April 7, 2017
Equity; The Perspective of Passover
On April 8, 2017, Robb Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “Equity,” and Dave Harris will present the sermon, titled, “The Perspective of Passover.”
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.
Passover will be observed after sunset on Sunday evening, April 9, 2017; the Night to be Much Observed after sunset on Monday evening, April 10th; Holy Day services for the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread on Tuesday, April 11th; and Holy Day services for the last day of Unleavened Bread on Monday, April 17th.
Live services will be available on Tuesday, April 11, 2017—the First Day of Unleavened Bread. The morning service will be 10:00 am Pacific Time. The afternoon service will be 3:00 pm Pacific Time. Please refer to our Live Services schedule for other dates and times.
Please NOTE: We will not publish an Update for the weeks of April 14th and 21st as we observe Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
by Eric Rank
It’s easy to become discouraged when trying to live our life in a way that is at odds with the mainstream ideals of the world. Quite simply, a Christian life in this age could be a hard one. When we choose to apply godly virtue and obedience in our thoughts and actions, we choose to elevate our standards for the sake of pleasing God, not man. Often, taking this course of action will be opposed to social norms and expectations of our peers, and on occasion, it could even be in conflict with the laws of the land. There is no shortage of pressure to conform to the ways of the world, and compromise our Christian convictions. As the Bible forebodes, “… Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14).
Even though it might be “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (compare Hebrews 10:31) and while it is an ongoing challenge to commit our lives to righteousness, we must realize that we will be successful if we don’t give up. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God explains that it is God’s great pleasure to give us eternal life. From the beginning, God’s plan involved challenging mankind to overcome our carnal nature, and not succumb to sin. Certainly, this way of life is at times a hard one, but it is not impossible to pursue it.
God knows that everyone He calls will struggle to succeed, and for this reason He offers tremendous support. To begin with, the Holy Spirit of God the Father and of Jesus Christ dwells within everyone who has been properly baptized, strengthening righteous convictions and granting godly understanding. This gift provides a necessary means of overcoming sin. But the support provided by the Holy Spirit alone is not enough. We must apply our own effort to repent of our sins, and conform our behavior to righteousness. To face this challenge can be intimidating, and even induce fear of failure.
Something that should give us comfort when we face fear and discouragement in living a Christian life is that we’re not alone. Countless people have faced the same challenges and emerged successfully. I believe that it is safe to say that all of them needed encouragement.
When Joshua was leading the nation of Israel into the Promised Land, God recognized that he needed encouragement. As the story begins, he is encouraged repeatedly, but the best summary can be found in Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” God was aware of the great challenge that Joshua faced and anticipated that he might react fearfully. Bringing hundreds of thousands of people into a land filled with foreigners must have been a daunting responsibility. But Joshua followed God’s instructions, providing us with a tremendous example of faith. Joshua overcame any fear in large part because he was encouraged by the promises made by God.
In the letters that Paul wrote, there is a strong theme of encouragement in most of them. Many of the people in the young church congregations had their own unique struggles. In some cases, Paul had to admonish and correct their behavior, but even so, it was for the purpose of encouraging them to get on the right track and overcome sin. Paul recognized that it was important to encourage those who were struggling so that people did not become disheartened by the difficulty of living a Christian life and give up.
In his letter to Timothy, Paul offers some very personal encouragement. He writes, “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Timothy is reminded by Paul about his commission, and that he has nothing to be afraid of when facing the challenges faced in fulfilling his ministry. Even though these reminders were sent to Timothy intending to give him some individual encouragement nearly 2,000 years ago, we too should be encouraged by these same words. When we have the Holy Spirit, we can stir it up and put it to work, overcoming sin, and replacing it with godly love. This is God’s purpose for us (compare 2 Timothy 1:9).
Certainly, we can find encouragement through the knowledge of God’s purpose for us and through the words of the Bible, but encouragement must not end once we receive it. On the contrary, we have a responsibility to perpetuate it. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). As Christian brethren, we must remember to offer strength to others. Even when we might feel weak ourselves, an encouraging reassurance offered to someone else can be extremely helpful. As much as we might need encouragement ourselves, we need to offer encouragement to others as well.
There is no question that we can find many reasons to be discouraged in our Christian walk, if that’s where we focus our attention. However, these are poisonous distractions. Rather than focusing on the “reasons” why we might fail, we must remember to nurture our sources of positive encouragement that lead us to success. We find strength from our brethren, from the words of the Bible, and above all, from God’s faith in us.
