December 6, 2019
Comments on News and Prophecy (December 7, 2019); Words, Part 2
On, December 7, 2019, Norbert Link will present “Comments on News and Prophecy (December 7, 2019),” and Brian Gale will present the sermon, titled, “Words, Part 2.”
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 Value of Life
by Eric Rank
After reading articles in recent Updates about the atrocities and scandals surrounding abortion, I become increasingly aghast at the dismissive treatment of human life. This is of course nothing new, but it seems that the rhetoric is becoming more brazen and unapologetic. In the misappropriated name of mercy and freedom of choice, unborn infants are consciously and systematically murdered. Even when circumstances in the life of the mother are difficult, the fact remains that only one party has a voice in the choice to kill. The life of the murdered is valued only for the salvaged body to be bought and sold on the market for scientific and medical purposes. To God, the society that allows this to happen is shamefully condemned. And that is putting it lightly.
Infanticide is clearly an evil deed in the eyes of God (compare 2 Kings 8:12, Amos 1:13, Matthew 2:13-18). To draw any other conclusion that justifies abortion is plainly insulting to Him. God gives us some very clear commandments to love one another. To make a conscious choice to kill an innocent, helpless child is an impudent rejection of God that demonstrates the very opposite of love. The choice to kill shows a sharp contrast between the value that God has for our human lives and the attitude of man that counts life so cheap.
The ever-increasing spending on the military also shows an irony in the hearts of man and their governments. In the name of protecting peace and safety, the accumulation of war machines capable of wiping out entire populations proliferates. How the act of killing in war can fulfill a mission of peace boggles the mind. Yet, this is the claim that militaries and governments make. The hostility that makes a system of defense seem necessary begins in the misguided, selfish hearts of men.
“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3). The value of life from the perspective of mankind is not the same as God’s. To the carnal man, the “other” side is a threat, which affects an escalation of increasingly violent responses, killing people who are valuable to God.
What is the value of life? To mankind, one would think that the value of our own lives would be paramount. But from the ways in which man behaves, the evidence shows the opposite to be true. Sadly, life is cheap to man. The killing that we hear about in the news, the laws of the land, and the investments of man prove it. To God, this attitude to life contrasts His undying love for us. In a perfect expression of love, God the Father offered His Son as the ultimate Sacrifice to cover man’s sin which was necessary so that all could live eternally (compare John 3:16). Then, in further proof of God’s love for life, He resurrected Jesus Christ to live in glory forever. To God, the value of life is infinitely greater than the evaluation made by man. God values our lives so greatly that His entire plan involves bringing as many to eternal life as possible so we can all live together in love and everlasting peace. The value of life will finally meet an equilibrium where death itself is destroyed.
We should be encouraged by the value that God places on our lives individually as well. He is intimately involved in the details of our lives. He knows our struggles. He knows our hearts. He knows our needs. Beyond merely knowing us, He loves us and values us individually. “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31). Even if our lives are cheap to man, we are valuable in the eyes of God.
Seeing that God values our life infinitely more than the world does, how should we conform our minds, hearts, and behavior? Quite simply, we follow God’s lead and demonstrate love through obedience. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2-3). When we obey God, His love for us grows and our life fulfills the value He holds for us. In addition, we express the same value of life towards our fellow man through obedience to God’s commandment to love one another. If we want to understand the value of life, we need to do nothing more than look to God and learn from Him.
by Norbert Link
It has been said that if you have four attorneys or law professors in the room, you might get at least eight legal opinions. This claim did not hold true in the House Judiciary Committee hearing this week where four legal scholars were questioned to determine whether President Trump had committed an impeachable offense. While three law professors who had been invited by the Democrats were unanimous in their conclusions that Trump had committed impeachable offenses (Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan and University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt), the fourth law professor, Jonathan Turley from the George Washington University, who had been approved by the Republicans, totally disagreed with that assessment and warned Congress instead not to abuse its power in the proceedings.
This was remarkable in that he was not even a Trump supporter, stating from the outset that he had voted against him. But any fair-minded politically unbiased person would have concluded that he was the one with the most reasonable conclusions, while the three professors on the other side were unconvincing in their biased and politically motivated legal analysis which at times bordered on the ridiculous. We will not comment any further in this issue on the impeachment circus, given the fact that President Trump will not lose his office prematurely due to impeachment, and that he WILL be re-elected in 2020.
In more important, relevant and meaningful substantive news, we report on the 70th anniversary of NATO and the obvious disagreements between NATO members; [note our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Why NATO Is Breaking Apart”] the political trouble Germany’s great coalition finds itself in; the dubious role of Germany’s far-right AfD party; and the known activities of terrorists in Germany.
We continue with the London Bridge murder and anti-Semitism in Britain; and we speak on Israel’s strong disagreement with six European nations, as well as turmoil in Iraq and Iran.
We address the Chinese-Russian pipeline; the troubling question as to how to store nuclear waste; America’s trillion dollar deficits; and California’s overlooked and ignored volcanoes.
