The Feast and Beyond
by Rene Messier (Canada)
Most of us have returned from what can only be described as one of the most successful and inspiring Feasts of Tabernacles. Ironically, we now have a long period ahead of us, before we have the opportunity to celebrate another festival in the Spring of 2008–which is about six months away. I don’t think for a moment, of course, that God made a mistake in allowing for such a long period of time between the Fall and the Spring Festivals. The Feast of Tabernacles is seven days long, followed by the Last Great Day–and so, we have had eight days of sermonettes, split sermons, sermons, fellowship and activities shared by all–and our memory and digestion of these events should last us until the Spring.
Now, consider this: The Feast of Tabernacles is kept for SEVEN days; the Fall Holy Days complete the SEVEN annual Holy Days; SEVEN is the number of completion; and–to stay within that picture–the Feast of Tabernacles is immediately followed by another day, going even “beyond” completion! We must therefore conclude from all these facts that God knows that the spiritual food which we received during the eight days of the last two Fall festivals, and the spiritual food which we will be receiving on a weekly basis during the SEVENTH-Day-Sabbath–is more than sufficient to last us until the annual Spring Holy Days; otherwise, God would have created additional festivals in the middle of that time frame.
We all should be able to appreciate the wonderful opportunities and privilege we have had to come before our God to learn to fear Him, as outlined in Deuteronomy 14:23. This fear is not one of dread and trepidation, but rather one of awe, respect and appreciation for our Great God. God has given us these annual Festivals both to rejoice and to learn to love, respect and obey Him. We have been given sufficient spiritual food to carry us forward to the Spring–and we should take advantage of every opportunity we are given to add to that spiritual food by drinking in the messages prepared for us on the weekly Sabbath. With that frame of mind, we can with anticipation look forward to the Spring when we shall once again begin the cycle of celebrating God’s annual Holy Days–reflecting on the process of the initial aspects of God’s master plan for mankind.
As we discuss in our new member letter in much more detail, we should not get the blues, become depressed, or let down during the following months, but rather use them as opportunities to meditate on and review the messages God has inspired the speakers to bring forth for us, and participate to the best of our ability to accomplish our individual and collective responsibilities as Christians and as members of the Church.
This Week in the News
Gore’s Film and the Nobel Peace Prize
Der Spiegel Online wrote on October 13:
“The German government has come out in defense of former US Vice President Al Gore, who was named the 2007 Nobel Prize winner for his work on climate change education on Friday… German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel defended the use of the Oscar-winning climate change film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ in classrooms.
“Gabriel praised Gore’s film for presenting the dangers of climate change in an accessible way. Earlier this year, the Environment Ministry distributed 6,000 copies of the DVD of the documentary film to German schools.
“Last week, a British high court ruled that Gore’s film could only be screened in classrooms with a warning message that the documentary contains nine factual errors. Scientists have criticized a chart in the film that shows the correllation[sic] between carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and global temperatures over the past 650,000 years. Gore’s conclusion that a higher concentration of CO2 will also trigger a rise in temperatures is incorrect, his critics maintain. At the end of the last ice ages, for example, temperature rises were not caused by increases in CO2 levels. In the film, Gore said the chart demonstrated an ‘exact fit’ showing that rising CO2 leads to rising temperatures. The judge said that while there may be general scientific agreement that there is a connection, ‘the two graphs do not establish what Mr. Gore asserts.’
“Nevertheless, the German government said it sees no reason to include any warning message when screening the documentary in classrooms. ‘A couple of errors in detail are no reason to disparage an entire film,’ an Environment Ministry source said. ‘We assume that teachers will encourage their students to view (the film) with a critical eye.'”
Der Stern Online stated in a commentary, dated October 12, that the decision to give the Nobel Prize to Gore was associated with criticism of President Bush’s policy on climate change and global warming, even though, according to AFP of October 13, “Nobel committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes said the prize was not a slap at the Bush administration’s current policies. Instead, he said it was about encouraging all countries ‘to think again and to say what can they do to conquer global warming.'”
