The Week in the News

German Mandatory Community Service Even for Refugees?

Deutsche Welle reported on August 24:

“Members of Angela Merkel’s conservatives say a year of community service would help integrate refugees. The proposal comes against the backdrop of a larger debate about reinstating mandatory service for Germans.

“A year of [mandatory or voluntary] community service would help refugees and asylum-seekers integrate and promote their acceptance by the public, the general secretary of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives said Saturday. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) ignited nationwide debate earlier this month when it brought up the idea of reinstating mandatory military service or a year of community service…

“Military conscription was scrapped in 2011 after Berlin opted for a professionalized army. Prior to this decision, all young men were obliged to either serve in the nation’s military, the Bundeswehr, or perform an alternative service for a limited period of time in civilian areas such as emergency management or medical care… Kramp-Karrenbauer said the CDU would discuss four models for reinstating a community service year for men and women at the party conference in December.”

The sad and crazy idea of mandatory conscription gains more and more attention in a once “pacifistic” country.

German Military Entices Minors

Reuters reported on August 24:

“To help attract new recruits, the [German] military has targeted youngsters with slick online video campaigns, drawing criticism from… child welfare advocates…

“But the campaigns are paying off. In 2017, 2,128 people under 18 joined the German army, up 11.4 percent from 2016 and accounting for 9 percent of new recruits… With lively music and scenes showing the lives of young soldiers, the Bundeswehr’s shows on YouTube… have attracted more than 64 million views. In October, traffic at the Bundeswehr jobs website increased 60 percent during a six-week broadcast of ‘Mali’, a YouTube series centered on eight soldiers serving in the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission in the West African country.

“The Bundeswehr Exclusive YouTube channel has over 330,000 followers and its latest production portrays the lives of a group of young paratroopers. The army is also active on other sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. According to a… survey of 20,000 school students across the country, the military is now considered Germany’s third most attractive employer

“Overall, the army spent about 35 million euros ($40 million) on recruitment last year… More than 30,000 people signed a letter delivered to German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen a year ago that urged the Bundeswehr to stop recruiting minors. ‘This is embarrassing and sends a wrong signal to the world,’ said Ralf Willinger from rights group terre des hommes… ‘It weakens the international 18-year standard, encouraging armed groups and armies from other countries to legitimate the use of minors as soldiers.’

“Recruits under 18 in Germany undergo military training like other adult trainees, but they have special provisions such as not being allowed to participate in guard duty or foreign missions, and weapons are only used for educational purposes. Ilka Hoffmann, a board member at the GEW union… that represents about 280,000 teachers, social workers and education workers, [said:] ‘In no other profession does one learn to kill, and is one confronted with the danger of dying in war. That is the one difference.’”

Young people had better be aware as to what the military is “offering” them.

Huge Dangerous Fire Near Berlin

Deutsche Welle wrote on August 24:

“Three villages were evacuated in the northern German state of Brandenburg as 400 hectares of forest went up in flames outside Berlin… Germany has been suffering under a massive heatwave and drought for weeks, leaving forests and fields extremely dry…

“The German state of Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin, was dealing with one of the biggest forest fires in the postwar history… The fire produced so much smoke that people in Berlin 60 kilometers away phoned emergency services on Friday morning, while Brandenburg locals heard explosions in the forest as old World War II munitions was set off…

“State Premier Dietmar Woidke [said that] munitions dumped in the forests during World War II and subsequently by the Soviet Army, which once used the surrounding countryside as a training ground, posed a ‘huge danger’ to the firefighters… ‘We in Brandenburg are in a very special situation here,’ he said. ‘We have areas of around 100,000 to 120,000 hectares all around Berlin that have old munitions in the ground…’”

One wonders where else old munitions—and what kind—are still buried throughout Germany and beyond.

Violence in Chemnitz, East Germany

The EUObserver wrote on August 28:

“Far-right activists clashed with police and leftist protestors for a second day in the eastern German city of Chemnitz, demanding foreigners to leave Germany. Monday’s events were a continuation of Sunday’s protests, which were triggered by a stabbing of a 35-year old German. A Syrian and an Iraqi remained under arrest on suspicion of the lethal attack. German chancellor Angela Merkel warned that ‘vigilante justice’ would not be tolerated.”

Der Spiegel wrote on August 28:

“Chemnitz is the third-largest city in the eastern state of Saxony and initially, over a thousand people had gathered on Monday to protest the kind of right-wing violence seen here on Sunday. Later, several thousand participants in a right-wing rally gathered at the city’s iconic monument to Karl Marx. The two camps were separated only by a single road and handful of law enforcement officers. The mood was tense – and turned violent once darkness began to fall. Fireworks were set off and the two groups began throwing projectiles at each other. There were several injuries.

“Later, the police would say that they had underestimated the number of people that would be participating in the two demonstrations. That they were caught off guard. But given the events in the city just one day earlier, that seems unlikely…”

Deutsche Welle added on August 28:

“In response to the events, most lawmakers echoed Merkel’s sentiments in a blanket condemnation of racism and violence… Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who has been in a highly-publicized feud with Merkel over his desire to curb immigration, was more muted in his disavowal of the far-right, and focused instead on the stabbing: ‘My deepest sympathies are with the loved ones of the knife attack victim…but I want to say clearly, that nothing justifies the call to violence or violent riots.’

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was split down the middle, with some inside the party distancing themselves from the right-wing demonstrators and calling off their own planned rally, and others suggesting that the media had blown the situation out of proportion…”

German Police in Chemnitz Under Fire

The Guardian wrote on August 29:

“The leak of an arrest warrant to far-right groups has heightened widespread suspicions of links between German police and xenophobic demonstrators. Authorities have confirmed reports of the leak after the arrest warrant – containing the full name of the main suspect in the murder of a 35-year-old man, which triggered violent anti-foreigner protests in the eastern city of Chemnitz – was tweeted by Lutz Bachmann, the founding member of the far-right protest group Pegida. The suspect is a 22-year-old Iraqi man…

“The police were accused last week of standing up for Pegida protesters after stopping a camera team from the state broadcaster ZDF from filming a demonstration in Dresden for 45 minutes after complaints by a protester, who it later emerged was a police employee. They faced further accusations on Wednesday that they had lied over their claim to have underestimated the numbers who would attend the Chemnitz demonstration, after it emerged that Saxony’s office for protection of the constitution had warned them in advance that a large number of extremists from across Germany – including neo-Nazis, as well as football hooligans and martial artists with a known far-right background – were expected in the city…”

No-Deal Brexit Could See Brits in EU Lose Access to their UK Bank Accounts

The Local wrote on August 23:

“The British government released a list of 25 ‘technical notices’ on Thursday, revealing that Brits living in the European Union could lose access to their UK bank accounts in the event of a no-deal Brexit

“Meanwhile, consumers buying products from the EU would face slower and more expensive credit card payments, and businesses were told that in the event of a no-deal ‘the free circulation of goods between the UK and EU would cease.’”

This is almost too fantastic to believe, and the British government did not give any details as to why Brits, living in the EU, would lose access to their bank accounts in the UK in case of a “no-deal Brexit.” But this news is truly alarming. According to the EUObserver, dated August 28, “French prime minister Edouard Philippe instructed his ministers on Monday to prepare measures in case of a no-deal Brexit.”

Brexit Breakthrough?

The Daily Mail wrote on August 29:

EU negotiator Michel Barnier finally conceded he would have to offer Britain a unique deal on Brexit today… In remarks that sent the pound soaring up against the euro and the dollar, Mr Barnier promised a ‘partnership with Britain such as has never been with any other third country’.

“Mr Barnier has repeatedly insisted Britain must choose from an existing model used by either Norway or Canada – a deal the UK say[s] [is] unacceptable. The Brussels chief still insists Britain cannot have an ‘a la carte’ choice of benefits from the EU single market. Brexiteers welcomed his ‘more optimistic tone’ but warned that actions speak louder and urged the EU to get on with coming up with a new offer… Government sources said they would look at the comments but played down the shift, suggesting Mr Barnier had made ‘similar’ remarks before

“In other developments today, [new Brexit Secretary] Dominic Raab admitted that a Brexit deal could be delayed until after the October (18 or 19) deadline – amid fears the UK could crash out without an agreement… His words are a shift in tone from the Government, which yesterday was still stressing that it is working towards the October deadline.

“Mr Davis quit… in protest at Theresa May’s Chequers proposal – a compromise deal which would mean the UK sticks to EU rules for goods but leaves the single market and customs union. The proposal sparked outcry from Brexiteers and Tory activists who warned it would leave the UK stuck half inside the Brussels bloc and hamper the country’s ability to strike free trade deals globally. And the EU also greeted the plan with scepticism – and it emerged yesterday that Mr Barnier threatened to boycott Brexit talks if Mrs May insisted on basing a deal on her Chequers plans.”

Dramatic U-Turn?

Express reported on August 30:

“Michel Barnier has made a dramatic U-turn and warned the European Union to prepare for a no-deal Brexit only a day after insisting the bloc was preparing to offer the UK a deal like no other third country.”

Deutsche Welle reported on August 30:

“Berlin and Brussels showed a united front on Wednesday delivering a single message to London: There will be no cherry-picking when it comes to the single market…

“[German Foreign Minister Heiko] Maas professed that the ‘last big hurdle’ was the question of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. ‘We are firmly convinced that the exit agreement must guarantee that Brexit must not lead to a hard border in Northern Ireland,’ said Maas. ‘It is important that this guarantee must be valid regardless of how the EU and Britain will shape its new relationship.’

 Should no deal be reached by then, Britain will be subject to the World Trade Organization rules, which include many types of customs and border regulations for any trade with the EU.

“In contrast to all this harmony on the continent, the strife between Barnier and his main counterpart in the UK remains palpable… As if to illustrate this trouble on the high seas, French and British fishermen are currently in the middle of a maritime dispute of their own. Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday that French boats had rammed British scallop dredgers they believed had encroached on their seabed in the Baie en Seine…”

Could America Suffer Outright Military Defeat?

The National Interest wrote on August 25:

“America taunts China by taking needless risks, provokes Russia with military operations on their border that in no way improves our own security, extends military guarantees to small countries that could drag us into a war we should never fight, and engages in active combat operations in scores of countries where no U.S. security interests are at stake.

“…great powers frequently fell because they came to believe they could not be defeated. Without question, we have the greatest air force and navy the world has ever known. We are the dominant global power, both militarily and economically. Much of America’s dominance is based on our modern weapons and the technology that empowers them. Our reliance on technology, however, is a double-edged sword.

“Should an adversary one day use space-based weapons to strip away our navigation and intelligence satellites, we would suffer a substantial and immediate loss of military capability. Many of our precision weapons would be useless, our ability to navigate on the land, in the air, and on the oceans could be temporarily crippled. Communications would be hampered. Even at the tactical level, much of our ground-combat power is predicated on an ability to disperse units and mass fires—all of which requires uninterrupted ability to communicate across great distances…

“We must expect that one day another world power is going to develop a new class of weapon or capability that has never been seen which will allow them [to] either neutralize our greatest offensive weapons or against which our best defenses will be inadequate…

“Maintaining the status quo… will continue the erosion of our strength and increase the chances we may one day suffer outright military defeat.”

The Bible prophesies that the USA WILL suffer outright military defeat, and that the world power bringing this about will be a united core Europe under German leadership (“the beast”).

EU and USA—No Tariffs at All?

Fox Business News wrote on August 30:

“Although European Union officials have said they are supportive of lowering tariffs on automobiles to zero if the U.S. reciprocates, President Trump believes this is not a stand-alone issue or trade deal… Trump wants to see all tariffs removed on all industries, including agriculture, steel aluminum and medical equipment…

“‘We are willing to bring down even our car tariffs to zero, all tariffs to zero, if the U.S. does the same,’ European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told members of the European Parliament on Thursday in Brussels. But… Malmstrom has said that agriculture would not be included in this deal, and because of this, the White House is not celebrating the comments made today by Malmstrom.”

Europe Supports Turkey against the USA

The EUObserver wrote on August 24:

“The Turkey-US trade spat has led to EU leaders backing Turkey against the US administration’s policies. This not only shows the extent of economic interdependence between Europe and Turkey, but also signals the development of a common stance in the face of a bullying trade partner.

“When US president Donald Trump took to Twitter to celebrate the downward trajectory of the Turkish lira against the US dollar, Europe was concerned about the potential spillover of rapidly growing economic turmoil in Turkey. In particular, Germany, Turkey’s biggest trading partner, came to Turkey’s defence… In Italy, decision makers were equally concerned about contagion from Turkish markets…

“Meanwhile, the European Parliament declared the tariffs as illegitimate and urged the US to solve its problems with Turkey with ‘constructive diplomatic engagement.’ French economy minister Bruno Le Maire vowed to ‘strengthen economic ties between France and Turkey’ signalling that France and Turkey would work together to take a stance against the US

“In the past 12 months alone, the tension between Europe and the US escalated like never before… the US and Europe have found themselves on the opposing sides of global conflicts and major foreign policy issues… There is a growing sense in Europe that collective action is needed for dealing with the US administration… A foreign policy based on ‘America first’ is likely to result in further isolation for the US to the extent that it undermines the US’ major allies across the world.”

Turkey will be aligned with Europe and Arab nations against Israel (the state of Israel as well as the USA and the UK), according to biblical prophecies, and America will become more and more isolated on the world scene.

Trump’s Terrible Week

The Guardian wrote on August 25:

“[On Tuesday, in] New York, Trump’s longtime lawyer and ‘fixer’ Michael Cohen implicated the president in a crime to influence the 2016 presidential election. Pleading guilty to dodging taxes and campaign finance violations, he alleged that Trump directed him to pay hush money to prevent two women – a Playboy model and pornographic actor – speaking out about extramarital affairs.

“In Alexandria, Virginia, Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was found guilty of eight tax and bank fraud charges and could now spend the rest of his life behind bars – unless Trump chooses to pardon him.

“… But the day from hell [August 21] was far from done. The Republican congressman Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted on corruption charges, namely converting more than $250,000 in campaign money to pay for personal expenses… In 2016, Hunter was the second member of Congress to endorse Trump for president. Earlier this month the first, Chris Collins of New York was indicted for insider trading. The third [member of Congress who endorsed Trump]? Jeff Sessions, now Trump’s out-of-favour attorney general…

“And then, in one more dose of humiliation, the candidate Trump endorsed for governor of Wyoming, Foster Friess, lost the Republican primary to the state treasurer, Mark Gordon…

“Then there was Wednesday… the president gave an interview to Fox News which, as always, had sought to play down the firestorm. He denied instructing to Cohen to commit a crime… He also claimed that he did not find out about the payments until ‘later’, contradicting earlier statements. For the first time, the Washington Post’s factchecker said the president was lying rather than merely misleading or false…

“On Thursday there was no let-up. It emerged that David Pecker, chairman of American Media Inc, which owns the pro-Trump National Enquirer, had been granted immunity to provide information about Cohen and Trump’s involvement with payments to the two women who allege sexual affairs. The Associated Press added fuel to the fire by reporting that the Enquirer kept such secrets locked in a safe…

“On Friday… attention turned back to Trump’s legal crisis as the Wall Street Journal reported that Allen Weisselberg, his longtime financial gatekeeper, was granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Cohen…”

Just about Cohen? Many feel that the alleged “investigation” regarding “collusion with Russia” has far exceeded its claimed legitimate legal justification and that it does constitute a political witch-hunt of unparalleled historical proportions. At one time, Trump said that if special counsel Robert Mueller should begin to investigate Trump’s or his family’s private financial affairs, he would have crossed the red line. Constitutionally, Trump can’t probably fire Mueller himself or through his Attorney General Sessions who recused himself, after he took the job, without telling Trump ahead of time. But Trump could fire Sessions (which many, such as evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr., a religious adviser to Trump, believe is long overdue) and/or insist that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein fire Mueller, and if he refuses [he had told Congress he would fire Mueller only for clear misconduct and he gave him great latitude regarding the “investigation”], Trump could fire him too until he finds someone who carries out his demands.

Politico pointed out on April 17, 2018, that this man might be Solicitor General Noel Francisco: “Under Justice Department rules, Rosenstein’s successor should be the department’s third-ranking official, the associate attorney general. But the last occupant of that job, Rachel Brand, departed in February and has not been replaced [Presently, Jesse Panuccio is serving as the Acting Associate Attorney General; while the Trump administration has put its search for the Justice Department’s No. 3 official on hold]. Next in line is Francisco, 48, a former George W. Bush White House and Justice Department lawyer whom Trump last year named to be U.S. solicitor general, representing his administration and the U.S. government before the Supreme Court.”

It might not be “politically correct” for Trump to fire Mueller in the way described above, and the Democrats will and many Republicans might revolt and cry foul, but they still may not dare to impeach Trump, as many American citizens would be on his side, going beyond just his loyal base, since he would truly have begun, in the minds of many, to drain the swamp which he had promised to do. After all, many congressional Republicans were never his friends to begin with, nor are they his friends today, and now we see that some of Trump’s long-time loyal “friends” are receiving immunity while turning against him.

Impeach Trump, and the American People Will Revolt

The Washington Post wrote on August 24:

“‘I think impeachment would be totally horrible,’ Giuliani said, later adding, ‘You could only impeach him for political reasons, and the American people would revolt against that.’ On this point, Giuliani is largely correct.

“First, impeachment is indeed a purely political process… it’s also probably true that there would be a revolt of some significant form against an effort to impeach Trump… ‘Revolt’ is a strong word, and ‘the American people’ is overly broad. But a substantial number of Americans would certainly take strong issue with an impeachment effort against Trump…

“We talk a lot about Trump’s base of support, how broadly steady it is and how enthusiastic it is. Talk to Trump supporters and a common theme is that they feel the need to stand with him because he’s constantly embattled by the outside forces of Democrats and government investigators…”

Trump won’t be impeached.

Trump Like Cyrus Helping to Build the Temple?

The Huffington Post wrote on August 30:

“[Roger E.] Olson, a professor of Christian theology… said many evangelicals don’t necessarily believe that Trump is a man of faith. But they view him like Cyrus, the biblical Persian emperor who helped to free the Hebrew people and rebuild their temple in Jerusalem despite not being Jewish himself.

“‘They regard [Trump] as a person who is not one of God’s own people (Jewish or Christian), but an instrument of God to deliver Israel and American evangelical Christianity from persecution…’”

Trump’s role in the building of the Third Temple prior to Christ’s return will be interesting to observe. Please view our StandingWatch program, “Netanyahu’s Announcement of a Third Temple?”

John McCain and His Farewell Message

The Week wrote on August 27:

“The passing of Sen. John McCain marks the end of an era in American political life… Americans are always hungry for heroes, and McCain served admirably in that role for many years. His service, sacrifice, and suffering as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War was genuinely awe-inspiring and worthy of profound… respect…

“Honor, nobility, courage, public-spiritedness — he esteemed them all and did his best to embody them in his life. That… is the source of the heartfelt tributes that have flowed forth from so many at the news of his death. His life was a reminder of an older, elevated notion of politics that places country before party and self-sacrifice before self-interest. That such displays of public virtue can still move so many, even at such an otherwise tawdry time in our history, is powerful evidence that they grow out of and touch something deep and ineradicable within the human soul.”

JTA wrote on August 28:

McCain reserved two paragraphs in his posthumous farewell for a warning about the dangers of hypernationalism, alluding to the rise of the ‘alt-right,’ the white supremacists whom he reviled. And he invoked a slogan that predates the Nazis, but that was made popular by them: blood and soil… ‘We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil… We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process… We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe.’

“It was not the first time McCain had referenced the term ‘blood and soil,’ which the Nazis used to justify their theories of racial purity. Last October, receiving the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal, he used the term to warn against the white supremacism that had led to violence and murder in Charlottesville, Virginia just two months earlier.

“‘To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain “the last best hope of earth” for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history,’ McCain said then. ‘We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil.’…

“McCain was furious with President Donald Trump for equivocating following Charlottesville, when the president insisted both sides were to blame for the violence and… declared that there were ‘very fine people’ on both sides. And McCain’s final statement segues from a warning about the term to an indictment of Trump’s policies, particularly the president’s anti-immigrant postures.

“‘We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down,’ McCain said, an allusion to the wall Trump hopes to build along the border the United States shares with Mexico, and which runs through Arizona… Trump despised McCain and had to be pressured into honoring the senator’s memory.”

Earthquake in Southern California

The Los Angeles Times reported on August 29:

“Parts of Southern California were rattled by a 4.4 magnitude earthquake Tuesday evening that was centered near La Verne but felt over a wide area… the epicenter was three miles from San Dimas, four miles from Claremont and five miles from Glendora.

“… Victor Flores, who lives in a two-story house in the hills of La Verne, said the shaking was ‘extremely violent.’ ‘It was moving the whole house,’ he said. ‘It shook hard for what seemed like 10 to 20 seconds, and then it just kept going. It was really loud too, kind of like thunder. It just hit really hard and quick.’ Flores, his wife and daughters ran to their backyard, but when they saw the water in their pool swaying back and forth, they ran back inside…

“Rochelle Puente was watching her 7-year-old son’s football practice at Bonita High School in La Verne when she felt the shaking. She and at least 100 other people at the field looked up at the tall trees and swaying poles. Puente heard people scream… ‘It felt way stronger than a 4.4,’ Puente added.

“The… quake was widely felt, either as a sharp jolt near the epicenter or a rolling motion farther away. It shook buildings for several seconds in downtown Los Angeles.”

Please view our StandingWatch program,  Is California’s Big Earthquake About to Strike?

Further Outrageous Conduct by Bank of America

Miami Herald wrote on August 30:

“Saeed Moshfegh woke up earlier this month to discover the strangest thing: though he had plenty of money in his Bank of America account, he couldn’t access it. An Iranian getting his Ph.D in physics at the University of Miami, Moshfegh used the account for everyday transactions. All he had to do to maintain the account was show proof of legal residency every six months. Moshfegh… has lived in the U.S. for the past seven years. He recently married an American.

“That Thursday, Moshfegh went to his local branch near South Miami. He was told that the documentation he had provided could not be accepted. Bank officials insisted he produce a different form, according to Moshfegh. The bank was wrong, he maintains, because the form he had supplied was the correct one based on his current status as a student nearing graduation. ‘This bank doesn’t know how the immigration system works, so they didn’t accept my document,’ said Moshfegh, 36.  Locked out of his account, Moshfegh couldn’t pay his rent, which was due that week. Credit card payments were suddenly rejected.

“His case isn’t unique. In recent months, Bank of America has been accused of freezing or threatening to freeze customers’ accounts after asking about their legal status in the U.S. In July, the Washington Post reported that multiple customers had been locked out of their accounts after Bank of America questioned whether the account holders were U.S. citizens or dual citizens.

“According to the Post, Kansas-born Josh Collins received an unusual-looking letter purportedly from the bank asking about his citizenship status. He said he thought the mailer was spam and ignored it—only to have his account frozen a few weeks later. After Collins’ story was first reported locally, he and his wife received messages from others who had been locked out of their accounts for weeks, the Post reported.

“Tennessee native David Lewis says he received the same suspicious-looking letter as Collins. In an interview with the Miami Herald, Lewis said he has maintained an account with Bank of America for about 30 years. In the letter, the bank inquired about his citizenship, income, and Social Security number. When he called Bank of America, he was told his account would be frozen if he did not fill out the forms. That phone conversation led him to cancel his account, he said…

Proof of citizenship is not required to open a bank account in the U.S., according to Stephanie Collins, a spokesperson for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the federal agency that supervises branch banking. Banks are merely required to identify and report suspicious transactions and maintain and update customer information, she said…

“Paulina Gonzalez, executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, told the Herald: ‘…We have Bank of America customers who we’ve spoken to who have never been asked this before last year…’ In recent months, her group has received several complaints about being asked for proof of citizenship; almost all have come from Bank of America customers, she said. An article in American Banker magazine also highlighted Bank of America as the one institution specifically facing backlash for its policies

“For Moshfegh, the Miami physics student, it was not until he’d had conversations with multiple Bank of America officials that he was able to convince them to let him withdraw all his funds; Bank of America would not let him keep the account.”

This is truly appalling. For more information, please view our StandingWatch program, “Do Banks and the Government Control You?” 

Another Change in Australia’s Government

The Telegraph wrote on August 25:

“Australia’s new prime minister Scott Morrison, a staunch conservative and devout evangelical Christian [who opposes same-sex marriage], yesterday pledged to heal the ruling Liberal party after a week of infighting that outgoing leader Malcolm Turnbull said left his nation ‘dumbstruck and so appalled’. Following a brutal party brawl, Mr Morrison emerged victorious as leader in a 45-40 party-room vote against Peter Dutton, a hardliner who led a coup against Mr Turnbull.

“Mr Morrison, formerly the treasurer, equivalent to Chancellor of the Exchequer, was sworn in on Friday by the Governor-General, the Queen’s representative, to become Australia’s sixth prime minister in eight years. Mr Turnbull, a former investment banker who became leader after toppling Tony Abbott in 2015, was ousted by a group of right-wing MPs who mistrusted his progressive views, even as he veered rightward on issues such as climate change, the republic and same-sex marriage…

“The toppling of Mr Turnbull means that no Australian leader has served a full term since John Howard after the 2004 election… Adding to the turmoil, Mr Turnbull said he planned to leave parliament, which would require a by-election that could threaten the ruling Liberal-National Coalition’s one-seat majority. This could force an early general election, which is currently due by May.

“Mr Morrison, a father of two and faithful member of an American-style mega-church, did not support the move to topple Mr Turnbull. He was elected after a three-way contest against Mr Dutton and Julie Bishop, the foreign minister, who was defeated in the first round of voting.

“On Friday night US President Donald Trump congratulated Mr Morrison. Trump tweeted, ‘There are no greater friends than the United States and Australia!’ Mr Morrison soon responded, writing on Twitter: ‘Had a great discussion with @realDonaldTrump this morning. We affirmed the strength of the relationship between the US and Australia…’ Known as a shrewd political operator, Mr Morrison developed a reputation as a tough but capable minister after overseeing Australia’s efforts to stem the flow of asylum seekers by boat. This involved detaining refugees on remote offshore islands and towing boats back to Indonesia, measures condemned as unlawful and inhumane by the United Nations.”

If there are no greater friends than the USA and Australia, where do the UK and Israel fit in? The Bible says that God is not pleased with a country’s national sin manifested by the fact that its leaders change constantly and quickly (Proverbs 28:2 says in the Luther Bible 1984: “Because of the sin of the land its leaders change often…”).

Deadly Side Effects of Prescription Medications

ABC News wrote on August 27:

“The authors collected health information of over 23,000 children 19 years and younger using [a survey] from 2003 to 2014. Nearly one in five children and adolescents used at least one prescription medication; approximately 7.5 percent used two or more and the use of prescription medications was the highest among adolescent girls (28 percent) and boys ages 6 to 12 years (26.5 percent).

“Among those using multiple medications, one in 12 was at risk for a major drug interaction, and the vast majority of these potential interactions involved antidepressants. Adolescent girls were at a higher risk of interacting drug regimens compared to other groups, largely because of their higher rate of medication use… side effects related to medications remain a leading cause of injuries and death among children and adolescents in the United States… approximately 200,000 children and teens visit emergency departments each year because of side effects related to medication…”

Hatred for the Bible?

The Los Angeles Times wrote on August 17:

“Would you believe it if I told you the mere sight of the Bible is offensive to some people?… Apparently, in our intolerant culture, we no longer can display the Bible in public…

“Harvard, Yale and a number of the other original nine colonial colleges in America were established by people who believed in the Bible. The Salvation Army, which has helped countless vulnerable people, was started by a man who believed in the Bible and lived accordingly. The abolitionist movement was led by men and women who believed the words in the Bible and took them to heart. And let’s not forget Martin Luther King Jr., whose celebrated speeches, which in many ways were really sermons, are now enshrined in our collective consciousness. And yet, here we are, having to tiptoe around some who find it offensive.

“We can find Bibles in nearly every hotel room in America, and most Americans have at least one Bible in their home. In fact, 47% of American adults, including 50% of college graduates, believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. At the same time, there is a significant disconnect. Half of those who claim to read the Bible aren’t able to name the four Gospels in the New Testament…”

The situation in Europe, especially Germany, is much worse. Anyone who dares to read the Bible in public (including in public transportation) is being considered by most as being weird, strange, abnormal or a religious fanatic. You can read any book you want in public, but woe to you if you read the Bible! We need to understand that the author of such hatred for God’s Word is none other than Satan the Devil.

Separation of Catholic Church and State in Italy?

Evangelical Focus reported on August 20:

“The state funeral in Genova for the victims of the Morandi bridge, which killed at least 41 people, was not attended by all the victims. About half of the relatives decided not to take part in the ceremony held on August 16th

“The state funeral followed a Roman Catholic rite… Among those who did not attend the state funeral were the parents, siblings and friends of Stella Boccia (24). They decided to do their own funeral the day before… Francesco Boccia, brother of the victim, is an evangelical pastor of an Assemblies of God…

“This is not the first time a state funeral in Italy is officiated in accordance to the Roman Catholic liturgy, even when those honoured include people of other faiths and non-believers. According to the Italian Evangelical Alliance (AEI), the state funerals after the earthquakes of Aquila (2009) and Amatrice (2016) followed a similar religious framework. ‘The state funeral is delegated to the Catholic church as if the state could not “handle death” apart from “mother” church’, Vice President of the AEI, Leonardo De Chirico, told Evangelical Focus. Therefore, the state funeral becomes ‘actually a Catholic funeral. The distinctions between state and church are blurred… It assumes that everyone is Catholic and that the Catholic Church acts on behalf of the state’…”

We need to note as well that Roman Catholicism was recognized under Mussolini as the state’s official and only religion, and this declaration in a treaty between church and state was never revoked. The same “blurred distinctions” can be observed in other European countries in which Catholics constitute a majority of the people, including Austria, Germany, France and Spain.  

Pope Francis—Change of Mind or Damage Control?

The Guardian wrote on August 27:

“The Vatican has rolled back on a recommendation by Pope Francis that parents seek psychiatric help for children who show homosexual tendencies. The pope made the comments to journalists as he was flying back to Rome from Ireland, but the Vatican later removed his phrase from its official account, saying he had not meant to suggest that homosexuality was a mental illness.

“The pope was asked by a journalist what he would say to parents who observe homosexual traits in their children. ‘When it shows itself from childhood, there is a lot that can be done through psychiatry, to see how things are. It is something else if it shows itself after 20 years,’ he said. He added that ignoring a child who showed homosexual tendencies was an ‘error of fatherhood or motherhood’

“The pope’s trip to Ireland was fraught with controversy amid accusations that he ignored sexual abuse allegations against prominent US cardinal Theodore McCarrick.”

It was even alleged that he knew and covered up alleged sexual abuses of children. The pope has refused to comment to such allegations.

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.

A Man of Peace; Beautiful Marriage

On September 1, 2018, Robb Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “A Man of Peace,” and Eric Rank will present the sermon, titled, “Beautiful Marriage.”

The live services are available, over video and audio, at (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.

Current Events

by Norbert Link

We begin with disconcerting developments in Germany pertaining to ongoing discussions about mandatory military and community service and the increased activities of the military to entice minors; speak of a wildfire near Berlin revealing the existence of many weapons and old munitions which had been dumped in the area at the end of World War II; address violent outbursts in East Germany following the murder of a German by immigrants; and report on some alarming announcements for Brits living in the EU regarding their bank accounts in the UK in case of a no-deal Brexit.

We continue with reports raising the possibility that the USA might be defeated in a coming war [please view our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Will America Be Defeated Soon in WWIII?”]; speak on Turkey’s and Europe’s opposition to the USA; and address President Trump’s bad week as former friends turn against him and as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation appears to be, more and more, like a totally unjustified witch hunt. We also speculate as to what President Trump could and may (have to) do in this regard, and what the consequences for such a “politically incorrect” move might and might not be. We also report on the late John McCain and his farewell message.

We conclude with further outrageous conduct by Bank of America; another earthquake in Southern California; the governmental upheaval in Australia; deadly side effects of prescription medication; hatred for the Bible; the virtually nonexistent separation between church and state in Italy; and Pope Francis’ recent comments regarding homosexuality and his subsequent change of mind or damage control.

Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.

Would you please explain Hosea 5:7. Whom will the “new moon” devour? Does this mean that modern Israel and Judah will be destroyed together within a month consisting of 30 days?

Hosea 5:7 reads, “They have dealt treacherously with the LORD, For they have begotten pagan children. Now a New Moon shall devour them and their heritage.”

In order to understand the context, we need to consider several passages within the entire fifth chapter of the book of Hosea.

Verse 1 speaks to the priests, the house of Israel and the house of the king. Verse 3 says that God knows Ephraim and that Israel is not hidden from Him. Verse 5 says that Israel and Ephraim will stumble in their iniquity, and that Judah will stumble with them. Verse 8 says that the ram’s horn and the trumpet are to be blown, obviously referring to impending war, and verse 9 continues that Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke. Verse 10 speaks of God’s wrath; and verse 13 says that Ephraim won’t succeed in trying to find help from King Jareb of Assyria. Finally, verse 15 announces that ultimately Ephraim and Judah will earnestly seek God when they are being afflicted, indicating repentance.

The context of the entire chapter describes end-time events and addresses the modern descendants of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah. The reference to Ephraim is to be understood as, foremost, describing the nations and peoples of the United Kingdom; and perhaps Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the white populations of other English-speaking nations belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations [formerly known as the British Commonwealth], such as South Africa and Zimbabwe; and when Israel is mentioned in addition to Ephraim, it would refer to Ephraim’s brother Manasseh whose descendants can be found today in the United States. Judah, of course, is a reference to the state of Israel and the Jews in general, and the modern Assyrians can be found today in Germany and Austria. God speaks of the trumpet of war (referring also to the Feast of Trumpets, as we will see) and of His wrath which He will pour out on all nations during the Day of His Wrath, just prior to Christ’s return. Finally, reference is made to the priests—the religious leadership in all of the above-mentioned countries—and the house of the king, referring to the royal house and monarchy of Great Britain.

Since Verse 5 tells us that Ephraim, Israel (Manasseh) and Judah will all fall together, what then is the meaning of verse 7, telling us that because of their harlotry (verse 3) and the upbringing of pagan children, the “new moon” shall devour them and their heritage or posterity?

Commentaries are quite divided on the meaning of this verse.

In applying the verse strictly to Old Testament times and ignoring the prophetic end-time application, Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers states:

“Some reference is involved to the consequences of intermarriage with heathen. The ‘month’ may be a personification of the period of a month, during which takes place the now closely impending (perhaps already commenced) invasion by Tiglathpileser… This invasion was due in part to Ahaz having sought the aid of Assyria against Pekah and Rezin.”

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary makes the same mistake, pointing out:

“… a month—a very brief space of time shall elapse, and then punishment shall overtake them… The allusion seems to be to money loans, which were by the month, not as with us by the year. You cannot put it off; the time of your destruction is immediately and suddenly coming on you; just as the debtor must meet the creditor’s demand at the expiration of the month. The prediction is of the invasion of Tiglath-pileser, who carried away Reuben, Gad, Naphtali, and the half tribe of Manasseh.”

Other commentaries give similar explanations. Even though some of the statements are helpful, as describing historic forerunners of end-time events, they do not focus on the relevance of these passages for us today, and completely overlook the warning message to the modern DESCENDANTS of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah. However, when reading those comments, we should be able to view them in light of future events which will soon occur, just prior to Christ’s return.

For example, the Matthew Poole’s Commentary states:

“They, the whole house of Israel, priests, people, and princes, and their kings with them, have dealt treacherously; have falsified their word and promise of fidelity and constancy, of love and affection, when they entered covenant with me; have turned idolaters, and worshipped and relied on false gods. They have begotten strange children; as if it were not enough that they were idolaters, they have trained up their children in the same idolatry, partly by their instruction, and more by their examples…

“A month [shall devour them]; either the new moon… or rather, a time not long (as an age); not as to the old world, nor as to Nineveh, forty days, but a shorter time: possibly it may refer to Shallum’s short time of usurpation, which lasted but a month; a month shall devour them, the Assyrians shall make a speedy conquest over you… Shallum slew Zachariah before the people… implying the people’s concurrence herein, and [we know of] their accepting of Shallum with expectation of peace and prosperity, to the increase of their portion under his government, all which was blasted at the month’s end.”

The Benson Commentary says:

“The expression alludes to children not lawfully begotten, or not born in wedlock. Now shall a month devour them — A very short time shall complete their destruction. It shall be sudden and unexpected.”

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible states:

 “The children too of the forbidden marriages with the pagan were, by their birth, strange or foreign children, even before they became so in act; and they became so the more in act, because they were so by birth. The next generation then growing up more estranged from God than themselves, what hope of amendment was there?

“Now shall a month devour – The word ‘now’ denotes the nearness and suddenness of God’s judgments; the term ‘month,’ their rapidity. A ‘month’ is… a brief time… The iniquity was full; the harvest was ripe; ‘now,’ suddenly, rapidly, completely, the end should come…”

Again, even though perhaps not intended by this commentary, its wording clearly points at the end time: the iniquity is full, the harvest is ripe, the complete end is coming. These are all terms used in the Bible to describe end-time events.

Several commentaries do not overlook the fact that the “new moon”—the first day of the month—is mentioned in connection with blowing a ram’s horn and a trumpet; apparently referring to the annual Holy Day of the Feast of Trumpets. This day is of course still to be kept today by Christians and Jews, but without the sacrifices, and it symbolizes especially the seven last trumpets mentioned in the Book of Revelation, culminating in the return of Jesus Christ. The thought seems to be that as Christ will return quickly and unexpectedly at a time of worldwide war, so the destruction in war of modern Israel and Judah will likewise occur quickly and unexpectedly.

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible applies Hosea’s prophecy to the observance of new moons (including the Feast of Trumpets) in general:

 “… now shall a month devour them with their portions; the Jews understand this literally of the month Ab, the time of Jerusalem’s destruction… or the month Tammuz, in which the city was broke up… or rather… it signifies a short time, a very little while before the destruction should come… but others seem better to interpret it of their new moon, or first day of the month, which they observed in a religious way, by offering sacrifice…”

A similar explanation is given by the  Pulpit Commentary:

“If (1) ‘month’ be the right rendering, it is a note of time like ‘the day of the Lord’ and the sense is that a short time shall see the end of them – not only of their persons, but their properties, that is, their hereditary portions in Palestine. But

“(2) if ‘new moon’ be the correct translation, the new moon, or sacrificial feasts celebrated at that season, will only rut, not relieve, them. Their sinful sacrifices and vain oblations, on which they now placed their reliance, will procure, not their salvation, but perdition.”

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges specifically refers to the new moon as including the Feast of Trumpets (compare too Psalm 81:3), which was used to determine the times for the other annual Holy Days—whenever the first crescent of the new moon was observed, it constituted the first day of the new month:

“… now shall a month devour them: The time for punishment has arrived. Instead of watching gladly for the new moon to fix the various hallowed festivals (comp. Hosea 2:11), they should have a ‘fearful looking for judgment’ increasing as each new moon arose…”

Hosea’s end-time prophecy in chapter 5 describes the sudden defeat in war of the USA and the United Kingdom; and perhaps Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the white populations of other English-speaking nations belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations [formerly known as the British Commonwealth], such as South Africa and Zimbabwe; in addition to the state of Israel and many Jews. This will occur through a modern King of Assyria—the “beast” or the “king of the North”—who will be leading a European collaboration of ten nations or groups of nations—referred to as ten kings in the book of Revelation, chapter 17, and ten toes in the book of Daniel, chapter 2.

These ten nations or kings will receive power for “one hour” (Revelation 17:12)—again, a very short time—to share it with the “beast”. They will fight with him, and he will also be accompanied and supported by the “false prophet,” a religious leader of a worldwide organization claiming to be Christian. As the reference in Revelation 17:12 to “one hour” does not mean 60 minutes (it apparently refers to 3 ½ years, note Daniel 7:25, or a somewhat shorter time span than that), the reference to the “month” in Hosea 5:7 does not have to mean a time span of 30 days either—what is expressed here is the very shortness of time. For instance, the day of the Lord will probably last 1 year… not just 24 hours (compare Isaiah 34:8; 61:2; 63:4).

Still, we find an interesting parallel passage in Zechariah 11:8 which reads: “I dismissed the three shepherds in one month. My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me.” There is much speculation about this verse as well, and many apply it only to the time of Zechariah. Commentaries “identify” the three shepherds as three ancient kings, such as Zachariah, Shallum, and Menahem; or as three ancient leaders of factions in the Jewish war, namely John, Simon, and Eleazar; or as three ancient dynasties that oppressed Israel, i.e., the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Greco-Macedonian Empires.

However, as we point out in our free booklet, The Book of Zechariah—Prophecies for Today!,” the prophecies in the book of Zechariah have end-time applications, as is the case with Hosea 5:7, and the reference to “one month” in both passages is striking. Some, understanding this, have suggested that Zechariah 11:8 refers to shepherds or leaders in various splinter groups of the Church of God who make merchandise of the brethren; live an ungodly lifestyle; preach wrong doctrines and practices; misappropriate religious titles to themselves which only belong to Christ; or claim ministerial positions of rank and stature which were not given to them by God, such as being an apostle, a prophet, or one of the two witnesses. Others suggested that the three shepherds might perhaps refer to leaders or influential persons of remnants of previous Church of God eras or of the very last era, whom God will deal with because of their disloyalty and faithlessness.

In light of Hosea 5:7, the reference to the “month” in Zechariah 11:8 could also refer to God’s quick intervention in regard to three ungodly entities which will be responsible, directly or indirectly, for the defeat and destruction of modern Israel and Judah:

One possibility is that God refers here to three leaders of “Ephraim,” “Israel” (Manasseh) and “Judah” (Hosea 5:5), who, due to their ungodly conduct, will inflict God’s wrath and who will thereby indirectly cause or contribute to the defeat of their sinful countries which will be falling together within a short period of time. God will bring about their defeat due to their many national sins, but God places the blame foremost on the ungodly political and religious leaders of those nations (compare Isaiah 1:5, 10; 3:12; 9:14-16; 28:7; Jeremiah 2:8; 23:11-14, 16-22, 26-27; Ezekiel 22:25-27; Micah 3:1-7).

These “three shepherds” might refer to the political leadership of the USA, the UK and the state of Israel at the time of God’s intervention. As God addresses in Hosea 5:1 the priests, the house of Israel and the house of the king, it is also possible that the three shepherds to be dismissed within “one month” could describe the religious, political and kingly leadership of the USA and the UK. In any event, the implication is that the collapse of these institutions and false religious and political leaders will occur suddenly and quickly. [For the defeat of the monarchy in Great Britain, please read our comments in our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” where we state on page 11: “The final king of the house of David, prior to Christ’s return, may cease to rule for a very short period of time: ‘At dawn the king of Israel Shall be cut off utterly’ (Hosea 10:15).”]

This destruction will be caused by modern “Babylon”—the last European revival of the ancient “Holy Roman Empire.” Therefore, another possibility of the dismissal of the three ungodly shepherds could be seen in the three powers or power blocs which will be directly responsible for the defeat of the modern descendants of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah—namely, the beast, the false prophet and the group of ten core European nations or groups of nations. As God will deal with and bring about the defeat of sinful USA, the UK and Judah  in “one month”—in a very short time—so He will also deal with and bring about the defeat of wicked modern Babylon in “one month.” Revelation 18:8, 10, 17 tells us that the ungodly and demonically inspired end-time Babylonian system will be judged and destroyed “in one day” and “in one hour.” Again, the implication is that it will happen unexpectedly within a very short time.

In conclusion, Hosea 5:7 does not necessarily say that the downfall and defeat of the USA, the UK and the state of Israel—the ungodly religious and political leadership as well as the entire nations—will occur within a literal month, consisting of 30 days, but we are clearly warned that it will happen very quickly, and that they will all fall together at approximately the same time; and especially the Feast of Trumpets warns us that a coming ungodly European power bloc will begin a terrible nuclear war which will destroy, defeat and enslave the modern descendants of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

compiled by Dave Harris

The 2018 USA Feast Brochure is now posted. Designed by Shelly Bruno, this brochure provides a complete schedule of events during the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great observances.

A new Member Letter (September 2018) has been written by Norbert Link to be sent out next week. The letter explains that and how the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days picture God’s master plan for man.

“Will America Be Defeated Soon in WW III?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Is it even conceivable that the USA, as well as the UK and Israel, could suffer outright military defeat in a coming war which has been described as the most devastating war ever? Some military experts believe so. Will WWIII be finally the war to end all wars? If so, then not in the way you and I would wish. Do end-time biblical prophecies provide us with a clear picture as to what is going to happen soon?

“Werden Amerika, England und Israel in einem Monat zerstört werden?” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “Will America, Britain and Israel Be Destroyed in One Month?”

“Trust in the Trials,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Frank Bruno, is now posted. Here is a summary:

Often when one faces a trial such as losing a job, the feeling of hopelessness can be overwhelming. Our bibles can offer a pathway forward through the word of God. David was a man of great faith yet he was still quite human and knew he needed to rely on God to deliver him from the many dangers and plots facing him in his day. Today we too face trials and challenges and the sooner we learn to turn to God, the more secure we will be. This life offers no promises, yet through our trials we can come closer to God—our Creator and our Father.

“WHAT (Not Who) is the Holy Spirit?” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:

The Holy Spirit is invisible to humans, but its actions and effects are plainly revealed. Having a relationship with the Father and with Jesus Christ is only possible when we have received the Holy Spirit—do you understand?

Here are the dates for the 2018 Fall Holy Days:

Feast of Trumpets—September 10
Day of Atonement—September 19
Feast of Tabernacles—September 24-30
Last Great Day—October 1

Why So Many Problems Now?

As the Fall Holy Days are upon us, many of us find ourselves in unusually stressful situations, experiencing more difficult trials and challenges than usual. These problems might involve health issues; difficulties in marriage or with family members; persecutions at work or in school; threats of termination or failing grades for non-attendance if we celebrate God’s Feast Days; and a myriad of other serious temptations. They all seem to have the goal, in one way or another, to stress us out so that we become disillusioned to the extent that we may not develop the joyful anticipation which we should have in preparation for God’s Holy Days.

None of this is coincidental, of course, and it is most certainly not because of time and chance. Rather, Satan and his wicked army of hateful demons are behind these attacks, as they do not want us to focus on and keep God’s weekly and annual Sabbaths, knowing that they are a sign between God and us which identify us as God’s people. They signify our sanctification and holiness; our future rule in God’s Kingdom; and the replacement of the Devil and his demons. If they can be successful in fooling us to give up our fight for God and His Law and to compromise instead, by not practicing what we must, then they have won, and we have lost our crown. They know, for example, that no one will be in God’s Family who has given up on God’s weekly and annual Holy Days. They know, as we should, that if we love anything or anyone more than Christ, we are not worthy of Him, and He will be ashamed of us at His Coming.

But still, those challenges are never easy to endure. Our human mind focuses with anxiety on a potentially terrible outcome for our loved ones and us, reasoning like this: “What is going to happen if I take time off from work or school in light of drastic threats? Surely, God will understand that I must give in under those circumstances.” However, it is we who must understand that God is stronger and more powerful than the evil spirits which are ruling this rotten world, and that He allows challenges to test us and try us and make us stronger spiritually. At the same time, He IS there to intervene, to help us and to show us the right way out, without compromise, if a temptation or trial would be too difficult for us to handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). But God also knows that we might be much stronger than we may think.

When challenges come through mean-spirited people, we should realize that we are fighting with wicked spirits in high places. Many times, people don’t even know why they are behaving towards us in such a hostile and disapproving manner. Their carnal nature, which is enmity against God and His Law, developed within them because of Satan’s influence. We might become the subjects of contempt by professing “Christians” because they see us stand up for God’s “crazy” rules and these superseded “Old Testament” “Jewish” festivals, while rejecting their beloved Christmas and Easter celebrations. They have no clue as to what the truth is, and do not possess any correct godly comprehension because Satan has blinded them. In most cases, they don’t understand that it is they who reject God and who accept instead ungodly pagan holidays which man adopted under Satan’s inspiration. All the while, we must remember that our spiritual warfare is not with people, but with Satan, the god of this deceived world (Ephesians 6:12-13; Galatians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9).

We know of many examples in the Bible when God’s disciples fell into despair. Elijah faced a big problem when Jezebel tried to kill him–he had enough and wanted to die. Jeremiah was also faced with threats on his life, so he complained to God that He could not be relied upon. Job was severely plagued by Satan, but God allowed it, and his response to God was that He treated him unjustly. But in spite of those temporary setbacks and misguided evaluations of their situation, God’s people found renewed strength in God and continued their responsibilities. They knew that the righteous may fall seven times and get up and go on (Proverbs 24:16).

Sometimes, challenges before God’s Feast Days, especially before the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, may not be earth-shaking events, but they could just be stressful daily occurrences which we might compare with little rocks or with small bricks. After a while, the accumulation of the rocks has become a huge mountain which appears to be unclimbable, or the bricks, taken together, have become a strong wall which does not let us pass through. This condition can become so frustrating for us that we conclude that it is just too much to handle–the problems are piling up with such speed and regularity that we are feeling stressed out and unable to continue. Paul was being threatened many times with death, but he also spoke about daily challenges, including his deep concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:28). He warned us that “in the last days there will come times of stress” (2 Timothy 3:1, Revised Standard Version).

Dear brethren and friends, Satan is very angry right now. He KNOWS, perhaps better than we do, that his time is short and that God will crush him under our feet shortly (Romans 16:20). He is our enemy and wants to destroy us like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). We must resist him, knowing what he has in mind. God will give us renewed strength so that we can mount up with wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31)—rising high above our problems. And viewing our difficult circumstances from a distance that far away, they will appear very small indeed.

©2024 Church of the Eternal God