January 17, 2020
Comments on News and Prophecy (January 18, 2020) / The Test Commandment
On January 18, 2020, Norbert Link will present “Comments on News and Prophecy (January 18, 2020),” and Rene Messier will present the sermon, titled, “The Test Commandment.”
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.
Be Alert and Go On Without Fear!
by Norbert Link
In my last Editorial, dated November 15 (Update #899), I spoke about the fact that “time is running out.” I warned that while we see end-time prophecies being fulfilled before our very eyes, some members of the Church of God lose heart and walk away, thereby forgetting Christ’s admonition to hold fast what they have so that they don’t lose their crown (Revelation 3:11).
I continued with the same theme in my last Member Letter, dated December 17, 2019, quoting news headlines in 2019 and showing how close we are to the Great Tribulation. On December 19, we produced a StandingWatch program, titled, “What’s Ahead for 2020.”
Now notice what all has happened already in 2020: The British parliament decided that Brexit will take place on January 31, 2020, causing further disagreements and upheaval between Britain and Europe; Australia’s devastating and deadly wildfires seem to have no end; turmoil and fear of a worldwide war, stemming from America’s conduct pertaining to Iraq, Iran and the entire Middle East, captivated the headlines in early January; and the demands for American withdrawal in that part of the world get louder. Then, after Putin’s attempted power grab, the entire Russian government resigned.
In this issue, we report on the strange and cozy relationship between Merkel and Putin, in defiance of and in opposition to the USA; the virtually unknown German access to America’s nuclear weapons; and the open disagreement between the two popes. Understanding prophecy, we know what all these developments mean.
We can’t be like the proverbial scoffers who deny the obvious, but we must realize that time is indeed short, and we must be sure that we don’t lose our focus for what is really important. Priorities can become mixed up in our lives, but when they do, we might become like the five foolish virgins who do not have enough oil in their lamps and are not ready when the cry is heard at midnight. We are close to midnight now, and warning cries are going out; and we all must work on establishing a sure and lasting relationship with God. Nothing else could be more important. The Bible warns us of the many distractions in this day and age which can influence us to lose sight of what needs to be our main focus: Things like working on our own house, while God’s house lies in ruins; the pleasures of life; our hobbies; “having to” deal with difficulties caused by others; the search for a mate; the desire for riches and physical possessions… the list could be endless. None of that will help us to make it into the Kingdom of God. Ultimately, it is our righteous character which will last and which we will “take with us” when we die… nothing else will.
At the same time, we must be careful in a different way. We must work on being ready today SPIRITUALLY, while planning to have an entire life before us PHYSICALLY. We must not fall into the trap of becoming indifferent to our physical obligations and responsibilities. We are told that we must work… if we refuse to do so, we should not be allowed to eat either. And that means that we must be diligent, reliable and responsible in our job. We are to take care of our household, our children, our mates; otherwise we are denying the faith and become worse than unbelievers. We have to look after the interests and needs of others… not just of our own. We have to care for our physical possessions and must not neglect them… but none of that should take first priority in our lives. We are to plan for the future, including financially… while realizing that our plans might not be what God has in store for us. We must always be willing to submit to and accept the Will of God.
Also, we must not become discouraged and fearful when realizing that the time of trouble is at hand. Fear and anxiety destroy faith and trust. When looking at what is going on around us and forgetting God, then we will become extremely worried and unable to function properly and productively. Christ told us that when we have our priorities straight—when we seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, then we do not have to have anxious thoughts, because we know that God will give us what we need. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will be with us always; until the very end. Remember, fear is not in love, but perfect love casts out fear. And we are to become perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect.
I have always found words like the following very encouraging when I go through difficult times in my life. This kind of attitude is not normal to man; it can only be developed when God is on our side and when we draw near to Him… especially in times of need. We all must do this, when we face uncertainty, difficulties and trouble—when we consider the world in which we live:
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling… The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge… Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:1-3, 7, 10).
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he… will not fear when heat comes… And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
Christ tells us: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
Considering this, let us go on with boldness, confidence and faith in these troublesome days; let us fulfill our individual and collective responsibilities, while keeping our priorities in check; and let us watch and heed world events in the light of biblical prophecies, which should motivate us to draw closer to God, and this so much the more as we see that the Day is fast approaching.
by Norbert Link
We report on explosive events in and pertaining to Iraq and Iran; Germany’s dubious role in handling or mishandling the situation in the Middle East; Angela Merkel’s far-too-cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin (please see our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Does Germany Have Nuclear Weapons?”); and the resignation of the entire Russian government after Putin’s latest attempt of a power grab.
We speak on the concern of a break-up of the UK; and the world’s unparalleled debt load.
We address the controversy between “the two popes” and conclude with an interesting article on volcanoes and earthquakes.
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
USA and Iraq at a Crossroads, while Iran Keeps Threatening USA and Israel
Reuters wrote on January 11:
“Washington on Friday rebuffed an Iraqi request to prepare to pull out its troops, amid heightened US-Iranian tensions after the US killing of an Iranian commander in Baghdad. Seeking to tighten pressure on its arch foe, the US meanwhile imposed more sanctions on Iran, responding to an attack on American troops in Iraq launched by Tehran in retaliation for the death of General Qassem Soleimani… Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi made his request in a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo late on Thursday in line with a vote by the Iraqi Parliament last week…
“Abdul Mahdi asked Pompeo to ‘send delegates to put in place the tools to carry out the Parliament’s decision’… The US State Department said any US delegation would not discuss the withdrawal of American troops as their presence in Iraq was ‘appropriate.’ ‘There does, however, need to be a conversation between the US and Iraqi governments not just regarding security, but about our financial, economic, and diplomatic partnership’…
“Iraq’s top Shi’ite Muslim cleric [Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani] said… no foreign powers should be allowed to decide Iraq’s fate… Sistani… wields huge influence over Iraqi public opinion. ‘Iraq must govern itself and there must be no role for outsiders in its decision-making,’ Sistani said…”
The Times of Israel added on January 12:
“Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Hezbollah terror organization, on Sunday threatened violence against the United States if it did not withdraw its troops from the Middle East, and said any future American attack on Iran would draw a retaliation against Israel.
“‘If in the coming days or weeks the US doesn’t withdraw its forces from the Middle East, the American soldiers will return to the US in coffins,’ Nasrallah declared… Nasrallah called last week for Shiite militias to attack US military assets throughout the Middle East — including with suicide bombings…”
Threats were also made against European troops in the Middle East. President Trump said in an interview with Fox News that he would be fine with withdrawing US troops from Iraq, but Iraq would have to pay them a lot of money for US services so far.
