Are We Seeking a Relationship with God?

As most of the world sits locked down in their homes and scared, how are we doing as Christians? Are we succumbing to the daily terror in the news? Are we becoming discouraged and disheartened about what is happening? What is our mental attitude and state of mind at this time?

We are rapidly approaching the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. I remember thinking a month ago that I needed to really start digging in and examining myself, and I am surprised by how quickly that time has passed.

The god of this world, Satan, is causing massive panic (toilet paper shortages, as one small example) and great distress on ALL people right now. Most everyone I have talked within the Church is facing trials and troubles in unprecedented waves. It also appears to me that our trials are coming with such frequency that it can be hard to properly focus and take the time to examine ourselves correctly for the Passover.

While trials are not new to us, maybe the intensity with which they are coming is new.

I want to encourage each of us to MAKE the time to seek God, to examine ourselves and to work on the growth of our relationship with God. It takes effort and it takes time. I was listening to an old sermon by Mr. Edwin Pope (the late Senior Pastor of our Church), and he was reiterating how important our relationship with God actually is. The first few chapters of the Bible are replete with individuals who shaped the world by their relationship with God. We have to realize that we too have this same weight on our shoulders. I would suppose that this is not something that we venture to think about a lot. But our relationship with God, and our obedience, is in direct relation to helping to shape the outcomes in this world. Please note Matthew 6:33; 2 Peter 3:12; Matthew 24:22; and Matthew 24:14.

These Scriptures plainly tell us that we each have a direct responsibility in helping to accomplish these things. It is easy to not realize the impact and the magnitude of our calling. Satan wants to destroy each of us because of the impact we can have. James 4:8 tells us: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Now is the time to really be drawing close to God, especially as the Passover draws near. If we have not been zealous in this regard, it is time to rectify this (Matthew 22:37; Romans 12:11; Hebrews 10:19-22, 4:6, 11; 7:25; 11:6 ). Drawing near to God is not a physical act, though it can include that. It is directing our heart, our mind and our attention to God, to His laws and commands, and being willing to look into our hearts and recognize where we have sin and then root it out. As Mr. Norbert Link has asked all of us to do, we should set aside a personal day of fasting and prayer prior to the Passover, if we have not already done so.

The Apostle Paul had to rebuke the Corinthian church, but he was pleased with the results. 2 Corinthians 7:5-12 states: “For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more. For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.”

We need to continue looking at ourselves, examining ourselves and making sure that we will be taking the Passover in a right and worthy manner. We need to make sure that we are drawing close to God, so that our examination is not just causing worldly sorrow, but rather godly sorrow that produces change in us. Are we changing? Are we allowing God’s Spirit to help us to change? If we are attempting to get rid of sin on our own, we will fail (2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Peter 1:10-11).

While we begin to see the prophesied downfall of the modern House of Israel, it should cause us to wake up and to become more diligent in seeking and maintaining a right relationship with our great God. We need to do this so that we can stay mentally strong and sound in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13; 1 Peter 5:1-10; Ephesians 6:18).

When we are properly seeking God, we will be having different desires than this world has. We will want to seek God. We will want to change. We will have hope (Romans 15:13). We will have desire for the Kingdom of God, and our entrance into it. Philippians 2:13 tells us that if we are on the proper wavelength  and have the right mindset, then God can and will work through us. This should be what we are desiring and striving towards.

It is amazing how the Word of God is also needed, as we seek to draw closer to God. When we properly spend time in studying the Word of God, we start to become convicted of what we read, and we can really begin to make the changes in our lives that must be made to draw close to God.

Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

compiled by Dave Harris

Our new booklet, The Ten Commandments, has been posted on our CEG website, as well as the new German booklet Und weil die Gesetzlosigkeit überhandnimmt… (And Lawlessness Will Abound…) on our German website.

Our booklet “The Mysteries of the Bible” has been translated into Spanish, titled “LOS MISTERIOS DE LA BIBLIA” and has been posted to our Spanish site.

A shortened Church Conference was conducted via SKYPE on Sunday and Monday (March 29-30, 2020). Necessary administrative items were discussed along with future plans in light of the current Coronavirus difficulties.

“Religious Persecution of Christian Pastors in the USA?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

We hear about more and more cases where pastors defy the orders of the state governments prohibiting them and their Church congregations to assemble for worship services. Police are being employed to break up the services and fine and perhaps even arrest the pastor and others. Some wonder as to how long will Americans tolerate such intrusion into their sacred and cherished rights of religious liberty, warning that civil unrest and worse could be the consequence. Listen to what the Bible has to say about this serious development.

“Totalitarismus notwendig zur Bekämpfung des Coronavirus?” is the title of a new AufPostenStehen program, presented by Nobert Link. Title in English: Totalitarianism Necessary to Combat the Coronavirus?”

“Das teure Blut Jesu Christi,” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “The Precious Blood of Jesus Christ.”

