December 27, 2019
Comments on News and Prophecy (December 28, 2019) / Hope in the Kingdom of God
On December 28, 2019, Norbert Link will present “Comments on News and Prophecy (December 28, 2019),” and Kalon Mitchell will present the sermon, titled, “Hope in the Kingdom of God.”
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.
This Time of Year
by Paul Niehoff (Australia)
As we would all be aware, earlier this week many people observed Christmas and next week possibly even more will observe New Year’s Eve. During Christmas, there were many celebrations around a tree and much giving of gifts, and at the New Year, there are usually great displays of fireworks. And yet, most people observing these activities do not understand what they mean or the origin of them. It is usually considered that these times are a time of rejoicing and happiness, but research shows in too many cases that this is not true.
In the Australian Daily Mail of 12th December, 2018, we find that “for some, the festive season sparks a rise in domestic violence and theft. With booze flowing and families gathered under one roof, tensions can run high and lead to a spike in domestic violence. Thefts are also on the rise over the Christmas period, as people scramble to get gifts for their children and loved ones that they simply can’t afford.
“Domestic violence is a growing issue in countless Australian homes. With the festive season now in full swing, recent data obtained by Daily Mail Australia shows an increase in violence on Christmas morning and again on New Year’s Eve.”
So, for these unfortunate ones, celebration of these festivals results in violence or even death caused partly by alcohol-induced road accidents and partly by murder. It is not a good result.
While Christmas is supposedly a Christian holiday, many non-Christians also observe it. In a 2013 Pew Research Center report, around 87% of non-Christians, including within the U.S.A., roughly 75% of Buddhists and Hindus celebrate Christmas. In a recent survey, even 32% of Jews had a Christmas tree in their house.
There is no shortage of information on the origins of Christmas: the fact that it was celebrated many centuries before Christ was born, and even the fact that His actual birth date is unknown. Often newspapers will have general interest articles on this subject and there are plenty of websites that also provide the facts. But generally, most people have no concern whatsoever about the Pagan origins of the festival.
Regarding New Year’s Eve, this again is observed around the world. Here in Australia, capital cities boast about how many tons of fireworks they are going to burn or explode in a spectacular festival. Very few realise that during ancient New Year’s celebrations around this time, fires and loud noises were used by pagans to worship their gods such as the double-faced Roman god Janus or the Germanic god Wodan; dispel ghosts of the dead and evil spirits and bring good luck in the ancient world. Later, with the invention of gunpowder, the fires and loud noises were replaced by fireworks. Again, this information is freely available on websites, but again, most people just enjoy the fun with no consideration for truth.
So, what does God say about all of this. Does it please Him, or does He totally condemn it?
In Exodus 12:2, God declared when the year was to begin. “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” This was the month of Abib (Deuteronomy 16:1) which means “ears of corn.” It was in Spring, not mid-winter, and there was no command to celebrate the New Year according to the Hebrew calendar.
When God led the Children of Israel into the land He was giving them, He provided strict instructions not to inquire after their gods, saying, “How did these nations serve their gods? I will also do likewise.” He commanded them not to worship Him in the way of the nations that they were dispossessing (compare Deuteronomy 12:30-31).
When truly considered, the current seasonal festivities are purely entertainment with no real meaning. They are actually inspired by Satan to replace and hide the knowledge of God’s true festivals. Remember that Satan deceives the whole world (compare Revelation 12:9).
In contrast, the true festivals that God has given to us reveal His plan of salvation for all mankind. They have a real meaning and give a great hope that is totally absent from what the world generally observes, and what Satan has inspired. We should be very thankful to God that He has given us this hope and understanding of His purpose through His Holy Days. Therefore, we should have nothing to do with the holidays inspired by Satan but observe all of God’s commanded Holy Days instead.
by Norbert Link
We begin this section with further reports on US sanctions against the controversial Russian-German gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 and Putin’s opening of a commuter rail bridge between the Crimea and the Russian mainland. Both events will lead to further deterioration between Russia, Europe and the USA.
We address the sentencing of eight Saudi-Arabians for the gruesome murder of an American journalist, while many believe that the real villains who are responsible for the grisly crime are being protected.
We also point out new developments indicating a further rift between the UK and Germany, and report on the alarming increase of anti-Semitism in Germany in all of its parties and the population as a whole. We also address the controversial anti-Israel proposal of the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor.
We speak on the highly questionable impeachment procedure against Donald Trump and his support by 200 influential Evangelicals. We also point out the rise of homelessness in the USA and warn against the illusion of a booming US economy which is allegedly immune from total collapse, while financial experts claim the exact opposite.