We begin with developments in Europe and the UK, including the official launch of the Brexit process (please view our recent StandingWatch program, “Brexit and Core Europe—Fulfilled Prophecies”); address in this context the renewed battle for Gibraltar; and discuss the disconcerting and even hostile relationship between Europe under German leadership and the USA (please view our recent StandingWatch program, “Germany and the USA… What Next?”).
We speak on the challenging situation related to North Korea and President Trump’s controversial politics pertaining to war and immigration.
We continue with the current policy of Israel’s courts forbidding the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb near the Temple Mount; and report on Germany’s anti-Semitism and public approval of gay marriages.
This Week in the News
60 Years of Europe
Deutsche Welle wrote on March 25:
“Leaders from 27 member states declared ‘Europe is our common future’ in a final declaration signed [at a palace in Rome], where on March 25, 1957 six founding states signed the Treaty of Rome paving the way for today’s EU.
“Noticeably absent was British Prime Minister Theresa May…
“… The document signed in Rome sets a new course for the EU, laying out the principle of a multi-speed bloc wherein some countries move ahead on stronger integration while others may not participate on certain issues. ‘We will act together, at different paces and intensity where necessary, while moving in the same direction,’ the declaration states…”
Poland and Greece had threatened to veto the declaration, which has to be unanimous, but they finally signed it as well; which means, Europe of two speeds or a core Europe is now the official European policy of the EU.
Brexit Process Launched
The Independent wrote on March 29:
“Britain has officially launched the Brexit process, triggering Article 50 and starting a two-year countdown before the country drops out of the European Union.
“The historic moment came as a letter signed by Prime Minister Theresa May was delivered to the Brussels office of European Council President Donald Tusk, notifying him of the UK’s intention to leave…
“Manfred Weber, an ally of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel tweeted: ‘EU has done everything to keep the British. From now on, only the interests of the remaining 440 million Europeans count for us…’
“… the Prime Minister said… ‘This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back.’”
Deutsche Welle wrote on March 29:
“London can expect an expensive divorce… [The] EU [is] seeking a 60-billion-euro… ‘exit bill’ from [the] UK…”
The Daily Mail wrote on March 29:
“The tensions between the two sides was underlined when German Chancellor Angela Merkel flatly rejected Mrs May’s call for the talks on the divorce and a future trade deal to happen in parallel.”
Germany’s Martin Schulz… One of Brexit’s Harshest Critics
The Telegraph wrote on March 26:
“Martin Schulz, who has emerged as the most serious challenger Angela Merkel has faced in more than a decade in power, is best known in Britain as one of Brexit’s harshest critics… He has threatened ‘the hardest Brexit possible’…
“As for Brexit negotiations, he made his priorities clear: ‘With me there will be no Europe bashing’”.
Renewed Battle for Gibraltar
The Telegraph wrote on April 2:
“Theresa May would go to war to defend the sovereignty of Gibraltar just as Margaret Thatcher did with the Falklands, a former Tory leader has suggested. Lord Howard said the British Government will stand by Gibraltar during Brexit talks amid claims of an EU ‘land grab’ for the territory by Spain…
“This morning the Prime Minister told Gibraltar’s chief minister that Britain will never allow Spain to take over the peninsula against its will. Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, has also pledged to ‘protect’ Gibraltar ‘all the way’…
“A European Council document on Friday suggested that Spain will be given an effective veto on whether the Brexit deal applies to Gibraltar. The draft guidelines drawn up by EU leaders state that the Brexit deal will not apply to Gibraltar without an ‘agreement between the kingdom of Spain and the UK’. The clause has taken British officials by surprise. ‘The Rock’, a British Overseas Territory since 1713 with 30,000 residents, remains a major source of diplomatic tensions.
“… Last night Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said that the UK’s support for Gibraltar will remain ‘implacable and rock-like’…”
The Church of God has felt for a long time that ultimately, the UK will lose Gibraltar to Europe.
The Gibraltar War
The EUObserver wrote on April 3:
“The European Commission has put its ‘full support’ behind giving Spain a veto on the economic future of Gibraltar. Commission spokesman Margiritis Schinas said on Monday (3 April) that veto, as proposed by the European Council last week, had ‘the full backing of the European Commission, of president Juncker and of Michel Barnier, let there be no doubt about that’.
“He said the Commission president and Barnier, its Brexit negotiator, had ‘worked closely’ on the EU guidelines for Brexit that included the veto. ‘We’re very happy to reaffirm our support’, he said…
“The spectacle of the EU institutions and the 27 remaining member states taking a common line against an outgoing member is a first in EU history…”
EU Threatens USA
Express wrote on March 31:
“European Union boss Jean-Claude Juncker issued a jaw-dropping threat to the United States, saying he could campaign to break up the country in revenge for Donald Trump’s supportive comments about Brexit. In an extraordinary speech the EU Commission president said he would push for Ohio and Texas to split from the rest of America if the Republican president does not change his tune and become more supportive of the EU.