Iran “Admits” Downing the Ukrainian Airliner after Days of Continuing Lies
The Associated Press wrote on January 11:
“Iran’s acknowledgement that it shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing 176 people, raises new challenges for the Islamic Republic both externally amid tensions with the U.S. and internally as it deals with growing discontent from its people. The country did itself no favors by having its air-crash investigators, government officials and diplomats deny for days that a missile downed the flight…
“‘There has been no missile launched in that area at that time,’ said Hamid Baeidinejad, Iranian ambassador to the United Kingdom, in an interview Friday with Sky News, calling further questions on the allegation ‘absolutely unacceptable.’
“Then the story changed early Saturday morning… Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei… acknowledged the missile strike, citing the report by Iran’s conventional armed forces. Yet even the army statement itself raises questions, as it said the flight moved ‘very close to a sensitive military spot… The altitude and the direction of the flight’s movement were like an enemy target, so the aircraft was targeted unintentionally due to human error,’ the statement read.
“That’s despite flight data for every Ukrainian International Airlines flight out of Tehran since early November show Wednesday’s flight followed a similar altitude and flight path, according to flight-tracking website FlightRadar24. Planes leaving Imam Khomeini airport routinely take off going west as the Ukrainian flight did. Nine other flights flew out of the airport early Wednesday morning before the Ukrainian airliner as well without encountering trouble…
“Analysts have questioned the decision not to close Tehran’s airspace in the days after the shootdown… Iranian officials… sought to try to blame ‘U.S. adventurism’ for Iran shooting down the airplane. That may not fly with the Iranian public, already battered by economic sanctions and openly protesting in recent protests. Saturday night, hundreds gathered at universities in Tehran to… [demand] officials involved in the missile attack be removed from their positions and tried. Police broke up the demonstrations…”
If fact, it has been confirmed now what had already been reported earlier—that Iran shot down the Ukrainian airline with TWO missiles, not just one.
Just ONE German Government Politician Calls for Sanctions against Iran
The Jerusalem Post wrote on January 11:
“German politician Paul Ziemiak calls Iran’s leadership a ‘terrorist regime’… The No. 2 member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party on Friday urged sanctions targeting Iran’s regime for launching at least one missile at an Ukrainian passenger jet, resulting in the death of all 176 people aboard… Three German citizens were aboard the downed plane…
“Ziemiak’s call to sanction Iran’s clerical regime stands in sharp contrast to Merkel and her coalition government with the Social Democratic Party. Both Merkel and the Social Democrats have worked to circumvent US sanctions targeting Iran. A German official oversees INSTEX (the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) to promote trade among European countries with Iran.
“In 2018, the chairman of Germany’s Jewish community, Dr. Josef Schuster, called for ‘an immediate halt to any economic relations with Iran… Schuster added that ‘It seems paradoxical that Germany – as a country that is said to have learned from its horrendous past and which has a strong commitment to fight antisemitism – is one of the strongest economic partners of a regime [Tehran] that is blatantly denying the Holocaust and abusing human rights on a daily basis.
“‘Besides, Germany has included Israel’s security as a part of its raison d’être,’ he said. ‘As a matter of course, this should exclude doing business with a fanatic dictatorship that is calling for Israel’s destruction, pursuing nuclear weapons and financing terror organizations around the world.’ Merkel ignored Schuster’s appeal at the time.”
Bild Online wrote on January 10: “No, it was not a mistake, but a murderous deed. CDU-General Secretary Paul Ziemiak is the only German politician who speaks clearly in connection with Iran. He is right when he demands new EU sanctions against Iran.”
Iran’s Leadership in Big Trouble
Reuters wrote on January 14:
“Iran said on Tuesday it had arrested people accused of a role in shooting down a Ukrainian airliner and had also detained 30 people involved in protests that have swept the nation for four days since the military belatedly admitted its error. Wednesday’s shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752, killing all 176 people aboard, has led to one of the biggest public challenges to the Islamic Republic’s clerical rulers since they took power four decades ago.
“In a step that will increase diplomatic pressure, Britain, France and Germany launched a dispute mechanism [to bring Tehran back to compliance, allegedly not to impose sanctions] for breaching limits on its nuclear programme under an agreement which Washington abandoned in 2018. Since the United States killed Iran’s most powerful military commander in a drone strike on Jan. 3, Tehran has faced escalating confrontation with the West and unrest at home, both reaching levels with little precedent in its modern history…
“Protesters, many of them students, have held daily demonstrations since then, chanting ‘Clerics get lost!’ and calling for the removal of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in power for more than 30 years. Police have responded to some protests with a violent crackdown, video posts on social media showed. Footage showed police beating protesters with batons, wounded people being carried, pools of blood on the streets and the sound of gunfire…
“The extent of the unrest is difficult to assess because of limits on independent reporting…
“Most of those on board the flight were Iranians or dual nationals… The disaster and subsequent unrest comes amid one of the biggest escalations between Tehran and Washington since 1979…
“Iran’s leaders have been facing a powerful combination of pressure both at home and abroad. Just two months ago, Iran’s authorities put down anti-government protests, killing hundreds of demonstrators in what is believed to be the most violent crackdown on unrest since the 1979 revolution. Elsewhere in the Middle East, where Iran has wielded influence through a network of allied movements and proxies, governments that include powerful Iran-sponsored armed factions have faced months of hostile demonstrations in Lebanon and Iraq.”
Regarding the future of Iran, please read our free booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy.”
Merkel Far Too Cozy with Putin
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 11:
“Germany and Russia have traditionally had deep economic ties and, among NATO and European leaders, Merkel has been a welcome guest in Moscow…
“The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned US actions against Soleimani as ‘reckless,’ while German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Rainer Breul said Berlin has not been privy to ‘information that would allow us to see that the US attack was based on international law.’…
“… the Kremlin has been consistently trying to coax Germany, and Europe, towards closer ties by portraying the US as an unreliable partner…”
In addition to the pitiful comments by the German Foreign Ministry, Merkel’s visit with Putin and the subsequent press conference in Moscow on January 12, the German conservative paper, Die Welt, wrote that Merkel’s positions were surprisingly similar to Putin’s and they were in opposition to America’s. The paper stated that what Merkel said about the support of the Russian-German pipeline could not have been stated better by Putin. And the paper warned that her charm offensive is very risky, especially in the energy sector, and that Germany is becoming more and more dependent on Russia and subject to Russia’s blackmail.
Conservative mass tabloid Bild Online published additional strong words of criticism for Merkel. They stated that Putin only received praise from Merkel… including for his visit with Syria’s mass murderer al-Assad. The paper said: “A corpse in Berlin’s Tiergarten would have only been disruptive: Not one word was uttered regarding the murder of a Gregorian former agent in Berlin last August, for which Moscow is being blamed by the USA, Great Britain and Merkel’s own security services.”
In another editorial, Bild Online wrote about the “weak Chancellor”: “Where is the Chancellor whom we once knew?… She… accepts every cynical provocation [from Putin]… Europe is in desperate need of an adversary equal to Putin. Angela Merkel has not been that for a long time.”