We conclude with articles on Pope Francis’ attempts to create a world religion; and plans to vaccinate people with microchips in pursuit of a New World Order.
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
Tense NATO Summit Celebrating Its 70th Anniversary
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 3:
“US President Donald Trump kicked off a tense two-day NATO summit on Tuesday by criticizing French President Emmanuel Macron’s comment about the ‘brain death’ of the military alliance.
“Speaking to the press on the summit’s sidelines, Trump [called] Macron’s comments ‘nasty,’ ‘insulting,’ and ‘very dangerous’ adding that: ‘Nobody needs NATO more than France.’… [Trump] said that he could ‘see France breaking off’ from NATO… [He reiterated] his call for European partners to increase defense spending – calling out Germany in particular for falling short…
“The French president told reporters he stands by his ‘brain death’ comments, even if they ‘shook up a lot of people’… Macron pointed out that [the 29] NATO members have different definitions of what constitutes terrorism. He called on Turkish leaders to clarify their position at this summit, saying ‘they now are fighting against those who fought with us. And sometimes they work with ISIS proxies.’”
President Trump, who had been highly critical of NATO in the past, also said in a press conference with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (whom he later described as “two-faced”) that it was not fair that Germany had not been paying its fair share in all the previous years, saying that they owe much money to the US. Also, that if they don’t deliver, tariffs will be imposed on German cars. Trump said the US has the better cards. He also said that Germany should pay much more than what they have presently agreed to. When asked whether the USA would defend a NATO ally when attacked, he said: “That is a good question,” continuing with complaints about the failure of some NATO allies to pay their fair share.
Later, Deutsche Welle reported this on December 4:
“On Wednesday, NATO leaders agreed on the importance of mutual defense… ‘We reaffirm the enduring transatlantic bond between Europe and North America … and our solemn commitment as enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty that an attack against one ally shall be considered an attack against us all,’ they said in a joint statement… Trump suddenly canceled a press conference scheduled for the end of the day’s proceedings after footage leaked that appeared to show other world leaders mocking him behind his back.”
While one has to wonder as to how political the “reaffirmation” of NATO leaders really is, the subsequent abrupt departure of Trump shows the deep rift within NATO. Also note the next two articles which reveal American and German feelings about NATO and their respective countries.
Americans Skeptical of NATO
Politico wrote on December 3:
“To the extent that U.S. citizens think about NATO at all, they disagree about whether honoring its commitments would be worth the sacrifice. This wavering commitment likely signals a belief that American protection is no longer necessary for European security or that the United States has different priorities from when NATO was created 70 years ago…
“NATO is in the midst of an existential crisis…”
“Germany Would NOT Use Military to Defend… [the] US from Attack”
Express wrote on December 2:
“YouGov quizzed voters in the UK, France, Germany, the USA, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway about their attitudes towards the [NATO] alliance… Germans object to the possibility of defending the United States from attack by 43 percent to 32 percent, in stark contrast to the 54 percent of Americans think they should defend Germany should it find itself besieged… [In France, the support for defending the USA was even much less.]
“Both countries [Germany and France] also baulked at the idea of defending Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO, France by 35 percent to 28 percent, and Germany by 47 percent to 22 percent…
“On the wider issue for support for NATO generally… [in] France, just nine percent of those asked strongly support the alliance, a drop of 12 points compared with two years ago. In the case of Germany, strong support has plummeted, down from 41 percent in 2017 to 22 percent now. Even in the UK, strong support has fallen dramatically, from 42 percent to 25 percent.”
Germany’s New Military Budget
Deutsche Welle wrote on November 29:
“The German parliament has passed a record budget for 2020… [It] will include Germany’s ever-largest military budget amounting to some €45.05 billion (compared to €43.23 billion this year), with extra money specifically earmarked for the Bundeswehr’s overseas missions and NATO commitments.
“… Wednesday’s ‘general debate’ in the Bundestag [showed] the rift in Merkel’s coalition with the Social Democrats, whose parliamentary group leader Ralf Mützenich said his party would not blindly support the ‘urge’ for military dominance…”
Germany, following external pressure, will become more and more powerful in its military endeavors.
Germany’s Grand Coalition in Serious Doubt
Deutsche Welle wrote on November 30:
“With the fate of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government on a knife-edge, her center-left partners have elected new leaders. The Social Democrats now face a decision on whether to remain in the government.
“Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is also finance minister, and his running mate Klara Geywitz were soundly beaten, obtaining only 45.33% of the vote from the party’s rank and file. Both back staying in the coalition until the next national elections in 2021. Instead, party members chose challengers Norbert Walter-Borjans [sometimes called the German Bernie Sanders] and Saskia Esken, who have been strongly critical of the alliance with Merkel’s conservatives..
“Many party members are in favor of leaving the government and rebuilding support for the party in the opposition. That would likely trigger new elections or pave the way for a weak and uncertain minority government…
“The SPD is desperate to try and win back voters following a series of electoral losses and plunging support in opinion polls. ‘Whoever wins this membership poll will deserve the full support of the entire party,’ Foreign Minister Heiko Maas [said], an SPD member… Current opinion polls put the party at 14%, trailing in third place behind Merkel’s conservatives and the Greens…”
It is remarkable that the SPD has still some of their controversial members in high political positions, such as Scholz and Maas, while the party is of no political consequence in national elections.