“The remarks are diplomatic dynamite at a time when relations between Washington and Brussels are already strained… A spokesman for the bloc later said that the remarks were not meant to be taken literally, but also tellingly did not try to pass them off as humorous and insisted the EU chief was making a serious comparison.”
White House in the Dark
Newsmax wrote on March 30:
“A day after Prime Minister Theresa May signed the letter beginning the process known as ‘Brexit,’ the White House hailed the decision of British voters last year to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union. ‘We respect the will of the British electorate and Her Majesty’s government in taking steps of departing the European Union,’ Press Secretary Sean Spicer told Newsmax, ‘Whatever future the UK-EU relationship looks like, we want the UK to remain a strong leader in Europe, for both the EU and Europe to remain strong leaders globally.’
“Spicer also fired back at a warning from Jean Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, for Mr, Trump to stop encouraging countries to copy Brexit because ‘if the European Union collapses, you will have a new war in the Balkans.’ Juncker also told the Financial Times last Friday that Trump ‘does not understand anything about Europe.’
“When Newsmax read Juncker’s comments to Spicer Wednesday, the President’s top spokesman replied: ‘I think the President is very well steeped in world affairs, especially Europe, NATO, all of the issues. He was a leader in the effort to call Brexit, as you know.’”
Sadly, the Trump Administration does NOT understand much about Europe, and especially not about biblical prophecies, predicting Europe’s future. The idea that Britain could remain a strong leader in Europe after Brexit shows a complete failure of comprehension as to what is and will be happening. The fact that Mr. Trump strongly supported Brexit will backfire in dramatic and hostile ways.
President Trump’s Politics Cause for Great Concern in Germany
Deutsche Welle reported on April 2:
“Following US President Donald Trump’s executive orders signed on Friday to review causes of US trade deficits, Germany’s Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries said US President Donald Trump is signaling policy decisions that would send the country in ‘completely the wrong direction.’ ‘The US obviously wants to move away from free trade and trade agreements,’ Zypries said…
“Trump repeated on Friday claims that he made throughout his campaign about seeking to bring back industrial jobs to the US. Before signing the orders, he said it was time to ‘correct’ bad agreements with other countries and claimed that ‘thousands of factories have been stolen from our country.’… Zypries… criticized a lack of clear communication and communication channels concerning trade under the new Trump administration.
“Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said he shares Zypries’ concerns. Gabriel told German newspaper ‘Rheinische Post’ that Trump’s executive orders signaled the US government ‘is ready to favor American companies, even if it contradicts international law.’ Gabriel told the EU on Friday to consider filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over a US plan to impose duties on steel plate imports from eight countries including Germany. The plan to impose duties came from one of Trump’s executive orders signed on Friday and also includes steel imports from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.”
The Local wrote on March 31:
“Germany Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel isn’t mincing his words. The pugnacious politician has called a Nato defence spending target being pushed by the US ‘completely unrealistic’ for Germany. ‘I don’t know of a single German politician who believes that is either achievable or desirable,’ he added…
“Nato heads of state are meeting at the end of May in Brussels, with the US reportedly planning for the 2 percent target to be agreed upon as a fixed amount which all states will have to meet. But Gabriel said that no other country could demand of Germany that it spends 2 percent of GDP on its military. The Social Democrat Foreign Minister further claimed that no such 2 percent goal had been agreed upon in Wales. Nato members had only agreed to work towards this goal, he insisted.”
The relationship between Europe under German Leadership and America under the Trump Administration is predestined to deteriorate rapidly.
Will North Korea Be Stopped by China or USA?
The Telegraph wrote on April 2:
“The US will take unilateral action to eliminate the North Korean nuclear threat if China does not help bring pressure to bear on Pyongyang, Donald Trump has warned. Mr Trump, who will meet Xi Jinping, the president of China, for the first time on Thursday, said the US would go it alone if Beijing refuses to cooperate, but refused to say whether he implied taking military action against the hermit dictatorship…
“Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, also issued a stark warning saying America would ‘no longer take excuses from China’.
“… Concern has been mounting about the North Korean missile program in the US for some years. Barack Obama’s administration identified North Korea as the top national security issue for Mr Trump’s administration during the handover of power.
“Ash Carter, US Defence Secretary under President Barack Obama, said he doubted Beijing would cooperate. He said: ‘I’ve been working on the North Korea problem since 1994 and we have consistently asked Chinese leaders, because they uniquely have the historical and the economic relationship with North Korea, to make a difference. They haven’t used that influence, and so it’s hard for me to be optimistic with that.’ Mr Carter… warned a US pre-emptive strike against North Korea’s nuclear weapons risked triggering an invasion of South Korea.”