Please see our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Does Germany Have Nuclear Weapons?”
After Putin’s Power Grab — Russia’s PM and Entire Government Resign
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 15:
“Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced on Wednesday that he and the rest of the Russian government were resigning… The announcement came on the heels of President Vladimir Putin’s annual speech to lawmakers where he proposed a series of constitutional reforms that would grant more powers to parliament — including the ability to select the prime minister…
“Putin has asked the outgoing government to continue to carry out their duties until a new government is formed… Russian political analyst Alexey Kurtov interpreted the prime minister’s resignation as a show of ‘disagreement’ with sweeping changes suggested by Putin…
“The maneuver could prove crucial for Putin’s future. [He] took power in 2000 and since served as both president and prime minister. He is currently in his consecutive term as president and is prohibited by law to stay on as president. ‘I wouldn’t exclude that Putin sees himself taking on the speaker’s chair in the parliament in the future,’ political analyst Abbas Gallyamov told DW. ‘Since Putin’s main task now is to secure his own political future, we can assume he is paving the way for himself there.’”
The Guardian wrote on January 15:
“… observers saw an attempt by Putin to lay the groundwork for a transition of power in 2024, when he should, under the constitution, step down from the presidency after serving two terms back-to-back as Russia’s head of state. ‘The main result of Putin’s speech: what idiots (and/or crooks) are all those who said that Putin would leave in 2024,’ wrote Alexei Navalny, a vocal leader of Russia’s opposition.
“Putin, 67, has in effect ruled Russia since 2000, making him the longest-serving leader since Stalin, and the question of what he plans to do in 2024 remains the most important political question in the country… Few expect Putin will want to retire from public life…”
Putin will try everything he possibly can to stay in power—“by hook or by crook.”
CNN wrote on January 15:
“By taking steps to tighten his grip on power, Putin is also sending a message to the wider world. More Putin in Russia means more Putin on the international stage. And if the last few years have taught us anything, that means a Russia willing to go to extraordinary lengths to act as a direct rival for influence to the US-led world order — and create more headaches for America and its allies.”
Putin, the “Humble” Dictator
The Week wrote on January 16:
“Nothing suggests that Putin’s already more or less unilateral authority is about to diminish. In fact, that’s exactly what the proposed constitutional changes are meant to shore up. By investing more power in the legislature, of which the prime minister is the head, and the council, which Putin controls, he is simply preparing himself for the end of what may be his last term as the president of the Russian Federation… this time he may not bother returning to the presidency. Instead he will be able to rule effectively as a head of government rather than a head of state, not directly subject to term limits and immune from impeachment, backed by a newly empowered legislature and a council of state capable of sweeping actions that are inconceivable at present…
“It should be clear to all observers that Putin intends to remain in power for as long as possible — perhaps even for the remainder of his life — and that he is willing to do so by any means necessary… In the words of an old protest classic, ‘This is what democracy looks like,’ at least in Russia.”
Sadly, this is true all over this evil world. Daily Mail wrote that “like Stalin, [Putin will] rule to death” and described his move as “an audaciously disguised power grab.” As a former KGB spy, Putin knows how to get ahead in this corrupt world.
Russia’s New Prime Minister
The Guardian wrote on January 16:
“…the Russian president’s allies have rushed to support Mikhail Mishustin, the former head of Russia’s tax service… after Putin named him as the replacement for… Medvedev… Mishustin was confirmed in the post by Russia’s parliament on Thursday and is the country’s first new prime minister since 2012… Analysts said Mishustin may play a role as a ‘caretaker’ figure but was unlikely to be Putin’s long-term successor… “
Bild Online referred to Mishustin as Putin’s new puppet.
Where Was Ursula von der Leyen?
Politico wrote on January 6:
“With the Middle East in meltdown and fears of ‘World War III’ trending on social media, the leader of the EU’s new ‘geopolitical Commission’ was nowhere to be geo-located. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who aims to make the bloc a bigger player on the world stage, made her first public comments about the escalating hostilities between Iran and the United States on Monday evening — more than three days after an airstrike ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani…
“But for some observers, it was far too late. ‘Stop your holidays and start saying something!’ one EU diplomat said earlier in the day, expressing bewilderment at the absence of any comments from the Commission president on Iran, as well as an announcement a week earlier by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that he would send military forces to Libya…
“‘We don’t really know what to do,’ said the diplomat who had wondered why von der Leyen did not speak out over the holidays… The diplomat complained that von der Leyen is talking about tackling climate change while the EU lets its neighborhood fall ‘into the hands of Turkey and Russia and we risk an escalation in the Middle East.’”
Von der Leyen is, and always has been, weak and highly controversial.
“Europe Hates Trump More Than Iran”
Politico wrote on January 8:
“When it comes to finding adjectives to describe U.S. President Donald Trump’s assassination of Iranian military guru Qassem Soleimani… European officials have displayed rare unity. At least in private… While Trump has been reviled by Europe’s establishment from the day he took office… Europe’s shock over the Iranian general’s killing morphed into anger at Trump…
“Just how bad is it? Even as Iran’s supreme leader promised ‘severe’ retaliation for the killing over the weekend, EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for a sitdown in Brussels. The U.S., which recently placed sanctions on Zarif, won’t even grant him a visa to visit the United Nations. Angela Merkel… responded to the crisis by arranging a ‘working meeting’ later this week — in Moscow. Berlin appears to have concluded that sitting down with Vladimir Putin (who met with Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad this week to celebrate their success in crushing Syria’s civil war) would be more productive than a trip to Washington, on paper still Germany’s most important ally.
“Former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel described the Soleimani attack as a ‘1914 moment.’ The new leadership of Germany’s Social Democrats, Merkel’s coalition partner, called on the U.S. to remove its nuclear arsenal from the country. Though other senior SPD officials, including former European Parliament President Martin Schulz, have endorsed such a move in the past, the timing of the latest demand underscored the degree of German unease over Trump’s course…
“This is how Borrell, who was Spain’s foreign minister before taking on the EU’s foreign policy portfolio, described Europe’s relationship with the U.S. in an interview with POLITICO last year: ‘Wherever you look there’s complete disagreement between the States and Europe,’ he said… the European response has focused on trying to placate Iran instead of displaying solidarity with the U.S…. Europe’s refusal to stand by America’s side on Iran hasn’t gone unnoticed in Washington.”
Europe will turn totally against Trump… with catastrophic consequences.
What Could Europe Do?
Politico wrote on January 8:
“Since the assassination by the United States of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, Europeans have been busy talking… But Europeans have a bad habit of talking too much and acting too little — only to cry over spilled milk when events tip beyond the point of no return. As the Middle East descends into chaos, the consequences of which would be devastating not just for the region but for Europeans too, what, if anything, can Europe do?