Deutsche Welle added on December 1:
“Who would have thought it? The Social Democrats (SPD) have voted for revolution. Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken, two party members who, up to this point, had been relatively unknown… belong to the party’s left… Those who, until now, have had a say in the running of the SPD have been duped… And no wonder. [They] had pledged to stay in the governing coalition until the next scheduled election in fall 2021.
“… Given that Germany will assume the EU Council presidency in 2020… neither party is keen to hold an early election. Anyone who has made it to the front row, and thus has much to lose, has no interest in political suicide. Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken are different… Both are convinced that the SPD is only in such a weak position because it’s moved too far towards the political center. They want to bring the party back to its social democratic roots, heralding a new beginning with a radical change of course…”
The Guardian wrote on December 2:
“Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the head of the Christian Democrats (CDU), said the coalition deal with the Social Democrats (SPD) would either stay intact or the SPD would have to leave the government…”
The big question is, who will replace Merkel and emerge as the leader of Germany and/or Austria and ultimately Europe, in fulfillment of biblical prophecy?
Will Germany’s Far-Right AfD REALLY Change?
Reuters and the Algemeiner wrote on December 2:
“The far-right Alternative for Germany on Saturday elected a decorator from the east backed by a radical wing within the party as one of two co-leaders. The election of Tino Chrupalla, a lawmaker from Saxony, is a tribute to former Communist eastern states where the AfD has made big gains in three elections this year. He will lead Germany’s largest opposition party with Joerg Meuthen, an economics professor from the industrial southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg who serves as a European Parliament lawmaker…
“The AfD is the biggest opposition party in the Bundestag national parliament, which it entered for the first time in 2017, propelled by voters angry at conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision in 2015 to admit almost one million mainly Muslim asylum seekers. The AfD also sits on opposition benches in all of Germany’s 16 state parliaments, where it is ostracized by all established parties, including Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD).
“Alexander Gauland, 78, a unifying figure in the AfD who has been a co-leader since 2017, did not stand for reelection. He has said he wants to pass on the baton to a new leadership that ensures the party join a governing coalition with Merkel’s CDU, at least at the state level. ‘They call us Nazis, fascists and right-wing terrorists,’ Gauland told delegates. ‘But we need to be wise and resilient. The day will come when a weakened CDU has only one option: us.’…
“‘If we want more success we need to change,’ Chrupalla said on Friday… ‘We want to move toward the center. This will work because the CDU keeps moving to the left.’… The party is more popular in former Communist eastern states, with double the support that it has in the west of the country. ‘In a few years, we may well have an AfD-CDU coalition, most likely at the state level in the east,’ said Matthias Quent, director of the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society. ‘This could split the CDU. Some CDU members in the east are openly in favor of such a coalition.’…”
AfD’s pronouncement of change and Gauland’s statement that the party needs to be “wise and resilient” could be interpreted in different ways.
Known Terrorist Organization Operates Openly in Germany
The Jerusalem Post wrote on December 1:
“The Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah uses a center in Berlin as well as other locations across Germany to recruit members and raise funds for terrorism and weapons purchases, according to a report by the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel newspaper… According to the article, Hezbollah members ‘use Germany as a place for drug trafficking, trade in stolen cars and money laundering. The implications of the group for the drug business are well documented.’
“The report said that Hezbollah’s ‘main routes now move from South America to Africa into the EU. Cocaine reaches Germany mainly via the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg.’ Within the capital city of Berlin, ‘Hezbollah is also allowed to spread propaganda here in the Reuterstrasse, recruit new members, collect donations – and then forward them to Beirut,’ Tagesspiegel reported.
“The Islamic Center Imam Riza, a Shi’ite institution, is located on Reuter Street in the Berlin district of Neukölln. Berlin’s intelligence agency – the rough equivalent of Shin Bet – revealed in its 2019 report that 250 Hezbollah members live in the capital. A total of 1,050 Hezbollah members and supporters operate across Germany, according to other German intelligence reports.
“Some 30 mosques and cultural centers in Germany have links to Hezbollah, according to a 2019 Hamburg intelligence agency report…
“The Jerusalem Post exclusively reported in August that a Hezbollah mosque in the German city of Münster posted a shocking video on its Facebook page announcing it was proud of terrorism and its allegiance to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. A Lebanese member of the Imam Mahdi Zentrum Shi’ite mosque in Münster declared: ‘We belong to the party of Ruhollah [Khomeini]. We have been accused of being terrorists – we are proud of terrorism.’
“The German government has rejected appeals to outlaw Hezbollah’s so-called political wing from the country; the military wing was banned by Germany and the European Union in 2013.”
Hezbollah and all its operations are clearly part of a violent and dangerous terrorist organization. Germany’s indifferent approach towards them is shocking, but as we pointed out in our last Update, anti-Semitic positions might very well be a cause for it.
