March 9, 2018
Pretense and Substance; You Who Are Spiritual
On March 10, 2018, Eric Rank will present the sermonette, titled, “Pretense and Substance,” and Dave Harris will present the sermon, titled, “You Who Are Spiritual.”
The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
The Great Lights
by Kalon Mitchell
This coming weekend for most of the United States we are going to experience that wonderful time when the time will shift forward an hour, and we will lose an hour of sleep. But in return we will gain more daylight hours. For most of us this time is welcomed as the days grow longer, and we seemingly have more time for accomplishment.
Now the truth is that there are still only 24 hours in a day. In John 11:9-10 Christ says that if we walk during the day we will not stumble. Of course Christ here is speaking in spiritual terms. But the application is meaningful. We are facing each day more and more spiritual darkness in this world. It can get overwhelming and disheartening to see things going from one bad event to another. So how do we stay positive and focused?
Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, keenly warns the brethren of that time (as well as ours) that they should know that they are not of the darkness, but rather, they should, with steadfastness seek to stir up the light in themselves and to push out the darkness.
We are coming up rather quickly now to the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. How ready will we be for this time? What will you do individually to make SURE that you are ready to take the Passover in a meaningful way? Notice in verse 9 of the previously quoted scripture, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Do we truly appreciate and take into account the great plan that God has in store for each of us? We have to realize and know that God can and wants to help us overcome ALL problems that we encounter in our lives.
It really comes down to the choice of what do we want. We can choose to serve ourselves and our own wants and desires, but we will suffer the consequences and end up as those who will be thrown out into “outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12; 25:30). Or we can choose to remove those things which separate us from God and draw closer to Him. Ephesians 5:8 reminds us that while we ONCE were in the darkness, we are now to walk as “children of Light.” Truly the times of spiritual darkness are continuing to rise around us. Let us stand up for the truth and righteousness no matter what lies ahead for us. If we put this into our minds and hold on, then God will see to it that we make it—as He has promised:
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
We begin highlighting the international turmoil caused by President Donald Trump’s announced intention to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum; report on crucial decisions for a German government and the less than conclusive elections in Italy.
We note the emerging role of PESCO as Europe builds its military; report on the Trump administration’s lawsuit against California; cite the comparison of President Trump to Cyrus; present yet another report involving gay priests in the Catholic Church—and conclude with Stephen Hawking’s confusing explanation about “nothing.”
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
Trump Imposes Tariffs
Reuters wrote on March 7:
“U.S. President Donald Trump pressed ahead on Thursday with import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent for aluminum but exempted Canada and Mexico and offered the possibility of excluding other allies, backtracking from an earlier ‘no-exceptions’ stance.
“Describing the dumping of steel and aluminum in the U.S. market as ‘an assault on our country,’ Trump said in a White House announcement that the best outcome would for companies to move their mills and smelters to the United States. He insisted that domestic metals production was vital to national security.”
“A Declaration of War”
thestar reported on March 2:
“In Europe, there appears to be a growing assumption that diplomacy alone is not working in dealing with the current U.S. administration.
“European officials have not minced words in recent months regarding a U.S. president they often consider to be an obstacle rather than an ally. But President Donald Trump’s announced intention to impose punishing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum triggered an especially sharp backlash Friday from a number of countries.
“Officials in Germany, which exports more steel to the United States than any other European country, were among the most vocal critics Friday. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, whose criticisms of Trump have almost become routine, called the U.S. decision ‘unfathomable.’
“’We must do everything we can to avoid an international trade conflict,’ Gabriel told German daily Die Welt.
“Bernd Lange, a German Social Democrat and head of the European Parliament’s trade committee, offered a more brutal assessment. ‘With this, the declaration of war has arrived,’ Lange told German public radio Friday morning.”
From The New York Times on March 7:
“European Union officials unveiled an array of tariffs on Wednesday that they would place on American-made goods if the United States followed through on President Trump’s plan to impose penalties on imported steel and aluminum, raising the specter of a trade war…
“Such a move by the United States would ‘put thousands of European jobs in jeopardy, and it has to be met by a firm and proportionate response,’ Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Union commissioner for trade, said at a news conference in Brussels. European officials have been meeting with their counterparts in Washington, urging them to revisit the plans, she added.
“If the American tariffs are put in place, Ms. Malmstrom said, Brussels would take three steps: It would take the case to the World Trade Organization, add safeguards to protect the European Union against steel diverted from the United States, and impose tariffs on a series of American-made goods.”
President Trump: “Trade Wars are Good…”
thestar wrote on March 2:
“Trump declared on Thursday that the U.S. will impose punishing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, escalating tensions with trading partners and raising the prospect of higher prices for American consumers and companies.
“U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday insisted ‘trade wars are good, and easy to win,’ a bold claim that will likely find many skeptics, including those on Wall Street and even some Republicans.
“Trump has declared that the U.S. will impose punishing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, escalating tensions with China and other trading partners and raising the prospect of higher prices for American consumers and companies. After the announcement Thursday, stocks closed sharply lower on Wall Street. China has expressed ‘grave concern.’
“Early Friday, Trump took to Twitter to defend himself: ‘When a country (U.S.A.) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!’
He later tweeted: ‘Our steel industry is in bad shape. IF YOU DON’T HAVE STEEL, YOU DON’T HAVE A COUNTRY!’
“Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican responded that trade wars are never won.
“’Kooky 18th century protectionism will jack up prices on American families — and will prompt retaliation from other countries,’ he wrote in a statement. ‘Make no mistake: If the President goes through with this, it will kill American jobs — that’s what every trade war ultimately does. So much losing.’”
Angela Merkel Prevails—But Weakened
The New York Times reported on March 4:
“Germany’s Social Democrats voted in favor of forming another government with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, ending nearly six months of political limbo and setting Europe’s economic powerhouse on a path to the political stability it craves — at least for now.
“The results announced on Sunday clear the way for Ms. Merkel, who was long considered a de facto leader of Europe, to remain in the chancellery in Berlin for four more years. It will also allow her to work with President Emmanuel Macron of France on overhauling the European Union in what many consider a crucial year…
“But Ms. Merkel will lead a diminished coalition, and many predicted that the country, shaken by the prolonged uncertainty that followed inconclusive elections in September, would not be the same again. Both main parties received their worst postwar results in those elections.
“By now, the ‘grand coalition,’ as the tie-up is known, looks anything but grand: In polls, it no longer commands a majority. And the far-right Alternative for Germany party, AfD, now the official main opposition in Parliament, has been gaining momentum.”
Italian Elections—A Push to the Right?
The Associated Press published on March 5:
“Since the European Union’s founding treaty was signed in Rome more than 60 years ago, Italy has been an unabashed booster of increased unity and common purpose. That may have come to an end.
“Euroskeptics and populists rode a wave of hostility toward all things EU and surged to the fore in Italian elections on Sunday, turning the founding EU nation into a potential obstructionist just when the bloc was emerging from a decade of economic gloom and seemed poised to rekindle its grand ambitions.
“Beyond moving away from the EU policies in Brussels, the Italian results were the latest indication that the continent is tilting further to the right.
“Sunday’s stunning outcome came at the end of a seesaw day for the EU that started out well enough when the German Socialists finally threw their weight behind a staunchly pro-Europe grand coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Now, it seemed, the Merkel-Emmanuel Macron partnership was on and the German-French engine was primed to push a core group of EU nations toward more unity.
“Then, Italy’s results started to come in and the message from Italian voters was clear: ‘Don’t necessarily count on us.’ Instead of a smooth ride under fair weather economic conditions, the bloc should brace for more of the chaos and havoc that anti-EU populists have spread in many member nations over the past few years.
cbcnews added on March 5:
“European leaders reacted with caution to the results.
“French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday the election result was a reminder of the challenges tied to migration.
“‘Italy has, it’s undeniable, suffered for months and months under the pressure of migration,’ Macron said in Paris.
“A top aide for German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that despite Italy’s election showing no faction winning a clear majority, she hopes ‘Italy will manage to build a stable government and especially a government in the spirit of Europe.’
“The general-secretary of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said Monday in Berlin, ‘the view across the Alps to Italy today is not an easy one, because it’s not foreseeable after this difficult result … how long it will take to get a government, whether there will be one at all, and who will lead such a government.’
“A German trade lobby group urged Italy’s next government to be ‘constructive’ about the European Union’s future course to ensure the two countries’ economies continue to thrive.
“The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry says it is ‘of great importance for the German economy whether Italy can form a stable government and continue following the path of reform it has set out on.’
“In Brussels, a European Commission spokesperson said it was confident a stable administration could be formed, ‘and in the meantime Italy has a government with whom we are working closely.’”
Regardless of the surfacing of movements to block the unification of Europe, that process is now taking place on several fronts—especially in the area of European militarization. PESCO, The Permanent Structured Co-operation, is the recently approved (December 2017) European defense pact. Twenty-five of the EU’s current 28 members have signed up — Britain, Malta and Denmark are not involved. Note the article below…
German Industry Responds to PESCO
DefenseNews wrote on March 6:
“The leading German defense industry group is urging its members to position themselves for new business through the European Union’s Permanent Structured Cooperation mechanism ― that is, if PESCO proves to be worthwhile in the first place.
“In a new whitepaper, the Federation of German Security and Defence Industries warns that domestic firms could miss out on a expected uptick in common spending, as Germany’s role in an initial batch of 17 PESCO projects is fairly vague. The projects were approved in December.
“Berlin is on tap to lead the formation of a European Medical Command, act as a major player in military logistics, guide training-related initiatives and build a European Union Force Crisis Response Operation Core.
“In contrast, France and Italy claimed topics with a heavy industry focus. France will advance a European secure software-defined radio, while Italy heads a section devoted to armored combat vehicles.”
Trump Administration Sues California
The New York Times reported on March 6:
“The Trump administration escalated what had been a war of words over California’s immigration agenda, filing a lawsuit late Tuesday that amounted to a pre-emptive strike against the liberal state’s so-called sanctuary laws.
“The Justice Department sued California; Gov. Jerry Brown; and the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, over three state laws passed in recent months, saying they made it impossible for federal immigration officials to do their jobs and deport criminals who were born outside the United States. The Justice Department called the laws unconstitutional and asked a judge to block them.
“The lawsuit was the department’s boldest attack yet against California, one of the strongest opponents of the Trump administration’s efforts to curb immigration. It also served as a warning to Democratic lawmakers and elected officials nationwide who have enacted sanctuary policies that provide protections for undocumented immigrants.
“‘The Department of Justice and the Trump administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you,’ Attorney General Jeff Sessions planned to say on Wednesday at a law enforcement event in Sacramento, according to prepared remarks. ‘I believe that we are going to win.’”
Win or lose, this is a sad commentary on the state of these “United” States of America!
Netanyahu Compares Trump…
The Los Angeles Times wrote on March 5:
“Netanyahu offered an enthusiastic endorsement of Trump’s decision in December to recognize the divided city of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, which previous administrations had refused to do in hopes of furthering peace negotiations.
“Netanyahu compared Trump to Cyrus the Great, an ancient Persian king who conquered a vast empire and allowed the exiled Jews in Babylonia to return to their ancestral home to rebuild their temple.
“‘The Jewish people have a long memory,’ Netanyahu said. Trump’s decision, he said, will be ‘remembered by our people through the ages.’”
Shameful Hypocrisy of Gay Priests
Newsweek wrote on March 5:
“A 1,200-page dossier containing the names of 34 ‘actively gay’ priests and six seminarians in Italy has been sent to the Vatican by the archdiocese of Naples.
“The allegations were compiled by Francesco Mangiacapra, a gay male escort who told local media he couldn’t put up with the priests’ ‘hypocrisy’ any longer…
“Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, an Italian Cardinal and the current Archbishop of Naples, said in a statement that none of the priests who were named in the dossier were stationed in Naples. He claims he forwarded the document to the Vatican because ‘there remains the gravity of the cases for which those who have erred must pay the price, and be helped to repent for the harm done.’
“The large file contains explicit WhatsApp messages, erotic photos and other evidence, but none of the 40 priests and seminarians were accused of paedophilia or having sexual relations with minors. ‘We’re talking about sins, not crimes,’ Mangiacapra said.
“The dossier is the latest in a string of sex scandals that have rocked the Italian church and Vatican.”
There is simply no justification for this behavior.
Stephen Hawking’s “Belief”
Newsmax reported on March 6:
“Stephen Hawking said Sunday he believes that ‘nothing was around’ before the so-called Big Bang that led to the beginning of the universe, USA Today reported…
“‘(I use a) Euclidean approach to quantum gravity to describe the beginning of the universe,’ Hawking said on the program about the Big Bang, which he believes happened nearly 14 billion years ago, per USA Today.
“‘The Euclidean space-time is a closed surface without end, like the surface of the Earth,’ Hawking continued. ‘One can regard imaginary and real time as beginning at the South Pole, which is a smooth point of space-time where the normal laws of physics hold. There is nothing south of the South Pole so there was nothing around before the Big Bang.’
“Hawking had previously said that events that happened before the Big Bang ‘have no consequences that can be observed,’ so there is no way to measure what happened, according to Tech Times.
“‘The universe will evolve from the Big Bang, completely independently of what it was like before,’ Hawking said on his website. ‘Even the amount of matter in the universe can be different to what it was before the Big Bang, as the Law of Conservation of Matter, will break down at the Big Bang.’”
However, the Bible shows that Someone was around before the so-called Big Bang occurred—and here is what He says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). That is the truth, and we can believe it!
These Current Events are compiled and commented on. 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.
How Long Did it Take Noah and His Sons to Build the Ark?
Let us look at the passage of Scripture that gives us a view of the problem that had caused such anguish for God. Genesis 6:3 is very revealing:
“And the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’”
There have been two different explanations over the years about the period of 120 years, and it is worth reviewing these first.
Some believe that this period of 120 years was the maximum time that men would live in the future. Up until this time, many had lived way beyond 120 years – note that Adam lived until he was 930, Seth 912, Enosh 905, Cainan 910, Mahalalel 895, Jared 962, Enoch 365, Methuselah 969, Lamech 777 and Noah 500 (see Genesis, chapter 5). However, after the Flood we read that Noah lived a further 350 years; Shem lived until he was 600, Arphaxad 438, Salah 433, Eber 464, Peleg 239, Reu 239, Serug 230, Nahor 148, Terah 205 (all of these are shown in Genesis 11), Abraham 175, Isaac 180.
Secondly, many others believe that the 120 years was the time that God gave mankind before the Flood was to destroy everyone on the earth except the eight people who went into the ark. If we look at the reason why this was to happen, it would appear from the context that it is not the longevity of mankind but is, more likely, to be applicable to the time humanity had before the Flood would occur. Many Bible scholars feel that God was giving mankind 120 years in which to repent of their wrong way of life, after which would come judgment for their wickedness.
As mentioned, Genesis 6:3 refers to the 120 years. There is no Scriptural reference that God instructed Noah, at this same time, to immediately build the ark. God made this decision at a time that was separate to the subsequent instruction to build the ark. We read the instruction in Genesis 6:14-18:
“Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.”
Noah was told to build an ark – and for him, his sons, his wife and his sons’ wives with him to go into the ark – his sons must have been born and married at the time this instruction was made and the promise given.
Genesis, chapter 5, gives the genealogy from Adam to Noah, and in verse 32 we read that Noah was five hundred years old and begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It is interesting to read of the events of Genesis 6:1-7 which took place and which caused God such anguish, and in verse 9 Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” as he would not have been involved in all of the ungodly activity that made God pronounce His displeasure and condemnation in verse 3.
We read in Genesis 11:10: “This is the genealogy of Shem: Shem was 100 years old, and begot Arphaxad two years after the flood.” This leads to the conclusion that Shem was 98 years old when the flood ended, and 97 when the flood began. In Genesis 7:11 we are told that the flood began in the 600th year of Noah’s life, meaning that he must have fathered Shem when he was 503. We understand from Genesis 6:18 that God did not instruct Noah to build the ark until after his sons were born, and after they had wives of their own. Let us make an assumption (which we have to do as Scripture does not give exact dates) that Noah fathered his three sons in three consecutive years which would mean that his last son would be born when he was 505 years old.
We have to make further assumptions as to the age when his sons married. Let us say that Noah’s three sons were around 20 years old when they married; this would mean that Noah would be around 525 when God instructed him to build the ark. Noah was 600 years old when the flood came and this would mean that the building of the ark could not have taken more than 75 years – not the 120 years that some have assumed. In fact, this figure could be less if the assumptions made about the birth of the three sons was not as quick as calculated and the age that they married was greater than the assumed age of 20. In fact, it is legitimate to make these assumptions because the biblical record is silent on these matters. However, it is unmistakable that the time needed to build the ark was nowhere near the 120 years that some have assumed.
When reviewing the 120 years of Genesis 6:3, we find that this goes back to the time when Noah was 480 years old, not 500, simply because the Bible reveals that Noah was 500 when he began having sons (Genesis 5:32) but this does not mean that God could not have begun communicating earlier about what He had in mind at a later time.
In brief summary:
God must have first spoken to Noah at age 480
- Noah sired sons from the age of 500
- His three sons were married
- God gave the commission to Noah to build the ark for “you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.”
- Noah was 600 when he entered the ark
- The 120 years of God’s patience with mankind at that time ended when Noah entered the ark at age 600
- The maximum time that it took to build the ark would be around 75 years – or less.
This is an interesting subject, but whatever the exact time it took to build the ark, it is only of academic interest and is a non-salvational matter. However, the story of Noah’s Ark is a warning that we can take from the historical record showing how God hates sin and the sinful ways of man. It may not be too long now before God sends Christ back to this earth to destroy man’s sinful ways and societies once again but, this time, He will usher in the wonderful Kingdom of God.
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
The latest German booklet on Prayer (Lehre Uns zu Beten) has been posted to the German website, but hard copy booklets aren’t yet available.
“Gottes Gesetz–Segen oder Fluch? (Teil 1),” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: The Law of God–Blessing or Curse? (Parts 1).
“Our Human Nature,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Michael Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
How do we succeed in the struggle with our human nature? What lessons can we learn from the beginning of the Bible with Adam and Eve and what we experience in society and the way we live today? Does it have an effect on our future?
“God’s Law—Blessing or Curse?” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
The New Testament rejects the ridiculous idea that Christ came to abolish or destroy the Law of God. We must know, of course, which Law the Bible is talking about. The Book of Isaiah shows what happens when we break the Law… and when we keep it.
Passover will be observed on Thursday evening, after sunset, on March 29, 2018. The Days of Unleavened Bread will be observed beginning March 30th through April 6th.
The 2018 Ministerial Conference will take place in Fort Collins, Colorado. Participants will arrive on April 18th and depart on April 24th.
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
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