany should intervene to avoid the outbreak of a terrible third war in the region. We conclude with Israel’s strong position to ignore America’s stance if it conflicts with Israel’s interests; and America’s concern regarding the European Joint Defense Agreement; as well as a shocking article about Poland.
Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.
This Week in the News
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 9:
“The current head of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) Martin Schulz said on Friday that he would no longer pursue a ministerial post in the next German government, including the job of foreign minister. Schulz had come under heavy criticism in his own party for claiming the foreign minister role for himself after leaders of Germany’s largest parties agreed to form another coalition government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel…
“Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament, said he believed the internal squabble within his party risked jeopardizing a pending coalition deal with Merkel’s conservatives. The SPD reached a deal with Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), on Wednesday. The coalition deal still requires the approval of SPD party members who will vote on the deal in the coming weeks and can still reject it…
“His announcement follows days of mounting pressure from senior members of his party, including from current Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who criticized Schulz’s intention to take the helm at the Foreign Ministry. In an interview published on Friday, Gabriel complained about a lack of appreciation for his work as Germany’s top diplomat… ‘It is clear, unfortunately, that the public’s regard for my work meant absolutely nothing to the new SPD leadership,’ Gabriel said…
“Directly after the September election, Schulz ruled out forming a new coalition with Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc and had categorically ruled out joining her cabinet in the past. The backtracking by SPD leaders angered many in the party’s youth branch…”
Schulz’s Political Career Over?
The Telegraph wrote on February 9:
“Mr Schulz… was briefly talked of as Germany’s next chancellor… He was elected SPD leader with 100 per cent support in 2016 and the country was gripped by ‘Schulzmania’ in the early part of last year. But he led the party to its worst ever result in September’s election.
“His political career is now almost certainly over… His downfall comes despite negotiating a coalition deal widely regarded as very good for the SPD… Mr Gabriel has alleged they made a deal in 2016 under which he would get to stay on as foreign minister in return for stepping aside as party leader to make way for Mr Schulz…”
Whether Schulz’s political career is indeed over will have to be seen. Stranger things have happened in the dirty business of politics, and just maybe, the deadly wound which he received might be healed in the future, surprising the world. Even though Schulz had resigned as leader of the SPD and even though he will not pursue at this point the office of Foreign Minister, he remains to be a member of the German Parliament (Bundestagsabgeordneter).
Bild Online wrote on February 9 that Gabriel indicated that he wanted to remain Foreign Minister. And so, within an hour of Schulz’s “resignation,” Johannes Kahrs, the head of the SPD’s conservative wing, and others stated that Gabriel should stay as Foreign Minister. On the other hand, some of Gabriel’s’ actions against Schulz (for which he subsequently apologized) caused great concern within the SPD.
Merkel Paid High Price
Handelsblatt Global wrote on February 9:
“Ms. Merkel has paid a high price to renew a coalition with the same old partners – maybe too high. There’s plenty of rumbling in the rank and file of her party over the concessions she made to win over her rivals. Their concern: By giving away three prized ministerial portfolios to the Social Democratic Party, she may have handed the struggling party a future while robbing one for her own…
“The concessions prompted a cynical tweet from one CDU parliamentarian, Olav Gutting: ‘At least, we’ve kept the chancellorship.’”
Merkel Defies Critics
AFP wrote on February 12:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed on Sunday to serve another full four-year term despite growing criticism within her conservative ranks of the sweeping concessions she made to hold onto power. The veteran leader said that despite the sniping over a poor election result and the loss of key ministries in a fresh coalition deal, she felt no decline of her authority and wanted to stay at the helm of Europe’s biggest economy until 2021… she stressed that she… planned to stick with her pledge to stay on for four years as chancellor and party chief rather than make way for a successor before the end of the term…
“‘The transition to the post-Merkel era has begun,’ judged the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, which added that Merkel’s power was waning and ‘a dangerous mood’ was starting to spread within her CDU. Handing over the finance ministry — long the domain of Merkel lieutenant and fiscal hawk Wolfgang Schäuble – ‘was one concession too many,’ fumed lawmaker Wolfgang Bosbach, reflecting a widely held view in the conservative party.
“An ambitious rival of Merkel, Jens Spahn, also charged that losing direct control of the public purse strings was a ‘hard blow’ that ‘hurt’ the CDU… Conservative lawmaker Christean Wagner even suggested that [the party’s] leader should ‘think about a successor.’”
Handelsblatt Global wrote on February 12:
“For 12 years, Angela Merkel was everybody’s darling. Then the chancellor stumbled over the refugee crisis. Now, after a weak coalition deal, rebellious conservatives are demanding a wide-sweeping party renewal… A revolt is simmering. Although there’s no immediate successor to Ms. Merkel in sight, her authority is clearly being questioned…”
Deutsche Welle added on February 12:
“Germany’s chancellor is reaching out to critics in her party — kind of. Angela Merkel intends to remain the top Christian Democrat, and chances are good that she will succeed.”