North Korea is becoming more and more a thorn in the flesh of the United States. A unilateral military attack by the USA on North Korea would surely prove to be disastrous for America in its relationship with other countries in the Far East, including China.
Bannon Removed from National Security Council
The Los Angeles Times reported on April 5:
“President Trump has removed chief strategist Stephen Bannon from the National Security Council in a shakeup that consolidated the power of White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster… During the first weeks of Trump’s presidency, Trump was criticized for taking the unusual step of allowing his political advisor to attend all National Security Council meetings, giving Bannon unusual influence over key military and intelligence decisions… Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, is widely seen as a disruptive force in the White House, but has been close to Trump since the campaign.”
“Frustrated” McCain Attacks “Incredible” Trump Policy Regarding Syria
Newsmax reported on April 4:
“Following reports of a gas attack by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that has killed dozens of civilians, Sen. John McCain lashed out Tuesday on CNN’s ‘New Day’ at the Trump administration’s decision to no longer prioritize ending the Syrian civil war as ‘another disgraceful chapter in American history.’… McCain said statements by the U.S. administration figures that ‘the Syrian people would be determining their own future themselves one of the more incredible statements I’ve ever heard given the involvement of Hezbollah, of the Iranians, of the Russians.’
“Activist groups have blamed Assad’s regime for the attack in the north of Syria on Tuesday in which dozens of people were killed and more than 200 injured due to asphyxiation caused by exposure to a chemical agent… The Republican Arizona senator said he is frustrated that Trump does not have any clear foreign policy doctrine and insisted the U.S. must ‘help people who are struggling against one of the great dictators [Assad] in history.'”
It was stated in the press that both Obama’s declaration of a “red line,” which was not followed, and Trump’s declaration of non-involvement have emboldened Assad to use chemical weapons against his own people.
Irresponsible GOP Healthcare Proposal
Newsmax wrote on April 4:
“Proposals to revive the Republican healthcare bill would cast aside a popular requirement of Obamacare: a mandate that people would be allowed to buy insurance even if they have pre-existing conditions. States could opt out of Obamacare regulations on pre-existing conditions and on essential health benefits, according to terms described by Rep. Mark Meadows… Meadows said the proposed changes, which are not final, would be of interest to the Freedom Caucus. Any bill in the House would need that group to pass, and nearly every Republican would need to be on board to get it past the Senate.
“Opting out of benefit requirements could damage the usefulness of insurance, for example, if a cancer patient could buy a plan but the plan was not required to cover chemotherapy. Opting out of essential benefits and community ratings would prevent denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, but it would lead to insurers being allowed to charge whatever they wanted for the coverage, although the government would provide subsidies, the Times reported.
“State governments, under the proposal, would face the tough choice of cutting rules that become optional, which would leave sick people without insurance choices, or keep the options, and see prices increase for those who cannot afford them under the new subsidies. Those with pre-existing conditions would still struggle with comprehensive health plans, like before Obamacare was installed in 2009, according to the Times. ‘There is no deal, in principle,’ Meadows said, but called the proposal a ‘solid idea.’’
This is not a solid idea, but a stupid idea. The fact that such an appalling concept is even proposed and considered is mind-boggling. On his campaign trail, Mr. Trump assured the public and his supporters that the mandate of insurance for people with pre-exiting conditions would be retained. Let us hope that he keeps his promise.
More Deaths and Wars under President Trump
AFP wrote on March 25:
“The Pentagon under President Donald Trump is enjoying greater freedom to run its wars the way it wants… Many in the military appreciate this increased autonomy, but critics charge it is raising civilian death rates, puts the lives of US troops at greater risk and leads to a lack of oversight of America’s conflicts…
“Trump… has repeatedly deferred to his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, on military moves. Mattis, a retired general, has delegated expanded authorities to his battlefield commanders… Trump has also faced criticism for his hands-off approach, especially after he approved a special operations raid in Yemen that went horribly wrong, leading to the death of a Navy SEAL, multiple civilians including children and a crashed helicopter… Observers are also calling into question whether the Pentagon is allowing civilian casualties to mount…
“Airwars, a London-based collective of journalists and researchers, said Friday it had become… overwhelmed tracking civilian deaths allegedly caused by US and coalition planes… The Pentagon has acknowledged at least 220 civilians have been unintentionally killed since operations to defeat IS began in late summer 2014. Airwars estimates the real number to be more than 10 times that.”