We publish many articles on Christmas and other religious concepts, including the concern that Christmas is being forced on those who do not want to keep it; its pagan origins which are undeniable; and the alleged attempt of highly controversial Pope Francis to enforce Sunday observance under the disguise of climate change.
We speak on the growing danger of occultism and Satanism, especially for young children [please view our new StandingWatch program in this regard, titled, “How our Wrong Values Destroy our Children”] and we conclude with ongoing vocalized desires in the state of Israel to begin with animal sacrifices on the Temple Mount and to build the Third Temple.
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
US Sanctions against Nord Stream 2 Pipeline
On December 22, Bild Online published the following article:
“US President Donald Trump (73) signed the US sanctions against the company Allseas, which is currently laying the last kilometers of the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 south of the Danish island of Bornholm. Minutes later, Allseas announced that it wanted to temporarily stop its construction work…
“In an interview with BILD and the US news agency Associated Press, Ambassador Richard Grenell (53) explained the motives behind the sanctioning of the Nord Stream 2 construction company.
“Richard Grenell: ‘You see, this is a longstanding US policy that goes back to the Obama administration. The goal has always been for diversification of Europe’s energy sources and to ensure that not one country or source can build up too much influence on Europe through energy…
“‘15 European countries, the European Commission and the European Parliament have all expressed their concerns about the project… That is why the sanctions are a very pro-European decision… I’ve been hearing all day from European diplomats thanking me for taking this action… As far as the US government is concerned, this is about energy security in Europe.“
These more or less meaningless sanctions and some negative vocal reactions in Europe will not substantially hinder the German-Russian project. Contrary to Grenell’s statements, other reports claim that Brussels stated that the USA has no business in interfering in these “European” matters. All of this will contribute to the prophesied deterioration of the US-EU relationship.
The Bridge of Shame
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 23:
“Russian President Vladimir Putin opened a commuter rail bridge between the Crimea and Russian mainland with a ceremonious train journey on Monday, as Russia continues to cement its influence in Crimea since its annexation in 2014… The bridge consists of parallel automobile and railway sections…
“With the opening of the bridge to commuter traffic it is now possible to travel between St. Petersburg and Sevastopol, with the journey lasting a total of 43 hours and 25 minutes…”
In its reporting, Bild Online spoke of the “bridge of shame,” stating that Ukraine to which Crimea belongs legally, the EU and the USA protested against the bridge. As if Putin cared… Crimea will remain in Russian hands, and the same will be true very soon for Ukraine.
No Justice and Truth in Saudi Arabia’s Murder Case
The Associated Press wrote on December 23:
“A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death Monday for the killing of Washington Post columnist and royal family critic Jamal Khashoggi, whose grisly slaying in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul drew international condemnation and cast a cloud of suspicion over Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Three other people were found guilty by Riyadh’s criminal court of covering up the crime and were sentenced to a combined 24 years in prison… independent media were barred…
“Agnes Callamard, who investigated the killing for the United Nations, reacted by tweeting that the verdicts are a ‘mockery’ and that the masterminds behind the crime ‘have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial.’ Amnesty International called the outcome ‘a whitewash which brings neither justice nor truth.’…
“In Washington, Congress has said it believes Prince Mohammed is ‘responsible for the murder.’ President Donald Trump has condemned the killing but has stood by the 34-year-old crown prince and defended U.S.-Saudi ties. Washington has sanctioned 17 Saudis suspected of being involved. Among those sanctioned is Saud al-Qahtani, a hawkish former adviser to the crown prince. The Saudi attorney general’s office said Monday that al-Qahtani was investigated and had no proven involvement in the killing. Meanwhile, Ahmed al-Asiri, also a former adviser to the crown prince who was deputy head of intelligence, was tried and released because of insufficient evidence, the attorney general’s office said. The court also ordered the release of Saudi Arabia’s consul-general in Istanbul at the time, Mohammed al-Otaibi. He is among those sanctioned by the U.S. over his ‘involvement in gross violations of human rights.’ The U.S. State Department has also issued travel bans against his immediate family…
“Although Khashoggi’s killing tarnished Prince Mohammed’s reputation in the West, he is hugely popular at home, especially among young Saudis…”
Sadly, in this world of Satan, guilty powerful perpetrators are protected and go unpunished and will be able—for a while—to continue with their rotten conduct. But ultimately, the time of reckoning will come.