The London Bridge Murder
Daily Mail wrote on November 30:
“The London Bridge attacker who murdered two innocent people in a knife rampage was a convicted terrorist banned from entering the capital. Usman Khan, 28, was released from jail on condition that he obey 20 strict conditions, including not going to London, but probation bosses granted him an exemption to attend an ex-prisoners’ conference organised by Cambridge University because they wrongly believed he had reformed. Instead, he launched a frenzied knife attack inside the Fishmongers’ Hall building on Friday afternoon before being chased down by members of the public on London Bridge where he was shot dead by police.
“Last night, a catalogue of apparent errors by police, judges, politicians and probation services emerged that allowed Khan to launch his attack close to the scene of another terrorist atrocity at Borough Market just two years ago. Khan was jailed in 2012 over a plot to kill Boris Johnson and blow up iconic sites including the London Stock Exchange. Released under strict bail conditions in December last year, he had to wear a tag, attend deradicalisation sessions and was under surveillance by MI5. Yet he apparently ‘hoodwinked’ the authorities by behaving like a ‘model ex-prisoner’ and lulling them into allowing him to travel to London. As the investigation into Khan continued, it emerged that:
“Judge Lord Justice Leveson decided Khan had ‘bigged up’ his role and downgraded his sentence. His release from jail was signed off by the Ministry of Justice, then led by David Gauke. MI5 did not have ‘surveillance eyes’ on Khan on Friday.”
The unfolding story about this known terrorist is extremely troublesome in light of the apparent incompetence of involved government agencies.
Far-Left Anti-Semitism in Britain
The Algemeiner wrote on December 1:
“A new study on antisemitism in the UK found that more than two-thirds of strong supporters of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn hold at least one antisemitic view. It also found that far-left hatred of Jews is now more prevalent than far-right Jew hatred in Britain, with 60% of the former believing at least one stereotype…
“The poll revealed that 84% of British Jews believe Jeremy Corbyn to be a threat to the Jewish community, with 42% having considered leaving the country in the past two years due to antisemitism, a scale that is ‘unprecedented since medieval times,’ according to the report. Almost half of British Jews cite not feeling comfortable identifying as Jewish in public…
“Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign against Antisemitism [said:]… ‘the far-left is now home to even more anti-Jewish bigotry than the far-right… Nowhere is that more obvious than in the Labour Party, where Jeremy Corbyn is now the politician of choice for anti-Semites.’
“In the last year, over a dozen MPs and three peers have resigned from the Labour Party citing its institutionalized antisemitism. Many MEPs, councilors, and members have also left in protest.”
These figures are shocking!
Netanyahu Slams Six European Nations
Times of Israel wrote on December 1:
“Israel on Sunday scolded six new European members of the INSTEX barter mechanism meant to circumvent US sanctions on Iran, saying they encouraged the Iranian regime’s repression of its citizens and ‘should be ashamed of themselves.’ ‘While the Iranian regime is killing its own people, European countries rush to support that very murderous regime,’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged in a video released Sunday.
“In a separate statement, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said ‘Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden could not have picked worse timing. The hundreds of innocent Iranians murdered during the latest round of protests are rolling in their graves.’…
“[Netanyahu continued:] ‘And while the people of the Middle East bravely stand up to Iran and its henchmen, here’s the absurd thing: While all of this is happening, countries in Europe are working to bypass US sanctions against Iran…. While Iran bombs Saudi Arabia’s oil installations, while Iran rushes to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, European countries rush to appease Iran with even more concessions.’
“In an apparent reference to World War II, the Israeli leader added: ‘These European countries should be ashamed of themselves. Have they learned nothing from history? Well, apparently not. They are enabling a fanatic terrorist state to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, thereby bringing disaster to themselves and upon everyone else.’…
“The accession of the six new members ‘further strengthens INSTEX and demonstrates European efforts to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran,’ France, Germany, and Britain said.”
All these Israelite European nations (i.e., Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, France and Britain, and, in addition, non-Israelite Germany) are turning against the state of Israel, and vice versa. Ultimately, it will be the entire world against Israel.
Iraq in Turmoil… America’s Attempt to Bring Democracy to the Country Failed Completely
Reuters and the Algemeiner wrote on December 2:
“Iraq’s parliament voted on Sunday to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi after weeks of violent anti-government protests that have rocked the country. Abdul Mahdi’s decision to quit on Friday came after a call by Iraq’s top Shi’ite Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for parliament to consider withdrawing its support for Abdul Mahdi’s government to stem the violence… Iraqi forces have killed nearly 400 mostly young, unarmed demonstrators since mass anti-government protests broke out on Oct. 1. More than a dozen members of the security forces have also died in clashes.
“Abdul Mahdi’s resignation, though welcomed by protesters, is not expected to end the demonstrations, which have called for an overhaul of a political system accused of being corrupt and keeping most of the population in poverty. Protesters on Sunday torched the Iranian consulate in the holy Shi’ite city of Najaf for the second time in a week, police and civil defense sources said…
“The unrest poses the biggest challenge for Iraq since Islamic State insurgents seized swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territory in 2014. It pits mostly young, disaffected Shi’ite protesters against a Shi’ite-dominated government backed by Iran and accused of squandering Iraq’s oil wealth while infrastructure and living standards deteriorate.”
