Your Will Be Done
On Saturday, May 1, 2004, Norbert Link will be giving the sermon, titled, “Your Will Be Done!”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
What A Difference A Day Makes!
by Edwin Pope
In the beginning, the Eternal God created the heavens and the earth as the abode of Lucifer and the one third of God’s angels placed under Lucifer’s authority. God gave them rulership of those areas of the universe assigned to Lucifer and, thus, also under Lucifer’s jurisdiction. Lucifer chose to rebel against God and His Ways and attempted, along with the angels assigned to him, to overthrow the throne of God and to take control of the entire universe. Lucifer and His angels failed in this attempt and were cast back down to the earth where they are to this day (Ezekiel 28). This is more fully explained in our booklet, “The Theory of Evolution — A Fairy Tale For Adults?“
Commencing with verse 2 of Genesis 1, we find a record of the re-creation, or the re-establishment of the earth, which was made null and void in the cataclysmic battle between the angels who followed Lucifer and the angels of God. God recreated the earth in six days.
The joy of this re-creation came toward the end of the sixth day when God created man in the very image of God, according to the likeness of God the Father and of the One Who became Jesus Christ. In fact, it was by the very hands of this Being, Who became Jesus Christ, that all things in the heavens and on the earth were made. (John 1:1-4)
On the seventh day He ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day. He then blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it, He rested from all His work, which He had created and made (Genesis 2:1-3).
Yes, God established the seventh day as a day of rest and He tells us in His Word that He blessed the seventh day and that it is a day holy to Him. We are told to remember the seventh day and to observe it with the understanding that in so doing we recall all that was done during that first week when God re-created the earth and all that is in it. God also established other Holy Days, which you and I are commanded to keep. (For a complete analysis of these Days, their intent and purpose, write for our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”)
God has a purpose for each and every one of these special days noted in Scripture which He has established as holy to Him. Each day He has established reflects things He has done or events of the future and His Plan relative to those special days for the future.
But man has perverted all of Gods Holy Days and has failed in the right observance of those days. He has forgotten the purpose for which God originally established each holy day and why these days are so significant in God’s overall plan and purpose for mankind.
On numerous occasions God told His chosen people, Israel, not to enquire of the peoples in lands where He would lead them as to how those peoples worshipped their gods, saying, “… even so will I do to my God.” He specifically told them not to do that, because these peoples had done abominable things in the worship of their gods. Yet, today, most who call themselves Christians have forgotten the days God established for their good, but rather, have turned, have enquired of those pagan practices and have incorporated those practices into a system of worship whereby they try to please the One True God.
It is interesting that this year of 2004, May 1 falls on God’s Sabbath. And while the religions of the world, even so-called “Christian Religions,” for the most part will not be observing this Sabbath as commanded in God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures, but will rather attempt to worship the One True God on the first day of the week, the so-called “Lord’s Day,” in direct opposition to God’s command. And on this particular weekly Sabbath, many will observe a pagan day which the world refers to as “May Day.”
This day, “May Day,” is a special day of the pagans, a spring festival, established centuries ago, in celebration each year of the coming summer months. The day was set aside to appease and to please the pagan gods according to the customs of these pagan religions.
Many modern day pagans believe this festival was held and observed to the pagan god, “Belenus,” or “Bel,” a fire/sun god, most likely as a celebration of his mating with “Danu,” the primal earth mother. The indication is that the festival name means “Bel’s Fire.”
Some have associated this ritual to the “Baal” of Biblical times while others relate it to “Beltaine,” the worship of whom the Gauls brought to Britain during the Roman occupation. Others say there is no connection.
Notable traditions of this day’s celebrations were the “Maypole,” imported to England from Italy during the reign of Charles I or Elizabeth I. It is said that the pole itself probably represented the “tree of life” or “world tree.” The custom was to attach ribbons to the tree and weaving them together by dancers, thus, the Maypole dance. Perhaps you observed this ritual in your own experience as a youth without knowledge of its true meaning.
While God established His festivals, days holy to Him, all described in His Written Word, interestingly, within paganism, there are two types of festivals: 1) Esbats, which mark the changes in the moon; and 2) Sabbats, which recognize the changes in the sun. Of course, we all understand, these days have been inspired by the god of this world, Satan, the devil.
Esbats, traditionally, are times in which magic, divination, the development of psychic skills and such are practiced. Falling within this category is “Samhain.” This is pronounced “sow-een,” and is the pagan New Year’s Eve. It means “summer’s end,” and falls on the 31st of October. This day, today, is widely known as Halloween. The reason is that the “Christian Church” adopted the day in an effort to convert people to their religion. We also understand this day is recognized as the day of the dead, supposedly in honor of friends and relatives who have “passed away.” On this day these dead are invited back to spend an evening with those observing this day. Samhain is known by the names Halloween, Hallow mass, and All Saint’s Eve. (For additional insight into the origin of Halloween, see our Q&A in Update #114, dated October 24, 2003.)
Just opposite from this day of “Samhain” is the Sabbat festival of “Beltain.” “Beltain,” also known as “Beltane” or “May Day,” falls exactly six months from “Samhain,” on the 31st day of April, or as we reckon it, “May 1.” It is also opposite in its meaning, a day celebrating “life and love” with sexual undertones, rather than “death.” It is celebrated, if possible, with a large bonfire or candles, for the purpose of encouraging fertility. The May Pole, a phallic symbol, is the center piece of this festival and traditionally was danced around by maidens to draw a lover — not by children, as is currently practiced by modern religions.
It is certainly significant, especially to God, what days we observe and how we observe them. God tells us in His Word that He is not happy when we veer away from His Teachings, and in particular, in relation to His Holy Days.
What a difference a Day makes!
This Week in the News
THE CRUELTY OF WAR
On April 26, 2004, Bild Online published an exceptionally well-written, moving, disturbing and thought-provoking article pertaining to the terrors and problems of war. We are giving you excerpts from the article, in an English translation, as we feel that the terrible truth manifested in the article should make everybody realize the unspeakable tragedy of war — ANY war fought by humans in this world. War always leads to pain and suffering — and many times, those who suffer the most are innocent victims or “casualties” — exactly those very persons for whom, allegedly, the particular war had been fought in the first place.
The article was titled: “The other side of the war — The suffering of innocent children in Iraq.”
It was pointed out:
“Little Wiam Mohammed (4), of the Iraqi town of Fallujah, looks fearfully into the camera of the reporter. Her brown eyes are filled with tears. She is in pain. During a fight with US soldiers, her shoulder was injured. The wounds of her arm will heal — those of her soul may never heal.
“This is the sad story of the little Iraqi girl: Since April 5, the Americans had surrounded Fallujah. The situation has become critical. That is why Wiam’s parents decided to flee with their seven children to Baghdad. During their ‘flight,’ their car was shot at by American soldiers. Gofran (9), the oldest sister of Wiam, explains: ‘Bullets shattered against the car. The windows crashed. My mother and father were dead immediately. My younger brother was hit several times in the head. His face was totally distorted.’ Gofran’s sisters Saja (11) and Armal (5) also died during the shooting.
“Gofran continues: ‘I yelled for my mother, for my father — but I did not get an answer. I wept, then it was noticed that I was injured.’ The little girl sustained injuries at her right eye and her knee.
“The tragedy of Fallujah has destroyed a family. Gofran is now all alone with her sisters Doha (10), Khitam (5) and Wiam (4).
“The suffering of the children is the other, bitter side of the war. When U.S. President George W. Bush declared that major combat had ended, as of May 1, 2003… , hope erupted. Hope that finally peace would enter a country that had been demoralized by ex-dictator Saddam Hussein. But, one year later, neither fear nor brutality have disappeared.
“Occurrences, such as the one involving Wiam, happen nearly on a daily basis. Families are being destroyed, childhood and youth are being taken away from the children.
“Such as in the case of Hagar: The 14-year old girl from Baghdad lies in the hospital with extremely severe burns. Almost all of her face, her arms and her legs are burned. Natives wanted to attack American soldiers with shells. They missed and hit instead a farmer’s market.
“The bitter summary of the Iraq-war is this: Almost 700 soldiers of the allies and more than 10,000 civilians have been killed. Many families have lost their loved ones. Children weep for their parents, brothers and sisters. They grow up without any goal in life. Any hope that suffering, pain and fear would disappear, does still not exist one year after the official end of the Iraq war…”
ISRAEL “A GREAT POISON”?
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s top envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, called Israel “the great poison” in the Middle East, when he criticized Israel’s policy and U.S. support of it, according to Associated Press of April 24, 2004. He said that the establishment of an interim government in Iraq is being made more difficult by Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, claiming that the problems are linked. Brahimi’s daughter, Rym Brahimi, is engaged to Jordanian King Abdullah II’s half brother, Prince Ali. She announced that she will resign her job as CNN correspondent.
TONY BLAIR IN TROUBLE?
As Reuters reported on April 26, “a roll-call of former British diplomats blasted Tony Blair on Monday and said it was time for the prime minister to start influencing America’s ‘doomed’ policy in the Middle East or stop backing it.” The article continued: “In an unprecedented letter signed by 52 former ambassadors, high commissioners and governors — the top ranks of British diplomacy — Blair was urged to sway U.S. policy in the region as ‘matter of the highest urgency’… The protest letter comes as Blair faces DEEP DISCONTENT among voters for backing a U.S.-led war that MOST BRITONS HAD OPPOSED and for endorsing a Washington-driven policy that has put LONDON ON A COLLISION COURSE WITH ALLIES IN EUROPE.”
In a related article, AFP reported on April 24, 2004, that “Blair is facing a huge challenge in persuading Britons to back the proposed European Union constitution in a referendum, polls suggested…. Just 25 percent of voters said they believed Britain should sign up to the constitution. Meanwhile, 55 percent were against the move, and 19 percent were undecided.”
On April 25, 2004, AFP reported that “German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said the European Union must find a way of ensuring a first-ever constitution can go into force EVEN IF COUNTRIES LIKE BRITAIN REJECT IT IN NATIONAL REFERENDUMS.”
ATTACK ON U.S. POLICIES BY GERMAN CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT
Germany’s candidate for President, Horst Koehler, has publicly condemned the United States because of its Iraq policy, according to Der Spiegel Online, dated April 24, 2004. He claimed that the U.S. has committed “serious mistakes,” has acted in an “arrogant” way, and has had no plan for Iraq after the war. He charged that the United States have become proud because of their power.
Koehler is the candidate for President of the German opposition parties, the CDU and the FDP.
ABORTION — AN ONGOING CURSE!
The true facts regarding aborted babies are gruesome and painful. In an article, dated April 24, reporting about the U.S. government’s defense of its partial-birth abortion ban against the industry’s lawsuit, Worldmag.com stated:
“Dr. Anand took the stand in the morning and testified for hours that unborn children can feel pain even more vividly than adults or even infants. He said that by 20 weeks fetuses have developed all the nerve and brain functions to feel pain, but none of the coping mechanisms that help infants and adults to deal with the sensation. According to Dr. Anand’s research, handling the fetus in the womb, delivering the child up to its head, slicing open its skull and sucking out the brains would all produce ‘prolonged and excruciating pain to the fetus.’ The evidence of fetal pain is not new. Dr. Anand studied expressions of pain in unborn and neonatal children as early as the 1980s…” The article explained that “the courtroom remains virtually journalist free,” due to “the gruesome nature of what goes on inside those clinics.”
In its Commentary, World Net Daily wrote on April 24, 2004 about several disturbing facts, related to abortion, including a “suspected link between abortion and breast cancer… [and a] new Internet abortion business in which the pro-choice crowd is teaching underage girls how to use powerful and dangerous drugs to induce abortions on themselves. In the past, these drugs have proven to be potentially fatal, even with medical supervisions. Now, the abortion industry is showing 13-year-olds how to get them without a prescription.”
In his strongly worded Commentary, Mark Crutcher stated in his conclusion: “The list goes on and on, but the point is that one would have to be either horribly stupid or hopelessly naive to believe that America’s abortion profiteers care about the welfare of their customers.”
To be perfectly clear, abortion — any kind of abortion — is a sin in God’s eyes. There are spiritual reasons for this, which are fully explained in our free booklet, “Are You Already Born Again?”
THE NEW EUROPE
Der Spiegel Online published this week a series of articles on the “new Europe.” Its cover portrays a woman riding a beast. The woman gathers ten stars, holding one in her hand. The magazine is attempting to portray the mythological story of Europe or Europa, daughter of a Phoenician king, who was kidnapped by the Greek god Zeus, appearing to her in the form of a bull. Zeus carried her, in his bull-like form, to the island of Crete. The entire continent received its name from Europe, who was later worshipped in Crete. The ten stars are supposed to portray the ten new nations joining Europe on May 1, 2004.
The parallels with the prophecy written down in Revelation 17, describing modern and future Europe, are quite remarkable. There, we are told that John saw, in vision, a woman riding a beast. She had in her hand a golden cup. Ten kings gave their power to the beast on which the woman sat. The Bible says that when this happens, Europe will rule for only a very short time — apparently for three and a half years. (Our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Europe and the Bull,” goes into this issue in more detail.)
The Bible predicts that Europe will become an extremely influential power bloc, in competition with and finally hostile toward the United States, and that it will ultimately be ruled by ten core nations or groups of nations, which, in turn, will give their power to a charismatic leader. In light of these predictions, the following excerpts from several articles should be interesting:
independent.co.uk explained on April 19, 2004:
“According to the [European] draft constitution, the presidency of Europe would no longer be rotated among the member states. Instead, the president would be elected by the heads of states of member countries for a term of two and a half years. Supporters feel this would create a central, agenda-setting figure, but smaller countries complain that presidency would be dominated by Europe’s major powers… The eventual aim is to have a common foreign policy… The draft also incorporates a Charter of Fundamental Rights for EU citizens, covering everything from the right to life to the right to strike.”
The Washington Times stated on April 20, 2004:
“The European Union is about to foist a draft constitution on all its New European members and Great Britain that will virtually ensure that, from now on, the French and Germans will be able, among other things, to enforce a single foreign and defense policy. Inevitably, the party line will more closely resemble THEIR ANTI-AMERICAN PREDILECTIONS than the trans-Atlantic reflexes of our traditional and new-found friends there… If the EU Constitution becomes binding on all member nations — including those of New Europe…, we are unlikely ever again to see the sort of independent, let alone reliable, support for America that has been among the finest moments in Great Britain’s storied history… The negative implications for the United States are not hard to discern… Georgetown Law Professor John Echeverria told the Times, ‘This [second-guessing American decisions by international tribunals] is the biggest threat to United States judicial independence that no one has heard of and even fewer people understand.’…
“After all, even without a constitution, the European Union has been hurting U.S. interests… BAD AS THINGS MAY BE AT THE MOMENT, THOUGH, THE VITAL INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES WILL BE EVEN WORSE SERVED BY A CONSTITUTION THAT AUTHORIZES THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE TO SEE TO IT THAT NEW EUROPE, GREAT BRITAIN AND ALL OTHER MEMBER STATES WILL ‘ACTIVELY AND UNRESERVEDLY SUPPORT THE UNION’S COMMON FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY IN A SPIRIT OF LOYALTY AND MUTUAL SOLIDARITY… [AND] ENSURE THAT THEIR NATIONAL POLICIES CONFORM TO THE POSITIONS OF THE UNION.”
As Focus Online pointed out in a series of articles, the new member states joining the European Union on May 1, 2004, will NOT immediately become full fledged members of the EU — a distinction between “new” and “old” Europe still remains. For instance, the new member states will, for the time being, keep their national currencies. They are supposed to introduce the Euro in the future, but they can only do so if they fulfill first certain economic requirements. European travelers traveling into the new member states will still have to go through passport controls. Customs will still apply for certain goods and services. Citizens of the new member states will still have to obtain work permits if they want to work in “old” Europe.
As the oracles are given to the Jews, why don't we follow their example of keeping Passover on the same day that they do, rather than keeping it one day earlier?
We need to properly understand what exactly was given to the Jews — what is meant with the word “oracles.” In Romans 3:2, we are told that the “oracles of God” were committed to the “circumcision.” At the same time, we are told that “their unbelief” did not make “the faithfulness of God” without effect (verse 3). The Greek word for “oracles” is “logion.” It is also used in Acts 7:38; Hebrews 5:12; and 1 Peter 4:11. In all these passages, the oracles or “sayings” must originate from God. If something is being said or written which is contrary to God’s Word, it does not constitute any longer the “oracles of God.”
The “Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,” by W. E. Vine, points out: “”Logion, a diminutive of logos, a word, narrative, statement, denotes a Divine response or utterance, an oracle; it is used of (a) the contents of the Mosaic Law, Acts 7:38; (b) all the written utterances of God through the O.T. writers, Rom. 3:2; (c) the substance of Christian doctrine, Heb. 5:12; (d) the utterance of God through Christian teachers, 1 Pet. 4:11.”
When referring to the oracles that God committed to the Jews or the “circumcision,” the Nelson Study Bible states: “The oracles of God refer to the entire Old Testament, the laws and the covenants that had been given by God Himself to the nation of Israel. This phrase [in Romans 3:2] reaffirms the belief of the apostles of the inspiration of the Old Testament. The Bible is God’s Word for us.”
The Broadman Bible Commentary agrees and adds: “The oracles of God are the Old Testament in general, not just the promises alone as some commentaries suggest. The Septuagint uses this term for ‘the words of God’ in the law (Num. 24:4,16) or in the Psalms (107:11), and this seems to be the meaning in the New Testament… Possession of the Scriptures would be of no advantage if they were never heard, but Paul assumes they are heard every Sabbath.”
As our booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days,” points out on pages 2-3, “These ‘oracles of God’ included the Old Testament Scriptures, as well as the knowledge of the week and of the Sacred Calendar. The Jews preserved the knowledge of which day the seventh day of the week is…”
The preservation of the Old Testament by the Jews (as well as the knowledge of the Sabbath and the Hebrew Calendar) is not the same, however, as Jewish practice.
The Jewish scribes were meticulous in writing down and making copies of these Words of Truth given to them, thus passing these Words on down so that we have them today. We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that “…all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.”
It was an advantage to the Jews in that God gave them His Words, along with the responsibility of preservation of His Words, which they were meticulous in preserving.
Having the written Word of God, however, placed another grave responsibility on their shoulders. They were to observe these Words and to keep them. They were to walk in them! God would have given Judah and all of Israel the help they needed to be faithful in these things, but they would not. They considered the fact that God was there for them was all that was needed. Yet He continually told them they were to walk in His Ways.
Only a few did. Examples are Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel and David, as well as the Old Testament prophets, and of course, most of the apostles Christ worked with. So we see, since God had called them to His Way and gave them His Truth, they had this responsibility to follow in these Ways.
The Kings of Israel had the responsibility to personally write out the Sacred Words with the command that they were to walk in them so they would learn to fear God always. Israel as a whole never learned!
We see Christ’s words to His disciples concerning the teachers of Israel and Jewish leaders in His Day. Notice in Matthew 23:2: “The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.” Verse 3 continues: “Therefore, whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not according to their works; for they say, and do not do.”
Christ said that the people needed to do what the religious leaders told them to do, as long as it was taken from God’s Word — it had to be in harmony with God’s Word. Christ was not saying that the people had to do everything the leaders said, because He explained on other occasions that the leaders did away with God’s Word, so that they could uphold their own traditions. Later, Peter and the other apostles refused to obey the religious leadership when they told them that they could not preach the gospel (Acts 5:29, 40-42). But even when the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the scribes spoke God’s Word, they would many times not do what they themselves taught. We are told in the Word of God, which was passed down through the Jews, what to do. Yet, we must not do as they do — for they say, and do not do!
Christianity is not the same as Judaism. The Jews do today many things that are not in conformity with Scripture. In fact, even at the time of Christ, the Jews were DIVIDED amongst themselves as to how to apply Scripture. While the Pharisees accepted both the written and the “oral” law — a collection of Jewish traditions — the Sadducees only accepted the written law, but they did not understand that correctly, either, as Christ had to point out to them on several occasions (compare James Hastings, “Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics,” under “Sadducees”). Many have taught for doctrine (which should be God’s doctrine) the doctrine of men. Matthew 15:9 records the statement of Jesus in this regard: “…’And in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.’ ” Jesus also instructed His own disciples about the problems inherent within Judaism at that time. Note this quote in Matthew 16:12: “Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Paul also warned of the possible wrong influences from Judaism in Titus 1:14: “…not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.”
The key for Christians is found in what Jesus said and did: ” ‘My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him'” (John 7:16-18).
We keep the Passover on the day that we do, as we follow Christ’s example Who made it very clear when to keep it. We explained in previous Updates (such as the Q&A in Update #137) that Jesus and the apostles kept the Passover on the evening when Christ was betrayed (which would be Abib 14). This was one day earlier than the Jews keep it today. The Jews actually keep the first day of unleavened bread (on Abib 15), also called the “night to be much observed,” AS the Passover, confusing the two occasions, by treating them as one and the same, and failing to see the distinctions.
In addition, the Bible commands us to keep the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days, followed by the eight or last great day. Most Jews today only keep the entire Feast of Tabernacles for four days.
We must take and accept our direction from God’s Holy Word, the Bible — not from human traditions. If there is a conflict between the two, we must follow God.
Three new StandingWatch programs were posted on our Website. Their titles are:
“Europe and the Bull”
“Changing the Bible?”
“Is the U.S. Draft Coming?”
How This Work is Financed
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