Further Aggravation between Germany and Britain over Brexit
Express wrote on December 24:
“German drug importers have warned they expect Brexit to further exacerbate drug shortages in Berlin, which are already scarce… Jörg Geller, board member of the Association of Pharmaceutical Importers in Germany (VAD) and President of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Importers (EAEPC), said:… ‘We fear that after Brexit we will no longer be able to buy medicines in the UK. At the same time, the UK can continue to buy medicines in the EU. Therefore the market will quickly be imbalanced.’
“The current situation with drugs in Germany is dire, and has been since 2018. This is because there are currently 274 delivery bottlenecks that have been reported to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. In 2018, 12.9 percent of all prescription drugs in Germany came from imports as a result.
“Mr Geller… said he cannot comprehend how a nation as powerful and rich as Germany could possibly be struggling with a shortage of medicines.
“He said: ‘The pharmaceutical manufacturers are causing the shortages because they do not produce enough medication and put it on the market. Many manufacturers also seal off the markets through quotations and discount contracts for patent-protected preparations. Some producers even exclude entire countries from delivery because the sales prices there are too low for them. This creates an artificial shortage.’”
Sadly, this rings very true, and shame on those greedy pharmaceutical manufacturers. This kind of conduct won’t help in creating a smooth Brexit “divorce.”
Shocking anti-Semitism in Germany
The Jerusalem Post wrote on December 22:
“The chairman of the Jewish community in Halle, Germany – where a neo-Nazi attempted to shoot up a synagogue on Yom Kippur – said that all German political parties are infected with Jew-hatred according to a Sunday interview in the Bild paper…, adding ‘I would not recommend to anyone to walk through Halle wearing a kippa.’… He said… ‘Just yesterday there was an email in the mailbox of the Jewish Community in Halle, which said: “Unfortunately, our grandparents did not completely solve the problem from 1933 to 1945.” The sender signed it with his full name. I forwarded the email directly to the public prosecutor’s office,’ said Privorozki.
“The Jewish community leader said ‘Antisemitism is not just a problem of the AfD [Alternative for Germany]. All parties are affected by the antisemitism virus…’ Some telling examples of antisemitism scandals over the last year, according to German media reports and critics, unfolded within the German Green Party and the Social Democratic Party…
“A 2017 federal government study said 40% of Germans hold a modern antisemitic attitude, namely the intense loathing of the Jewish state. The study revealed that nearly 33 million Germans of 82 million are contaminated with contemporary antisemitism.”
There is no further denying the fact that Germany’s anti-Semitism, which actually has always been in existence, has reached extremely dangerous proportions.
Germany’s Confidence in anti-Israel ICC’s Proposal
The Times of Israel wrote on December 25:
“Australia rejected the effort by the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor to launch an investigation into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, arguing that the matter must be resolved by the two parties at the negotiating table… ‘Australia’s position is clear — we do not recognize a so-called “State of Palestine” and we do not recognize that there is such a State Party to the ICC’s Rome Statute,’ the spokesperson went on… Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz praised Australia for the statement…
“Germany, in a more nuanced stance, said it had full trust in the court, was confident the ICC’s judges would ‘address issues of admissibility,’ and cautioned against politicization… reiterating Berlin’s support for the court… Germany is generally known as a staunch supporter of the court…
“Israel vociferously rejects her statement, arguing that the court clearly does not have jurisdiction over the case, as there is no Palestinian state that has the mandate to transfer criminal jurisdiction over its territory to The Hague… US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday issued a statement saying the administration remains ‘firmly’ opposed to the ICC’s supposed investigation into the matter, slamming it as an unfair attack on Israel.”
122 countries are Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Italy, Norway, France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. Countries that are not members include the United States, China, India, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Qatar and Israel. The U.S. signed the treaty during the Clinton administration, but Congress did not ratify it.
China, Russia and Iran
Breaking Israel News reported on December 26:
“As [Israel] announced that [it] is fighting Iran alone, China, Iran and Russia have scheduled joint naval drills in the Indian Ocean and Sea of Oman starting on Friday and ending on Monday…
“China’s Xining guided missile destroyer will participate in the drills, which are meant to deepen cooperation between the three countries’ navies…
“The Sea of Oman is a critical waterway as it connects to the Strait of Hormuz, through which about a fifth of the world’s oil passes… This comes as tensions between Iran and the United States and Israel have risen throughout the year…”
According to the Bible, a Far Eastern military bloc will be forming, which will apparently support Iran.