“God’s Message to Laodicea,” is the title of a special Bible Study presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

In what way is God’s letter to His Church in Laodicea a strong warning for us today, especially in light of the coronavirus? Are the oftentimes totalitarian measures to combat the virus a preview of the manifestation of the beast? In this sermon, we will also discuss questions such as: What is meant with a lukewarm attitude? Did Christ have a beginning? Who was Melchizedek? Why won’t God protect many Laodiceans during the Great Tribulation? Why does God warn especially Laodiceans not to fight in war?

Current Events

by Norbert Link

We begin with restrictions for US citizens in connection with the coronavirus and the resulting consequences for personal liberty and freedom, religion and the economy. In this regard, please view our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Religious Persecution of Christian Pastors in the USA?”

We quote articles claiming that mass quarantines are not sustainable and showing the devastating effects on personal health conditions.  

Europe’s situation is deeply troublesome and poses the question as to whether and when a powerful charismatic autocratic leader will arise to lead core European nations out of this and other crises.

We cite two articles from Great Britain strongly disagreeing with measures taken by Boris Johnson to combat the coronavirus; ask whether the post-Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU will have to be suspended; and report on a controversial decision regarding religion in Brazil.  

We speak on attempts to sacrifice a Passover lamb on the Temple Mount; and conclude with an alleged attempt by Pope Benedict to bring about the downfall of Pope Francis.

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

This Week in the News

President Trump Passed Historic Bill 

MarketWatch wrote on March 27:

“President Donald Trump on Friday signed a $2 trillion stimulus bill that would cut $1,200 checks to many adults, expand unemployment insurance payments and extend loans to businesses, all in an effort to combat the coronavirus outbreak’s toll on the economy…”

Until recently, the national debt was above 23 trillion dollars. With the rescue package of 2 trillion dollars and more money needed in the future, the national debt will most likely soon exceed 26 trillion dollars. Some analysts fear we might see a national debt of over 30 trillion dollars within the next two years.

Clearly, this country is being brought down to its knees as NEVER BEFORE.

Pastor Arrested for Conducting Church Services in Florida

CNN wrote on March 30:

“Rodney Howard-Browne, a Tampa Bay area pastor, has been arrested following two large services at his church over the weekend…

“Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said Howard-Browne has been charged with two counts: unlawful assembly and a violation of health emergency rules. Both are second-degree misdemeanors… Last week Hillsborough County issued an order directing residents to remain at home effective March 27 except for ‘essential services’… ‘His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk,’ Chronister said at a news conference on Monday, ‘as well as put thousands of residents who may interact with them in danger.’

“… one of [the pastor’s] attorneys issued a statement Monday challenging the logic of the county’s stay-at-home order and saying the River church took extra health precautions for its services Sunday. The church gave each attendee hand sanitizer, had its staffers wear gloves and enforced a six-foot distance between family groups in the auditorium, attorney Mat Staver said… ‘the actions of Hillsborough Country and the Hernando County Sheriff are discriminatory against religion and church gatherings.’…

“‘I’m not… negating that people are dying from the coronavirus,’ [Rodney Howard-Browne] said. ‘We’re not saying that, just saying that the thing is blown totally way out of proportion…’

“In a statement posted March 22 on its website, the church claims that closure orders violate religious freedom. ‘…By what authority does the government declare the church non-essential?… The Church is a place where people turn for help and for comfort in a climate of fear and uncertainty. In a time of crisis, people are fearful and in need of comfort and community, more than ever before.’”

Focus reported on March 31 that Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne surrendered voluntarily to the police after learning that a warrant for his arrest had been issued; and that after posting bail in the amount of $500.00, he was released within less than an hour. His arrest appears to be unreasonable and overbearing. 

Police Attack on Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland

The Baltimore Sun wrote on March 31:

“A prominent pastor is vowing to hold worship services this Sunday and beyond after Baltimore police tried to shut down a service at his church amid increasing coronavirus-related constraints on social gatherings… Alvin Gwynn Sr. said he was delivering a sermon Sunday to 10 worshipers when four patrol cars containing ‘eight or nine officers’ pulled up in front of the Friendship Baptist Church and several tried to enter the building.

“Gwynn, the longtime senior pastor of the church on Loch Raven Boulevard, said security guards prevented the officers’ entry until he had finished his sermon. ‘You should have seen it, man, it looked like a police raid on a drug deal,’ he said… When he asked officers to explain why they were there, Gwynn said, they looked ‘bewildered,’ declined to answer, and called a superior. Lt. Suzanne Fries had advised the officers on the scene to ‘shut down the gathering,’ according to an incident report supplied by the Baltimore Police Department. ‘At this point, the church service ended and the crowd dispersed,’ the report continued. That, Gwynn said, was when the patrol cars departed and his congregants left.