Der Stern Online disagrees, commenting that the prize to Gore was a challenge to action for the Bush Administration, while being careful not to appear anti-American.
AFP also reported that “Some in the shrinking community of global warming skeptics and those downplaying the issue, were dubious… ‘I think it cheapens the Nobel Prize,’ said William O’Keefe, chief executive officer of the conservative science-oriented think tank, the Marshall Institute. O’Keefe, a former oil industry executive and current consultant to fossil fuel firms, called Gore’s work ‘rife with errors.'”
Further Reactions to Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize — Pro and Con
On October 13, USA Today published the following reactions to the decision to give Al Gore the Nobel Peace Prize:
“Power Line (conservative): ‘When did the Nobel Peace Prize go off the tracks? Today’s award to Al Gore and the IPCC … fits in with a subset of cosmopolitan frauds, fakers, murderers, thieves, and no-accounts going back about twenty years.’
“The Left Coaster (liberal): ‘Capping a year of prizes, this prize is a true statement of Al’s impact on the world stage. … Congratulations, Al! And, please, please, please, run!’…
“The Democrats who are actively running for president have begun to offer Gore their congratulations, and to use the news to make some other points as well.
“Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign website: ‘His dedication and tireless work have been instrumental in raising international awareness about global warming.’
“Sen. Christopher Dodd, in a statement released by his campaign: ‘Al’s tireless efforts to increase awareness of the threats of global warming have provided a powerful voice telling the world that we need to act now. I share Al’s conviction that it will take bold leadership to turn back the clock on global warming.’
“John Edwards, in a statement posted at his campaign website: ‘The Nobel Peace Prize rewards three decades of vice president Gore’s prescient and compelling — and often lonely — advocacy for the future of the Earth. His leadership stands in stunning contrast to the failure of the current administration to pursue policies that would reduce the harm of global warming.’
“Sen. Barack Obama, in a statement issued by his campaign: ‘By having the courage to challenge the skeptics in Washington and lead on the climate crisis facing our planet, Al Gore has advanced the cause of peace and richly deserves this reward.’
“Gov. Bill Richardson, in a statement released by his campaign: ‘Vice President Gore’s efforts on global warming are awe-inspiring. However, solving this problem will take more than the heroic efforts of one man. It will require sacrifice from every American. It will require the resolve of the world. It also will require bold Presidential leadership. I am ready to provide it.’…
“Former president Carter said this morning that he hopes the Nobel prize does spur Gore to get into the 2008 presidential race…
“Bush and McCain react. The Associated Press writes that:
“White House spokesman Tony Fratto said of President Bush that, ‘of course he’s happy for vice president Gore. … He’s happy for the International Panel on Climate Change scientists who also shared the peace prize. Obviously it’s an important recognition. And we’re sure the vice president’s thrilled.’
“Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain said of Gore’s honor that ‘it’s well deserved. … I hope that the new Nobel Peace Prize winner will engage in serious activities with me and others’ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through use of nuclear power and carbon credits for industry.”
The Sydney Morning Herald wrote on October 14:
“One of the world’s foremost meteorologists has called the theory that helped Al Gore share the Nobel Peace Prize ‘ridiculous’ and the product of ‘people who don’t understand how the atmosphere works’. Dr William Gray, a pioneer in the science of seasonal hurricane forecasts, told a packed lecture hall at the University of North Carolina that humans were not responsible for the warming of the earth. His comments came on the same day that the Nobel committee honoured Mr Gore for his work in support of the link between humans and global warming.