“Democrat Legal Expert: Trump Isn’t Impeached Until Articles Go to Senate”
Breitbart wrote on December 20:
“Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman, who testified as a Democrat witness in the House Judiciary Committee’s public hearings on impeachment [which he strongly supported, albeit with unconvincing arguments], argues President Donald Trump is technically not impeached until the House submits the articles to the Senate.
“In a Bloomberg News opinion-editorial published Thursday, Feldman writes the definition of impeachment, according to the framers, ‘assumed that impeachment was a process, not just a House vote,’ and impeachment is official only when the articles are transmitted to the Senate, where lawmakers are ‘obliged by the Constitution to hold a trial.’
“Feldman writes: ‘If the House does not communicate its impeachment to the Senate, it hasn’t actually impeached the president… As for the headlines we saw after the House vote saying, ‘TRUMP IMPEACHED,’ those are a media shorthand, not a technically correct legal statement. So far, the House has voted to impeach (future tense) Trump. He isn’t impeached (past tense) until the articles go to the Senate and the House members deliver the message.’”
Other legal scholars have voiced similar opinions. In any event, the impeachment process and the impeachment trial will NOT lead to a conviction and will NOT prevent Trump from becoming re-elected. In a somewhat strange and bizarre move, Nancy Pelosi has invited President Trump to deliver the State of the Union address on February 4, 2020, in the House of Representatives, and Trump agreed to do so.
Evangelicals Support Trump, Reject “Christianity Today” Article
Breitbart wrote on December 22:
“More than [two] hundred influential evangelical Christian leaders sent a letter to the president of the far left magazine Christianity Today, chastising him for publishing a commentary on Thursday calling for the removal of President Trump.
“The letter, addressed to Christianity Today president Timothy Dalrymple on Sunday, was signed by well-known evangelical Christians, including Dr. James Dobson, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, former head of the Family Research Council Gary Bauer, author Eric Metaxas, and pastors Robert Morris, Tommy Barnett, and Jentezen Franklin [as well as Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr.].
“‘We write collectively to express our dissatisfaction with the editorial Christianity Today published on Thursday, December 19, 2019 calling for the removal of our duly elected President, who was put into office at the behest of over sixty million voters,’ the letter began. ‘The editorial you published… not only supported the entirely-partisan, legally-dubious, and politically-motivated impeachment but went even further, calling for Donald Trump not to be elected again in 2020 when he certainly survives impeachment,’ the signatories wrote in the letter. ‘Your editorial offensively questioned the spiritual integrity and Christian witness of tens-of-millions of believers who take seriously their civic and moral obligations…”
“Early Friday, Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, who founded Christianity Today in 1956, criticized the organization’s current leadership for their pro-impeachment commentary. Celebrated evangelical pastor Franklin Graham revealed Friday his father, Billy Graham, voted for Donald J. Trump in 2016 because he believed he was the best man for the job.”
Christianity Today’s editorial was certainly ill-advised and flawed as it used the biased “impeachment” procedure as the basis for demanding Trump’s removal. At the same time, one has to wonder why so many Evangelicals support Trump unquestionably, even though his comments and life style do not at all correspond to Christian “moral obligations” and godly values allegedly upheld by these same Evangelicals. Of course, liberal permissive Democrats have no corner on the market either. All of this shows why TRUE Christians must not be involved in politics and voting in governmental elections.
Homelessness on the Rise due to California
CNN wrote on December 21:
“The homeless population in the US increased 2.7% this year largely because of a surge in unsheltered and chronically homeless individuals in California, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said in a news release Friday.
“The study found that 567,715 people across the nation experienced homelessness on a single night in 2019, an increase of 14,885 people compared with 2018. Meanwhile, homelessness among veterans and families with children declined in the year, dropping 2.1% and 4.8%, respectively.
“The number of people experiencing homelessness dropped in 29 states and Washington, DC in 2019, the news release said. But the rise in homelessness in California and elsewhere on the West Coast ‘offset’ the nationwide decreases, the office said… An additional 21,306 people were homeless in California in 2019, up 16.4% from the previous year, HUD said.
“The data comes after the Trump administration sent a team of officials on a ‘fact finding’ trip to California in September to learn more about homelessness in Los Angeles.
“The homeless population in Los Angeles County increased to almost 60,000 people in 2019… Thousands of people became homeless, the authority said, as a result of the economy, foster care, mental health, criminal justice and the housing market.”
This is a terrible report. That there should be so much homelessness in the world’s wealthiest country does not speak well for its politicians and those in charge. And even though we are hearing in the mainstream media about a booming economy, there are other voices warning of a complete and total crash in 2020.
For instance, former Congressman “Ron Paul warned about ‘the mother of all bubbles’ in a recent piece arguing that the U.S. may be on the verge of experiencing a catastrophic economic crisis” (Advocates, December 6, 2019).
The Birch Gold Group wrote on November 5, 2019, “that a broken economy can be technically held together for a decade, but under the surface, the structure continues to rot… We saw this during the crash of 2008, and now we’re seeing it again… All of these factors and more show an economy in recession or depression… More stimulus will not stall the crash that is already happening… The can has been kicked for the last time.”
In spite of this or because of utter ignorance of the American people, crazy and irresponsible Christmas spending reached an all-time high. “Holiday shopping set records over the weekend, with Super Saturday sales reaching $34.4 billion, the biggest single day in U.S. retail history… [while] online spending so far this season has accounted for 58% of sales growth from a year earlier,” according to MSN, dated December 23.
“Merry Christmas” from Netanyahu
The Algemeiner wrote on December 24:
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a Christmas greeting on Monday, ahead of the start of the holiday. ‘Merry Christmas to all our Christian friends in Israel and around the world,’ Netanyahu said, standing alongside his wife Sara. ‘The State of Israel is the culmination of so many prophecies and our deepest held values,’ the prime minister stated. ‘We share the common civilization, the Judeo-Christian civilization, that has given the world the values of freedom, individual liberty, the sanctity of life and the belief in one God.’
“‘We are proud of our traditions,’ he added. ‘We are proud of our Christian friends. The State of Israel would not have come into being if it weren’t for the avid support of Christians in the 19th century, in the 20th century as well and in the 21st century.’ Netanyahu concluded, ‘We know that we have no better friends around the world than our Christian friends. So thank you. Thank you all for standing up with Israel, standing up for the truth. Merry Christmas.’”
The Bible prophecies that many Jews will become more and more engaged in “Christian” observances. After all, what do Christmas celebrations have to do with standing up for the Truth?
How Christmas Is Forced Upon Us
The Week wrote on December 24:
“Christmas is (finally) upon us. After months of red-and-green evergreen decorations in every store, and an increasingly unbroken stream of Santa-centric pop songs in every public place, the annual American onslaught reaches its peak this week. Every year, those of us who don’t celebrate Christmas find ourselves having the same debates over and over again, starting well before Thanksgiving and continuing into the New Year. Well-meaning friends, neighbors, and colleagues insist to us that we should not be bothered by the giant Christmas trees in every building lobby, or the Christmas music supplanting our usual radio fare. Christmas, the argument goes, is secular; therefore, everyone should be comfortable participating in it, whether or not they identify as Christian…
“… the pushback to secular Christmas tends to be dominated by Jewish voices… As an assimilated American Jew, I’m intrigued by this… For those who grew up celebrating Christmas, it can be hard to conceive of decorated evergreen trees [as] neutral symbols of the ‘magic; of the season…
“Christmas is neither neutral nor secular. It is firmly associated with a religious tradition that erases our existence at best, and oppresses us at worst…”
To call Christmas “secular” is total nonsense, even though many non-religious people might celebrate it as well, while they are oblivious to Christmas origins. Christmas has always been a religious festival with pagan roots.
Changing Saturday to Sunday
Express wrote on December 21:
“On September 12 this year, Pope Francis announced his plan to launch a global education pack to ‘unite efforts’ to combat climate change. The leader of the Vatican called on world leaders to come together on May 14, 2020, to discuss his ‘Laudato Si’ proposal to reduce global warming… Francis also suggests Sundays with keeping a better environment.
“Page 237 reads ‘On Sunday, our participation in the Eucharist has special importance, Sunday is meant to be a day which heals our relationship with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world’.
“[Biblical Seventh-Day Adventist preacher Greg Sereda claimed:] ‘The implication here is that we need to have a law mandating rest on Sunday, so it appears that his agenda on climate change includes giving Sunday rest and worship mandated by law to improve the environment’. Mr Sereda went on to claim that Saturday should actually be the day of rest and not Sunday, therefore those that follow the Pope’s order will be ignoring God’s wishes… ‘the Catholic Church changed the sabbath from Saturday to Sunday and no man has the right to change God’s commandment. So in convincing people to honour Sunday as the sabbath, which is a part of Pope Francis’ agenda for climate change, people will be submitting themselves to the authority of the church’…”
The article went on to “explain” that the warnings in the Book of Revelation are to be understood metaphorically and that they cannot be applied to a literal abolition of the Sabbath and its replacement with Sunday. There can be no doubt that God’s weekly Holy Day is the Sabbath (from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) and that the Catholic Church “changed” God’s Law by substituting the Sabbath with Sunday. And so, the world is being kept in darkness until it will be too late.
Celebrating Winter Solstice or Christmas?
The Sun wrote on December 22:
“HUNDREDS gathered at Stonehenge this morning to welcome the winter solstice, as the sun rose for the shortest day in the year. Crowds, donning colourful clothing, congregated at the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, hugging the stones… The winter solstice is most notably associated with the druids who mark the start of the solar year with a celebration of light and the rebirth of the sun. But the celebrations were not just confined to Stonehenge, with other cultures regularly observing the shortest day of the year.
“Across Europe the winter solstice is known as Yule, from the Norse word Jul (or juul), meaning wheel. The day has been celebrated by various cultures around the world for thousands of years and is generally a recognition of rebirth.
“Fires would be lit to symbolise the heat and light of the returning sun and a Yule log was gathered and burnt in the hearth as a tribute to the Norse god Thor. There are many songs and poems used to celebrate this special day. Pagan homes are often decorated with supposedly sacred herbs and red, green and white colours. Holly, ivy, evergreen boughs and pine cones are usually put around the home, especially in places where socialising takes place.
“A sprig of mistletoe is put up above a threshold and is meant to be left there until the next Yule. Pagans see it as a charm for good luck throughout the year but [it] has now taken on a symbolic meaning for kissing beneath it and the opportunity for romance.”
The similarities with Christmas are striking and obvious. It should be clear that modern Christmas customs were adopted from pagan rites and observances. God calls this an abomination.
Church of England Accused of Betraying Christian Faith
Daily Mail wrote on December 21:
“A former chaplain to the Queen has converted to Catholicism after becoming exasperated at the ‘astonishing’ failure of the Church of England to defend Christian values and the faith itself. Dr Gavin Ashenden was chaplain to the monarch for a decade, resigning from the post in 2017 after objecting to the Koran being read during an Anglican service. Now, he has quit altogether to join the Catholic church, launching a stinging attack on the Anglican church in the process.
“He said the Church had ‘swallowed wholesale’ trendy politically correct causes such as transgender rights rather than offering a ‘Christian critique’. He also accused it of failing to stand up for those accused of ‘thought crimes’ for stating their Christian beliefs…
“Today’s children are bombarded with social media messages sowing doubts about what was a cast-iron certainty of childhood: you are a boy or a girl. And, as The Mail on Sunday reported last week, up to a quarter of children ‘presenting’ as transgender could simply be autistic.”
His criticism of the Church of England is clearly justified. His conversion to Catholicism, which could be accused of the same frailties, is difficult to comprehend.
Occultism on the Rise especially for Young People
Crux wrote on December 22:
“… references to the demonic are increasingly prevalent in videogames and school games such as the ‘Charlie Charlie challenge,’ in which players cross two pencils on a grid with sectors marking ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and ask a supernatural being, ‘Charlie,’ to answer the questions they ask…
“One example of the normalization of Satanism… is the recent book, A Children’s Book of Demons, which was published in May and is directed to children aged 5-10 years of age. Penned by Aaron Leighton, an award-winning illustrator and known fan of occult practices, the book contains colorful images of some 20 different demons and teaches kids the sigil, or magical symbol, for the demons and how to summon them…
“As Satanism and occult practices become increasingly normal among young people, they also face pressure not to feel out of the loop if friends and peers are involved…”
Young people must be properly taught by their parents about the danger of Satanism and occult practices. Of course, in many cases, parents are confused themselves, not really knowing what constitutes occultism, and they might even participate in superstitious practices thinking they are harmless fun. This would include believing in horoscopes and astrology, and participating in Halloween and Christmas celebrations (which are pagan to the core). Far Eastern meditation practices, consulting mediums or participating in séances also include a fertile ground for demonic activities.
Pope Francis Challenges “Traditional Catholic Values”
Breaking Israel News wrote on December 24:
“Pope Francis’ Christmas address shocked many as he rejected tradition, Western culture and compared Jesus in Bethlehem to a refugee… This anti-West approach should be expected as Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, and the first from the Southern Hemisphere…
“There is no doubt that traditional Catholic values are being challenged under Pope Francis. In November, the pope announced that he would consider a request to allow married men to be priests. He is also considering the addition of ‘ecological sins’ to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Among the sins that Catholics would confess to a priest are whether their clothes are fairly traded, how many animal products they consume, and whether they overuse their mobile phones.
“His policy in which homosexuals are welcomed into the church is so revolutionary that the American LGBT magazine The Advocate named Pope Francis their Person of the Year for 2013… He has frequently met with openly homosexual and transgender people.
“Some Catholic Churches are taking this agenda even further. Catholic dioceses in the United Kingdom are reportedly hosting homosexual Masses designed to welcome homosexuals into the church and combine ‘gay pride’ with the Eucharist and other Romish sacraments… these events welcome homosexuals into the Catholic Church while not advocating celibacy.
“The Pope has also been advancing his Declaration on Human Brotherhood… [He] has been criticized for advancing the concept of one world religion…”
Many of the Pope’s new ideas are clearly in opposition to traditional Catholic dogma. Some of his ideas are worthwhile considering in the light of biblical prophecy, while others are downright silly. IF these ideas represent what Francis REALLY believes, then a dramatic clash with the Vatican is inevitable.
Sudden Call to Start the Temple Services
Breaking Israel News wrote on December 24:
“As Shabbat ends, the Sanhedrin will be hosting a Menorah lighting on Mount Zion for all nations, bringing together representatives of all of humanity, in what is the battle call for the war of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness…
“The focus of the ceremony on Mount Zion will be the lighting of the seventh flame on a large nine-branched menorah… Specially prepared to be used should a sudden call go out to jump-start the Temple service on the Temple Mount, the menorah can be carried by one man. The oil used in the lighting ceremony was prepared according to the strictest laws of purity that apply to olive oil prepared for use in the Temple. “
The rest of the article includes a lot of utter nonsense, but it is noteworthy that the desire for the building of the Third Temple is mentioned, which is very much alive today in the state of Israel.
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 are we told to pray for others?
We find many Scriptures in the Bible encouraging us to pray for others. But why? Why should a Christian spend time in praying for others, especially for those in the faith? Is there a benefit for doing this? What is God’s purpose in having us pray for each other?
One of the trademarks of a Christian is an attitude of outgoing concern for others. Putting others ahead of one’s self shows absolute love and kindness which is a key trait of one who calls him- or herself a Christian. Please note 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Romans 12:10; Mark 12:31 and 1 Peter 3:8. All these Scriptures point out the fact that true love does not only think about oneself, but also about others. It is ALWAYS looking out for the betterment of others and their situations. Philippians 2:3-4 iterates: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
When we start taking on this approach, we quickly see that one of the major ways to do this is through praying for others. Maybe they include prayers for strength, or wisdom, or for help in health-related matters. We all have the opportunities to pray these types of prayers for others. This is entirely backed up by God’s Holy Scriptures.
Paul’s entire outlook throughout his ministry was to constantly be praying for those whom he shepherded. He took great care of the people that God entrusted to him. But in turn, he entrusted their well-being and their continuance in the faith to God through prayer.
We can notice this in the next few quoted Scriptures.
- Ephesians 6:18-20 in the New International Version: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
- Romans 10:1: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”
- Colossians 1:9: “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding…”
- 1 Timothy 2:1-7: “Therefore I exhort (encourage) first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority (a prominent place), that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”
Paul was concerned that we all pray for each other with prayers full of outgoing concern and love in each situation that we all find ourselves in throughout our lives. And he exemplified this. But notice, this is not just where we are to leave off in our prayers. We can pray and should pray for outcomes in government—not for this world as this world is Satan’s world, nor for the kingdoms and nations that rule–but rather we are to pray that we can have peace and safety and that we find favor in the eyes of people who rule this world, as well as praying for the unhindered fulfillment of the Work which God has commissioned us to do. Also realizing though that our allegiance is to God, first and foremost, and that we cannot go against His Will, even if people who rule in this world command us to do otherwise. Rather, we need to stand up for what is right and be proper ambassadors as Paul rightly showed himself to be.
Continuing on in reading what Paul wrote in his letters to many churches as to how he kept them in his prayers. We read how explicit he was in telling them what it was that he was praying about for them. In Philippians 1:3-10 we read: “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
What would have been the effect if Paul had not prayed for the churches in this way? His prayers had to have had effect. Both from the standpoint of God listening and helping, but also from the standpoint of the people to whom the letters were written and hearing those words and knowing that he was praying for them.
In James 5:16 we read: “Confess your trespasses (your personal sins which you have committed towards other members) to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent (supplication) prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
Our prayers can be effective, both for ourselves and for others, if we are righteous. If we are NOT righteous in our approach, then God will not hear. In chapter 1 of James, we see many admonitions in this regard. There is no end to how we can and should live righteously. If we find it hard to think in this way, then we are not focused enough on God, and not studying enough. God is curious to see what we will do. He is anxious to see our character growth. But this only comes through intensive moments of opportunity for growth. This comes through having convictions (especially biblically based ones and sticking to those).
Continuing in verses 16-17 of James 5: “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”
Do we consider our prayers to be THAT powerful? If not, WHY not? When we pray, we should be expecting the things we pray about to be done. John 14:13-14 shows Christ’s words for us today: “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
We need to realize that our prayers hold serious weight with God. We have to believe this. And we need to learn to pray in all situations.
Matthew 5:44 tells us: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
This does not mean, of course, that we should pray for the welfare of our enemies who curse, hate, spitefully use and persecute us and, more importantly, God. Rather, our prayers to God should contain a plea that they would understand and repent of the wickedness of their ways, so that they can be freed from being Satan’s captives. This might even include a plea to God for His powerful and dramatic intervention in their lives to wake them up or to prevent them from causing further harm to others. Sometimes, God even tells us to cease praying for His enemies—especially for those who once knew the Truth and fell away, as God would not hear our prayers. And in general, we read that even Christ did not pray for the people of this world, while He did and does pray for those whom He called out of this world.
In John 17:8-9, we read: “For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.”
Christ’s prayer to the Father in John 17, verses 6-26, was dedicated to the men and women who were alive at that time and for ALL who would be called to become true Christians. His care and concern was for His people whom God has chosen and would choose through the centuries. His desire was for us to become one as He and the Father are one. This is not easily accomplished. It takes much focus on God’s Word, prayer and the action.
Paul asks us in the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians to stir up spiritual gifts for the sake of unity. Each member is to be used by God in the capacity that is granted to them. In verse 25, Paul talks about each member having the “same care for one another.”
When we focus our attention on others and shift from being self-centered to caring for others in whatever capacity that may be, we begin to experience a change of our mindset. Let us notice the growth of the early Church because of what God was accomplishing, while He was specifically looking at their attitude. In Acts 2:40-47, it says that the new church members continued “steadfastly” in prayers. They were not only praying for their own lives and God’s help for problems they were encountering, but they were also praying for each other. They were praying for the Work. They were praying for those who were leading them. And God was pleased with this attitude and this approach.
Those who do NOT pray for the welfare and benefit of other Church members exhibit attitudes of selfishness. While not caring for others, they may rather talk about them in negative ways, gossip and slander them and show a general disregard for them. This would also apply to people in the world who are maligned and talked about incorrectly. God tells us to stay away from these kinds of people who slander and gossip. If we were to find that we had this type of attitude, it would be time to repent and to draw close to God. Paul’s warning for us in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (Amplified Bible) is as follows: “But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.” This is NOT the type of people that we want to be a part of in any way, nor do we want to be these types of people ourselves.
When we pray, we should always know how powerful our prayers for each other can be, and how much we should be coming before God with all sincerity and belief that He is there waiting. We are aware of the state of the world, and we should understand that our prayers for the Work and those who perform the Work are important as well. 2 Thessalonians 3:1 says: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you.”
Righteous and appropriate prayers for others are extremely important, and they should be a daily part of our prayer life.
Lead Writer: Kalon Mitchell
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“How our Wrong Values Destroy our Children,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Are the “values” which we teach our children in conformity with God’s standards? Sadly, in far too many cases, they are not! While German Roman Catholic bishops, Pope Francis, Protestant organizations, governments, politicians, educators and school teachers convey many ungodly principles on sex and other matters to our young people, YOU must know and teach them the Truth.
“War der Apostel Petrus der erste Papst?” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “Was the Apostle Peter the First Pope?”
“Vorsicht vor Ablenkungen” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermonette, presented by Michael Link. Title in English: “Careful with Distractions.”
“Ist Gottes Kirche eine Sekte?” is the title of last Sabbath’s German sermonette, presented by Mike Richter. Title in English: “Is God’s Church a Sect?”
“Are You Blessed by God?”, the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
We should never forget all of the many blessings of God which come to us each and every day. But let’s also consider the BIG blessings of God—things which transcend our physical lives.
“A Light that Convicts,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Robb Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Our examples have the ability to be conduits for changing people’s hearts. That can be for either a positive or negative reaction. We cannot let the light of God’s Truth be reduced in brilliance or be put to shame because we allow ourselves to be led by our carnality. We are called to let our lights shine and we must be doing so at all times.
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
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