“Gwynn, 74, also serves as president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Metropolitan Baltimore, a group that includes the leaders of more than 50 churches. He said he limited the size of the gathering to 10 — the church’s five security guards were stationed outside the sanctuary — and ensured that those present had at least 6 feet of space between them, in compliance with guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the state health department…

“A police spokeswoman, Detective Chakia Fennoy, said officers were responding to a report of a gathering in violation of the governor’s orders… ‘We encourage residents to call 311 with any nonemergency calls related to improperly open businesses or unlawful gatherings of crowds,’ the department said in a statement. ‘Any officer that observes a business that is in violation of the governor’s executive order must investigate the complaint.’…

“Gwynn… argued that under the Bill of Rights, the government cannot restrict either the size of gatherings for worship or a citizen’s right to attend a service… The [governor’s] order requires all those living in Maryland to stay home unless it’s to participate in ‘essential activities,’ regardless of the size of the gathering… A statement from the governor’s office of legal counsel seemed to support ‘minimal’ activity at houses of worship… the governor’s communications director, Mike Ricci, tweeted a response to a question about whether a group of five people would be in compliance if they assembled in church to record a pastor’s sermon for online use. ‘Yes. Churches may have those kinds of minimal operations,’ Ricci replied.

“Gwynn pointed to a 2018 federal directive that appears to contradict [governor] Hogan’s decision to classify churches as ‘nonessential.’ In June of that year, the CDC issued guidelines on how governments should respond in the event of widespread contagion. ‘The collaboration of faith-based agencies with public health agencies will be essential in protecting the public’s health and safety if and when an influenza pandemic occurs,’ it reads…

“Police Commissioner Michael Harrison… said Tuesday that the department is prepared to enforce the stay-at-home order… ‘When we find that people are not voluntarily complying, then the instructions will be to make a physical arrest,’ he said…”

These events are taking place in the democratic USA with a Constitution guaranteeing the unrestricted RIGHT and FREEDOM of worship and religious assembly. 

More State vs. Church Battles in Louisiana

CBS News reported on April 1:

“Buses and cars filled a Louisiana church parking lot for another service Tuesday evening as worshippers flocked to hear a Louisiana pastor who is facing misdemeanor charges for holding services despite a ban on gatherings…

“A few protesters turned out, too, including a man shouting through a bullhorn against those gathering at the Life Tabernacle Church in the city of Central…

“[Pastor Tony] Spell… compared going to church to going to the hospital, but for spiritual healing…

“The order from Gov. John Bel Edwards prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people… Each violation carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $500 fine… The governor has urged church leaders instead to continue their services online or in smaller groups to lessen the risks.”

Spell posted this on Facebook: “This is a government overreach. They are asking us as a government to stop practicing our freedom of religion. And we have a mandate from God to assemble and to gather together and to keep doing what we’re doing.”

All of this could boil over very soon, as more and more church services will be conducted in open and sometimes provocative defiance of any order by state governors.  To enforce such orders might prove to be extremely counterproductive. On the other hand, the appearance of vocal anti-church demonstrators might also lead to violence. If politicians are not very careful, they may lose the support and the votes of the evangelical communities. 

Texas Governor: “Church Services ARE Essential”

 Breitbart reported on April 1:

“Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed an executive order that makes churches an ‘essential service’… Abbott included language to encourage online worship services and told church leaders and parishioners to practice ‘social distancing’” to prevent the spread of the virus if they do gather for services

“There has been controversy, particularly in the Houston area, over church closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Pastors are in court challenging a stay-at-home order that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced a week ago that restricts churches to online-only services. To that end, Abbott’s latest executive order supersedes ‘any conflicting order issued by local officials.’…

“The executive order… comes one day after Fox News guest commentator Dr. Steven Hotze and three Houston pastors asked the Texas Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional a March 24 order from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo barring in-person religious services. ‘The circumstances presented by coronavirus do not excuse unlawful government infringements upon freedom,’ Hotze argued in the emergency petition for writ of mandamus filed with the state’s high court on Monday…

“[One Texas pastor] alleged… that a Houston police officer threatened him with jail and a $1,000 fine ‘if he did not stop preaching the gospel to his congregation,’ according to the petition.”

More Totalitarian Measures in the USA

Insider wrote on March 28:

“The National Guard assisted Rhode Island police with house-to-house searches on Saturday to seek out anyone who has traveled from New York and force them to self-isolate

“The National Guard was deployed to all 50 states in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The Trump administration stressed that the deployment did not equate to martial law, and that the troops served as an additional resource that governors could assign…”

Newsmax added on April 1:

“The National Guard can be used to enforce individual states’ stay-at-home orders as the coronavirus pandemic forces nationwide closures and restrictions, Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed… ‘That would be an option for the governors,’ Esper said.”

Something similar seems to happen in Germany and in many other countries where the military is being employed more and more to “help” the governments, the “public” and the police in their fight against the coronavirus. In addition, it was posted by the Drudge Report that two U.S. states — Alabama and Massachusetts — have begun providing the addresses of those known to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to the police.

Ending Democracy?

The Week wrote on April 1:

“…regimes around the world are using new powers to protect themselves from public scrutiny while claiming to be protecting the public…

“In this battle, [the state] has no legitimate basis for limiting press freedom, restricting public criticism, or otherwise interfering with the process of public accountability…”

Order to Bring Former Troops Back to Active Duty

Newsmax reported on March 28:

“President Trump issued an order Friday night that permits the Pentagon to bring former U.S. troops and members of the National Guard and Reserve back to active duty to augment forces already involved in the military’s response to the coronavirus pandemic…

“Former active-duty and reserve service members… are commonly considered out of the military and rarely recalled…”

But in times of crisis, extraordinary measures are being employed and largely accepted by most people. 

Order to Produce More Ventilators

Newsmax also reported on March 27:

“President Donald Trump on Friday ordered General Motors Co. to make ventilators for coronavirus patients, invoking a federal law that gives him vast powers over industry in crises

“Trump said in a statement that he had signed a memorandum ‘directing the secretary of Health and Human Services to use any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize federal contracts for ventilators’…”

Trump Extends Guidelines… After All That Talk!

Breitbart wrote on March 29:

“President Donald Trump on Sunday said that guidelines for Americans fighting the coronavirus will be extended to April 30… acknowledging that his hopeful Easter deadline for loosening restrictions was shattered…”

Newsmax wrote:

“Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with CNN: ‘… we argued strongly with the president that he not withdraw those guidelines after 15 days, but that he extend them. And he did listen.’”

The Algemeiner added:

“Asked during the briefing if floating the idea of lifting restrictions by mid-April had been a mistake, Trump called it ‘just an aspiration’ and said he now believed the country could be on its way to economic recovery by June 1.”

Trump also remarked that limiting the number of deaths to 100,000 or 200,000 would constitute a “good job,” according to Deutsche Welle.  Doctors or so-called “experts” rule—even though they admit that they do not know much about the virus.

For instance, Austria has made face masks mandatory for people shopping and in all other settings where people can come into close contact. In following her medical experts, Angela Merkel responded by saying that Germany will not proceed in this way, stating that masks are counterproductive and could even be dangerous in that they are becoming virus-carriers within a short period of time.

Now, the discussion about the feasibility of wearing masks has reached the USA. And this, after medical “experts” have proclaimed time and time again that face masks are ineffective for the “ordinary” citizen and should be reserved for doctors and nurses. This proves again how little “experts” know… but rulers and governmental officials follow blindly medical experts whom they choose, no matter what, and the mass-media and the public “stand in awe.”

Financial Disaster

The Week wrote on March 31:

“… stocks… capped off their worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The S&P 500 finished the quarter down 20 percent, its largest decline since 2008, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 23 percent. The downturn was global in scope — Stoxx Europe 600 had its biggest quarterly drop since 2002, and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average fell to 2008 levels, as well…”

According to Newsmax, dated April 1, “The Dow Jones tumbled more than 700 points on Wednesday as investors fled to safe-haven assets after new orders for U.S.-made goods plunged to an 11-year low and private payrolls fell for the first time since 2017.”

The Week wrote on April 1:

“… the latest plunge came after President Trump warned the next two weeks would bring some of the most ‘painful’ fallout yet. DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeffrey Gundlach predicted the market lows of March will be surpassed by new lows in April.”

Staggering Numbers of Unemployment

 Deutsche Welle wrote on April 2:

 “The unemployment rate in the US surged to a new record high on Thursday, with the US Labor Department reporting that 6.6 million people filed unemployment claims just last week alone. The latest figures far surpass the previous week’s record of 3.3 million.

 Efforts to curb the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing strict social distancing measures and shuttering businesses and restaurants have led to mass layoffs across the country — prompting the unprecedented spike in US unemployment…

 “During the Great Depression from 1929 to 1933, the US unemployment rate peaked at 24.9% — a figure that economists and officials fear could now be topped due to the coronavirus pandemic… the Federal Reserve estimated that the unemployment rate in the US could rise to 32.1%… Some economists estimated that by the end of April, as many as 20 million people in the US will have lost their jobs.”

In light of all this, one would hope that people wake up and examine their spiritual condition and their relationship with the true God. Sadly, this does not seem to be true at all for the overwhelming majority. 

The Next Financial Crisis: A Collapse of the Mortgage System

Politico wrote on March 27:

“The U.S. mortgage finance system could collapse

“When individuals stop making payments on their home mortgages, the companies that handle the loans and process those payments, so-called mortgage servicers, are still on the hook: They’re legally obligated to keep sending money to insurers and investors in mortgage-backed securities…”

Low Oil Prices… a Mixed Blessing?

Money Morning wrote on March 30:

“The oil price has collapsed this year…

“… the market is being flooded with more oil than ever before… The US is currently the world’s top oil producer, ahead of Saudi Arabia. But that might not last if the country is forced to slash production as low oil prices continue. The other massive problem is on the demand side. Coronavirus means that people have virtually stopped flying… People have stopped driving too…

“Another problem is that we are running out of storage space for the spare oil. Analysts suggest that at current storage capacity we have months or perhaps weeks before storage space is full. That leads to the idea that we could even at some point see a negative oil price – where people are literally paying others to take it off their hands…”

Half of Canadians on the Brink of Insolvency, Due to Coronavirus Restrictions 

Financial Post wrote on March 30:

“The coronavirus crisis is delivering an unprecedented financial shock to Canadians at a time when their personal finances were already fragile.

“… half of Canadians… surveyed are now on the brink of insolvency, saying they are $200 or less away from not being able to meet their debt obligations each month. A quarter of these said they are already unable to meet those obligations…”

Mass Quarantine Not Sustainable over a Long Period of Time

Deutsche Welle wrote on March 27:

“More than a billion humans around the globe are trying — hard — to endure… various symptoms of self-isolation. Expect many to fail.

“… Shutting schools has added to the pressures… Some people will develop psychiatric conditions, mental health conditions. There will be a rise in depression… Some people develop, particularly health professionals… an increase in the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder… there will be an increase in psychiatric disorders…”

Violence might be a result as well. Note the next article. 

Chinese Citizens Furious with their Government

Breitbart wrote on March 28:

“A huge protest march swept out of China’s Hubei province on Friday, with thousands of angry residents pouring across a bridge into neighboring Jiangxi province and clashing with police

“The Hubei residents streaming across the bridge are clearly angry after weeks of the coronavirus lockdown, which in theory is being lifted… Evidently the protesters are infuriated by how the government has treated them during the crisis…”

A preview as to what is to come in other countries as well, including the USA?

Divorce Rates Climb Due to Quarantine

Newspunch wrote on March 31:

“Divorce rates in China have soared because couples are spending too much time together’ during coronavirus quarantine…

“Shaanxi Province in northwestern China have seen an unprecedented rise of divorce appointments since re-opening on March 1, with people queueing around the block to file divorce papers, reports say. Young people are spending a lot of time at home. They tend to get into heated arguments because of something petty and rush into getting a divorce,’ Mr Lu  explained…”

This is the fruit of human attempts to fight one problem—reaping many more problems as a consequence.

Moment of Truth for Merkel

Politico wrote on March 27:

“Just when it looked like Angela Merkel was going to ride quietly into the sunset, fate intervened. Two weeks ago, the German leader’s biggest worry was finding a successor and a life after politics. Now she finds herself in the center of what many consider the most serious global crisis since World War II

“For better or worse, Merkel is the only European leader with either the experience or stature to take charge… For the woman who steered Europe through the financial panic that nearly brought down the euro and the refugee crisis of 2015, this might seem like familiar territory. It’s not. This time around, the scope of the crisis and the consequences of failure are much greater than anything Merkel has ever dealt with…

“In Europe, it’s up to each individual country to decide if and when to stop listening to the epidemiologists and public health officials arguing for extended lockdowns… Yet given Merkel’s political influence and the importance of Germany’s economy to the rest of Europe, many are likely to follow her lead…”

None of this sounds very promising or encouraging for Europe. It is obvious that very soon, a core Europe will have to form and a strong, powerful and totalitarian leader must arise. We have felt for many years that this would happen, in all likelihood, in a time of crisis. And totalitarianism is already a sick phenomenon that permeates Europe. 

Totalitarianism in Hungary

Axios wrote on March 30:

“Hungary’s parliament passed a law Monday to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán almost unlimited power, for an indefinite period, to fight the coronavirus outbreak…

“Hungary has taken a sharply authoritarian [turn] over the past decade under Orbán, and it’s likely that he and other strongman leaders around the world will seek to maintain powers they gain during the current crisis long after it’s over.”

This is indeed the fear and the anticipation, but most are asleep at the wheel and do not comprehend the dangers of such authoritarian powers which they are willing to accept, until it is far too late.  

Deutsche Welle added on March 30:

“The [law] includes the introduction of jail terms of up to five years for people who spread ‘fake news’ about the virus or measures against it, raising anxieties about freedom of press in Hungary.”

Totalitarianism in Serbia

The National wrote on March 29:

“Serbia has sentenced a man to three years in jail for breaking self-isolation orders… It was the first such sentence in Serbia…

“Serbia has introduced some of the most restrictive measures including a 12-hour police enforced curfew and a 24-hour ban on leaving the home for those older than 65. Authorities say at least 112 people are in detention in Serbia for ignoring orders to stay at home and are awaiting trial…”

Jews Blamed for the Coronavirus

Breaking Israel News wrote on March 27:

“… anti-semites of all sorts are echoing the blood libels from 700 years ago when the Jews were blamed for the Black Death that killed over 100 million people…

“During the Black Death in Europe from 1348 to 1351, Jews were blamed for the pandemic that killed over 100 million people, nearly half the population of Europe. This led to countless pogroms and at least 510 Jewish communities were destroyed in this period. In many cities, the civil authorities either did little to protect the Jewish communities or actually abetted the rioters. The pogroms motivated by the plague continued until 20 years after the plague disappeared.”

Will we be seeing a massive repeat of such atrocities due to panic and the search for a “scapegoat”? 

Israeli Government Escapes to Underground Bunker

Breaking Israel News wrote on March 26:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that future cabinet meetings will be held in an underground bunker in the Jerusalem hills…

“Called the National Management Centre, the hardened underground complex includes living quarters and command facilities. ‘This [bunker] is another tool for managing, controlling, oversight and tracking’ the coronavirus…’ [according to an unidentified source.]

“Some Israeli officials tried to joke off the move… Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in an interview with Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM that the bunker had limited usefulness in the current crisis as ‘it protects from bombs, but not from microbes.’…

“Construction on the $240 million underground bunker began in 2007. Designed to withstand a nuclear bomb, it can house the Prime Minister’s Office, military commands centers and the necessary civil authorities to run the country.”

The whole world seems to be in a state of panic, leading to most unreasonable and sometimes even laughable decisions—if the entire situation would not be so terribly serious. More than 1 million Israelis or more than 24% of the workforce are now unemployed. 

Panic Galore 

On March 29, The Mail on Sunday published the following article by one of its journalists, Peter Hitchens:

“As I watched the Prime Minister [Boris Johnson] order mass house arrest on Monday night, I felt revulsion, anger and grief – as anyone brought up when this was a free and well-governed country would. I also felt terribly alone. You could not have known, from anything broadcast that night or printed the following day, that anyone was unhappy with these events. But they were.

“… I now suspect this dark season might get still worse before we see the clear, calm light of reason again. The greater the mistake we have made, the less willing we are to admit it or correct it. This is why I greatly fear worse developments… When I predicted roadblocks in my column two weeks ago, which I did, I did so out of an instinct that we were entering on the craziest period of our lives since the death of Princess Diana…

“But even I would not have dared to predict the mass house arrest under which we are all now confined… Perhaps we will emulate the French or Italian states, which have returned to their despotic origins.

“…as a former resident of the USSR, I can tell you that this sort of endless meddling by petty authority in the details of life… is normal in unfree societies – such as we have now become for an indefinite period. It is, by the way, also a seedbed for corruption… The vast majority develop very mild symptoms or none at all. Millions may already have had it…

“Many people will die with coronavirus. But this does not mean that they died of it… John Lee, a recently retired professor of pathology and a former NHS consultant pathologist, writes in The Spectator this weekend that by making Covid-19 a notifiable disease, the authorities may have distorted the figures.

“‘In the current climate, anyone with a positive test for Covid-19 will certainly be known to clinical staff looking after them: if any of these patients dies, staff will have to record the Covid-19 designation on the death certificate – contrary to usual practice for most infections of this kind. ‘There is a big difference between Covid-19 causing death, and Covid-19 being found in someone who died of other causes. Making Covid-19 notifiable might give the appearance of it causing increasing numbers of deaths, whether this is true or not. It might appear far more of a killer than flu, simply because of the way deaths are recorded.’”

Very true, but in our panic-driven media-propagated hysterical societies, who wants to hear words like these?

A Former Supreme Court Judge Speaks out against Mass Hysteria 

Express wrote on March 30:

“Lord Sumption, a former UK Supreme Court judge, has criticised the emergency measures taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic as proof of ‘hysteria-driven Government policy’. He called the current Government measures ‘symptoms of collective hysteria’ and warned that the ‘cure was becoming worse than the disease’… [He] branded the widespread confinement to houses as imprisonment and called the Derbyshire police force ‘disgraceful and shameful’ for their overreach.

“Lord Sumption told the BBC’s World at One programme:

“‘When human societies lose their freedom it is not usually because tyrants have taken it away, it is usually because people have willingly surrendered their freedom for protection against some external threat… Anyone who has studied history will recognise the symptoms of classic collective hysteria… Hysteria is infectious. We are working ourselves up as we exaggerate the threat and stop asking ourselves whether the cure is worse than the disease. We have to recognise that this is how societies become despotisms.

“‘The symptoms of coronavirus are clearly significant for those with other underlying health conditions, especially if they are old. There are exceptional cases when young people are struck down. But, in Italy, only 12 percent of deaths can be clearly tied to coronavirus being the main cause of death. Yes this is serious but is it serious enough to warrant placing the entire population under house imprisonment, wrecking our economy for an indefinite period, destroying businesses that honest and hard-working people have taken years to build up, saddling future generations with debt, inflicting depression, stress, suicide and unbelievable distress on millions of people who are not especially vulnerable.’ 

“He criticised the press for ‘amplifying and echoing’ the public’s sense of panic before ripping into the conduct of the police – singling out Derbyshire Police for criticism. Derbyshire Police have garnered controversy recently for dumping black dye into a picturesque blue lagoon to stop people posing for photographs during the lockdown. Last week, the same police force shamed dog walkers and ramblers after tracking them through the hillsides with drones.”

Deutsche Welle reported on March 29 that “The lockdown in the United Kingdom could continue for up [to] six months.” The UK will NEVER be able to recover economically. And the developments, as pointed out in the next article, do not help at all. 

UK-EU Post-Brexit Negotiations to Be Suspended? 

The Telegraph wrote on March 27:

“Boris Johnson faces escalating pressure to suspend all post-Brexit trade negotiations… the prime minister has been urged to pause talks until parliament returns and the crisis is under control… the Welsh and Scottish governments [also] called on the prime minister to halt the negotiations over the UK-EU’s future relationship…

“Downing Street has repeatedly insisted that there will be no extension to the 11-month transition period.”

The EU indicated that they would be willing to extend the negotiations. 

Places of Worship “Essential” in Brazil wrote on March 27:

“Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro decreed Thursday that places of worship are ‘essential services’ that must be exempted from coronavirus confinement orders… The decree… adds religious activities of any kind’ to the list of exempted services, alongside supermarkets and pharmacies… The president, who has called the reaction to the pandemic overblown,’ says such measures are unnecessary and will wreck Latin America’s biggest economy…

“Last week, the influential evangelical pastor Silas Malafaia, a Bolsonaro ally, called confinement measures ‘a tactic by Satan… Satan works with fear,’ he said.”

Passover Sacrifice on the Temple Mount?

Breaking Israel News wrote on March 31:

“… the Sanhedrin is preparing for an actual sacrifice fully consistent with Biblical requirements, brought on the Temple Mount… The Sanhedrin has issued a formal request [to] the leaders of Israel and the U.S. to allow this to happen…

“The vessels have been prepared and merely need to be immersed in a ritual bath to be purified. Kohanim (Jewish men descended from Aaron the priest) are registered for service and their Biblically mandated clothes are ready. Wine and oil, prepared to the strictest requirements, are ready. A red heifer is being raised but lacking one, the halacha (Torah law) permits time-bound public sacrifices like the Korban Pesach and the Korban Tamid (twice daily offering) to be brought in impurity

“Rabbi Hillel Weiss, the spokesman for the Sanhedrin… [said:] ‘The only thing preventing the Jewish People from performing the Passover sacrifice is the Israeli government.’

“The Passover sacrifice can only be offered in one place; on the Temple Mount. The sacrifice does not require an actual Temple structure but it does require an altar that is built to adhere to the Biblical requirements. Such an altar was constructed last year and stands ready… The material was ruled to be fit for use in the Temple…”

Even if the government were to allow this one-time Passover sacrifice on the Temple Mount, it would not mean, of course, that therefore the prophesied end-time daily sacrifices would have begun. 

Pope Benedict Accused of Plotting Downfall of Pope Francis

Express wrote on March 30:

“POPE BENEDICT is ‘plotting the downfall of Pope Francis’…

“Many cite Benedict as one of the key traditionalists within the Catholic church is pushing against Francis’ wish to allow sweeping changes at the Vatican… Expert Lynda Telford… fears that Benedict… is leading a charge of angry traditionalists within the Vatican who do not want to see… modern ideals as part of a new Catholicism mandate…

“Benedict and Francis’ relationship has been difficult over the course of his tenure at the Catholic church’s helm. Benedict resigned seven years ago, claiming poor health and growing mental pressures within the chief position. It was the first time such a move was made since the 1400s, and has seen Benedict continue to exert his authority and influence over some of the church’s most staunch traditionalists.

“Some argued that Francis’ decision to not allow a move that would have seen married men allowed to become priests in the Amazon regions, in a bid to combat a worrying decline of clergymen in the most remote areas, was due to Benedict.”

Perhaps, we still might not have heard the last word about Benedict. 

Large Earthquake in Idaho

The Associated Press wrote on April 1:

“A large earthquake struck north of Boise Tuesday evening… The U.S. Geological Survey reports the magnitude 6.5 temblor struck just before 6 p.m…

“The earthquake added stress during an already tense time for the region… the Idaho region has an earthquake of about this size every 30 or 40 years… Tuesday’s quake appeared to be on an unmapped ‘strike-slip fault’

“The area [has] already recorded five aftershocks within the first hours after the 6.5 earthquake.”

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.

From All Sides / The Second Exodus

On April 4, 2020, Robb Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “From All Sides,” and Dave Harris will present the sermon, titled, “The Second Exodus.”

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.

NOTICE: We will not publish an Update next week (April 10, 2020), but we will resume publishing the following week (April 17, 2020).

PASSOVER will be observed on Tuesday evening, April 7, 2020, following sunset (which begins the day of April 8th). The FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD will be observed April 9-15, 2020. We will broadcast live services in the morning and afternoon on the Holy Days—Thursday, April 9th and Wednesday, April 15th. Further details are available at

What does it mean to be called by God?

People claim, oftentimes falsely, that they have received God’s call—especially to preach or witness for Jesus. Indeed, the Bible does speak of God calling people, but what does that really mean and how can you know that God has called you?

On the Day of Pentecost when God’s Holy Spirit was given to His Church, we find this:

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call’” (Acts 2:38-39).

Here, Peter addresses the fact that God is calling specific people, and later he writes to those who have been called; those who are now part of the Church of God:

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Throughout history, God has called people for His unique purposes, and we have the extraordinary example of Abraham:

“Now the LORD had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran” (Genesis 12:1-4).

It is also important to note how willingly Abraham responded to God’s call:

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).

Of the prophet Jeremiah, God said, “‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations’” (Jeremiah 1:5). In other words, Jeremiah was predestined before he was even conceived to be called during his lifetime! That also happened to Cyrus, king of Persia, for God named him and appointed him to return the Jews from Babylonian captivity and to cause them to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem—this was written in the Book of Isaiah about one-hundred-fifty years before the birth of Cyrus (compare Isaiah 44:28—45:1-7).

Of course, the greatest example of God’s predestination and calling is that of Jesus Christ. Consider the overwhelming number of prophecies about Him and the very explicit details which were written long before His birth (compare, for example, chapters 49 and 53 in the Book of Isaiah).

With God’s calling comes great responsibility! The Father sent His Son, Jesus, to be the Savior of the world (compare John 12:47; 1 John 4:14). If you are called by God, it is to do His Will, and that involves a role in the Church of God. The Church of God is composed of those whom God has called out of the world, as Jesus said about His disciples, and, by extension, all who will have come afterward:

“‘If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you’” (John 15:19).

In praying to His Father, Jesus spoke of those who are called as being separate from the world (compare John 17:14-17). Why? Because being in the world and embracing this society, its customs and practices, is not living according to the spiritual laws of God—it is in fact, “enmity against God” (Romans 8:6-7). Those who are called are to live lives which are unmistakably different from those who are not called, and the Apostle Paul clearly explains what it means to be called by God:

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:17-24).

To be called by God includes great potential for those who finish their calling:

“Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life” (1 John 2:24-25).

Paul wrote to the brethren in Thessalonica encouraging them to “…walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). He, as he did so often in his epistles, reminded them of the tremendous goal ahead for those whom God calls.

We find more details about the future in God’s calling:

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).

However, today is not the time when God is calling everybody to salvation! Now is the time God is calling a select few to be, what the Bible calls, “firstfruits” (James 1:18), and to be in the First Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 20:4-6). This fact is shown in the Holy Days of God—specifically in the meaning of the Feast of Pentecost. Leviticus 23:15-22; Exodus 23:16; 34:22 and Deuteronomy 16:9-12 all describe this annual Holy Day of God as depicting the firstfruits of harvesting in the spring—while the fall feasts, the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day, represent a much greater harvest and period of judgment. A fuller explanation is available in our booklets: God’s Commanded Holy Days; The Meaning of God’s Spring Holy Days and The Meaning of God’s Fall Holy Days.

Jesus called His disciples a “‘little flock’” (Luke 12:32), and history has certainly proven that very few people have ever been a part of the Church of God. Paul explained to the brethren in Corinth about whom God has chosen to call:

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Very few people have been called by God at this point in time! In fact, Jesus said that not all could even understand His teachings—only those to whom it was given (Mark 4:10-12). Being called by God means that He has initiated contact; otherwise, we would not even have access to the Father or to Jesus Christ, and this is what Jesus explained:

“‘No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…’” (John 6:44); and, “‘…I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).

Is God calling you to salvation? Jesus said, “‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:32). Are you able to understand the truth found in God’s Word—and believe it? Are you acting on the truth you understand—without compromise? Have you come to believe the gospel—the good news of the Kingdom of God, which Jesus preached (Mark 1:14-15) and what the Church of God is commissioned to preach in our time (Matthew 24:14)?

If you are called by God, here are some first steps by which to prove your calling:

“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  (Romans 10:8-16)

Once God calls us, we must grow in our calling—as the Apostle Peter explains:

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,  as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:2-11).

When God calls you, you have a responsibility to respond to His calling and strive to live in accordance with His Word. God’s true calling will be your only opportunity to inherit eternal life when Christ returns.

Lead Writer: Dave Harris

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