Another Defeat–Second Travel Ban Barred
Newsmax wrote on March 29:
“President Donald Trump was barred from enforcing his revised travel ban on six mostly Muslim nations while he defends it in a court battle that will stretch for months, perhaps years. While [the] Trump administration tailored the latest version to shed all religious references, a Honolulu federal judge found that the president’s campaign rhetoric, including calls for a Muslim ban and registry, point toward discriminatory intentions. The Justice Department will probably appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the same court that upheld the order stopping Trump’s original travel order.
“U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson turned an earlier temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the state of Hawaii challenging Trump’s travel directive as unconstitutional religious discrimination… Hawaii and other opponents of the ban claim that the motivation behind it is based on religion and Trump’s election campaign promise of ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’
“Seeking the longer-lasting hold, state Attorney General Douglas Chin argued that the ban’s implied message is like a ‘neon sign flashing “Muslim ban, Muslim ban'” that the government didn’t bother to turn off.”
This was a predictable outcome… at least for the time being, even though many legal “experts” did not see it coming. The next article shows that the American immigration policy under President Trump is clandestinely changing in a drastic way. Nevertheless, it seems that President Trump is failing on many different fronts. The Bible has made it clear that the downfall of the USA is unavoidable, due to its many sins.
President Trump’s Shift in Immigration Procedures Affects Green Card Applicants
WBUR News reported on March 31:
“Federal immigration officers arrested five people in Lawrence on Wednesday when they showed up for scheduled appointments at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office. WBUR has confirmed that at least three of those arrested were beginning the process to become legal permanent residents. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says the agency had orders to detain each of the five individuals for deportation…
“Because Doyle’s client is married to a U.S. citizen, she is eligible for a specific application process sponsored by her husband. Both [attorney] Doyle’s client and her husband were present at the USCIS office for what’s called a marriage petition interview, a process used to screen for fraudulent marriages. Doyle said his client, a small business owner with no criminal record, had just completed her 40-minute question and answer session when an ICE agent entered the office and informed her that she was ordered removed and was being taken into custody… He says his client could be detained, away from her three children and husband, for weeks while the legal process unfolds. Ultimately, she could be deported to Brazil — a country she has not visited in more than 15 years.
“Susan Church, who heads the New England chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, says she finds the arrests at the USCIS office not only troubling but also surprising. ‘The detention of an individual under these circumstances and most likely the arrest would be something that is definitely new,’ Church said… ‘What this means is that people who are eligible to obtain their green card in the United States, who are following the law, who are following the rules, who are doing what the government is instructing them to do, are going to be too terrified to show up and follow through with the process,’ Church said. ‘And now a whole new category of people is going to go back into the shadow of immigration land and be living in fear.’”
It is hard to justify these procedures when applying Mr. Trump’s declaration that only the “bad dudes” would be dealt with.
Highly Controversial Immigration Changes Pursued by Trump Administration
The Wall Street Journal wrote on April 4:
“Foreigners who want to visit the U.S., even for a short trip, could be forced to disclose contacts on their mobile phones, social-media passwords and financial records, and to answer probing questions about their ideology, according to Trump administration officials conducting a review of vetting procedures. The administration also wants to subject more visa applicants to intense security reviews and have embassies spend more time interviewing each applicant. The changes could apply to people from all over the world, including allies like France and Germany…
“Homeland Security officials say the agency is planning to significantly increase demands for information from all visa applicants, including visitors, refugees and others seeking to immigrate. The changes might even apply to visitors from the 38 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program… That includes some of the U.S.’s closest allies, such as the U.K., Japan and Australia.
“The biggest change to U.S. policy would be asking applicants to hand over their telephones so officials could examine their stored contacts and perhaps other information… ‘We want to say for instance, “What sites do you visit? And give us your passwords,” so that we can see what they do on the internet,’ Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said at a congressional hearing in February. ‘If they don’t want to give us that information then they don’t come.’
“In response to Mr. Kelly’s hearing, a coalition of about 50 civil liberties and other groups issued a statement that month saying requiring passwords is ‘a direct assault on fundamental rights,’ including freedom of expression. They also complained that the policy could be mirrored by foreign governments demanding passwords from Americans.”
If these plans by the Trump Administration are being carried out, they would cause tremendous backlash from America’s closest allies and the entire world. They would strongly contribute to America’s ultimate downfall.