Second US Government Shutdown Short-Lived…
USA Today wrote on February 9:
“President Trump signed a $400 billion budget deal Friday, hours after the House passed it in a pre-dawn vote, reopening the federal government after it was partially shut down for the second time in less than a month. The House voted 240-186, with 73 Democrats and 167 Republicans voting in favor…
“House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., voted against the bill following her eight-hour marathon speech on Wednesday, protesting congressional inaction on protections for DREAMers, undocumented immigrants brought here as children. Pelosi issued a statement early Friday that criticized Ryan, saying he ‘refused to make a real commitment’ to schedule a vote to protect DREAMers…
“Pelosi and other Democrats have called on Ryan to guarantee an open debate on legislation — something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has promised in the Senate… Ryan has said he intends to solve the problem. But he will only bring up a bill that President Trump supports… Of course, it is not entirely clear what the president will demand in an immigration bill. His public statements have embraced a wide range of policy options (from deportation to a path to citizenship, conditioned upon the erection of a “huge beautiful wall,” for which Mexico was supposed to pay)…
“The House vote followed earlier Senate approval of the budget pact that was initially delayed by a protest from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul… ‘We have Republicans hand-in-hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits,’ Paul said on the Senate floor Thursday night… Fifteen other Republicans joined Paul in voting against the bill, with many expressing similar objections about the increased deficit spending.”
“Nobody Should Be Proud of the Budget Deal”
The Week wrote on February 9:
“The debt ceiling was raised or rather, in the deliberately mixed metaphor that is the official language of Washington, ‘suspended.’ Spending at the Pentagon, where single agencies routinely ‘lose’ amounts as large as $800 million, was increased by billions.
“All afternoon senators and congressmen of both parties congratulated one another… It hardly speaks to the virtues of either party or their members…”
“President Donald Trump Proposes a $4 Trillion-Plus Budget for Next Year
The Associated Press and Newsmax wrote on February 12:
“President Donald Trump is proposing a $4 trillion-plus budget for next year that projects a $1 trillion or so federal deficit and — unlike the plan he released last year — never comes close to promising a balanced federal ledger even after 10 years. And that’s before last week’s [$400] billion budget pact is added this year and next, showering both the Pentagon and domestic agencies with big increases…”
Fox News wrote on February 12:
“President Trump’s recent budget moves could complicate his relationship with the House Freedom Caucus and other fiscal conservatives… ‘The swamp won, and the American taxpayer lost,’ Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a founding member of the caucus, said…
“Mark Meckler, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, said Monday that ‘many hopeful-but-naive patriots believed D.C. would change under Donald Trump. Many thought he could drain the swamp without us. Friday morning painfully showed those same patriots that such a plan is nothing but fantasy.’”
One of the Wildest Weeks Since the Financial Crisis
CNBC wrote on February 9:
“The Dow Jones industrial average posted its worst week in two years. Earlier in the session, the index was on track for its worst week since October 2008, during the financial crisis.
“The stock index has traveled more than 22,000 points this week in a volatile few days that kicked off Monday with the Dow’s biggest closing point drop on record. Stocks are falling as traders worry about rising interest rates, and volatility… has jumped to its highest since the market turmoil of August 2015.”
Coming… The Next Recession, and It Will Be BAD
The Huffington Post wrote on February 10:
“It’s highly likely the next recession will occur in the coming three years, while President Donald Trump is still in office… America is ill-prepared for its next recession…
“A recession starts after economic activity has reached its peak. Right when things are better than ever is when they’re about to get worse… There have been 11 recessions since World War II. The current economic expansion began in mid-2009, making it the third longest in history, and it can’t last forever…”
“Trump Doesn’t Understand Deficits and Trade”
The National Post wrote on February 12:
“The usual story that is told about the dangers of running deficits when the economy is not in recession is that increased government borrowing increases the competition for domestic savings, pushes up interest rates and ‘crowds out’ private investment. But in an open economy, governments don’t have to depend on domestic investors to buy their bonds; they also tap into foreigners’ savings to finance their borrowing.
“Borrowing from abroad is essentially the story of how the Reagan and Bush deficits were financed: an inflow of foreign savings to the United States allowed the government to run large deficits without an increase in interest rates or a decline in private investment spending…
“But the real challenge facing the government of Canada — and the governments of all the trading partners of the United States — is that the present U.S. administration remains invincibly ignorant of balance of payments accounting. President Trump wants to increase the government deficit and reduce the trade deficit, without the pain of higher interest rates and weakened investment. It is literally impossible to meet these demands, and the challenge of explaining this point to an incurious President is only slightly less daunting.”
