Children are good at coming up with excuses for not doing what they are told to do or for not carrying out a task by following precise instructions. However, adults are not that much different. We have a few impressive examples of this in the Bible which also show the consequences for such behavior.

The first is the example of King Saul. He was instructed by God to attack wicked and cruel Amalek and kill man, woman, children plus the animals, as we read in 1 Samuel 15:3:  “‘Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

What did he do? Verse 9 tells us: “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.”

What was his excuse for his disobedience?

“And Saul said, ‘They have brought them [the sheep and oxen] from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed’” (1 Samuel 15:15).

He blamed it on the people and took no responsibility for what happened. What was the consequence? Samuel told him in 1 Samuel 15:23: “‘For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.’”

Being replaced as king was the price for his refusal to carry out God’s orders. His weak excuse was to blame the people but as the King, he was ultimately responsible.

It is important to do what God asks and requires of us.

Let us assume that an owner of a business tells an employee to paint the floor in the shop. Later he checks on how the task is progressing. The employee tells him that he painted the walls and the doors, repaired some of the lights and replaced a window. “What’s your excuse for not painting the floor?”,  the employer asks. The man answers he thought the other things were more important and that the employer would be impressed by what he had done. The  owner replies: “That’s nice that you did all that but you did not paint the floor as I ordered you to do, so you are fired.”

Sometimes people get all caught up in what they think is a priority and ignore clear instructions which they had received.

Let us look at what may seem to be a strange statement by Christ to a group of individuals.

Matthew 7:21 records  Christ’s words:  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’”

They thought they were followers of Christ, pointing out the “good deeds” they had performed, but what was Christ’s response? “‘And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:23).

This may seem like a pretty harsh response, but why do you suppose He said this? In what respect did they fail?

Matthew 24:14 tells us: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

This is where their focus should have been. Their excuse was that they felt other things were more important, but that was not acceptable to Christ, and as a consequence, He told them to depart from Him.

Our individual responsibility is to support the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God among all nations as a witness, and if we fail in this task, we fail completely. None of the excuses we may present for not doing what Christ has clearly told us to do will be acceptable.

Let us put the excuses aside and remain focused on the job at hand so that we will be in a position to receive our crown at Christ’s return.

This Week in the News

Rejecting the “Christmas Story”

Even though one year old, the following article is worthwhile reading.

The New York Times wrote on December 13, 2017:

“Is Christmas a Religious Holiday? A Growing Number of Americans Say No…

Ninety percent of Americans celebrate Christmas in some form… Fifty-six percent of Americans believe that the religious elements of Christmas are emphasized less now than they were in the past, but only 32 percent of Americans say that development bothers them either ‘a lot’ or ‘some,’ according to the study.

“In 2017, 55 percent of Americans said they celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday…  Four years ago, 59 percent of Americans said they celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday…

“The most seismic change captured by the survey, from a theological standpoint, may be the declining number of people who said they believed the biblical story of Christmas accurately reflected historical events. The survey asked respondents about their belief in four parts of the biblical Christmas story: that an angel heralded the birth of Jesus; that it was a virgin birth; that wise men were guided to baby Jesus by a star; and that he was placed in a manger.

“Only 57 percent of Americans believe in all four, down from 65 percent in 2014… atheists and the religiously unaffiliated appeared even less likely now than in the past to believe the story of Jesus’ birth…”

Even though the Bible does not teach that we ought to keep Christmas, the story regarding the birth of Jesus, as recorded in Scripture, is most certainly accurate. That so many celebrate Christmas, claiming to remember the birth of Christ, and reject the facts pertaining to His birth, is more than telling and shows an appalling degree of hypocrisy.

Embracing Christmas Demons and Pagan Rites

National Geographic wrote on December 5, 2018:

“When listening to the radio in December, it’s unlikely to hear holiday songs singing the praises of Krampus: a half-goat, half-demon, horrific beast who literally beats people into being nice and not naughty.

“Krampus isn’t exactly the stuff of dreams: Bearing horns, dark hair, fangs, and a long tongue, the anti-St. Nicholas comes with a chain and bells that he lashes about, along with a bundle of birch sticks meant to swat naughty children. He then hauls the bad kids down to the underworld.

“In Catholicism, St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children. His saints day falls in early December, which helped strengthen his association with the Yuletide season. Many European cultures not only welcomed the kindly man as a figure of generosity and benevolence to reward the good, but they also feared his menacing counterparts who punished the bad. Parts of Germany and Austria dread the beastly Krampus, while other Germanic regions have Belsnickle and Knecht Ruprecht, black-bearded men who carry switches to beat children. France has Hans Trapp and Père Fouettard. (Some of these helpers, such as Zwarte Piet in The Netherlands have attracted recent controversy.)

“Krampus’s name is derived from the German word krampen, meaning claw, and is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology. The legendary beast also shares characteristics with other scary, demonic creatures in Greek mythology…

“According to folklore, Krampus purportedly shows up in towns the night of December 5, known as Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night. The next day, December 6, is Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas Day, when children look outside their door to see if the shoe or boot they’d left out the night before contains either presents (a reward for good behavior) or a rod (bad behavior)…

“A more modern take on the tradition in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic involves drunken men dressed as devils, who take over the streets for a Krampuslauf—a Krampus Run of sorts, when people are chased through the streets by the ‘devils’…

“Krampus’s frightening presence was suppressed for many years—the Catholic Church forbade the raucous celebrations, and fascists in World War II Europe found Krampus despicable because it was considered a creation of the Social Democrats.

“But Krampus has been having a resurgance over the past few years… with people searching for ways to celebrate the yuletide season in non-traditional ways. In the United States, people are embracing the dark side of Christmas with Krampus movies, special ‘Krampus’ television episodes. They’re throwing Krampus parties, attending local Krampusnachts (in cities like Washington, D.C. and New Orleans), and running in Krampus-themed races…”

The dark side of Christmas shows the true origin of that festival.

National Geographic had written the following on December 1, 2017:

“Krampus isn’t the only menacing counterpart to St. Nicholas… These [other] figures [mentioned in the previous article] date back to pagan celebrations of December 22, the longest night of the year, that were later adopted for Christmas… In the U.S., most celebrations of Krampus are also kind of like drunken dress-up days for adults—which, ironically, are more similar to an older type of American Christmas

“‘For most people, before the 1800s, Christmas was not a domestic quiet holiday,’ says Stephen Nissenbaum, author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Battle for Christmas. ‘It was a holiday that was characterized by boisterous revelry. It was sort of like a combination of Halloween and New Year’s Eve and Mardi Gras.’ These early celebrations often involved costumed ‘mummers,’ who went from door to door demanding alcohol, and threatened to make trouble if they didn’t get it. Kids today participate in a watered-down version of this when they go trick-or-treating on Halloween…”

Alcoholism is still running rampant during the Christmas season.