Terror Attacks in Jerusalem
Time of Israel wrote on April 2:
“A senior police officer said Sunday that security will be bolstered in Jerusalem ahead of the upcoming Passover festival as a precaution against possible terror attacks. Speaking a day after a terrorist stabbed three people in Jerusalem’s Old City, Commander Doron Turgeman… said terror groups seek to attack Israelis around the Jewish holidays. ‘Holidays and festivals over the years have caused higher tensions and sensitivity and are a preferred period for attacks,’ Turgeman told Army Radio…
“The weeklong Passover festival begins on April 10. Tens of thousands of people are expected to visit Jerusalem’s Old City during the holiday… On Saturday afternoon, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed two young men and the police officer in the Old City, wounding them, before being shot and killed by security forces… It was the second stabbing attack in the Old City last week.
“Palestinian media identified the assailant as 17-year-old Ahmad Jazal from the West Bank village of Sebastia, near Nablus… Shortly before carrying out the attack Jazal photographed himself smiling outside the Temple Mount’s Dome of the Rock. The photos were shared by Palestinians on social media, with some praising the ‘martyr’ for his actions… In the past year and a half the Old City, and the Damascus Gate in particular, have seen several attacks by Palestinians, and in one case a Jordanian national.”
Incitement of Hatred by Palestinians
The Times of Israel wrote on April 3:
“The Palestinian Authority’s new textbooks for first to fourth grades demonize Israel and glorify ‘martyrdom,’ a report published Sunday claims… The report… says that the 2016-2017 elementary school curriculum in the PA ‘teaches students to be martyrs, demonizes and denies the existence of Israel, and focuses on a “return” to an exclusively Palestinian homeland.’”
Jews Forbidden to Sacrifice Passover Lamb Near Temple Mount
The Times of Israel wrote on April 2:
“The High Court of Justice on Monday upheld a police decision to bar a group of Temple Mount activists from trying to reenact the ritual slaughter of a sacrificial animal near the Jerusalem holy site in preparation for the upcoming Passover holiday. The attempt by the activists and the routine denial by the law and order authorities has become a ritual in its own right in recent years.
“For over a decade a group called the Temple Mount Institute have held a demonstration of the ritual slaughter of the Passover offering, a sheep or goat sacrifice. Each year they request to do it on or near the Jerusalem holy site where ritual sacrifices were carried out at the time of the temple. And each year they are refused by police and the courts fearing it could cause unrest, with the site that currently houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, the most hotly contested site in the Middle East conflict.
“The group perform the demonstration because a ‘real’ Passover sacrifice may only be conducted on the Temple Mount. The group this year requested to hold the religious ceremony at Davidson Park, an archaeological site adjacent to the West Wall on the southern side of the Temple Mount complex. This too was rejected by the court. The group launched a crowdfunding appeal and has already raised over half the money for the sacrifice, said to cost NIS 30,000 ($8,250). As in previous years, it is expected that the group will relocate their demonstration to another site. The sacrifice is expected to take place Thursday.”
In the not-too-distant future, animal sacrifices WILL be brought again on or near the Temple Mount, which will create an outcry around the world.
Anti-Semitism in Germany
Deutsche Welle reported on April 2:
“The story of a 14-year-old who had to change schools to escape anti-Semitism is making headlines in Germany. The boy’s tormentors were of Arab and Turkish descent – making the news even more explosive.
“… The story opened the floodgates for social media posts attacking Muslims and excoriating Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming stance toward refugees. In fact, there was no indication that any of the tormentors came from refugee families, and anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in Germany are carried out not just by Muslims… On the other hand, there is no denying that anti-Semitic thought and speech is common among some Muslim students in some German schools. Activists have been drawing attention to the problem for years… And the problem is by no means confined to the German capital.”
Vast Majority for Gay Marriages in Germany
Deutsche Welle wrote on April 2:
“… an opinion survey carried out by pollster Emnid for ‘Bild am Sonntag’ on gay marriage showed that 75 percent of respondents favored full legal equality for homosexuals in life partnerships with the laws for a traditional marriage between a man and a woman… In January, a survey by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Bureau (ADS) showed 83 percent of respondents saying marriage between two men or two women should be allowed…
“The chancellor candidate for the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Martin Schulz, has called for equality for gay marriage, and the party looks set to make it an election issue. The party has proposed protection for the status of marriage and family and to extend it to ‘other forms of cohabitation,’ Thomas Oppermann, chairman of the SPD parliamentary group, said last month. The Greens and Left (Linke) parties also support the idea.”
God does not. He calls it an abomination in the Bible.
“Russia’s Jehovah’s Witnesses Could Be Labeled Extremist, Worship Banned”
Newsmax reported on April 4:
“Russia’s Supreme Court may declare Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization at a hearing Wednesday, which means the Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters would be seized and their organized worship banned in the country. ‘If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the authorities, it will be the first such ruling by a court declaring a registered centralized religious organization to be “extremist,”’ the UN human rights’ high commissioner’s office said in a statement, Time reported.