Another Ill-Advised Proposal by President Trump
Axios wrote on February 14:
“President Trump endorsed a 25-cent gas tax hike to pay for infrastructure at a White House meeting this morning with senior administration officials and members of Congress from both parties…
“Trump’s gas tax idea appears dead on arrival. Republicans aren’t about to hike taxes for the Trump voters driving their pickup trucks to work every day. It’s a regressive tax and in Republicans’ minds would undo some of working and middle class tax cuts they just passed.”
Second Judge Blocks Trump’s Decision to End DACA
Newsmax reported on February 13:
“A second U.S. judge on Tuesday blocked President Donald Trump’s decision to end a program that protects immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children from deportation.
“U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, cannot end in March as planned, a victory for state attorneys general and immigrants who sued the Republican administration. The decision is similar to an earlier ruling by a federal judge in San Francisco that DACA must remain in place while litigation over Trump’s decision unfolds.”
Trump Blocks Release of Democratic Memo in Response to GOP Memo
Newsmax wrote on February 9:
“President Donald Trump on Friday returned to the House Intelligence Committee the Democratic response to the Republican memo (Nunes memo) alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI and Justice Department for revisions — citing concerns about classified information contained in the 10-page document…
“The four-page Nunes memo alleged the warrant obtained by the FBI from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was based on an unsubstantiated dossier of negative information on the Republican presidential candidate. The dossier was prepared by former British agent Christopher Steele and was paid, in part, by the campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton. The Clinton data were never disclosed in the application for the FISA warrant, according to the GOP memo…”
The Huffington Post added on February 9:
“Several of the allegations in the Nunes memo are already falling apart. One of the key complaints in the memo is that the FBI failed to disclose that a dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele was funded by Democratic operatives looking for information on Trump during the campaign. But three days after the memo was released, Nunes conceded that the FBI had disclosed the political origins of the Steele dossier in a footnote on its application to spy on Page…”
The Telegraph wrote on February 9:
“The president’s rejection of the Democratic memo is in contrast to his enthusiastic embrace of releasing the Republican document, which he pledged before reading to make public. The president declassified the document last week, allowing its publication in full.
“The president has said the GOP memo ‘vindicates’ him in the ongoing Russian investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. But congressional Democrats and Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who helped draft the GOP memo, have said it shouldn’t be used to undermine the special counsel…
“Trump declassified the GOP-authored memo over the objections of the FBI, which said it had ‘grave concerns’ about the document’s accuracy…”
Newsmax wrote on February 10:
“The decision to block the Democratic memo is a political risk for Trump…”
Finally… Trump Speaks Out against Domestic Violence…
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 14:
“The US president has finally condemned domestic violence after one of his aides resigned over related charges. The Trump administration’s handling of Rob Porter’s resignation has shaken the White House’s upper echelons…
“The president’s words came days after he praised former top aide Rob Porter, who had been forced to resign last week due to allegations of assault made by his two ex-wives… Trump himself has also been accused of sexual assault and harassment by several women.
“Trump’s words also mark the end of his week-long silence on his stance towards domestic abuse… Over the weekend, however, Trump did find the words to defend the work of his former staff secretary. He told reporters on Friday, ‘[Porter] says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that.’ Trump also applauded Porter for his ‘good work’ in the White House. He did not express sympathy for Porter’s former wives.
“On Saturday, Trump then used a Tweet to cast doubt on the seriousness of assault accusations, describing them as ‘mere allegations.’ ‘Peoples (sic) lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new,’ Trump wrote on Twitter. ‘There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as a Due Process?’
“Porter’s resignation and the White House’s handling of the situation shook the administration at the highest level. Chief of staff John Kelly and White House lawyer Don McGahn are said to have known about the allegations against Porter. The White House insists that it only learned of the allegations shortly before Porter’s resignation, while the FBI maintains the administration had received information on the subject at various points last year.
“Congressional lawmakers have launched an investigation looking into how Porter was able to work at the White House on an interim security clearance despite the allegations of domestic violence.”
The White House’s changing and less than convincing explanations, especially in light of the FBI’s statements, which totally contradict the White House’s versions, have cast a dark cloud on the affair.
In addition, the Week reported on February 14:
“President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, told The New York Times on Tuesday he paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who told multiple media outlets ahead of the 2016 presidential election that she had an extramarital affair with Trump. In a statement, Cohen told the Times that ‘neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign … reimbursed me for the payment’ to Daniels… Daniels’ manager said Wednesday that Daniels believes by acknowledging the payment, Cohen has invalidated the non-disclosure agreement. She vowed to publicly discuss the details of her affair with Trump. The president has denied the affair.”