“… [one] opportunity for action concerns Iraq… Europeans are currently present in Iraq through a civilian mission advising Iraqi security sector reform. Given Baghdad’s dire need for support to prevent the rebirth of the Islamic State, this could open a space for a European military mission as well… given its commitment… to the fight against the Islamic State, it would be in a privileged position to fill what otherwise risks becoming a dangerous void.”
That is exactly what Europe, in due time, will do.
Germany to Deliver US Nuclear Bombs
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 10:
“In the case of a nuclear strike, German Tornado fighter jets and their crews would deliver the American bombs… Their location is a state secret. The German government has never officially confirmed the existence of the nuclear bombs in Büchel. The precise number of bombs stored in the underground vaults in the air base is thus unclear; estimates range between 10 to 20.
“On the record, the German government only admits to being part of the sharing agreement, which dates back to the Cold War and NATO’s nuclear deterrence strategy aimed at keeping Soviet influence at bay. In essence, it provides for member states of the military alliance without nuclear weapons to partake in planning and training for the use of nuclear weapons… Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy are all part of the sharing agreement…
“But as Germany’s Tornado fleet is swiftly nearing the end of its shelf life, the cost of maintaining a fleet for the nuclear mission is skyrocketing… Many within the German Air Force prefer the American F-35 fighter jet produced by Lockheed Martin [to replace the Tornados], the most modern airplane available on the market. American planes would come with established logistics chains and programs to quickly train pilots, compared to training in Germany which can drag on for years. The other European nuclear-sharing countries — Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy — have all opted for the F-35…
“But here this option seems to have been quietly dropped, in part due to French pressure: For Germany and France are in the early stages of developing a joint fighter plane — the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), which combines manned fighter jets with swarms of cloud-connected drones… The French threatened to go FCAS alone, should Germany buy the modern American F-35 jets… And, there is another reason some politicians are wary of the F-35: It is, they concede, basically a black box. ‘You don’t know which information or data may be transmitted to America,’ one parliamentarian told DW.
“In theory, Germany could add to its 138-strong fleet of Eurofighter jets, built by a European consortium owned by Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. In Germany, the plane’s final assembly is also done in Manching, where the Tornados undergo their maintenance, and it is an important regional employer… It is a tricky issue, as the US reportedly told the German government that it would take much longer to certify the Eurofighter for its nuclear role than any American aircraft — possibly up to ten years. That would push it close to the Tornados’ end date. Airbus maintains that Germany shouldn’t have given the Americans an option, but simply told them to certify the Eurofighter, rather than let them favor the American-produced plane…
“SPD politician Fritz Felgentreu… prefers to uphold the nuclear sharing agreement. In theory, Germany could pull out, as Greece and the United Kingdom have done, in the latter case following popular protests against the nukes. But ‘it wouldn’t be prudent for Germany (to do so),’ Felgentreu told DW… In early 2020, the two left-leaning leaders of the Social Democrats — Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken — called for a withdrawal of all nuclear weapons in Europe and Russia, adding that the presence of American nukes in Germany was ‘problematic.’ For now, it is unclear who might gain the upper hand within the party… Should the SPD pivot away from the nuclear sharing agreement, it could potentially upend Merkel’s increasingly fractious coalition.
“Meanwhile, frustration is mounting among the German Air Force. ‘We just want a plane that does its job,’ one Tornado pilot told DW wryly. ‘Time is running out.’”
Please see our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Does Germany Have Nuclear Weapons?”
Germany in the Middle
Stars and Stripes wrote on January 6:
“The burgeoning crisis in the Middle East may complicate the Army’s plans to hold the largest military exercise in a generation in Europe this year. Defender-Europe 20, which is set for this spring, is expected to send 20,000 U.S. soldiers to Europe in the largest Army deployment to the Continent in 25 years. The units include an immediate response force from the 82nd Airborne Division that would conduct air and parachute assaults in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
“However, about 4,000 crisis response soldiers from the 82nd Airborne were dispatched to the Middle East… The Pentagon last year sent 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East amid concerns about Iranian aggression in the region.”
t-online wrote on January 11 that the central place for the planned operation will be Germany, with thousands of tanks and soldiers being transported eastward, using German streets and the autobahn, German airports and German waterways. The transport via Germany’s streets is supposed to happen mainly at night, in April and May. The transport of all the equipment and manpower back from the east will begin by the end of May and is supposed to be accomplished by July. 18 countries are participating in the exercise. In some parts of Germany, proposed military fights will be conducted. All in all, 35,000 soldiers will participate. According to the article, the reason for the exercise is the fear of further aggressive conduct by Russia, to be able to move quickly in case of an emergency.
What Lies Ahead for Austria
The Local wrote on January 7:
“The 33-year-old chancellor Sebastian Kurz says the unlikely coalition offers ‘the best of both worlds.’ Here are some of the main points of the government’s 300-page programme.
“The government is aiming to be carbon neutral — meaning greenhouse gas emissions are balanced with measures that absorb or eliminate carbon — by 2040, a decade ahead of the European Union’s 2050 ambition… While the Greens campaigned — along with environmentalists — for higher eco taxes to be introduced… the government programme makes no direct promise of that… The plan does, however, stipulate a tax of 12 euros ($13.40) on every plane ticket for both short and medium-distance flights, up from 3.50 euros and 7.50 euros respectively. On the other hand, the government wants to introduce a yearly pass, costing three euros a day, to be used on public transport throughout the country…”
Kurz Old/New Immigration Policy—Nothing Has Changed
Politico wrote on January 13:
“Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said it is the government’s duty to ‘protect young girls’ from the harmful side-effects of immigration, defending his pledge to ban headscarves in schools for girls under the age of 14… Kurz also said controlling illegal immigration is… pivotal… ‘… it is… important to decide who will live in our country,’ he said, adding that better control of immigration is an integral part of protecting cultural identity. He also announced more drastic measures to guarantee national security, such as preventive detention of immigrants suspected of religious extremism…
“Kurz has long championed tougher immigration rules on the national and European level, earning him both support and criticism. One German NGO earlier this month caused considerable outrage across German and Austrian media when it denounced Kurz, 33, as ‘Baby Hitler,’ after the leader said sea rescue operations in the Mediterranean only encourage more refugees to make the dangerous crossing to Europe and lead to more deaths.”
It has been observed that all important government posts are in Kurz’s hands. Some of his radical measures regarding immigration are clearly cause for concern. However, some of the Green-inspired programs are ludicrous.
The Senate’s Impeachment Trial – another chapter in the Ongoing Hoax
npr wrote on January 10:
“When the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump opens, the man in the center chair will be Chief Justice John Roberts… the Constitution… says that the chief justice ‘shall preside’ over the Senate trial of a president… Yet under Senate rules, it is the senators themselves who have the first and last word. They establish the procedures for the trial and can, by majority vote, overturn any of the chief justice’s rulings.
“The extent of the chief’s powerlessness was driven home to Chief Justice William Rehnquist at the beginning of President Bill Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial in 1999. When Rehnquist asked Senate Sergeant at Arms James Ziglar how to turn on his microphone, Ziglar replied, ‘You don’t. We control that.’… Rehnquist… really had absolutely no control of his courtroom…
“Trump’s relationship with Roberts has been rocky at best. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump called Roberts a ‘disgrace,’ a ‘disaster’ and a ‘nightmare’ and castigated him repeatedly for casting the deciding vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act… Roberts… tried mightily to convey an image of the court as apolitical.
“Even as Roberts will be presiding over the Senate trial, he and fellow justices are hearing a series of blockbuster cases this term on issues as diverse as abortion, LGBTQ employment rights, a major immigration case involving the potential deportation of 700,000 ‘DREAMers,’ and even a series of cases in which Trump is seeking to block subpoenas of his financial records. With that menu dominating his day job, it is unlikely that Roberts will want to insert himself as a major player in the impeachment trial…
“Borrowing a line from Gilbert and Sullivan’s play Iolanthe, Rehnquist opined, ‘I did nothing in particular and did it very well.’”
House impeachment prosecutors presented the articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate chamber on Thursday, reading the charges aloud. Then, John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was sworn in to preside over the trial that will determine whether Trump should be removed from office. After Roberts was sworn in, he administered an oath to deliver “impartial justice” to all 100 senators.
The historic trial marks only the third such proceeding in US history. The trial is anticipated to begin next Tuesday. The outcome is predetermined. Trump will remain President of the USA.
The End of the UK?
The New York Times wrote on January 10:
“The United Kingdom may be finally coming to an end… The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on Jan. 31. For decades, membership in the European Union helped glue together a fragmenting United Kingdom; now Brexit is tearing it apart…
“Mr. Johnson’s plan is likely to lead to a border between Northern Ireland and Britain for the first time in modern history… A once-more united Ireland is firmly in view…
“A large majority of Scots voted to remain in the European Union during the 2016 referendum; to allow Northern Ireland but not Scotland to remain aligned with the European Union’s market will only add to the sting. Nicola Sturgeon, the S.N.P.’s leader, has already formally requested that the Scottish parliament be given powers to hold an independence referendum. Mr. Johnson, for his part, has made clear that he intends to stand in the way of such a vote, but he may not be able to block it forever.
“So maybe this is the end… First Scotland, then Northern Ireland, leaving just England and Wales, a mini-union, which itself could break up under pressure from Welsh nationalists…
“England… would probably have to give up its nuclear weapons — the United Kingdom’s nuclear submarine base is in Scotland…”
In due time, a break-up of the UK appears likely, if not inevitable.
Israeli Education Minister Condemned for his Biblical Views
The Times of Israel wrote on January 10:
“Education Minister Rafi Peretz came under fire Friday for an interview where he appeared to call same-sex marriage unnatural… ‘In the religious public that lives according to the Torah, a normal family is a man and a woman,’ he said in an interview with the Yedioth Ahronoth daily. ‘[We] don’t need to ashamed that we live in this natural way.’ Peretz was also asked how he would respond if one of his children was gay. ‘Thank God my kids grew up naturally and healthy. They’re building their families from Jewish values,’ he said.
“The comments were met with heavy criticism, including from a number of gay Knesset members. ‘Look, Rabbi Rafi [Peretz], this is what a “natural and healthy” family looks like,’ Labor MK Itzik Shmuli wrote in tweet that included a photo of him with his partner and their son. Meretz party leader Nitzan Horowitz called Peretz a ‘contemptible person’… The LGBT umbrella organization Aguda called Peretz’s comments ‘irresponsible’ and said they were providing an opening for homophobia and anti-gay violence…”
Woe unto you when you say what GOD thinks. But woe unto you if you don’t!
No Trust in Israel’s Political System
Breaking Israel News wrote on January 12:
“With Israel’s third parliamentary elections in less than a year due to be held on March 2, 2020–at a cost to the economy of many billions of shekels – it’s not surprising that the public’s confidence in the Knesset and the political parties is at the lowest ebb… The current political impasse, which, unbelievably, threatens to trigger a fourth bout of elections, caused 63% of the Israeli public to distrust the political system in 2019. Compare this to 56% of the public who expressed very little confidence in politics, politicians and political institutions in 2018…
“An even sharper decline was recorded in the confidence level of the parties. Fully 67% of the public expressed little or no confidence in them, compared with four percent who expressed great or very much confidence. Last year, 57% expressed little or no confidence and six percent expressed great or very much confidence…”
There is not much trust and confidence in any of the governments of this world, nor should there be. And those who worship their political leaders—for instance in North Korea—are hopelessly delusional and brainwashed.
“The World Is Drowning in Debt”
CNN wrote on January 13:
“The world’s already huge debt load smashed the record for the highest debt-to-GDP ratio before 2019 was even over. In fact, it broke that record in the first nine months of last year. Global debt, which comprises borrowings from households, governments and companies, grew by $9 trillion, to nearly $253 trillion, in the first nine months of last year… That puts the global debt-to-GDP ratio at 322%, narrowly surpassing 2016 as the highest level on record.
“More than half of this enormous number was accumulated in developed markets, such as the United States and Europe, bringing their debt-to-GDP ratio to 383% overall. There are plenty of culprits. Countries like New Zealand, Switzerland and Norway all have rising household debt levels, while the government debt-to-GDP ratios in the United States and Australia are at all-time highs.
“In emerging markets, debt levels are lower, for a total of $72 trillion, but they have risen faster in recent years… China’s ratio of debt to GDP, for example, is approaching 310%, the highest level in the developing world. Investors have long kept a skeptical eye on the highly-leveraged country. Following a push for Chinese companies to deliver in 2017 and 2018, debt levels rose again last year…
“Such massive worldwide debt is a real risk for the global economy, especially because the IIF expects levels to rise even further in 2020. ‘Spurred by low interest rates and loose financial conditions, we estimate that total global debt will exceed $257 trillion’ in the first quarter of 2020, the IIF said…
“Despite favorable borrowing conditions, the refinancing risk is massive. A total of more than $19 trillion of syndicated loans and bonds will mature in 2020. It’s unlikely that all of these will be refinanced or repaid.”
How long can the world carry these horrendous debts before breaking down under the load?
Pope Benedict Warns Pope Francis Against Relaxing Celibacy Rules
BBC News reported on January 13:
“Retired Pope Benedict XVI has issued a defence of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Church as his successor considers easing a ban on married men serving as priests. Pope Benedict made the appeal in a book co-authored with Cardinal Robert Sarah. It comes in response to a proposal to allow married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.
“Pope Benedict, who retired in 2013, said he could not remain silent on the issue. In the book, Pope Benedict says celibacy, a centuries-old tradition within the Church, has ‘great significance’ because it allows priests to focus on their duties. The 92-year-old says ‘it doesn’t seem possible to realise both vocations [priesthood and marriage] simultaneously’.