“David Semonian, an international spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses, said the decision is troublesome (for) the religious group. ‘They would basically be prosecuting Jehovah’s Witnesses as criminals,’ Semonian said, according to Time magazine. ‘Anyone who would actually would have our publications could be criminalized. It is of great concern.’
“According to Newsweek, Thomas J. Reese, chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, said, ‘The Russian government’s latest actions appear designed to eliminate the legal existence of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia… USCIRF calls on the Russian government to stop its harassment of this peaceful religious group… The treatment of the Jehovah’s Witnesses reflects the Russian government’s tendency to view all independent religious activity as a threat to its control and the country’s political stability.’…
“Many on Twitter expressed their disdain for the potential ban.”
Russia’s Supreme Court Considers Jehovah’s Witnesses Ban
BBC News reported on April 5:
“Russia’s Supreme Court has begun hearing a government request to outlaw the Jehovah’s Witnesses and declare it an extremist organisation. The justice ministry has already placed its headquarters near St Petersburg on a list of extremist groups… As the case began in Moscow on Wednesday, lawyers representing the movement submitted a counter suit, asking the High Court to declare its members victims of political repression and the justice ministry’s action unlawful. The court ruled that this was not part of its jurisdiction, but did not say whose it was… The case was eventually adjourned until Thursday.
“The ministry argues that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activities ‘violate Russia’s law on combating extremism’ and their pamphlets incited hatred against other groups… The group was founded in the US in the late 19th Century and during Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror in the Soviet Union it was outlawed and thousands of members were deported to Siberia. As the Soviet Union collapsed, there was a revival of Christianity in Russia and the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses was lifted in 1991. Gradually attitudes towards the movement hardened and in 2004 a group was banned on charges of recruiting children and preventing believers from accepting medical assistance…
“In 2009 a report commissioned by prosecutors in southern Russia found that they ‘undermined respect’ in other religions. Human rights group Sova has said that an ‘official repressive campaign’ has been conducted against the movement for years and many of their members have been physically attacked.”
Does God Change?
This is an interesting question.
Today, many can use the arguments that as culture changes, God will go along with the flow and bend according to the particular dictates of man at any given time. They don’t phrase it that way of course, but that is how they view it.
In an article in April 2015 in the New York Times, a columnist wrote: “And homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere. That many Christians regard them as incompatible is understandable, an example not so much of hatred’s pull as of tradition’s sway. Beliefs ossified over centuries aren’t easily shaken. But in the end, the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing. It disregards the degree to which all writings reflect the biases and blind spots of their authors, cultures and eras. It ignores the extent to which interpretation is subjective, debatable.”
Can you see how subtle and deceptive this all is? The article goes on to show how “advances” in understanding have been made in respect of slavery, contraception, gender roles and same sex marriages. This author and the people he quotes who share many of his views obviously think that they know better than God.
So let us quickly take, for example, homosexuality which is one of the areas of their “new understanding”. It is very clear to those who have eyes to see that the Bible in both the Old Testament and the New Testament denounces this abominable practice and yet it is seen as something good and acceptable by so many societies around the world. This is one of many cases where the application of Isaiah 5:20 is clearly shown: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil…” It is interesting that Romans 1:32 states “…that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” We see that approval is also condemned! We know that, so often, the law of man in the case of homosexuality takes precedence over the Word of God but God does not change when it comes to such matters! (Please see our Q&A dated 11th March 2005 entitled “The Biblical Teaching on Homosexuality.”) God has not changed His instruction on this subject just because there are those who come up with arguments to prove that “we have to change with the times.” Perhaps, nearly 2,000 years ago, there were the “modernists” who might have felt that the condemnation of this practice in the Old Testament ought to be brought up to date to suit their wrong understanding of morality as laid out by the God who created us all. There were the “naysayers” then [a naysayer is one who denies, refuses, opposes, or is sceptical or cynical about something (Merriam-Webster)] and we have them today, so what changes?
We know from Malachi 3:6 that God does not change: “For I am the LORD, I do not change”. Another verse that is used to show the unchanging nature of God is found in Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” In James 1:17 we read: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
There are a number of examples where God DID change His mind and so how do we explain that? Let us look at some of these examples.
In Genesis 6:5-6 we read that “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”
Genesis 18:26-32 relates Abraham’s negotiation with God over how many righteous in Sodom would be needed in order to save the city from destruction. First of all it was 50, then God agreed to 45, then 40, then 30, then 20 and finally 10. Quite a few changes of mind there because of Abraham’s pleading.
Numbers 14 tells the story of Israel refusing to enter Canaan and instead of entering the land immediately, God changed this by deferring their entry for 40 years.