How Christmas Became Popular in the USA

History wrote on December 13:

“Before the Civil War, Christmas was not an official holiday in the United States. Nor was it celebrated uniformly across the country. In early New England, Christmas was looked down upon by Puritans and Calvinists… During the 17th century, Massachusetts imposed a fine on colonists who celebrated the holiday, and after it became a state, its businesses and schools did not observe the holiday at all.

“Elsewhere, Christmas was celebrated in a variety of ways, most depending on the country of origin of the immigrants who celebrated it…

“In the… South, plantation owners used the holiday as a way to show off their paternalism toward the people they enslaved… Though enslaved people managed to create some of their own Christmas traditions, many of which incorporated traditions from Africa, they were also expected to help absolve slaveowners’ guilt over the holidays by enthusiastically opening gifts and showing their gratitude….

“But the Civil War disrupted not just the relations between plantation owners and the people they enslaved, but those within families and communities… children’s mothers, aunts and sisters experienced Christmas as an agonizing reminder of the danger faced by men who had gone to war. Civil War-era diaries and letters document how many women felt anxiety, grief and depression around Christmas

“In 1870, in the aftermath of the war, Congress passed the first federal holiday law and made Christmas an official holiday…”

Far from being a time of peace, the American Christmas as we know it today was created amidst grief and depression during the Civil War.

Christmas Highest Risk for Heart Attacks

The Independent wrote on December 12:

“In one of the largest studies to assess the hazards of the holidays, Swedish researchers pinpointed 10pm on Christmas Eve as the point where annual heart attacks are most likely. While Swedish festivities peak on Christmas Eve, previous studies have shown other countries have higher rates on Christmas Day

“But the greatest additional risk was at Christmas Eve, with heart attack rates as much as 37 per cent higher than on the same day a week later or earlier. Risks were greatest in the over 75s and those with pre-existing heart conditions, or other diseases such as diabetes. It said previous studies ‘have shown that acute experience of anger, anxiety, sadness, grief and stress increases the risk of myocardial infarction and thus possibly explains the higher risk observed in our study.’

“While New Year’s Eve is typically seen as another peak of emotion and indulgence, the researchers found a higher risk on New Year’s Day.”

If Christmas is a time of joy and peace, why has there been so much fear, anxiety and depression and even increased chances of heart attacks during that time?

President Trump’s Christmas Present Leads to Flood of Divorces

The website of inc wrote on December 15:

“You might remember that a year ago, on the Friday before Christmas (Christmas was on a Monday last year), President Trump signed a  last-minute tax law –in fact, the most sweeping tax law in 30 years. It contained many different tax cuts–largely permanent tax cuts for corporations, and temporary tax cuts for individuals that sunset in 2025. Because the whole thing was largely negotiated in secret, it also contained some surprises people didn’t even notice at the time–including some hidden tax increases.

“One of these individual tax increases goes into effect next month, and it has a big potential impact on anyone who gets divorced and has to pay alimony starting next year. Because unlike people who divorced earlier, they won’t be able to deduct alimony from their income before they pay taxes. That looming change has prompted ‘flood of last minute divorces’…

“It’s a big boon for the U.S. Treasury to take away this deduction. The IRS says that in 2010, nearly 600,000 taxpayers who claimed an alimony deduction–and the total amount added up to more than $10 billion.”

Another Christmas Present?–US Federal Judge Rules Obama Healthcare Law Unconstitutional

The Guardian wrote on December 14:

“A US federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday that the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional, a decision that was likely to be appealed to the supreme court… [He] agreed with a coalition of 20 states that a change in tax law last year eliminating a penalty for not having health insurance invalidated the entire Obamacare law. [The] decision was issued the day before the end of a 45-day sign-up period for 2019 health coverage under the law…

“The White House hailed Friday’s ruling, but said the law would remain in place pending its expected appeal to the supreme court. ‘Once again, the president calls on Congress to replace Obamacare and act to protect people with preexisting conditions and provide Americans with quality affordable healthcare,’ the White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.”

Ukrainian Orthodox Church Breaks Away from Russia

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 15:

“Ukraine on Saturday formally created a new national Orthodox church, breaking away from Russia’s influence, as worsening political and military tensions between the two neighbors spills over to religion… The founding of a new Ukrainian Orthodox church had been in the works since Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea…

“The church’s establishment received a boost in October when the spiritual leader of the global Orthodox Church – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople – recognized Ukraine’s independence from the Russian Orthodox Church. In doing so, he revoked a 332-year-old ruling that had placed Ukraine under the Patriarchate of Moscow. That decision led the Russian Orthodox Church to break off all ties with Constantinople… The Constantinople Patriarchate’s leaders – based in Istanbul, Turkey – are widely considered to be the most influential in the global Orthodox hierarchy, which boasts some 300 million followers.

“Around half of them, however, are aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church, which is considered to have close ties to the Russian state, especially under President Vladimir Putin’s leadership. Despite the support of three Ukrainian church branches, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine of the Moscow Patriarchate – which comprises most priests, churches, and monasteries, has boycotted the meeting and has recommitted itself to Moscow’s dominion. The Russian Orthodox Church still considers Ukraine its territory.

“If the attempt to create a unified Ukrainian Church is successful, it would be among the largest in the Orthodox world in terms of numbers of believers. Some 67 percent of Ukraine’s 45 million population adheres to one or more strands of Orthodox Christianity.”

Putin’s Role as KGB Spy for Notorious East German Stasi

Bild Online wrote on December 11:

“28 years after the end of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the Stasi Records Agency (BStU) thought it knew all the secrets from the past. However, newly discovered documents reveal that the former KGB officer and present ruler of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin (66), was a member of the infamous State Security Service until the fall of the Berlin wall! Major Vladimir Putin, who was 33 at the time, received the ID on December 12, 1985 from the Ministry of State Security. The ID was renewed on a quarterly basis. It carried his signature and an official stamp and was valid until the end of 1989…

“Konrad Felber (65), Head of the Stasi Records Agency says: ‘Up to now, it was unknown that Putin who had worked as KGB agent in Dresden until 1990 was in possession of a Stasi ID… What has been known is that KGB spy Putin was working in the KGB villa at 4 Angelika Street, in Dresden, with other agents. His wife Ljudmila, who was 25 at the time (they are now divorced), came over with their daughter Marija in the autumn of that year…

“No one knows precisely the impact his work has had. One thing is certain however: he was recruiting German agents.”

As a former KGB spy and a member of the infamous Stasi who never apologized for his conduct during that time, it is obvious that he cannot be trusted.

Graham: Allah and the Christian God Not the Same

Breitbart wrote on December 16:

“Franklin Graham reacted strongly to a recent Islamic terror attack in Strasbourg, France, warning that radical Islam continues to be a major global threat… Graham, the son of the prominent Christian leader Billy Graham, reminded citizens that Islamic extremism has not ceased to be a menace to the world and that, contrary to popular opinion, the Muslim idea of God is very different from the God worshiped by Christians. In the past… Graham has said that bloody jihadist attacks should not surprise anyone, since hatred and violence against nonbelievers are central to the teachings of Islam.

“… Graham has been an ongoing critic of theories that would equate Islam to Christianity. In August, 2016, Graham challenged Pope Francis for his remarks suggesting that Islamic terrorism is not religiously motivated. Referring to the Pope’s comments that Islamic attacks do not constitute a ‘war of religion,’ Graham posted on Facebook that ‘I disagree that it’s not a war of religion. It is most certainly a war of religion.’

“The pope has frequently declared that all religions seek peace, and that religious beliefs cannot be the force driving Islamic terrorism. Rather than religious belief, poverty and misguided politics are the force behind jihadism, he has stated… Graham said that religion ‘is behind the violence and jihad we’re seeing in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and here in this country… It’s a religion that calls for the extermination of “infidels” outside their faith, specifically Jews and Christians’… ‘It’s a religion that calls on its soldiers to shout “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great” in Arabic) as they behead, rape, and murder in the name of Islam,’ he said. ‘Radical Islamists are following the teachings of the Quran. We should call it what it is,’ Graham concluded.”

There is most certainly a fundamental difference between Allah and the God of the Bible. Unfortunately, many Christians and Jews do not worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—the God of the Old and the New Testament—but they either believe in just one God Personality or a Trinity of Three Persons in One Person. However, the true God of the Bible is a Family, consisting of two distinct Persons—God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Russia’s Victory and US Defeat in Syria

Daily Mail wrote on December 19:

“President Donald Trump declared victory over ISIS in Syria on Wednesday, as the Pentagon prepares for an immediate troop withdrawal. ‘We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,’ the president wrote on Twitter… The move is likely to please Turkish president Recep Erdogan, who wants to counter U.S. allied Kurdish forces in Syria and who spoke with Trump by telephone last week. He has been threatening an assault on U.S. allied Kurdish forces, who have been effective in helping to combat ISIS.

“As the U.S. is preparing to pack up, Russia is moving in… The Russian parliament ratified a deal with Damascus on the permanent presence…  The deal would expand the Tartus naval facility, Russia’s only naval foothold in the Mediterranean, and grant Russian warships access to Syrian waters and ports…

“Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has pushed for a longer-term presence to make sure ISIS does not return to its former power, having been rolled back from its sprawling geographic base in Iraq and Syria.

“The move drew immediate criticism from Trump ally Lindsey Graham… ‘Withdrawal of this small American force in Syria would be a huge Obama-like mistake,’ Graham tweeted… Trump has previously lambasted his predecessor, Barack Obama, for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq that preceded an unraveling of the Iraqi armed forces. Iraqi forces collapsed in the face of Islamic State’s advance into the country in 2014…

“U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cautioned earlier in December that the United States had trained only about 20 percent of Syrian forces required to stabilize areas captured from Islamic State.”

JTA (Jewish Telegraph Agency) added on December 19:

“The Israeli government likely will be rattled by the decision. Remaining in Syria are Russian and Iranian advisers as well as troops belonging to Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist militia allied with Iran. Iran, Hezbollah and Russia are aligned with the Assad regime…

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that any final status settlement to the war must include the removal of Iranian influence from Syria, and the removal of U.S. troops substantially diminishes U.S. leverage to achieve that outcome.”

The Times of Israel wrote on December 20:

“The White House decision to pull US troops out of Syria is almost universally derided in Israel as a move that will cede the war-torn country to Iran (to say nothing of the Kurds being abandoned to face Turkey, which is a much bigger danger)… Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a hard time hiding his disappointment…”

ISIS Not Defeated

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 20:

“Germany, France, and the United Kingdom have said that ‘Islamic State’ remains a threat in Syria. All three appeared to dispute US President Donald Trump’s claim that the militants had been vanquished…

“The sudden withdrawal needlessly denies the US the possibility of having a say in it the rebuilding of post-war Syria. Trump has shown the world that he has lost interest in the Middle East as a whole.”

Troop Withdrawal a Major Blunder and Colossal Mistake

Newsmax wrote on December 19:

“President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement declaring victory over ISIS and withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria triggered some blistering criticism from members of his own party on Capitol Hill…  Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted withdrawal is a ‘major blunder’ that will ‘haunt this administration and America for years to come.’

“Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., derided Trump’s declaration of a victory over ISIS, saying it is ‘simply not true’…  other Senators in the upper chamber are ‘disappointed, furious, concerned’ Trump had not consulted members of Congress and gone through a normal process of letting people know about his decision…

“In comments to NBC News, Rubio ticked off three reasons why the withdrawal would be a ‘colossal mistake.’ He told the news outlet ISIS has been converted into an insurgency and will be a more powerful one without the U.S. presence, Syria will fall more under the control of Russia and Iran without U.S. forces, and the United States will be more readily seen as an ‘unreliable ally’ by the rest of the world.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis Retires Effective by End of February

Newsmax wrote on December 20:

“Mattis in his resignation letter said Trump had the right to ‘have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with’ his on ‘these and other subjects.’ ‘My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues,’ he added.

“His departure had been anticipated since Trump announced on Wednesday that he was withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria despite opposition from U.S. allies and top U.S. military officials.”

Deutsche Welle added on December 20:

“Jim Mattis has announced his retirement citing policy differences with his president. He was seen as a stabilizing force for international order in the chaotic, go-it-alone administration

“The Trump administration has had the highest senior-level staff turnover of the past five presidents, according to the Brookings Institution.”

Chaotic Decision without any Consultation

The Guardian wrote on December 19:

“‘This is a chaotic decision, hastily made with no consultation with anyone responsible for the actual nuts and bolts of withdrawal,’ [Nicholas] Heras, [a fellow at the Centre for a New American Security] said… [The White House also] said Trump would ‘take a look’ at Ankara’s demand for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a dissident Turkish cleric living in the US…

“Trump’s own national security adviser, John Bolton, is adamantly opposed to the decision, for different reasons. At the UN general assembly in September Bolton declared: ‘We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders and that includes Iranian proxies and militias.’ A diplomatic source described him as ‘livid’ about the president’s decision.”

This is how President Trump rules and makes his unpredictable decisions. His close relationship with Turkey’s tyrant Erdogan is extremely worrisome. An extradition of Gülen would lead to his certain death in Turkey.

Kurds Feel Betrayed by USA

Fox News wrote on December 19:

“Wednesday’s surprise announcement that the U.S. will quickly withdraw all its troops from Syria is the stuff of nightmares for many of the Kurds living under the protection of U.S forces and the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). ‘Everyone is upset, sad and afraid,’ one SDF member from the Kurdish-dominant Syrian city of Kobane told Fox News. ‘It’s a historic mistake. We wanted to be part of America. We are surrounded by enemies, and ISIS isn’t even finished yet.’

“… most of all, the millions in the region left in limbo are concerned about strikes from the Turkish side of the border. ‘Everyone is confused and scared. This will mean that Turkey will likely attack us. We are in shock because we thought the U.S. would help us achieve peace after ISIS. We didn’t think that they would… leave us alone to face the horror of Turkish forces and its extreme factions,’ lamented Mazloum Kurdy, a 33-year-old father and teacher from Kobane… In his words, it is an ultimate betrayal by the United States… Just hours after [the] White House announced it will pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, the State Department announced plans to sell $3.5 billion worth of Patriot surface-to-air missiles to Turkey.”


Erdogan Persecutor of Journalists  

Breitbart wrote on December 14:

“Can Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of Turkey’s last remaining opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, condemned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for claiming to defend the free press in the aftermath of the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Dündar, also writing in the Washington Post from exile in Germany… calls Erdogan the ‘world’s biggest hypocrite’ for defending Khashoggi…

“The Turkish journalist retells the story of how he ended up in Germany, separated from his wife for two and a half years because Erdogan’s government will not let her leave Turkey but put out an arrest warrant for Dündar to be apprehended the second he returns to his home country. Dündar’s newspaper… has for years criticized Erdogan’s government as increasingly dictatorial, Islamist, and paranoid…

“The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published its annual global freedom of the press report on Thursday declaring Turkey the most prolific jailer of journalists in the world for the third year in a row. Of the 251 journalists known to be in prison currently, 68 are in Turkey, and all facing charges for speaking out against the government.”

Erdogan Attacks Israel… Again!

Breitbart wrote on December 16:

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lashed out at Israel and compared it to Nazi Germany, accusing the Jewish state of ‘trying to erase the traces of the Islamic heritage in Jerusalem for the last 50 years.’…

“Erdogan said criticizing Israel never means anti-Semitism, adding: ‘Some European countries side with the U.S. and do not raise [a] voice against Israeli occupation policies due to shameful scenes from World War II’… blaming the West for fanning strife in the Muslim world for financial gain…

“This is the second time this year Erdogan has delivered a rhetorical broadside against Israel. After Turkey recalled its ambassadors to Israel and the United States in May to protest the Israeli response to riots along the Gaza border fence, he called Israel a ‘terror state’ and denounced its actions as ‘genocide.’… The Turkish parliament recently rejected a bill that would have formally recognized the Armenian genocide, even as thousands marched around the world to commemorate the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in 1915.”

As reflected in this and the previous article, the hypocrisy of Erdogan is appalling. Turkey will become one of the worst and meanest enemies of Israel.

US Unable to Defend against new Chinese and Russian Hypersonic Weapons

Fox News wrote on December 18:

“The U.S. lacks the defenses needed to protect against a new breed of highly sophisticated hypersonic weapons from China and Russia, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. ‘China and Russia are pursuing hypersonic weapons because their speed, altitude and maneuverability may defeat most missile defense systems, and they may be used to improve long-range conventional and nuclear strike capabilities,’ the report said. ‘There are no existing countermeasures.’

“… Russian President Vladimir Putin said [the new] Kinzhal [missile system] flies 10 times faster than the speed of sound, has a range of more than 1,250 miles and can carry a nuclear or a conventional warhead. The military said it’s capable of hitting both land targets and navy ships…”

Trump to Honor Anwar Sadat

JTA wrote on December 17:

“President Donald Trump signed legislation that will honor Anwar Sadat posthumously with the Congressional Gold Medal for leading Egypt to peace with Israel. The medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress, would be conferred next year, the 40th anniversary of the Camp David accords…

“Militant Islamists assassinated Sadat in 1981 because of the 1978 Camp David peace deal he forged with Israel. Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin received the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize.”

The Worldwide Church of God under Herbert W. Armstrong had a very close and friendly relationship with Anwar Sadat and his wife who, after Sadat’s assassination, had been a guest at the Church’s premises in Pasadena.

Trump Gives In on Border Wall, Pays Mexico Billions of Dollars

The Drudge Report linked the following two articles by the Associated Press with this headline:

“Wall Funding Off Table. USA Giving $4.8 Billion to Mexico.”

The Associated Press reported on December 19:

“President Donald Trump appeared Tuesday to back off his demand for $5 billion to build a border wall…”

But maybe not. The Week wrote on December 20:

“President Trump says he will not sign a stopgap spending bill passed by the Senate that would keep the government open through Feb. 8 and avert a shutdown at midnight Friday.

“House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday after meeting with Trump that the president will not sign the bill ‘because of his legitimate concerns for border security.’ The bill does not give President Trump the $5 billion he has been demanding for a border wall. Without the bill, funding will lapse for nine federal departments at the end of the week.”

On December 18, the Associated Press wrote:

“The United States pledged $5.8 billion in aid and investment Tuesday for strengthening government and economic development in Central America, and another $4.8 billion in development aid for southern Mexico. The U.S aid aims to promote better security conditions and job opportunities as part of a regional plan to allow Central Americans and Mexicans to remain in their countries and not have to emigrate. The plan was announced in a joint U.S.-Mexican statement released by the State Department…

“The combination of public and private investment for the stay-at-home effort doesn’t require congressional approval, unlike Trump’s signature project to stem illegal immigration — a border wall… It was unclear if Mexico would give anything in return.”

Federal Reserve Defies Trump… Stocks Plunge

Newsmax and the Associated Press wrote on December 19:

“The Federal Reserve has raised its key interest rate for the fourth time this year… It will mean higher borrowing costs for many consumers and businesses.

“The Fed’s move came despite President Donald Trump’s attacks in recent weeks on its rate hikes and on Chairman Jerome Powell personally. The president has complained that the moves are threatening the economy. At a news conference after the Fed’s announcement, Powell said Trump’s tweets and statements would have no bearing on the central bank’s policymaking…

“U.S. stocks had been sharply higher before the Fed’s announcement but began falling afterward and then accelerated into a plunge during Powell’s news conference. The Dow Jones industrial average was down about 400 points soon after the news conference ended…”

The Week added on December 19:

“The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid another 351 points after the announcement, on track for its worst December since the Great Depression.”

CNBC added on December 20:

“Dow drops 470 points to 14-month low in second day of big losses following Fed rate hike.”

So it seems, Trump is right, and the Feds are wrong, seriously endangering the country’s economy.

US Senate Passes Anti-Saudi Resolutions

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 17:

“Saudi Arabia has ‘categorically’ rejected a resolution from the US Senate blaming Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and another to end American military support for a Riyadh-led war in Yemen. ‘The kingdom categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs, any and all accusations … that disrespect its leadership … and any attempts to undermine its sovereignty or diminish its stature,’ read a statement from the Saudi Foreign Ministry…

“US lawmakers passed the anti-Saudi resolutions after growing discontent with President Donald Trump’s acceptance of the crown prince’s innocence, even from within his own Republican Party. The resolutions cannot be debated in the House of Representatives before January, and are likely to be vetoed by Trump. The resolutions acknowledge the importance of US-Saudi ties, but call upon Riyadh to moderate ‘its increasingly erratic foreign policy.’”

Those ties will end soon.

German Church Condemns Merkel Government over Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 17:

“A German church organization representing both the Catholic and Protestant churches has condemned the country’s arms exports, as criticism mounts of Angela Merkel’s decision to allow old Saudi weapons orders to be fulfilled, despite a recent promise to put exports to Saudi Arabia temporarily on hold. ‘Contrary to all its statements, we cannot see that the government has recognized the seriousness of arms export policy questions,’ the Berlin-based Joint Conference Church and Development (GKKE) said in a statement on Monday, which was issued along with the organization’s 2018 arms export report. ‘The tightening of arms export guidelines promised for 2018 are nowhere in sight.’

“Karl Jüsten, Catholic prelate and co-chairman of the GKKE board, condemned the exports to belligerents in the Yemen war, especially Saudi Arabia. From January to September of this year, Germany approved arms exports worth €416.4 million ($472.6 million) to Saudi Arabia. These sales meant that Germany carried co-responsibility for the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen and the violations of international law…

“But Joachim Pfeiffer, economic spokesman for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the Bundestag, argued that the arms sales for Saudi Arabia are still important for Germany. ‘I think it’s wrong and dangerous to break off all communications and then to unilaterally withdraw approved arms exports,’ he told DW in an email. ‘Germany would be shooting itself in the foot and would lose credibility. Saudi Arabia remains an important strategic pillar in the Middle East. … The West cannot afford to easily give up its influence on states in the Middle East…’”

The “important strategic” collaboration between Germany and Saudi Arabia will increase… at least for a while.

Guttenberg Questions Suitability of New CSU Leader

The Teller Report wrote on December 19:

“Former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has questioned the CSU-chief qualities of the Bavarian Prime Minister [Markus Söder, replacing Horst Seehofer]… ‘The CSU must be sure how sustainable this solution is in the long term and to what extent the new party chairman is suitable for this great task,’ said Guttenberg… He did not submit to the format of Franz-Josef Strauss or Theo Waigel

“The ex-Defense Minister and former hopeful… resigned in 2011… because of a plagiarism scandal of [his] doctorate…

“Guttenberg said that he found it difficult to [accept] Söder’s transformation from a skillful but brute power politician to a humble team player… ‘A great party leader also has the gift of empathy, which has not been the most outstanding feature of Markus Söder in the last 20 years.’”

One of Der Spiegel’s Top Journalists Faked News Stories for Years

The Guardian wrote on December 19:

“The German news magazine Der Spiegel has been plunged into chaos after revealing that one of its top reporters had falsified stories over several years. The media world was stunned by the revelations that the award-winning journalist Claas Relotius had… ‘made up stories and invented protagonists’ in at least 14 out of 60 articles that appeared in its print and online editions, warning that other outlets could also be affected.

“Relotius, 33, resigned after admitting to the scam. He had written for the magazine for seven years and won numerous awards for his investigative journalism, including CNN Journalist of the Year in 2014

“In a lengthy article, Spiegel, which sells about 725,000 print copies a month and has an online readership of more than 6.5 million, said it was ‘shocked’ by the discovery and apologised to its readers and to anyone who may have been the subject of ‘fraudulent quotes, made-up personal details or invented scenes at fictitious places’. The Hamburg-based magazine, which was founded in 1947 and is renowned for its in-depth investigative pieces, said Relotius had committed journalistic fraud ‘on a grand scale’. It described the episode as ‘a low point in Spiegel’s 70-year history’…. The reporter also wrote for a string of other well-known outlets…

“The magazine, which is one of Germany’s most prominent news organisations, is now trying to rescue its reputation amid fears a magazine already challenged by the problems in the German newspaper industry will struggle to recover.”

This is indeed a shocking revelation. Even though a magazine with left-liberal tendencies, which showed in their reports, it was always considered as presenting reliable facts, unlike mass tabloids such as Bild. It will have to be seen whether Der Spiegel can recover from this debacle.

Belgium PM Resigns

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 18:

“Embattled Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel announced on Tuesday evening that he would step down as leader of his country’s government. The move came after he lost a vote of confidence in Belgium’s parliament… Michel immediately notified King Philippe of his decision to step down… Belgium is a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy.

“Michel came under fire 10 days ago when his Flemish nationalist coalition partner N-VA, angered by his decision to sign a UN immigration pact, withdrew support from the government. The N-VA is the largest party in parliament. The move left Michel’s liberal Reformist Movement (MR) along with his Flemish liberal Open VLD and Christian Democrats (CD&V) coalition partners with only 52 of 150 seats in parliament.”

EU and Italy Reach Compromise

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 18:

“Rome and Brussels appear to have resolved their disagreements and reached a compromise, after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte promised the EU that his country would reduce its 2019 deficit… The move would mark the end of a standoff between Italy and the EU over its debt…

“Italy’s new government, comprised of the far-right Lega party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, had sought to implement sweeping budget measures that included cutting taxes and establishing universal income… With the proposal Italy was expected to breach EU budget deficit limits, risking punitive action from the bloc.”

Unlike Britain, Italy will resolve its problems with the EU, as Italy will clearly be part of a prophesied core Europe, consisting of ten nations or groups of nations.

“No Deal” Brexit More Popular than Second Referendum

Breitbart wrote on December 16:

“[A] ‘No Deal’ petition has rapidly outstripped a rival petition… for a re-run of the 2016 referendum… The Government issued a response to the petition opposing a second referendum promising that the 2016 result would be upheld, and that failing to do so ‘would be to undermine the decision of the British people, and to disrespect the powerful democratic values of this country and this government.’

“‘17.4 million votes to leave the European Union. This is the highest number of votes cast for anything in UK electoral history. This was the biggest democratic mandate for a course of action ever directed at any UK Government,’ the response concedes.”

Theresa May Lashes Out at Tony Blair

The Sun wrote on December 15:

“Theresa May has launched an attack on the former Labour PM [Tony Blair] and accused him of insulting the British public after his attempt to influence the Brexit result… And she bluntly reminded him it was his own open-door immigration policy which spurred millions to vote leave… ‘For Tony Blair to go to Brussels and seek to undermine our negotiations by advocating for a second referendum is an insult to the office he once held and the British people he once served…’

“On Friday she angrily confronted EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker after he branded her ‘nebulous.’”

The Sun commented:  “… We will be humiliated no more. When the clock strikes 11pm on March 29th next year, we WILL leave the European Union… The Brussels beast has wormed its way into just about every one of our institutions…”

Interesting choice of words. The Bible speaks indeed of a unified Europe as the “beast.”

UK Prepares for No-Deal Brexit

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 18:

“The government has ‘now reached the point where we need to ramp up… preparations’ in case the UK crashes out of the EU. Without certainty, businesses in the UK are hurting, said the British Chambers of Commerce.

“Part of the preparation includes putting 3,500 British troops on standby to prevent public order from deteriorating and to assist in the potential chaos of a no-deal Brexit…”

Margaret Thatcher: EU Has Always Been Opposed to UK

Express wrote on December 19:

“THE EU has always turned against the UK and against every concessions or initiatives Britain has made in Europe, Margaret Thatcher firmly stated in her pioneering treatise Statecraft [from 2002]…

“The Iron Lady argued that French President Charles de Gaulle was ‘right’ to oppose Britain’s application to join the European project in the early 1960s, as just like he put it during a press conference in 1963, Britain is a ‘fundamentally different kind of nation state to those which are involved in “building Europe”. She claimed that for this reason, Britain will always be at odds with other European countries and the bloc.

“The Baroness explained: ‘It was Britain’s long history of continuous constitutional development, the respect in which her institutions were held, the honesty of her politicians and the integrity of her judges, the fact that not since the Norman Conquest had she known occupation, and that neither Nazism nor communism had ever gained grip on her political life – all these things marked Britain out from Continental Europe… Britain is different. That is why Britain is still repeatedly at odds with the other European countries, however determinedly cooperative British politicians wish to be.’”

Need for a European Nuclear Force

The European Leadership Network wrote on December 7:

“… all western European countries, with the exception of France… abandoned the quest for nuclear weapons with the inception of NATO’s extended deterrence… Yet questions surrounding… the need for an independent European nuclear force have again emerged. Two important events have precipitated the debate. First, Russia’s annexation of Crimea… and  second, arguments made by President Trump regarding the conditionality of America’s commitment to European security…

“The current security environment demands a serious discussion on European nuclear security…”

Unified Europe will become a strong nuclear power.

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.

Current Events

by Norbert Link

As this is the last Update before Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2018, we selected a few articles to show you the complicated American history and sometimes frightening status of today’s Christmas celebrations by Christians and non-Christians alike. It is of course our position that we must not keep Christmas if we want to follow the teachings of the Bible. Please be sure to view our new StandingWatch program, “Does God Bless Our Christmas Celebrations?”

We also address, among other things, the White House’s highly controversial announcement to withdraw all troops from Syria; Turkish President Erdogan’s hypocritical words and actions; President Trump’s defeat on the issue of the border wall and his billion dollar gift to Mexico; the attempt of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to break away from Russia; American and German reactions (or the lack of them) to the murder of an American journalist by the Saudis; developments in Germany; Belgium and Italy; the intensifying fight for and against Brexit; and the perceived need for Europe to become an independent nuclear power bloc.

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

Above All Things; “The Way” of Christ

On December 22, 2018, Dave Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “Above All Things,” and Robb Harris will present the sermon, titled, “’The Way’ of Christ.”

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.

Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

compiled by Dave Harris

A new Member Letter (December 2018) is now posted, and it has been mailed to our subscribers. Pastor Dave Harris reports on initial plans for the Ministerial Conference, Feast of Tabernacles and new booklets; notes growth in the impact of our video postings; and points to the role of Truth in our lives.

“Does God Bless Our Christmas Celebrations?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Ninety percent of Americans celebrate Christmas, but only a slight majority observe it as a religious holiday. Many who keep Christmas do not even believe in the virgin birth. In many countries, a demonic creature is celebrated around this time of year, which has become popular in the USA as well. Did you know that Christmas was not an official holiday in the USA until after the Civil War? Why is there so much anxiety, grief, depression, increase of heart attacks and alcoholism associated with Christmas? And why do we, as a Christian nation, willfully lie to our children about it and become upset with those who tell the Truth?

“Hidden Secrets of the Bible,” is the title of a new Global Trailer, presented by Pastor Brian Gale. You can also find his presentation at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALEv_G5fS0k.

Sauls Rebellion—Was uns der Prophet Samuel lehrt! Teil 3,” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English:  “Saul’s Rebellion—What the Prophet Samuel Teaches Us! Part 3.”

Allgemeine Missverständnisse — Weihnachten und Neujahr!” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermonette, presented by Pastor Michael Link. Title in English: “Common Misconceptions—Christmas and New Year’s.”

“Endless Encouragement,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Eric Rank, is now posted. Here is a summary:

Living in a world that is so antagonistic against the Way of God can become wearying. Where can we look to find encouragement when we need it most?

“Who Are The Gentiles?” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:

Jesus spoke prophetically about the times of the Gentiles being fulfilled. Who are the Gentiles He is referring to, and what does the biblical designation of people in this way actually mean?

How can we know that Christ’s return is near? (Part 4)

We already alluded to the fact that the man of sin will sit as God in the Temple of God, pretending to be God Himself (2 Thessalonians 2:4). We also saw that this will happen just prior to the return of Jesus Christ. This means, a Third Temple will be built in Jerusalem so that the man of sin can occupy it. When we see that that Temple will be built, we will know that Christ’s return is imminent.

A further question is as to why a Temple would be built in the first place. One answer is: To fulfill the desire of the Jews to bring daily sacrifices at the Temple Mount. And even though it is true that sacrifices can be brought before the foundation of the Temple has been laid and the erection of the Temple has been completed (compare Ezra 3:6, 11), it is also true that the Jews would not bring daily animal sacrifices unless the preparation of the Temple is underway (compare Ezra 3:8-10).

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary explains the passages in Ezra 3:6-11: “They could not at once have a temple, but they would not be without an altar… And they made preparation for the building of the temple without delay…”

Barnes Notes on the Bible adds: “They restored the old altar of burnt-offerings, which stood directly in front of the temple-porch, upon the old foundation.” In other words, on the Temple Mount. Soncino writes to verse 8: “…‘house of God’ probably denotes the site where the First Temple had stood on which they planned to erect the new Sanctuary.”

We should also notice that the occurrences in Ezra 3 were unique, in that the Jews were allowed to leave their Babylonian captivity and to return to Jerusalem in order to build the Temple there (Ezra 1:2-5; 2:68; compare also Ezra 4:1-3).

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges points out: “The burnt offerings were regularly made on the altar, although there was no Temple building, nor Temple worship. Such a thing would have been almost incredible to the Jew of later centuries.”

The Bible clearly prophesies that the Jews will bring daily sacrifices, which will subsequently be suppressed by an invading foreign power (Gentile nations under the leadership of a military commander, the “beast”). The sacrifices will be suppressed by that power for 2,300 evening-mornings (Daniel 8:14) or 1,150 days (as daily sacrifices are brought twice a day, in the morning and in the evening, compare Exodus 29:38-39), until the sanctuary will be cleansed. The foreign power will also place there the abomination of desolation, to be discussed later (compare Daniel 8:11-12; Daniel 11:31). All of this will happen at the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

It is important to understand the correct meaning of Daniel 8:13-14. A superficial reading might lead to the conclusion that animal sacrifices will be given for 2,300 evenings and mornings (1,150 days) until the foreign power invades Jerusalem and suppresses them. But that is not correct. Rather, we are told that the daily sacrifices will begin at a given point and will then cease for 1,150 days. We are not told specifically when they will begin and for how long they will be given, but as other prophecies indicate, they will be given for only a short time until the foreign power will invade the Middle East, bringing about the Great Tribulation. This shows too that the building of the Third Temple will have to be completed or nearly completed when the foreign power invades and conquers Jerusalem and the man of sin will sit in the Temple.

The German Bible, Hoffnung fuer Alle, renders Daniel 8:13: “When will one be able to give God again the regular sacrifices? When will the rebellion against the Lord of Heaven and the terrible sacrilege of the Temple end?”

The Revised English Bible translates Daniel 8:13-14 as follows: “… ‘How long will the period of this vision last? How long will the regular offering be suppressed and impiety cause desolation? How long will the Holy Place and the fairest of all lands be given over to be trodden down?’ The answer came, ‘For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings, then the Holy Place will be restored.’”

Notice carefully: 2,300 evenings and mornings were to pass before the sanctuary would be cleansed or restored. During this time span, the daily offerings would be suppressed; the “transgression of desolation” or the “abomination of desolation” would appear; and the Holy Place (or the sanctuary or the Temple) would be trodden down or trampled underfoot.

In addition, Daniel 12:11 says that there will be 1,290 days AFTER the daily sacrifices were taken away AND the abomination of desolation will have been set up.

Some say that Daniel is referring to the day of Christ’s return and tells us to count backwards, but if we were to count backwards from such an assumed day of Christ’s Second Coming, then Daniel 8:13-14 would tell us that the daily sacrifices will be abolished for 1,150 days before Christ’s return, while Daniel 12:11 would tell us that the daily sacrifices will be abolished for 1,290 days before Christ’s return. Both statements could not be correct, as they would contradict each other. This shows that we must wait until God reveals to us the clear meaning of those days, as there is certainly importance attached to them.

When Christ was asked by His disciples what would signify the end of the age (Matthew 24:3), He referred to the “great tribulation” (verse 21) and, at that same time, “‘the abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (verse 15; compare, too, Mark 13:14, adding, “where it ought not”).

In Luke 21:20, in the parallel account, Christ is quoted as saying, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.”

Daniel 11:31 refers to Antiochus Epiphanes as a forerunner for another end-time fulfillment. When Antiochus set up the first “abomination of desolation,” he overran Jerusalem with armies; did away with the daily sacrifices, which were brought AT THE TEMPLE; and erected an image of Zeus (or Jupiter) in the “holy place” — the TEMPLE. He and his followers began offering pigs to their pagan deity in the Holy TEMPLE in Jerusalem.

Something similar will happen again when the end-time abomination of desolation occurs. This might include the erection of an image in the Temple, which could present a false Christ or a statue of the “Virgin Mary.” In addition, we read in Revelation 13:14-15 that a religious power will create “a speaking image” of the political and military beast power. Some have suggested that “the false prophet will attempt to lead the people to finance the erection of a great image in Jerusalem… When the image speaks, Jews and Gentiles, Roman Catholics and Protestants, wherever they are, will worship the image or be killed if they refuse” (Lehmann Strauss, “The Book of the Revelation”). Finally, we also read that the false prophet will sit in the Temple of God and pretend to BE God, constituting the final and ultimate abomination of desolation in the holy place. It is very possible that he will be using the “speaking image” (perhaps a religious statue in the Temple) to “prove” his divinity while sitting in the Temple. The commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown wrote: “Rome’s speaking images and winking pictures of the Virgin Mary and the saints are an earnest of the future demoniacal miracles of the false prophet in making the… image to speak.”

Other passages confirm as well that a literal temple will be built in Jerusalem just prior to the beginning of the Great Tribulation. For instance, Revelation 11:1-2 says that an angel of God told John: “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months [or 3 1/2 years].”

We note that Gentiles (referring to European armies under a military leader, the “beast”) will tread the holy city underfoot for 3 1/2 years, and the court, which is outside the temple, will be given to those Gentiles. Luke 21:24 prophesies that the Gentiles will trample or tread the holy city underfoot until “the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” We also read in Daniel 8:13 that “some of the host” will be trampled underfoot by a future Gentile ruler (the beast).

Notice again how the Revised English Bible renders Daniel 8:13: “…How long will the regular offering be suppressed and impiety cause desolation? How long will the Holy Place and the fairest of all lands be given over to be trodden down?”

Some have wondered whether a third Temple will be built prior to Christ’s return, or whether the reference to the “Temple” refers to the Church of God, the spiritual Temple. We have addressed and rejected this concern in the last installment.

In addition, in Die Reine Wahrheit of October 1967 (German edition of The Plain Truth), it was stated on page 10 (in the article, “2,300 Evenings and Mornings”): “Yes, a temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem, as incredible as it may sound.”

In The Good News magazine, November-December 1987, the following was stated on page 12 in “A Sealed Prophecy,” implying the existence of a Temple before Christ’s return: “The ‘sanctuary’ is to be ‘trampled underfoot.’… the taking away of daily sacrifices and trampling of a sanctuary underfoot is yet a future event. We are nearing the fulfillment of these amazing prophecies about the Temple Mount in Jerusalem…”

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote the following about the man of sin, in the Plain Truth of June 1967:

“This European power, resurrecting for a VERY short while the Roman Empire, will take over the city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2.) They will take the Temple, and plant the palace of their headquarters there. With this coming military leader, pictured in Revelation 17 as the symbolic ‘beast,’ will be a supreme religious leader, called ‘the False Prophet,’ [Rev. 16:13; 19:20; 20:10] and the ‘man of sin.’ So will you turn next to II Thessalonians 2:3-4: ‘Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day’ — the Day of the Lord, verse 2 — ‘shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and THAT MAN OF SIN be revealed, the SON OF PERDITION; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.’ So there will have to be the Temple there!

An additional passage, which shows that the Jews will build an end-time Temple in Jerusalem, just prior to Christ’s return, is Psalm 79:1-7. This is an end-time psalm, as verse 6 shows. God is asked to pour out His wrath on the nations — a reference to God’s pouring out of the end-time plagues of His wrath, as described in Revelation 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19. In this context, Psalm 79:1 says: “O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; Your holy temple they have defiled. They have laid Jerusalem in heaps.”

Other prophetic end-time references to a future temple in Jerusalem can be found in Ezekiel 8:5, 16, as well as in Ezekiel 9:1-7. These passages speak about a defilement within the Temple, an “image of jealousy” in the Temple, sunrise worship services in the Temple; and punishment of those who defile the Temple, which is also referred to as God’s sanctuary.

The Jewish community in the state of Israel, as well as fundamental Christians, are anxiously waiting for the building of the Third Temple. Contributions and gold have been received from national and international sponsors for the building of the Temple. A blueprint for the building of the Temple exists; and replicas of certain furnishings and utensils for the Temple have been prepared. They include the golden lampstand, the table of showbread, the altar of incense, the Ark of the Covenant, and the crown and ephod for the High Priest.

Many articles have been published over the years, clearly proving the conviction of many Jews and Christians that a Third Temple will be built PRIOR to the arrival of the Messiah. We are setting forth some recent representative samples.

JTA wrote on May 14, 2018:

“The United States dedicated its newly established embassy in Jerusalem in a high-profile ceremony attended by prominent Trump administration officials… The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which passed both houses of Congress by overwhelming votes, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and called for relocating the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

“Several of the speakers… reminded the audience that exactly 70 years ago, nearly to the moment of the ceremony, the United States under President Harry Truman became the first country to recognize the new state of Israel.”

Benjamin Netanyahu gave a remarkable speech during the opening of the US embassy, which clearly alluded to the building of the Third Temple. He said, as quoted by the Times of Israel, dated May 14, 2018:

“In Jerusalem, King David established our capital three thousand years ago. In Jerusalem, King Solomon built our Temple, which stood for many centuries. In Jerusalem, Jewish exiles from Babylon rebuilt the Temple, which stood for many more centuries. In Jerusalem, the Maccabees rededicated that Temple and restored Jewish sovereignty in this land.

“And it was here in Jerusalem some two thousand years later that the soldiers of Israel spoke three  immortal words…  [‘Har ha’bayit be’yadeinu,’] ‘The Temple Mount is in our hands,’ words that lifted the spirit of the entire nation. We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay…

“May the opening of this embassy in this city spread the truth far and wide, and may the truth advance a lasting peace between Israel and all our neighbors. God bless the United States of America and God bless Jerusalem, the eternal, undivided capital of Israel.”

The Daily Star wrote on September 8, 2018:

“The Temple Institute announced the birth of an entirely red female calf that ‘brings the promise of reinstating Biblical purity to the world’. The cow’s birth and sacrifice is said to proceed the construction of the Third Temple in Jerusalem. And the Third Temple’s construction – following the destruction of the previous two – heralds the arrival of the Jewish Messiah…

“Rabbi Chain Richman, director of the Temple Institute, hailed the red heifer’s birth as suggestions the time could be right for the Third Temple

“Evangelical Christians believe the construction of the Third Temple will herald their own end times prophecy…”

The Bible does not necessitate or prophesy the appearance of a red heifer (note Hebrews 9:11-14 in reference to the abolished need for the ashes of a red heifer; also compare Hebrews 10:8-10, 18; Hebrews 8:13). However, it is very likely that some Jewish clerics may insist that the sacrifice of such a heifer for the purpose of producing the ashes for the water of purification of the Temple Mount, and the Temple itself, will be essential for the reconstruction of the Temple and the coming of the Messiah. But this is NOT to say that other clerics or many Jews will abide by the interpretation of some, and that they will not begin with the construction of the Temple and the offering of daily animal sacrifices before they “find” such a red heifer.

Breaking Israel News wrote on November 8, 2018:

“Jerusalem will have a new mayor next week and more than any other election this year will decide the religious nature of Israel’s capital. The nascent Sanhedrin has addressed a letter to the two candidates emphasizing the role of the Third Temple in municipal current policy… ‘We call on the candidates as well as the voters to make choices based on truth and on the main aspect of Jerusalem, which is the building of the Temple.’

“The Sanhedrin wrote a similar letter [in November of 2016] to U.S. President Donald Trump after he won the election, calling on him to take a role in building the Third Temple just as Persian King Cyrus helped the Jews build the Second Temple after the Babylonian exile in the sixth century BCE…

“The Sanhedrin has already begun working toward this end, holding full-dress reenactments of the Temple service before the Biblical feasts…”

There is great momentum for the beginning of daily animal sacrifices and the building of the Third Temple. This momentum will intensify. We will know that Christ’s return is near when the Jews begin to bring daily animal sacrifices in connection with building the Third Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

(To be Continued)

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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