“It is rare for Pope Benedict, who was the first pontiff to resign in almost 600 years, to intervene in clerical matters… Vatican commentators have reacted with surprise to Francis’s intervention, suggesting it breaks with convention…
“A theological conservative with traditional views on Catholic values, Pope Benedict pledged to remain ‘hidden from the world’ when he retired, citing poor health. But since then, he has made his views known in articles, books and interviews, advocating a different approach to Pope Francis, who is seen as more progressive. Pope Benedict still lives within the walls of the Vatican in a former monastery…”
The Los Angeles Times wrote on January 13:
“Benedict’s intervention was extraordinary, given he had promised to remain ‘hidden from the world’ when he retired in 2013 and pledged his obedience to the new pope…
“The implications for such an intervention are grave, given that conservative and traditionalist Catholics nostalgic for Benedict’s orthodoxy are already deeply opposed to Francis, with some even considering Benedict’s resignation illegitimate…
“The book is being published at a moment of renewed interest in — and confusion about — the nature of the relationship between Francis and Benedict, thanks to the Netflix drama ‘The Two Popes.’ The film stars Anthony Hopkins as Benedict and Jonathan Pryce as Francis… It imagines a days-long conversation between the two men before Benedict announces his historic resignation Feb. 11, 2013 — conversations in which their different views of the state of the church become apparent.
“Those meetings never happened, and the two men didn’t know one another well before Francis was elected pope. But although the film takes artistic liberties for the sake of narrative, it gets the point across that Francis and Benedict indeed have some very different ideas…”
The Guardian wrote on January 13:
“‘It’s a first for Benedict but also for the church,’ said Joshua McElwee, the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter. ‘There’s a real worry that the figure of the former pope, who has a big following among those from more conservative circles, could prevent Francis from making a decision that he felt was right for the church.’…
“In a controversial essay published last year, Benedict blamed the Catholic church’s paedophile priest scandals on the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ‘homosexual cliques’ among priests. His comments were in sharp conflict with Francis’s efforts to steer the church out of a crisis that has blighted it for decades.”
Vatican’s “Damage Control”
AFP wrote on January 14:
“On Tuesday, the ex-pontiff’s private secretary, Georg Gaenswein, clarified that although Benedict had given Sarah passages he had written to use as the cardinal saw fit, ‘he hadn’t approved any plans for a double signature book nor had he seen and authorised the cover.’ ‘It was a misunderstanding, without questioning the good faith of Cardinal Sarah,’ Gaenswein told Italian newswire ANSA… ‘Benedict XVI… never saw, nor authorised the cover, nor did he authorise the publication of a co-authored book,’ a Vatican source ‘very close’ to the former pope told Elisabetta Pique, Vatican correspondent for Argentina’s La Nacion.
“Cardinal Sarah took to Twitter on Tuesday to defend himself, saying Benedict knew their collaboration would be a book, and that they had sent proofs back and forth for corrections. He later issued a statement affirming his ‘affection’ for Benedict and ‘obedience’ to Pope Francis, and appeared to have been forced to row back on the issue. ‘Considering the polemics caused… it has been decided that the author of the book will be for future publications: Card Sarah, with the contribution of Benedict XVI,’ he said in a tweet. ‘However, the complete text remains absolutely unchanged,’ he insisted…
“Vatican expert Christopher Lamb said the controversy was not about the book’s content, but rather over ‘the use of a retired pope’s authority to make the point.’ ‘No-one is doubting that Benedict agrees with the premise of the book,’ Lamb said on Twitter.
“Nicolas Seneze of the French Catholic daily La Croix reported a flurry of exchanges Monday between Benedict’s abode and Francis’s, ‘where the danger of a book that erects the pope emeritus as a parallel magisterium (Catholic authority) was clearly understood’.”
The Associated Press added on January 14:
“… the book’s English-language publisher, Ignatius Press, refused to back down, saying the book would carry Benedict’s name as co-author. In a statement, the San Francisco-based Ignatius said it had worked from the text provided by French publisher Fayard, which listed two authors contributing a chapter apiece and a jointly written introduction and conclusion. ‘Ignatius Press considers this a coauthored publication,’ it said. Ignatius, Fayard and all other publishers clearly have more to gain selling a book authored by a former pope than one written by a Vatican cardinal…
“But the controversy made clear once again that the unprecedented reality of a retired and reigning pope still has some wrinkles to be ironed out… [Some] noted that the lines in Benedict’s case were particularly blurred… because of Gaenswein’s dual role: He is both Benedict’s private secretary and the prefect of Francis’ papal household.”
The Vatican’s and Gaenswein’s attempts of damage control make matters worse, as very few are willing to believe their “explanations.”
Earthquakes and Volcanoes
EndoftheAmericanDream wrote on January 12:
“Last Tuesday, one of the most important volcanoes in Alaska [Shishaldin Volcano] shot hot ash 25,000 feet into the air… Then on Thursday, Mt. Popocatepetl in Mexico shot hot ash nearly 4 miles into the sky… Mt. Popocatepetl… has the potential to create the worst natural disaster in the modern history of North America, because it is quite close to Mexico City… Approximately 26 million people live within 60 miles of Popocatepetl’s crater, and so we are talking about the potential for death and destruction on a scale that is difficult to imagine. In ancient times, Mt. Popocatepetl buried entire Aztec cities [in] super-heated mud, but then it went to sleep for about 1,000 years. Unfortunately for us, it started waking up again in the 1990s…
“… down in South America the Sabancaya volcano in Peru just shot a plume of volcanic ash approximately 24,000 feet into the air… On Sunday, Taal volcano [in the Philippines] roared to life, and it is being reported that the eruption sent ‘steam, ash and pebbles up to 10 to 15 kilometers (6 to 9 miles) into the sky… ash has already reached Manila, and… Manila’s international airport, offices and schools [were shut down].
“Meanwhile, we continue to see unusual earthquake activity all over the globe. After already experiencing more than 1,000 earthquakes since the beginning of 2020, Puerto Rico was hit by a magnitude 5.9 quake on Saturday… causing further damage along the island’s southern coast, where previous recent quakes have toppled homes and schools.”
The Bible warns of the increase of natural disasters in the last days.
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.
How can God listen to billions of prayers at the same time? (Part 3)
In the first two parts of this series, we showed from the Bible that God can and does indeed listen to many prayers at the same time, and we showed how this is possible. However, we also showed that God does not listen to billions of prayers at the same time; in fact, He may only listen to a few thousand who pray to Him. But even this concept may be too difficult to grasp for the limited human mind, and so, in this final installment, we will point out additional important aspects in respect to God’s hearing and answering our prayers.
It may be easier for man’s mind to grasp the fact that God can and does listen to multiple prayers at the same time, and that He acts on them at the same time, when we realize that God is not just one Being, but a Family, consisting of two God beings—the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son. We are told that when we pray to the Father, we may and should do this “in the name of Christ” (compare John 14:13; 16:23-24, 26). This concept needs to be understood in its full magnitude and application.
We state the following in our free booklet, Teach Us to Pray:
“When we do something in the name of Christ, we recognize His great power through which He works. Acts 3:6 says that Peter healed a lame person by telling him to rise up and walk ‘in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.’ Acts 3:16 says that Christ’s Name, ‘through faith in His Name,’ has healed a person—the faith which comes through Him did it. Acts 4:7 quotes the high priest asking Peter, ‘By what power [dunamis in Greek; a reference to the power of God’s Spirit] or by what name have you’ healed this man? Acts 4:10 quotes Peter’s answer: I did it ‘…by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth…, by Him this man stands here before you whole.’…
“John 14:13-14 says that whatever we ask in Christ’s name, Christ will do it… The Commentary on the Whole Bible, by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, explains: ‘…whatever you ask in My name—as Mediator—that I will do.’…
“When the Father gives us the Holy Spirit in Christ’s name, He is actually giving us the Spirit through Christ… the Father gives it to Christ, and Christ passes it on to us…
“When we pray to the Father in Christ’s name… we… [expect] Christ to do something while we pray… The Commentary on the Whole Bible, by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, explains that Christ is the living Conductor of the prayer upward, and the answer downward… when we pray to the Father in the name of Christ, we are, in a sense, asking Christ to plead our case to the Father…
“Christ lives in us, and when we pray in the name of Christ, it is actually Christ who gives us the mind to say the right things, and it is He who even communicates to the Father what we might have wanted to say—but we could not find the right way to express them. We read that the Spirit makes intercession for us, when we pray (Compare Romans 8:26-27). Verse 34 clarifies that it is actually Christ, through His Spirit, who makes intercession for us or pleads our cause. He is a life-giving Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45)…”
So, there is communication going on between the Father and Christ. Both are involved when it comes to listening to and answering the prayers of God’s people. This concept might help us to also understand better what will occur when billions of people will be resurrected in the Great White Throne Judgment who will all be praying to God at the same time. Then, the God Family will consist of millions of Beings who will all be God—all being able and willing to hear and respond to those who pray.
But there is still another aspect pertaining to the concept of hearing and answering prayers; that is, we must not overlook the function of angels.
We say this in our free booklet, Angels, Demons and the Spirit World:
“Man has no comprehension of how many angels exist. The revealed number is indeed mind-boggling. In Revelation 5:11, the number of angels that had assembled before the throne of God is given as ‘…ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.’ Hebrews 12:22 goes even further: ‘But you have come to… an innumerable company of angels.’ The Greek word for ‘innumerable’ is ‘anarithmethos,’ literally meaning, ‘unnumbered’ or ‘without number.’ Certainly God knows how many angels He created but for man, angels are ‘without number.’…”
What, if anything, do angels have to do with human prayers?
Two interesting Scriptures show a connection. They are found in Revelation 5:8 and in Revelation 8:3-5:
“Now when He [the Lamb, Jesus Christ] had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders [all angelic beings] fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints…
“Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.”
It is clear that these passages do not permit us to pray to angels. The worship of angels is specifically prohibited in Scripture. It is also debated as to what exactly the passages mean. Many commentaries say that Revelation 8:3 should be rendered, “… that he should offer it to the prayers of all the saints…” One author writes: “The incense was to be mingled with the prayers of the saints. The incense was added to give a fragrance to the prayers of the saints, and render them acceptable before God.” Another commentary states, “The prayers are to be incensed, so as to (typically) render them pure and acceptable to God.”
On the other hand, Revelation 5:8 identifies the prayers with incense. But whatever the exact meaning, it is obvious that some connection exists between the prayers of God’s people and angelic activity, including the answer to those prayers, which was effectuated by the angel by throwing the censer to the earth, causing “natural” catastrophes.
This angelic activity becomes more obvious when considering the following facts:
We read in Genesis 18:20-21 that God said: “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” It appears that God was told by some of His angels how sinful the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were. But we also read that righteous Lot was plagued from day to day by the wickedness of the people (2 Peter 2:7-8). So he, too, would have prayed to God about them. As a consequence, God wanted to test those people to see how evil they were, and He sent two angels to them for that purpose. Angels had some responsibility and function pertaining to man’s prayer.
In Daniel 10:12–13, 20–21; 11:1, a mind-boggling and awesome fight in the spirit world is revealed. A mighty angel—perhaps Gabriel who had appeared to Daniel twice before—was sent to the prophet with a message. The angel told Daniel: “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia [a powerful demon ruling over Persia] withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings [demons] of Persia… And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece [another powerful demon ruling over Greece] will come… No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince. Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him.”
The demon of Persia fought with the angel of God—most likely Gabriel—for twenty-one days, trying to prevent him from reaching Daniel with his message which God had given him to deliver to Daniel. In other words, God sent the angel to Daniel to bring him the answer to his prayer. The archangel Michael had to help Gabriel by fighting in his stead with the demon of Persia, so that Gabriel could appear to Daniel in a vision.
The Bible also speaks of guardian angels whom God has specifically assigned for His people’s protection. In Genesis 48:15–16, Jacob acknowledged the presence of his guardian angel throughout his life. We read in the Revised English Bible, “The god in whose presence my forefathers lived, my forefathers Abraham and Isaac, the god who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the angel who rescued me from all misfortune, may he bless these boys.” Jacob was convinced that God had been with him all of his life, and He was specifically present through a particular angel whom He had assigned to watch over Jacob.
Acts 12:15 shows that the disciples thought that Peter’s angel had appeared, as they believed Peter to be in prison. They specifically said, “It is his angel.” In other words, they thought it was the particular angel whom God had assigned to watch over Peter.
Jesus Christ confirmed the existence of guardian angels in Matthew 18:10, when He talked about little children who believe in Him, as well as true Christians who must become “as” little children: “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” The obvious implication is that in all these cases, they are somehow involved with the prayers of the people whom they are assigned to protect.
Just prior to His arrest, Christ prayed to God the Father, saying, “‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’ Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:42–44). In answer to Christ’s prayer, God sent one of His angels to give Jesus Christ encouragement. We don’t know what exactly the angel did, but we are told that he “strengthened” Christ. In addition, the Bible does not limit God’s protection for His people to just one angel. Christ told Peter that He could ask the Father to send Him more than twelve legions or more than 6,000 angels for His protection (Matthew 26:53).
In Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar told Daniel about a dream. The king had seen “a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven” (verse 13). This “watcher” had proclaimed “a decision” that had been made “by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men’” (verse 17). Daniel interpreted the dream to the king, explaining to him that because of his pride, he would have to live for seven years with the animals. He stated in verse 23, “… the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. This is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king.”
These watchers were holy angels of God. One of them spoke to the king in his dream, as Daniel recognized and confirmed. The interesting revelation is that these watchers or angels were involved in God’s decision-making process in heaven regarding Nebuchadnezzar. We are told about another similar episode in 1 Kings 22:19-23, where God was talking to His angels as to how to bring about a certain outcome: “Then Micaiah said, ‘Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the LORD said, “Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?” So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit [perhaps a demon] came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, “I will persuade him.” The LORD said to him, “In what way?” So he said, “I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” And the LORD said, “You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.” Therefore look! The LORD has put [allowed] a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.’”
God’s angels watch on the good and the bad, and they report their findings to God. In Revelation 5:6, we read about the Lamb Jesus Christ, “having seven eyes, which are the seven [s]pirits of God sent out into all the earth.” These “seven spirits” are seven angelic beings. They are also mentioned in Zechariah 3:9; 4:10: “Upon the stone are seven eyes. They are the eyes of the LORD, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.” Some of God’s angels are referred to as “eyes of the LORD” or as “watchers”—keeping watch on man. Proverbs 15:3 reads, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping WATCH on the evil and the good.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 adds, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”
Some of these seven angelic beings are described in Zechariah 6:1-7: “Then I turned and raised my eyes and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming from between two mountains, and the mountains were mountains of bronze. With the first chariot were red horses, with the second chariot black horses, with the third chariot white horses, and with the fourth chariot dappled horses-strong steeds. Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, ‘What are these, my lord?’ And the angel answered and said to me, ‘These are four spirits of heaven, who go out from their station before the LORD of all the earth. The one with the black horses is going to the north country, the white are going after them, and the dappled are going toward the south country.’ Then the strong steeds went out, eager to go, that they might walk to and fro throughout the earth. And He said, ‘Go, walk to and fro throughout the earth.’ So they walked to and fro throughout the earth.”
An additional account can be found in Zechariah 1:8-11: “I saw by night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse, and it stood among the myrtle trees in the hollow; and behind him were horses: red, sorrel, and white. Then I said, ‘My lord, what are these?’ So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘I will show you what they are.’ And the man who stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, ‘These are the ones whom the LORD has sent to walk to and fro throughout the earth.’ So they answered the [a]ngel of the LORD, who stood among the myrtle trees, and said, ‘We have walked to and fro throughout the earth, and behold, all the earth is resting quiet.’”
God’s angels are watching and observing us. They are giving reports and expressing their feelings to God—participating thereby in God’s decisions and decrees. Angels rejoice when a sinner repents (Luke 15:10).
As we say in our above-mentioned booklet, Angels, Demons and the Spirit World:
“There exists a very special relationship between angels and man. The Bible shows us that they are assigned by God to help those whom God is calling to salvation. Hebrews 1:14 says about angels: ‘Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?’ Psalm 34:7 adds: ‘The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him [that is, ‘who will inherit salvation’], And delivers them.’ … God sends forth His angels to ‘minister,’ that is, to serve and help man achieve his potential to inherit salvation—eternal life in the Family of God. Angels are, in fact, intimately involved with our salvation. They are not robots, mechanically obeying God’s Word. They joyfully and eagerly fulfill their task to minister to those who will inherit salvation.”
This includes watching and observing us, listening to our words and prayers, reporting to God what they have noticed, and somehow participating in delivering our prayers as incense to God. This does not diminish the role of Jesus Christ, who is our only Mediator, but somehow angels are involved in “presenting” the incense of our prayers. And they are most certainly involved in the practical aspect of carrying out God’s answers to our prayers—while we emphasize again that it is Christ who receives the answers from the Father. This amazing “interactive-relationship” is explained in Revelation 1:1, where we read: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him to show His servants—things which must shortly come to pass. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.” Compare also Revelation 22:6.
So, it is not a problem for the God Family to listen to and answer many prayers at the same time. We should never think that God is too busy to hear us. Rather, we might sometimes think that we are too busy to pray to Him. But without Him and His help, where would we be? And more importantly, what would we be? Most certainly not, what we are today or what we can become: A Spirit-begotten child of His, in whom the Father’s and the Son’s Holy Spirit dwells.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
A new Member Letter (January 2020) has been written and posted and will soon be mailed to our subscribers. Elder Kalon Mitchell presents strong encouragement to not let despair and frustration overcome us but rather to turn to God’s Word and to God in faith to find the strength we need!
A new video advertisement for our booklet on Zechariah was produced by Pastor Michael Link, titled “The Book of Zechariah–Prophecies for Today.”
“Does Germany Have Nuclear Weapons?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Many are inclined to deny this question off-hand, but are they correct? And if Germany has or has access to nuclear weapons, what would be the big deal? Would weak Angela Merkel’s far-too-cozy relationship with strong Vladimir Putin and their united rejection of American influence have any significance in this regard? What does God think?
“Prophetic Relevance of the US-Iran Conflict,” is the title of last week’s new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
The murder of an American contractor by an Iranian proxy; the subsequent American assassination of Iran’s General Soleimani; the following Iranian missile attack on two Iraqi bases housing US troops; and the almost simultaneous crash of an Ukrainian airline shortly after taking off from Tehran Airport have shown the world again how an outright war in the Middle East can break out. Threats and counter threats, as well as some news analysis, paint a picture which is very close to prophesied events as revealed in the Bible.
“Prophetische Bedeutung des US-Iran Konfliktes,” is the title of a new AufPostenStehen program, presented by Norbert Link. This covers the same topic as the StandingWatch program described above.
“War der Apostel Petrus der erste Papst?–Teil 4,” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “Was the Apostle Peter the First Pope?–Part 4.”
“Titel: Neues Jahr oder Neuer Mensch?” is the title of last Sabbath’s German sermonette, presented by Robert Kintzi. Title in English: “A new Year or a new Man?”
“The Keystone of the Kingdom,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Frank Bruno, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Over the centuries societies have taken great pride in the structures that their ancestors built and that they themselves build today. In some places construction includes buildings and large developments that cannot sustain themselves without elaborate and costly water, sewer and other necessary infrastructure that will soon be obsolete. There are also groups that seemingly dedicate their construction—the stones, bricks and mortar with rituals and rites that can strike anyone as odd. This is true of even large public projects right here in my home state of Colorado. Rather than focusing on finding ways to serve and honor God the Father, mankind has discovered more ways to establish and honor their own legacies. The community that we as believers await and work towards is of course the coming Kingdom of God—The New Jerusalem, and the Keystone for the Kingdom is of course Jesus Christ. In this Sermonette we will explore scriptures that offer the clarity and the bedrock that our future will be built upon.
“The Work We Do,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Pastor Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
We work for God. Our job title is servant, and the work we are to accomplish is our part in the work God is doing.
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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