In 2 Kings 20 we read that King Hezekiah was “sick and near death” (verse 1) and the King prayed about this matter (verse 2-3) and God changed His mind and added another 15 years to his life (verses 5-6).
Jonah was sent out on a mission to Nineveh but Jonah tried to opt out of this task. Eventually he did deliver the message that in “forty days… Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). However, all the Ninevites repented and “God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it (verse 10).” Again a change of mind by God.
We can see from these examples that God did change but none of these changes involved alterations to His unalterable spiritual law. God does not alter, nor does He compromise, with His plan for mankind which is set out in His Holy Day calendar (Please see our free booklets “The Meaning of God’s Spring Holy Days” and “The Meaning of God’s Fall Holy Days”) where His plan of salvation for ALL people is revealed, even those who, at this present time are disobedient to the truths and Way of Life that God has shown His called out ones. He doesn’t change on the need to keep His law – the Ten Commandments.
It is interesting that the Roman Catholic Church has defied God and “replaced” His seventh day Sabbath with Sunday. They also keep the paganised holidays such as Christmas and Easter (and other days) whilst ignoring and rejecting the Holy Days that God says are His. Leviticus 23:1-2 clearly states: “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.” God then gives details about the Sabbath and all the annual Holy Days.
The Church of God has long understood that if one part or passage in the Bible is contradictory then God’s Word could not be trusted. If God went back and forth about His spiritual Law for mankind, then how could we trust Him?
God is perfect in all His ways and we know that the Father and Jesus are one (see John 10:30 and 17:11) – unified and with a singleness of purpose.
We are truly blessed that God is constant, His integrity intact and that we can fully trust the great Creator God of the universe. This is confirmed in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding.”
God does NOT change when it comes to the eternal truths that He has made clear in His Word. God has, and is, perfect character which cannot change and we have to have the spiritual insight and understanding to comprehend this, rather than lumping everything together. (Please see our Q&A, “Does the Bible say anything about man’s character development?” – 24th July 2009 No. 404).
We read in Deuteronomy 32:4: “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.” God’s called-out ones can understand that but the author quoted at the beginning of this Q&A would believe that these glorious words are “beliefs ossified over centuries (that) aren’t easily shaken.” Those who currently rail against the Word of God will, one day, have the opportunity to understand when they have their calling, and it is to be hoped that they will have a complete change of mind at that time.
Moral absolutes are just that – absolute. They cannot be changed and God does not change in this area. However, God can and has changed His mind over certain events as outlined earlier in this Q&A.
Knowing the difference makes all the difference!
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Norbert and Johanna Link, along with Michael Link, have traveled this week to meet with members in Germany for the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. Brian and Jill Gale have stayed in California following the Church Conference, and Mr. Gale will conduct Passover services with the members there.
We are greatly pleased to announce the ordination of Dawn Thompson as deaconess on last Sabbath, April 1, 2017. Dawn is from Rosemead, California.
A new Member Letter (April 2017) has been written and mailed to our subscribers. This is a letter from the entire ministry, and it reviews highlights from our recent Church Conference.
Note that information for observance of the 2017 Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day is now posted on our website.
“Terror Attacks in Jerusalem,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. This program also contains a video clip offering our newest booklet, “The Fall and Rise of the Jewish People.” Here is a summary:
Many are not aware of the fact that terror attacks happen in Israel and Jerusalem on a frequent basis. This fact, in addition to anti-Semitism in the Middle East and Europe, the bringing of animal sacrifices (including the Passover sacrifice) and the building of a Third Temple on the Temple Mount; will lead to prophesied end-time developments of catastrophic proportions.
“Brexit and Core Europe—Fulfilled Prophecies,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
March 29 and March 25, 2017, will be viewed as unique historical dates with tremendous significance. In addition, the Brexit and a core Europe have been prophesied in your Bible for thousands of years.
“Brexit und Kern-Europa—Erfüllte Prophezeiungen ,” is the title of a new AufPostenStehen program in which Norbert Link presents the same topic as described above in German.
“Goal of Perfection,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Michael Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
To achieve perfection, we must be prepared at all times by doing what God specifically tells us to do. To help us better strive for that perfection, we must have hope, faith, and love towards each other and God’s law. Having the right attitude and the right goal will ultimately bring us closer to perfection.
“How Thankful Are You?” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Are we thankful enough? Do we only show our gratitude when it goes well with us? How can we be thankful in trials? What is a major cause for unthankfulness? Is thankfulness conditional?
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, Joan Pope, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Robb Harris, Michael Link, Kalon Mitchell, Noelle Link, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.
While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
Donations should be sent to the following addresses:
United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198
Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0
United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom