The Spirit of Unity
On Saturday, February 14, 2004, Dave Harris will be presenting the sermon, titled, “The Spirit of Unity.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time (which is 2:30 p.m. Central Time). Just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”
Don't Bear Grudges!
by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
As a saying goes: A grudge is a heavy thing to carry. Unfortunately, a lot of heavy things or grudges are being carried today by so many people. This shouldn’t be!
What is a grudge? We instinctively might know, perhaps, what it is, but, put simply, it is a feeling of resentment or ill-will.
I remember that someone I used to work with in business, quite a number of years ago, used to say words to the effect: Don’t get angry, get even! For some people, that might mean harboring a grudge for many long years because they can have very long memories and cannot find it in their hearts to forgive.
If people hold grudges, let us pray for them so that they understand the error of their ways. Matthew 5:44 gives us clear instruction on this matter. There is no better teacher than the Savior, and we would do well to heed His sage words: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
God told us the same thing in the Old Testament, in Leviticus 19:18: “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”
It is not easy for humans not to have, and entertain, feelings of ill-will against those who might have offended or harmed us. While we are to hate the sin, we are to love the sinner. We were called to God’s way of life which we understand to be the narrow way — not the easy and broad way that the world wants. Just take a moment or two to think if:
1. You have ever held any grudges against anyone for any reason — whether parents, children, brothers, sisters or other family members, church members, work colleagues, friends or neighbors — in fact ANYONE; and
2. If you STILL hold a grudge or grudges against anyone — irrespective of whether that person is a church member or not.
If we are harboring any resentment or ill-will against anyone we had better think again — and this for at least two reasons: It is against the teachings of Christ, and therefore totally unacceptable, and it can lead to further problems. In other words, one problem begets another. One sin leads to another. We just can’t win if we disobey or ignore God’s clear instruction on this matter.
To hold grudges is part and parcel of the way that the world behaves and reacts. It seems that if you don’t feel resentment towards others that you are not normal — but the way that the world views things is not our yardstick. It is what God says on this matter that really counts. Let us make sure that holding or bearing grudges are not part of our Christian way of life. If it is, then we have a serious spiritual problem.
The Passover will be coming up in a few weeks. If we have a problem in this area, any traces of it should, and must be eliminated as soon as possible, so that the Passover can be observed in a worthy manner.
This Week in the News
Palestine – Part of the EU?
LAW AND RELIGION
When a judge attempted to display a rudimentary version of the ten commandments in the US in the state of Alabama last year, not only was the monument ordered removed, but the judge was removed from office as well. Many decried the inability for official recognition of these biblical laws in a nation whose heritage was founded on biblical principles.
Quoting from www.washingtompost.com (2/11/04), “France’s lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ban students from wearing Islamic head scarves and other religious apparel in public schools. The classroom ban, which also applies to Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses, was approved 494 to 36.” Continuing from this same article, ” ‘The Republic and secularism are strengthened,’ Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said, hailing ‘ the magnitude of this vote.’ “
Similar movements can be observed in Germany. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder supported the concept of banning public teachers from wearing head scarves in public school. While there may be reasons for prohibiting such practice, it is interesting to note that German President Rau voiced concerns against such a ban. When he did, the German press, attempting to create public opinion, vigorously and almost unanimously condemned him for his stance in the matter.
The argument for not establishing a state religion or allowing any religion to insinuate itself is certainly held by many. However, we see legislation now emerging in precedent setting ways that seeks to govern individual religious practices. Parental belief in healing or discipline that is based on biblical teachings has led to legal entanglements. The ability to observe the Sabbath and Holy Days based on constitutional guarantees in religious practices is under attack from legal decisions that threaten to whittle away these freedoms. The concern that children will be taught wrong concerns in public school — for instance in the areas of sex education or evolution — is brushed aside with the “legal” argument of the state’s right to enforce school attendance.
The Bible shows that there will soon arise a world-dominating religion which will enforce its will (Compare Revelation 13:11-18). At that time, the religious freedom enjoyed in many western nations will no longer exist.
What we are now witnessing are just the beginning stages of that steep slide into restrictive laws that will result in death for many who choose to obey God rather than man.
… in California
The Tribune, a local newspaper for San Luis Obispo County in California, reported on February 10, 2004, that the recent 6.5-magnitude San Simeon Earthquake that struck the area on December 22, had been predicted by an international team of earthquake scientists. The paper added that the prediction had been ignored, and that the earthquake did 3 Million Dollars in damage to the port’s breakwater, “seriously undermining [the rock jetty’s] structural integrity and potentially making the harbor more dangerous.”
… and in Israel
As www.haaretzdaily.com reported on February 11, a 5.0-magnitude earthquake hit Israel and some of its Middle East neighbors, but caused no injuries and only limited damage. The article continued: “… there are tens of thousands of buildings in Israel, some 80 percent of those constructed before 1990, and not protected against serious earthquakes… The region has a long record of destructive quakes. In 1927, a quake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale killed more than 300 people and damaged more than 1,000 buildings in Jericho, Nablus, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Tiberias, Lod and Ramle.”
The article also pointed out the following:
“Biblical prophets also foresaw destructive earthquakes, which they believed would herald a return of the Messiah. The Hebrew prophet Zechariah predicted that Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives would be cleft in two by a quake. The New Testament Book of Revelation predicts ‘a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth.’ The Koran, the Muslim holy book, also predicts destructive earthquakes in the region.”
Bild warned on February 3 that “Online-Banking” has become extremely dangerous, due to a number of viruses, especially “MyDoom.A,” and “MyDoom.B.” According to the article, these viruses can lead the user to a wrong website, revealing to hackers and other criminals their individual passwords and other private information.
As Deutsche Welle reported on February 9, France and Germany are determined to hammer out a European Constitution before the end of June, without contemplating to compromise their respective positions. The article continued: “The move is a further sign of deepening Franco-German ties. The two leaders [Gerhard Schroeder and Jacques Chirac] have forged a close political relationship since last year when they both opposed the Iraq war and have seen eye-to-eye on hotly-debated issues such as a post-war Iraqi order, the EU constitution and European security and defense policy.”
FISCHER VS. RUMSFELD
As News-Networld reported, Joschka Fischer and Donald Rumsfeld continued to fight over the Iraq war. Fischer said during a meeting in Munich on Saturday that the German Government’s position, opposing the war, had been verified by subsequent events. Rumsfeld responded that during their last meeting in 2003, the Iraqi people had been living in fear of a dictator. Fischer also warned of the current instability in the Middle East.
PALESTINE PART OF EU?
Der Spiegel Online reported on February 8, 2004, that German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer had suggested that countries such as Syria, Palestine, Israel and Morocco should become associated with the EU. While Israel uttered concerns, Nabil Schaath, Foreign Minister of Palestine, stated that it would be a wonderful goal for Palestine to become a member of the EU, once peace with Israel has been accomplished. He also said that Russia and the EU need to get more involved in the Middle East, since the Americans are too busy because of their internal presidential governmental elections.
JOERG HAIDER ITALIAN DOCTOR
Austria’s Joerg Haider is always good for surprises. NEWS-Networld reported that he received the title of “doctoris honaris” from a university in Milan, Italy, in economy and public communication. Haider already has a doctor-title in law.
THE GERMANS HAVE HAD IT…
Der Spiegel Online reported on February 7, 2004, about the reactions of the international press regarding Chancellor Schroeder’s resignation as party leader. The Financial Times, London, speculated that this might be a clever move by Schroeder, while Denmark’s Berlingske Tidende described Schroeder as an “unusually cynical politician,” who is “dangerous for European and Danish interests, as well as for the economy.” Die Basler Zeitung in Switzerland stated that Schroeder has changed his positions far too often, while Italy’s La Republican spoke of a “political earthquake” and a “German crises going up in flames.” France’s Le Figaro summarized: “In foreign countries, Schroeder’s reform politics are normally viewed with favor. The Germans, however, have had enough…”
BIRD FLU ON THE MARCH
The independent.co.uk reported on February 7, 2004, that “scientists are investigating a potentially serious escalation of the bird flu epidemic in the Far East after preliminary tests indicated that the virus may have jumped the species barrier into pigs.” The article also stated that “Avian flu has already crossed into humans, killing at least 18 people… Vietnam has slaughtered about 14 million chickens [according to BILD and Stern, many of those are being burned ALIVE] and Thailand about 26 million [Stern reported on February 12, 2004, that several cases of bird flu have been discovered in the United States]. Scie
ntists have shown that the three major pandemics of human influenza in the 20th century — 1918, 1958 and 1968 — were all the result of avian virus changing its structure and becoming more infectious to people.”
Der Spiegel Online added that such change could repeat itself at any time. “Experts fear that … we might see a catastrophic epidemic,” according to the magazine. BILD stated: “According to an expert, the bird flu might become thousands of times more dangerous than SARS… More than 50 million birds have been killed in 10 Asian countries… A mysterious phenomenon happened in China: On Tuesday, more than 10,000 finches fell dead from the sky. It is unclear whether there is any connection with the bird flu.”
NEW TERROR ATTACKS WITHIN THE U.S?
In January, der Stern published an interview with Gary Hart, former U.S. Senator and “one of the most influential politicians of the democrats.” The magazine pointed out that Hart, as a member of the Commission for National Security, had predicted long before September 11 a terror attack on U.S. soil by foreign terrorists. The Commission had concluded that “Americans will die on American soil, presumably in great numbers.” Hart was now quoted as saying that another terrorist attack on American soil will occur soon, stating that “it would be easy to bring chemical or biological weapons into the country.”
In your Update #128 you explained that Enoch did not go to heaven. You also stated that no one has gone to heaven, except Jesus Christ. What about Elijah? Does not the Bible state that Elijah "went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (2 Kings 2:11)?
Christ stated unequivocally that “no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man” (John 3:13, NASB Version). This includes Elijah. However, we must realize that the Bible speaks of more than just one heaven. In our Update #97, we addressed in our Q&A the fact that there are three heavens. While the first two heavens are physical and refer to the earth’s atmosphere and the space beyond our atmosphere, the third heaven is composed of spirit. That is the heaven where God lives, and to that heaven no human being has ever ascended. In Update #97, we also addressed that Elijah did not go to the third heaven, where God’s throne is, but only to the first heaven. To quote from the Update:
“We read, in 2 Kings 2:1, 11, that Elijah was taken up ‘into heaven by a whirlwind.’ We also read that the disciples understood that Elijah did not go to the third heaven, as they were concerned that ‘the Spirit of the LORD has taken him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley’ (verse 16). In fact, God transported Elijah to another place here on this earth, where Elijah continued to live until his death. He wrote a letter and had it delivered to king Jehoram, AFTER he ‘went to (the first) heaven,’ as Jehoram became king right at the time of Elijah’s disappearance (2 Kings 1:17; 3:1). 2 Chronicles 21:12-15 gives us the contents of the letter, referring to the evil deeds of king Jehoram that he had committed after Elijah had been taken away and transported through the air to another place here on earth.”
We know, then, from Scripture, that Elijah did not go to the third heaven, where God’s throne is. We also know that he was transferred, supernaturally, to another place here on earth. There are several Biblically recorded incidents where human beings were supernaturally transferred by God to another place here on earth (compare, for example, Philip’s transfer to another place here on earth, in Acts 8:39-40).
However, we also know from Scripture that Elijah died after this incident, as it is appointed to man once to die (Hebrews 9:27). We also read that God inspired Moses to write that “the days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off…” (Psalm 90:10). In rare circumstances, man can reach an age of 100 or perhaps even 110 years — however, there is no one we know of who reached the age of 150 since the time of Moses. Those who believe that Elijah is still alive today believe, however, that God kept him alive for over 2,500 years — a concept nowhere taught in Scripture.
Some say that Elijah was alive at the time of Christ; that he has returned or will return as the one who prepares the way for Christ’s Second Coming; or that he is one of the two witnesses still to appear. However, there is no Biblical evidence supporting any such claim.
Some believe that Elijah was alive at the time of Christ, as he appeared, in a glorified state, to three of the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, together with the glorified Moses and Jesus (Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36). We explain this account in detail on pages 14 and 15 of our booklet, “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.” In that booklet, we show that the whole experience was a VISION — the disciples were given a foretaste of the kingdom of God in power. They saw, in a VISION, the time when Christ, Moses and Elijah would be powerful God beings in the Kingdom of God. Elijah and Moses are not glorified yet, as Hebrews 11:39-40 explains.They will receive the promise of eternal life and glory in the kingdom of God at the time of Christ’s return — not before then.
Some believe that Elijah was alive at the time of Christ, in the person of John the Baptist. Although Christ said that John the Baptist was the Elijah to come (Matthew 17:12-13), other Scriptures explain that John had come in the spirit and the power of Elijah (Luke 1:17) — not that he was the reincarnated Elijah, or that Elijah had never died and that he appeared now as John the Baptist (Note, too, that John was BORN as a little baby to Zacharias and Elizabeth).
To quote from the Worldwide Church of God’s booklet, “Where are Enoch and Elijah?”, copyright 1957, 1973:
“Luke said that John was ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah,’ NOT that he was literally Elijah. That Elijah had died centuries before. But John the Baptist was empowered by the same spirit which had guided the Elijah of old to point Israel’s eyes to the true God, and for much the same purpose.”
Some believe that Elijah is still alive and that he will return, perhaps as one of the two witnesses, just prior to Christ’s Second Coming. They point at Malachi 4:5-6, stating that “I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” We also read that Christ said that in addition to John the Baptist, another Elijah “is coming first and will restore all things” (Matthew 17:11).
These Scriptures do not say that God would send, just prior to Christ’s Second Coming, the literal ancient Elijah. Rather, Christ announced that God would send someone “in the spirit and the power of Elijah,” to fulfill that prophecy.
We have long understood that the Elijah commission is given to the end-time Church of God. Mr. Armstrong, the late human leader of the Church of God, fulfilled his part of the Elijah commission, but the commission is ongoing and did not stop, when Mr. Armstrong died. The restoration of all things has not occurred yet, and it will not have been accomplished at the time of Christ’s return. It is Christ, as Acts 3:21 points out, who will restore all things, but it is His Church who will help Him fulfill this task, throughout the Millennium and beyond (Revelation 3:21; Romans 8:18-21). In any event, the Bible does not teach that the ancient literal Elijah will appear, prior to Christ’s return, to restore all things.
It is correct, however, that the two witnesses will apparently have similar powers as Moses and Elijah had (Revelation 11:3-6). This does not say, however, that the literal Moses and the literal Elijah will appear as the two witnesses; rather, the two witnesses will receive the same kind of POWER from God that God had given to ancient Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10-12) and Elijah. Note that it is reported in Scripture that Moses died; that God buried him; and that his grave is unknown (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). Again, Hebrews 11:39-40 teaches that Moses will be resurrected from the dead, at the time of Christ’s Second Coming — and not before then. This means that he cannot be one of the two witnesses. The same is obviously true, then, for Elijah — he, too, died, and awaits his resurrection from the dead. He is not one of the two witnesses, either.
To quote, in conclusion, from the above-mentioned booklet, “Where are Enoch and Elijah?”: “Elijah is dead in the dust of the earth awaiting the resurrection of the just. Elijah, some years after being removed in the whirlwind, went to the grave, but will rise again to live forevermore!”
Standing Watch and Member Letter
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