These threats do not sound too good for Donald Trump, apart from the fact that it would stretch the imagination to believe that his lawyer paid the adult film star out of his own pocket, without knowledge of Trump, without his consent, and without any reimbursement.
Horrific Mass School Shooting in Florida
Deutsche Welle reported on February 14:
“At least 17 people have been killed and many others injured in a school shooting in Florida. Police arrested a teenager who had previously been expelled from the school… [The murderer] is a 19-year-old former student, who had a troubled history… [He] was found with multiple ammunition magazines and an AR-15-style rifle…
“The shooting reignited debate over gun violence in the United States that kills nearly 33,000 each year. So far this year there have been 18 school shootings across the country…”
Every time a terrible mass shooting takes place, discussions evolve around gun violence. Soon thereafter, the topic is placed on the back burner, to give way to more “important” issues, such as, how the debt ceiling can be raised so that more sophisticated weapons can be produced for the military. The morbid fascination of the American people with their guns is very difficult to be understood by most other civilized countries.
Gun Control and Mental Illness
Breitbart reported on February 15:
“Thursday on NBC’s ‘Today,’ host Megyn Kelly offered her thoughts in a monologue about gun control and mental illness on the heels of the Parkland, FL school shooting:
“‘There have been at least 12… school shootings in America so far in 2018… We’re averaging one just about every three or four days. How we doing, America? Everyone okay with that? Apparently the answer is in fact yes because we haven’t done virtually anything to stop it… We all know what is about to happen right now, don’t we? We’re going to say how sorry and shocked and sad we are, and then we’re going to move on without doing anything. And then we’ll express how sorry and shocked and sad we are at the next one, and the one after that. Does anyone really think that we are going to do anything about these mass murders?
“‘… I don’t believe that. I don’t believe in a single one of these politicians. I don’t believe any of them have the courage it takes to push through reform…
“‘Five years ago I was live on the air and pregnant with my third child when 20 first graders were shot to death in school in Newtown, Connecticut… That was the one where we all thought now we will do something. Now we have to change. But we didn’t. In fact, since Newtown, there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America, about one a week…
“‘Are we really going to loosen the standards for involuntary commitment in this country? Even if we could pay for that, good luck convincing the ACLU that it’s legal. And then there are the guns… No gun reforms are getting through… And most of the ones that will be proposed in the wake of this shooting will be utterly meaningless and wouldn’t have even arguably prevented this killing. The NRA is too powerful, our politicians are too weak, and the guns are too ubiquitous.
“‘Guess how many guns there are in America, do you know? Over 300 million. They say 6 to 10 million AE-15s like the one reportedly used in Florida. So now we’ve seen it a million times. We’re going to debate that gun. But any semiautomatic pistol can unleash carnage. There was no AR-15 at Virginia Tech and that remains the worst school shooting in U.S. history. 32 dead and nothing changed… In the meantime… [m]y children, like yours, have to practice hiding in the bathroom to avoid an active shooter and don’t even think about letting the teacher lead a prayer to get them through that moment because the guns are perfectly legal, but the prayers are not…’”
Gun Violence Not the Same in Israel
JTA wrote on February 15:
“Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas… reacted to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida Wednesday by comparing Israeli gun safety policy to America’s… [He tweeted:] ‘Reminded that Israel pretty much eliminated it by placing highly trained people strategically to spot the one common thread–not the weapon, but a person with intent.’
“Many, including a prominent Israeli commentator, took issue with Huckabee’s analysis, saying it isn’t tight security that protects Israel from mass shootings but laws that carefully control who can own and carry a gun, and when. Huckabee is a strict supporter of the right to bear arms.
“‘No Governor, Israel NEVER had such a problem,’ responded Alon Pinkas, a former Consul General of Israel in New York. ‘We don’t worship guns, we don’t sell assault rifles to people, we don’t have a genius creation like the NRA, we don’t regard every bunch of guys a “well regulated militia” and we’re pretty much done fighting the British.’
“… Lawyer… Jill Filipovic referred Huckabee to an article about how Israel restricts gun ownership to those who can prove that their professions or places of residence put them in danger.
“… research, including a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says school and other mass shootings are rare in Israel because most people do not have access to the kinds of arsenals readily available in the United States.”
Escalation of Israeli Military Action in Syria
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 10:
“An Israeli jet has been downed by Syrian anti-air fire after Israel intercepted an Iranian drone launched from Syria. The incident is one of the most serious involving Israel, Iran and Syria amid the Syrian civil war… Israeli police said the F16 crashed in the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel (the Jezreel Valley is the biblical Armageddon where Gentile armies will gather to converge from there on Jerusalem to fight against the returning Christ)…
“In a separate statement, the military said… it had carried out ‘large-scale’ attacks on at least a dozen Iranian targets in Syria in response to the drone’s intrusion into Israeli airspace. But the Syrian military denied that the drone had violated Israeli airspace, saying the aircraft was on a mission gathering intelligence on ‘Islamic State’ militants within Syria…
“Israel’s targeting of an Iranian site in Syria marks an escalation in military action involving the three countries and is one of the most serious incidents of its type since the Syrian civil conflict began eight years ago… Israeli missiles also this week targeted a Syrian military research center near Damascus.”
The Complicated Syrian Civil War
Euractiv and Reuters reported on February 11:
“Pro-government forces and Kurdish-led forces have fought each other elsewhere in Syria, and Damascus opposes the Kurds’ demands for autonomy. But in Afrin they have a common enemy and a mutual interest in blocking Turkish advances. Turkey, which regards the Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin as a threat on its southern border, launched an assault on the region last month…
“For the United States, it is yet another complication in Syria’s seven-year-old war, and a reminder of how its Syrian Kurdish ally must at times make deals with Assad even as it builds military ties with the United States. Lacking international protection, the Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria say they have reached agreements with Damascus to allow reinforcements to be sent to Afrin from other Kurdish-dominated areas…
“The United States has relied on the YPG as a vital ground component of its war against Islamic State, and has backed the group in other Kurdish-run regions in northern Syria along the border with Turkey. But US forces are not in Afrin, so have been unable to shield Afrin from the attack by Turkey, its NATO ally… The Kurds meanwhile accuse Russia of giving a green light for the Turkish attack by withdrawing observers it deployed in Afrin last year.”
With these many players involved (also note the following articles), it is difficult to perceive who is actually supporting and fighting whom… while the brutal war goes on and on…
Israel under Cyber Attack
The Jerusalem Post wrote on February 12:
“With this weekend’s events shifting the country’s attention to envisioning the next potential war risks, the cyber-war playing field may once again come front and center… Israeli adversaries could potentially hack Israel Air Force aircraft, including the new, most-advanced F-35…
“Israeli drones can also be hacked and already have been. From 2011-14, Islamic Jihad master hacker Maagad Ben Juwad Oydeh hacked IDF drones while they flew over Gaza, as well as multiple parts of Ben-Gurion Airport’s network. The US and England also had previously hacked Israeli F-16s and drones for information.
“… could Iran or Hezbollah… turn an Israeli drone against Israel?… Other potential cyber risks that have been discussed are adversaries hacking Israeli missiles, missile defense or even nuclear-attack warning systems… To date, Iran and Hezbollah have failed to hack Israel to anywhere near the same extent that Russia and China have managed to hack the US and Europe…”
Germany Should Intervene in Light of American Absence
On February 12, Deutsche Welle published the following comments by Gil Murciano, “a Middle East and Africa expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) think tank in Berlin”:
“In the past, the Americans were an important part in the Israelis’ policy regarding Syria and Lebanon. But today, when it comes to the Syria issue, we see a complete absence of the US. You see the Americans leaving the arena to the Russians… The Syrian issue currently is not on the radar of US policy…
“I think the EU and, specifically in this case, Germany have a unique potential. It is both a strategic ally of Israel, and at the same time it enjoys some level of access or reliability from Iran. Germany is the only actor in the Western world that has some practical experience in mediating informal agreements between Israel, Iran and Hezbollah — the relevant factors in this conflict. Here I refer to the POW swap where Germany was the main negotiator and facilitator in the past. So it has the know-how, the capacities, and a huge interest to stop this cycle of escalation. The shockwave of a third war in this region would have an impact over the Mediterranean. In Lebanon alone we have 1.5 million refugees who, in case of a war, might be knocking on Europe’s doors.”
Europe and specifically Germany will play a major role in the Middle East.
To Serve Israel’s Interests, Israel Must Ignore America
The Jewish Press wrote on February 13:
“Israel should apply Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria, regardless of the United States position on the matter, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev Elkin said Tuesday. Elkin’s comments followed a statement by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday that he had been talking with the United States for some time about the sovereignty law that would extend Israeli civil jurisdiction to settlements in Judea and Samaria, and the subsequent denial of such talks by the White House.
“Elkin told the 15th annual Jerusalem Conference that the issue of whether or not talks on annexation have taken place between Netanyahu and the Trump administration is not important, and that the focus should be whether or not applying sovereignty to Judea and Samaria is an Israeli interest…
“Elkin gave Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981 as an example that ultimately, Israel should do what it thinks serves its interests best, regardless of the American position. ‘The annexation of the Golan Heights was against the position of President [Ronald] Reagan, who was a very pro-Israel president, and he even imposed sanctions on Israel as a result,’ Elkin said. ‘Today, nobody remembers President Reagan’s sanctions, but we are left with full Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.’
“When asked if Israel should ignore the Trump administration’s position, Elkin said: ‘If what is right for the State of Israel is against the American stance, then we must do what is right for Israel and against the American stance.’”
And so, the relationship between the USA and Israel is prophesied to deteriorate.
USA Worried over European Defense Agreement
Defense News reported on February 14:
“The U.S. is keeping a close eye on a newly formed European Union joint defense agreement [called, the Permanent Structured Cooperation on Security and Defence (PESCO)] to ensure that European members are not distracted from their NATO commitments… ‘We don’t want to see E.U. efforts pulling requirements or forces away from NATO and into the E.U.’, [Katie Wheelbarger, principal deputy assistant secretary for international security affairs, said.]
“… The countries involved ― Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden ― overlap with the NATO nations, with some key differences.
“Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland and Sweden are non-NATO countries, while PESCO excludes Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., three members of NATO not based on the continent that often drive the alliance conversation; instead, PESCO is being driven by France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
“Roberta Pinotti, Italy’s defense minister, wrote… that PESCO ‘might represent the best and, right now, the only possible response to the challenges to international security and Europe’s defense… We need new joint investment in which the EU has a key financial but also political role — new programs must reflect European needs and must be seen by all as intrinsically European…’
“The list of potential PESCO projects [is] still being created, but the creation of a new defense funding mechanism ― under which NATO countries could pool resources for, as Pinotti put it, “intrinsically European” needs and not necessarily spend that funding how NATO would like them to ― has the U.S. keeping a close eye on proceedings… the U.S. is worried about creating two sets of rules that could complicate the issue.”
Without specifically saying or admitting it, PESCO has of course been created to counteract the USA which it correctly felt to have become totally unreliable under President Trump. Also note the next article.
Need for the EU Army
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 15:
“Early plans for a European army failed in the wake of World War II. EU states have since taken numerous small steps to integrate their armed forces, bringing the idea of a Europe-wide military ever-closer to reality… After the end of the European Defense Community (EDC) in 1954, plans for a European army were put on the back burner for decades, until recent events revived the idea…
“The first major step was late last year, when 25 EU member states agreed to the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) on the integration of national militaries into an EU force…
“Founded in 1989, the Franco-German Brigade is the only bi-national military organization in the world…
“In 1995… Germany and the Netherlands established the German/Netherlands Corps… German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen called it a ‘prime example of how to build a European defense union’…
“EU countries are increasingly recognizing the need to accelerate closer military cooperation within the bloc. This not only applies to smaller nations like the Netherlands, but also to EU heavyweights like France and Germany…
“During France’s Mali intervention in 2013, military leaders in Paris were shocked to discover that the country lacked the resources to run such extensive combat operations on its own for long periods of time. French military partners had to help with transport and reconnaissance missions shortly after the operation was launched…
“Last year it was reported that Germany’s navy had no submarines at the ready… The country’s military, the third-largest in the EU, is not expected to have an operational submarine at its disposal again until mid-2018 at the earliest…”
Polish Government Orders Poles to Denounce “Anti-Polish” Compatriots
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 15:
“Senate leader Stanislaw Karczewski has ordered Poles living abroad to inform authorities of [‘harmful’] ‘anti-Polish comments’ made by other Poles. A report [by German public broadcaster NDR] claims an official letter has been sent to embassies and consulates…worldwide asking Poles to ‘document all anti-Polish comments and opinions that could hurt us.’
“The letter orders Poles to ‘inform embassies, consulates of any defamation that could harm the good reputation of Poland.’ NDR says the letter has already been distributed by the general consulate in Munich and that Hamburg’s consulate would follow suit…
“The move comes after Poland passed a controversial Holocaust law that makes it an offense to state that Poles or Poland had any part in Nazi-era atrocities… The law was immediately condemned by the US and Israel. German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel avoided wading into the diplomatic spat, stressing that Germany alone was responsible for the Holocaust…
“According to senate leader Karczewski, who penned the letter, Poles have been exposed to the painful, unjust and, most of all, factually wrong expression‘Polish death camps’ as well as ‘claims that Poles were involved in the Holocaust,’ stressing that both were an ‘insult to our national dignity and pride.’”
There can be NO question that Poles were involved in the Holocaust. It is absolutely ludicrous to suggest otherwise. The order of the Polish government to denounce Poles who dare to tell the truth is shameful and reminds us of Gestapo activities under Hitler, East-Germany’s Stasi and other dictatorial countries.
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.
Why Did Ancient Israel Ask for a King?
The Bible gives us several reasons for ancient Israel’s request, and it shows not only why this desire was sinful, but also, how the fulfillment of Israel’s desire has been causing much pain and suffering for Israel and all of mankind.
To see the context, note 1 Samuel 8:1-5:
“Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel… but his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make for us a king to judge us like all the nations.’”
Several factors come into play here. First, Samuel should not have made his sons judges over Israel. Second, rather than demanding a king, the elders of Israel should have waited for Samuel to reverse his decision and dismiss his sons as judges. After all, Samuel was aware of the fact that Eli had not restrained his wicked sons and that, as a consequence, God made Samuel a prophet (1 Samuel 3:11-14, 20).
But the elders of Israel did not wait for Samuel’s intervention, and so, Samuel perceived this action and demand for a king as a loss of confidence in his leadership. However, God made it clear that ultimately, their demand was a rejection of God’s leadership, because God had made Samuel judge over Israel (1 Samuel 7:6, 15-17).
We read in 1 Samuel 8:6-7:
“But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ So Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.’”
God knew, of course, that ultimately, Israel would demand a king. They had already asked Gideon to rule over them as king, but Gideon had refused to do so. Judges 8:22-23 states: “Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.’ But Gideon said to them, ‘I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you.’”
But the time would come when Israel would be so persistent in their demand for a king that God would let them have their will. God does not prevent us from sinning, and He does not force us to live righteously. When people want to sin or lose faith in God, He does not take away their free will, but they will have to live with the consequences. Furthermore, God will use man (and even the wrong decisions of man) to bring about His purpose. For instance, He never wanted Israel to fight in war, but when they decided to become a warrior nation, He used them and their warring actions to fulfill His unconditional promise to Abraham to bring them into the land of Canaan. And so, God had already given statutes and injunctions for the king’s behavior once Israel’s demand would be fulfilled (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).
Nevertheless, God made it very clear that the demand for a king was SINFUL. One reason has already been revealed: It constituted the rejection of God’s rule over them. This desire, to be ruled by man, rather than God, has always been a major problem in man’s conduct. Christ explained that His own people (the house of Judah, John 1:11) would kill Him because they did not want Him to rule over them (Luke 19:14).
And so, God told Samuel to warn Israel of the consequences in asking for and receiving their king (1 Samuel 8:8-9):
“‘According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.’”
The picture which Samuel was inspired to paint for the people was not a pleasant one. It described the very evil of the institution of human kingship or human government in general, when it is in defiance of God’s rule. Christ later declared to His disciples: “‘You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant’” (Mark 10:42-43).
Samuel explained that the king and the human system over which he (or any human leader) would rule would take the sons and daughters of the people, as well as the best of their fields, to use them for his (or the government’s) own purposes and personal gain; that he (or the government) would make many weapons and build a great army to fight against other nations; and that he (or the government) would institute a tax system, in addition to the godly enjoined duty to pay tithe and offerings to Him. Even though Christ and Paul would make it clear, later on, that we are to pay our taxes to Caesar (Luke 20:22-25; Matthew 17:24-27; Romans 13:6-7), it remains true that the origin of the human tax system is evil, and that a country and a people are destroyed when they are taxed heavily (Proverbs 29:4, American Bible: “By justice a king gives stability to the land, but he who imposes heavy taxes ruins it.”).
God also forewarned them that the time would come when the people would complain and murmur against their king, but God would not listen to them. We read in 1 Samuel 8:18: “And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.”
Nevertheless, the people did not heed the warning, but responded: “No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:19-20).
Rather than relying on God, they wanted to rely on man. They wanted to be like everybody else, even though God had called the nation of Israel to be different and holy—to be set aside for a separate and godly purpose (Exodus 19:6). God wanted to dwell among them (Exodus 29:46) and rule over them. They were to show other nations how a people can live under God’s rule. But they chose to reject God’s rule in order to become like all the other nations. Rather than trusting in God that He would fight their battles (Exodus 14:13-14; Deuteronomy 1:30; compare also 1 Samuel 7:8-14), they reiterated their wish for a king so that HE could lead them in battle. They wanted to follow the false god of war and human war heroes, rather than the true God of Peace.
Samuel reiterated his warning in 1 Samuel 10:19: “But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, but set a king over us!’”
Samuel gives an additional reason for their immediate demand for a king in 1 Samuel 12:12:
“‘And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, “No, but a king shall reign over us” when the LORD your God was your king.’” It was the fear of an approaching enemy which prompted them to ask for a king at that time, thinking that a powerful and visible human warrior could save them, while in their mind, the invisible great God could not accomplish this. The demand for a king was an example of complete and total lack of faith in God. Samuel made this very clear when he continued that God would work a visible sign to show them their sinfulness: “‘…I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves’” (1 Samuel 12:17).
When God performed this miracle, “…all the people said to Samuel, ‘Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves’” (1 Samuel 12:19). But their “remorse” was too late, because in the meantime, Samuel had already received and followed God’s command to anoint Saul as the king of Israel (As it turned out, Saul, who was at the beginning a humble man and little in his own sight, became proud and wicked, so that God forsook him and asked Samuel to anoint David as king instead.)
Responding to the people’s “regret,” Samuel stated: “…‘You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart… serve Him in truth with all your heart… But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king’” (1 Samuel 12:20, 24-25).
The rest is history—and prophecy. The nations of Israel and Judah did live wickedly so that God expelled them from their land. First, the house of Israel was enslaved by the Assyrians, and later, the house of Judah was enslaved by the Babylonians. The nation of Judah was subsequently re-established in the Promised Land, but the house of Israel never returned. Modern descendants of the house of Judah can be found today in the state of Israel and elsewhere, while modern descendants of the house of Israel can be found in the United Kingdom, the United States, and in other English-speaking nations.
The Bible shows us that due to their wickedness and rebellion against God, both modern houses will again be led into captivity. No king or ruler will save them from this pre-determined fate which has been proclaimed because of their continuing sins. They still believe that human beings should lead them and will save them and bring them deliverance and peace; that God is not to be considered; and that His Word is not to be kept.
They still follow their god of war and live with the delusion that their elected rulers need to lead them in their wars with terrible, destructive weapons and huge armies. Even though God had told them that He was to choose their king whom they desired (1 Samuel 10:24), they later even rejected that command, as Hosea 8:4 tells us: “They set up kings, but not by Me; They made princes, and I did not acknowledge it.” But of course nothing can be accomplished against God’s Will, even though man may think otherwise. But overall, this is not God’s world, and Satan rules it and brings people to power whom he wants. God only intervenes in this day and age in the political affairs of this world, when He needs to in order to bring about His desired purpose.
Ancient and modern Israel and Judah did not learn what God is telling all of us in Psalm 146:3: “Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.”
The ancient and modern houses of Israel and Judah were meant to show the world how to live righteously, by trusting in God and not in their human leaders or their weapons and armies (Psalm 44:6-8). Instead, they have been following the ways of the world like all the other nations.
But God is telling them today what is going to happen to them very soon:
“‘I have destroyed you, Israel, who is there to help you? Where now is your king that he may save you, in all your cities where are your rulers? “Give me a king and princes,” you said. I gave you a king in my anger, and in my wrath I took him away’” (Hosea 13:9-11, Revised English Bible).
When Christ returns, human rulers and human kings will end (Daniel 2:44). Wars will cease (Psalm 46:9). Trust in God will be taught and practiced. Taxes will be abandoned, and only God’s tithing system will continue to exist. One bad choice of Israel’s demand for a king had terrible consequences for them and the entire world. But thankfully, God will reverse this bad and evil decision, when His righteous God Family will govern this planet. Then we will experience a world of peace when all nations, including Israel and Judah, will learn to rely on God, rather than on man, and abandon the way of war (Isaiah 2:1-4).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Compiled by Dave Harris
We have updated both our English and German web pages concerning observing this year’s Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day. For those attending the U.S. site, look for an email with specific instructions regarding making reservations, which will be sent within the next two weeks.
A new Member Letter (February 2018) has been written and mailed to our subscribers. In this letter, Pastor Rene Messier points to the “mission statement” given to the Church of God and emphasizes our need to finish the job God has given to us.
“Germany’s Dirty Politics,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
The events in Germany serve as a striking example as to how dirty and rotten politics is. But why is that? What can all of us learn from these developments? And do the events point at significant biblical prophecies—especially, when focusing on the political future of Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz?
“Deutschlands Schmutzige Politik,” is the title of a new AufPostenStehen program, presented by Norbert Link and covering the same topic as described above.
“Erfolgreiche und Vergebliche Arbeit,” is the title of this coming Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “Successful and Futile Labor.”
“Glorifying God,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted. Here is a summary:
God expressly states in His Holy Word that we should be glorifying Him. What happens when we dont glorify Him? What examples do we see in the Bible? How can we ensure that we are working to glorify God in our thoughts and actions on a daily basis?
“Believing Multitudes Persecute Jesus,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Multitudes followed Jesus when He lived here on earth as a human being. The Bible says that Christ was surrounded by an innumerable multitude of supporters. But many who believed in Him and accepted His teachings ceased to walk with Him; they became aggressive; claimed that He was possessed; and were willing to stone Him because of blasphemy. Only very few remained faithful. How could such a turn of events develop? And is it possible that something like this could happen again in our time?
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, Robb Harris, Michael Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
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