America’s attempts to bring democracy to Iraq have failed entirely.
Iran in Turmoil
Aljazeera wrote on December 2:
“At least 208 people are believed to have been killed in Iran during a security crackdown on protests that came after a surprise petrol price increase, Amnesty International has said… adding that the actual figure was likely to be higher…
“‘The escalation of the use of force is evident from the fact that protesters were shot from close range. Protesters were also shot from the rooftops and in one case from a helicopter. This represents a regression even by the Iranian government’s own standards.’… It described the death toll as ‘evidence that Iran’s security forces went on a horrific killing spree’…”
The New York Times wrote on December 2:
“Iran is experiencing its deadliest political unrest since the Islamic Revolution 40 years ago… as angry protests have been smothered in a government crackdown of unbridled force.”
As long as Iran is run by dictators, there will be no peace and freedom in the country. However, one should not think that if a governmental change were to take place in the country, it would become more friendly towards America. Rather, Iran will become more and more aligned with Russia.
The Chinese-Russian Pipeline
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 2:
“China and Russia’s leaders opened the giant ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline project on Monday. The 3,000 kilometer pipeline has been hailed as a sign of the close friendship between two of the world’s superpowers… The project, which Putin has called ‘the world’s biggest construction project,’ is set to last 30 years and pump $400 billion (€363 billion) into Russia’s economy… The agreement came as Russia faced sanctions from the EU and US after it annexed the Crimean peninsula during the same year. It is part of Russia’s plan to boost trade with countries like China and Turkey, as relations with the West continue to deteriorate…
“Xi and Putin… both attended the opening ceremony via video link… ‘ This step takes Russo-Chinese strategic cooperation in energy to a qualitative new level and brings us closer to fulfilling the task, set together with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, of taking bilateral trade to $200 billion (€181 billion) by 2024,’ said Putin. Putin added that it was ‘a genuinely historical event.’
“Xi told Putin via video link that ‘China-Russia relations are entering a new era’ and that the pipeline was an ‘example of deep integration and mutually beneficial cooperation.’”
In the near future, a powerful coalition will develop between Russia, China and other Far Eastern nations. The Bible calls this emerging power bloc “the kings of the East.”
Blocking Russian Gas Pipeline to Germany?
Newsmax wrote on December 4:
“President Donald Trump is under pressure from two key senators to thwart completion of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany by sanctioning companies involved in the project.
Senators Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, and New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen are pushing to put a provision that would sanction companies involved in the construction of the pipeline in a defense spending bill that is viewed as a must-pass measure before Congress leaves Washington for the year.
“Cruz expressed frustration with the Trump administration for not acting on its own to impose sanctions that could stop the pipeline, which is a project of Russian energy company Gazprom PJSC…
“Cruz and Shaheen sponsored legislation, which was approved by the Foreign Relations Committee in July by a vote of 20-2, that would target vessels that lay the pipeline and sanction executives from companies linked to those vessels. It would deny visas to those individuals and block transactions related to their U.S.-based property or interests. The bill would also penalize entities that provide insurance to the project.
“It was never brought to the floor for a vote, but Senator Jim Risch, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, told Defense News that the sanctions measure had been added to the draft of the National Defense Authorization Act. The sanctions measure may fall victim to haggling between Democrats and Republicans about what should or shouldn’t be included in the defense bill…
“The Nord Stream 2 project has divided the European Union, with nations led by Poland concerned about Russia’s Gazprom tightening its grip on the region if the new pipeline comes online...
“Trump was non-committal when asked about sanctioning the pipeline companies as he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday during this week’s NATO summit in London. ‘Well, we haven’t really determined that yet,’ Trump said. ‘I do think it’s a problem. But it’s a problem that Germany’s going to have to work out for themselves. Maybe for Germany, it won’t be a problem. I hope it’s not, actually. But we’ll be talking about that.’”
It would be hard to imagine what would happen if the USA were to impose sanctions on Russia and Germany regarding the pipeline. Nothing that has happened so far would even come close to the animosity which would develop between those countries.
Where to Store Nuclear Waste?
CNN wrote on November 30:
“Germany… [will close] all of its nuclear plants in the coming years… [The seven power stations still in operation today are due to close by 2022.] Experts are now hunting for somewhere to bury almost 2,000 containers of high-level radioactive waste. The site must be beyond rock-solid, with no groundwater or earthquakes that could cause a leakage. The technological challenges — of transporting the lethal waste, finding a material to encase it, and even communicating its existence to future humans — are huge. But the most pressing challenge today might simply be finding a community willing to have a nuclear dumping ground in their backyard…
“Currently, high-level radioactive waste is stored in temporary facilities, usually near the power plant it came from… As the name suggests, high-level radioactive waste is the most lethal of its kind…
“With more than 400 nuclear power plants around the world, many nearing the end of their operating lifetimes, the issue of waste storage will only become more urgent…”
Another example of how mankind has created its own disasters.
Our Trillion Dollar Deficits
The Hill wrote on December 1:
“Trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and hardly a voice of caution to be heard.
“In the old days, a decade or so ago, Democrats would have assailed Donald Trump’s failure on federal deficits; instead of eliminating it, as promised, the deficit has doubled to a trillion dollars as far as the eye can see.
“Republicans would be in full fury over the spending schemes of Democratic presidential candidates; even the mainstream moderates propose huge increases for health care, education and the social safety net for the disadvantaged. Yet deficits, as a political issue, are dead.”
People have become accustomed to dangerous situations. It is as if a spirit of slumber has overtaken them.
California’s Ignored Volcanoes
The Los Angeles Times wrote on November 30:
“California is famous for its catastrophic earthquakes and wildfires, but they are not the state’s only natural hazards. As head of the observatory, or CalVO, Mangan has drawn attention to the state’s more overlooked threats: a dozen restive volcanoes that stretch from Medicine Lake near the Oregon border to the Salton Buttes in the Coachella Valley… the risk of a small-to-moderate eruption somewhere in the state over the next 30 years is 16% — about the same as for a magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake along the San Andreas Fault… Unlike earthquakes, which are over in a matter of seconds, volcanic eruptions can drag on…
“[Air Traffic could be interrupted.] Planes regularly fly over California’s volcanoes, ferrying up to 300,000 passengers to, from and along the West Coast every day. Each year, millions more people drive through the Mount Shasta hazard zone on Interstate 5 between Redding and the Oregon border… Thousands of miles of high-voltage power lines bound for major population centers cross through hazard zones, particularly in the northern part of the state. These could short out if covered in wet ash, leaving consumers in the dark for weeks. A natural gas pipeline snakes between Shasta, Lassen and Medicine Lake, supplying 4.2 million homes. And many of the state’s water reservoirs lie within the ash fall zones of various volcanoes… ash damages electronics and interferes with radio signals…”
Earthquakes, volcanoes, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural catastrophes, including the impact with asteroids and meteors, will contribute to the destruction of vast areas of the USA and the entire world. In this regard, we received the following report from Paul Niehoff in Australia:
“47 wildfires are burning in Queensland and 96 in New South Wales from the south coast to the Queensland border. Sydney has hazardous air quality due to the smoke, people with health issues are being urged to stay indoors and some workers are refusing to work outdoors. Central Western Australia has extreme fire danger, temperatures over 40 degrees are expected.”
Controversial Pope’s Quest for a World Religion
Breaking Israel News wrote on December 1:
“Islam was founded in the 7th century CE, approximately 600 years after the founding of Christianity and several thousand years after Judaism began. As an aggressive form of replacement theology, Islam appropriated all of the figures in the Christian and Jewish Bible as Muslim prophets. Even though Buddhism was founded in the 6th century BCE, Islam did not appropriate Siddhārtha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, as a Mulsim prophet. This may be because Islam considers Buddhism to be a forbidden form of idolatry… ‘The Pope wants to unify all religions and all governments under one world order,’ Rabbi Assur said. ‘What is the big surprise? He is not hiding anything. Just listen to what he says and who he is and his plans are right there for all to see.’
“Pope Francis… is the first pope from the southern hemisphere and, most significantly, he is the first Jesuit to be appointed to the position. Though established by papal order in 1540 to stop the spread of Protestantism and convert the indigenous peoples of Africa and the Americas, the Jesuit order has historically been treated with suspicion by the Catholic Church for being power-hungry. ‘You assume that the pope is Catholic but he is certainly not acting like a Catholic,’ Rabbi Asore said… ‘Brotherhood is a wonderful thing but one religion is only good if it is worshipping the true God,’ Rabbi Asore said…
“Pope Francis has come under fire before for connecting the Catholic Church with the children of Ishmael. In 2015, 71 elders of the Sanhedrin tried the Pope in absentia for recognizing a ‘State of Palestine’ with an official treaty. By doing so, the Sanhedrin claimed, the Pope was denying the covenant as described in the Bible in which God gives the land of Israel to the descendants of Jacob…
“Pope Francis has also made displays similar to his sitting barefoot in front of the Golden idol of Budda in Bankok that showed a shocking level of tolerance for idolatry. In October, a video emerged of what appears to be Pope Francis blessing a Pachama Goddess statue. Pope Francis has also taken on a policy in which homosexuals are welcomed into the church so much so that the American LGBT magazine The Advocate named Pope Francis their Person of the Year for 2013.”
The Bible predicts we will see a universal body of “believers”—all in opposition to the true God.
Natural News wrote on October 23:
“It’s all happening, just as we predicted. Big Pharma is officially partnering with the tech industry to pair ‘immunization’ with digital biometrics, meaning humans will soon be microchipped, tracked, and ultimately controlled through a global identification matrix… Similar to how cattle are marked with ear tags, this globalist alliance wants all humans to be ‘vaccinated’ with digital tracking chips that will create a seamless monitoring system for the New World Order to manage the populations of the world with ease…
“While the… program’s testing grounds are primarily in the Third World, the group says it’s also now working with governments here in the United States to start microchipping people through vaccination. In Austin, Texas, for example, the homeless population is now being exploited as a collective guinea pig for… microchip vaccination program… [the program] is also jabbing refugees with its microchip vaccinations…
“All of this is priming the public for an eventual mandate of microchip vaccinations…”
The article makes the common mistake of equating microchip vaccinations with the mark of the beast. It has nothing to do with it. Still, the article is remarkable in that it shows what misguided power-hungry people are willing to do.
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.
Would you please explain the concept of not giving offense to others? (Part 3)
In the first two parts, we saw that Christ was called a stumbling block and that He indeed offended people, and He was still without fault or sin. We explained that giving offense has to be seen in the context of sinning.
However, some teach or suggest that Paul told us to refrain from doing what we have learned to be right if someone with a weak conscience thinks it is wrong. In making this claim and support their idea, they are referring to several Scriptures.
One of those passages is Romans 14:1-20:
“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks…
“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ… So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block [Greek proskomma] or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean [common] of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean [common], to him it is unclean [common].
“Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense [Greek proskomma]. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended [Greek skandalizo] or is made weak. Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”
The passage speaks about two concepts: One having to do with self-declared fast days, and another with eating or not eating meat. This includes the concept of being a vegetarian or a vegan, as well as the concept of not eating meat [which was clean] for fear that it was sacrificed to idols [which became “common” due to false usage]. The entire passage addresses the concept of not judging and condemning a brother.
We quote from our booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days”:
“Romans 14:2–3 is addressing the consumption of vegetables and meat (‘For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables’). Some thought that they must not eat meat… Part of the reason for their decision might have been that the meat, which could be purchased in the market, was probably offered to idols. Knowing this, some had a conscience problem with eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols (compare 1 Corinthians 8:1–13).
“The context in Romans 14:5 is the consumption of certain foods. Paul addresses the fact that some esteem a certain day above another. In the very next verse, he shows the connection between the consumption of food and the regard for days. He says in verse 6: ‘He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.’…
“Paul talks about new Church members who still had a weak conscience and thought they had to FAST on particular days. That is, they thought they could not just fast on ANY weekday of their choice, but that it could only be done on particular designated days. (Note again verse 6, ‘… he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat.’ The context of the discussion is FASTING.) Others understood that one can fast on ANY day of the week, and that God does not enjoin us, except for the Day of Atonement, to fast on a specific day during the week.
“This is the reason Paul says, ‘One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike.’ The context is eating and drinking and fasting. Paul is really saying in verse 6, ‘He who observes [or better, ‘regards,’ as the Authorized Version has it] the day [as a fast day] observes [or regards] it to the Lord; and he who does not observe [or regard] the day [as a Fast day] observes [regards] it to the Lord, too, because the one who does not eat on that day, does it to the Lord, and the one who does eat on that day does it to the Lord, too, as he thanks God for the food he partakes of.’ Paul’s point is to not judge another for the way they worship God, as long as it is done on the basis of Scripture.
“Romans addresses the wrong kind of judgment and condemnation which could cause a new brother with a weak conscience to stumble and fall when he is condemned for what he does. It also admonishes the weak brother not to violate his conscience by eating, for example, meat sacrificed to idols even though his conscience would prohibit it.”
This passage does not say that Paul could not eat such meat either. But the passage seems to also hint at the complicated situation of meat sacrificed to idols, which Paul addresses more fully in two other passages… both of which are used by some to teach that we must cease from doing what is right if a brother with a weak conscience becomes offended by it.
The first of these two passages is 1 Corinthians 8:4-13, which reads:
“Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
“However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block [Greek proskomma] to those who are weak.
“For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble [Greek skandalizo], I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
The Authorized Version translates: “… if meat make my brother to offend… lest I make my brother to offend…”
The context here is again the conscience of the weak brother. If Paul were to eat meat sacrificed to idols (which was fine per se) in the presence of a weak brother who would then be emboldened to eat likewise, but he would eat it as meat sacrificed to idols, thereby committing idolatry (which is against God’s Law), then Paul would have acted wrongly. He would actually have caused a brother to stumble or to sin. This is even more true in light of the following warning by Christ in Revelation 2:14:
“But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block [Greek skandalon] before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.”
In this passage, Christ described a concerted effort by some in the Church to persuade members to eat meat sacrificed to idols as part of an idolatrous service, which was of course wrong and against the Law of God against idolatry.
However, Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 8 cannot be interpreted to mean that Paul would never eat meat which was sacrificed to idols, even if he was in the presence of others. It is only IF the weak brother is emboldened and concludes that he can eat it too, but he does so in violation of God’s Law by eating it as meat sacrificed to idols, that Paul said he would not do it then in the brother’s presence. But Paul is not saying either that the entire Church congregation could not eat such meat if a person disagrees with such practice. It is only if our conduct would lead a brother with a weak conscience to follow our example but in doing so, he would violate his conscience, that he should not be asked or encouraged to participate in such a Church function.
In 1 Corinthians 10:25-32, Paul continues to address the same situation:
“Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake… If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake.
“But if anyone says to you, ‘This was offered to idols,’ do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake… ‘Conscience,’ I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks?
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense [Greek, aproskopos; lit., not causing to stumble] either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
This passage addresses outsiders as well as Church members with a weak conscience. In this example, Paul would be eating with unbelievers, but it appears that members with a weak conscience would have been present as well. If someone was to say that the meat was sacrificed to idols, perhaps in order to test him as to what he would do, or because a weak church member would have a conscience problem as described in 1 Corinthians 8, then Paul said that he would not eat it in order to avoid sinful conduct. In this context, we would also need to consider that someone would sin if he were to violate his conscience (Romans 14:23).
The conscience must however be based at least remotely on the Bible, and must not contradict it. It was clearly prohibited in the Old Testament, judging by the letter, to eat meat sacrificed to idols. But Paul explained in the New Testament how this law was supposed to be understood. We must be careful not to use this example and apply it to every conceivable situation, when the conscience of a new member is at issue. We must always evaluate whether a conscience problem has any basis in God’s Word.
What is also clear from the foregoing is that someone who might disagree with a certain Church teaching or practice cannot force the Church to change its teachings and practices to accommodate his or her weak conscience.
This means, we must not try to convince others of “our” individual conscience and persuade them not to engage in a certain course of action, which is not prohibited in Scripture. For instance, some are vegetarians or refuse to drink alcohol, even though the Bible clearly shows that it is right and proper to eat clean meat and to consume alcohol in moderation. A vegetarian or someone who rejects alcohol must NEVER try to persuade others to become vegetarians or to refuse alcoholic consumption. (Of course, someone who refuses to drink alcohol would exclude him or herself from proper observance of the annual Passover service and his or her partaking of the symbols of bread and wine).
It is for instance not true that the Church of God must cancel a social dance event only because one visitor might be offended, thinking it is sinful to dance. The visitor, due to his or her weak conscience, should then refrain from participating in the dance, and the Church should not try to force him or her to participate and to thereby violate his or her weak conscience. On the other hand, he or she should prayerfully evaluate his or her conscience and ask God for insight and understanding as to whether his or her opinions are in accordance with God’s Law or just the product of human tradition and his or her own ideas. Examining the example of an alleged prohibition to dance, there is no basis in the Bible for such a wrong concept.
We should also consider that the Church of God is the foundation and pillar of truth (1 Timothy 3:15), and it has been given the responsibility from God to decide questions like the ones discussed in these three Q&As with clarifying binding authority (Matthew 16:19; 18:18).
Let us notice what would otherwise be the consequence if a brother or visitor with a weak conscience could enforce their opinions on the Church of God:
(a) No more social dance evenings
(b) No more eating in a restaurant on the Sabbath, including on the Night to Be Much Observed
(c) No more eating meat… all have to become vegetarians or vegans
(d) No more staying in hotels on the Sabbath, including during the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day
(e) No more formal dress code, as ties are allegedly pagan
(f) No more jewelry or wedding rings or earrings, as they are all allegedly pagan and prohibited by God
(g) No more listening to music or watching movies which in the opinion of the member or visitor are objectionable
(h) No more wearing Make-Up, let alone distributing Make-Up products
(i) No more birthday acknowledgments
(j) No more wedding anniversaries
(k) No more Thanksgiving Day gatherings
The list could be endless, and it is also apparent that a brother or a visitor with a weak conscience who would object to any of the activities raised above would become guilty of sowing discord if he or she were to discuss these ideas with other members. It is obvious that Paul who sometimes wrote things which were hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16) did not mean any of this, because otherwise he would have contradicted Christ who never sinned, but who “offended” people intentionally.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
Mr. Bill Koeneke, a long-time Church of God member in the UK, has died at the age of 93. He had not been well for some time and had only recently been released from the hospital.
“Why NATO Is Breaking Apart” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
How can we be so sure that NATO will not survive? We can get an inkling by reviewing the events during this week’s 70th anniversary celebration of the military alliance and the overall attitude of the American and German people towards NATO, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
“Warum die Nato zerbrechen wird,” the new German AufPostenStehen program, was also posted; it covers the same topic as the English StandingWatch program.
“Wie man das schwache Gewissen (nicht) verletzt!” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “How (not) to Wound the Weak Conscience.”
“Das nächste Jahrzehnt wird eine Dekade der Extreme,” is the title of the sermonette presented last Sabbath in Germany by Manuel Müller. Title in English: “The Next Decade Will Be a Decade of Extremes.”
“I Will Give You Rest,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Eric Rank, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Living a Christian life in this day and age takes a lot of hard work. God promises rest, however, to those who are obedient to Him. How can we find rest in our lives now and in the future?
“It’s a Promise!” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Can God heal—will He? Do we have the faith to be healed? Our part is to have faith and to keep on having faith—to trust God to do what He has promised.
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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