“‘We’re brainwashing our children,’ said Dr Gray, 78, a long-time professor at Colorado State University. ‘They’re going to the Gore movie [An Inconvenient Truth] and being fed all this. It’s ridiculous.’… Dr Gray, whose annual forecasts of the number of tropical storms and hurricanes are widely publicised, said a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures – related to the amount of salt in ocean water – was responsible for the global warming that he acknowledges has taken place. However, he said, that same cycle meant a period of cooling would begin soon and last for several years… Dr Gray also said those who had linked global warming to the increased number of hurricanes in recent years were in error. He cited statistics showing there were 101 hurricanes from 1900 to 1949, in a period of cooler global temperatures, compared to 83 from 1957 to 2006 when the earth warmed.”
Turkey and German Press “Respond” to US Genocide Resolution
AFP reported on October 11:
“Turkey on Thursday recalled its ambassador to Washington, deepening a diplomatic row over a vote in the US Congress to label the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks an act of genocide… The Bush administration said it would lobby the full Democratic-led House against taking the measure further… France, Canada and the European parliament are among those that have labelled the Armenian killings as genocide. French military planes are no longer allowed to fly over Turkish airspace.”
Der Spiegel Online discussed the reaction of the German press and their dubious stance on the matter, as well as the role which politics plays in “world affairs,” in an article dated October 11:
“Commentators writing in Germany’s main newspapers Friday expressed concern at the deteriorating relations between the two allies [USA and Turkey].
“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘The (congressional committee’s) decision could cause great damage, on two levels: on the one hand to fundamental realpolitik interests, but also to efforts to deal with the past in Turkey itself. … The United States and the West need Turkey as a reliable ally. The country has the second-largest army in NATO and is an important anchor of stability in an increasingly hostile and unstable region. … However, it is the timing which is fatal…’
“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘The timing for an uproar over history and etiquette could not be more inauspicious. American representatives appear little interested…’
“The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘From the Turkish viewpoint, yesterday’s resolution looks like a provocation. The reputation of the United States has long been at a low point. You have to go back a long way to find a similarly bad atmosphere — perhaps to 1974, when Washington and Ankara fell out over Cyprus. Since the US invasion of Iraq, the Kurdish PKK has operated from northern Iraq against targets in Turkey without being hindered by the US Army or its allied Kurdish militias. This is a catastrophic political failure on both sides. The United States — whether out of ignorance or calculation — has allowed its Kurdish allies in northern Iraq to play the PKK card…'”
Turkey Gives “Blank Check” for a New Iraq War
Der Spiegel Online reported on October 18:
“The Turkish parliament granted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday the right to order a military strike in neighboring Iraq. It’s potentially a blank check for a new Iraq war — but for now, the war drums are a way to underline Turkey’s demands… For the first time since the invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the parliament has authorized a government to send troops into a neighboring country… Bush himself emphasized in public on Wednesday that sending troops to Iraq would not be in Turkey’s best interest. But the truth is that nothing could be worse for American interests than a new battle front in the only stabilized part of Iraq.”
EU Leaders Gather for Lisbon Summit
On October 18, 2007, Der Spiegel Online reported the following:
“EU leaders are meeting in Lisbon for a two-day informal summit in the hope of working out their differences on the Reform Treaty which is to replace the failed European Constitution. But Poland, once again, is threatening to cause problems if its demands are not met… Besides discussing the treaty, the meeting will be a chance for Europe to coordinate on climate change policy. In December, a new round of haggling over how best to solve the world’s pollution problems begins in Bali, and Europe wants to show a united face.”
AFP added on October 18:
“EU leaders deem the reform treaty essential because the bloc’s rules have not had a serious update since 10 mostly former communist countries joined in May 2004, followed by Bulgaria and Romania in January this year.
“Like the constitution, the treaty includes plans for a European foreign policy supremo and a more permanent president to replace the current cumbersome and expensive rotating presidency system whereby member states takes the helm for six months in turn. It also cuts down the number of EU decisions which would require a unanimous vote from member states.
“If the leaders back the new text in Lisbon, then they should formally sign it in December, leaving a year for all member states to ratify it individually so that it can come into effect, as planned, on January 1, 2009.”
Germany Will Stay in Afghanistan
The Associated Press reported on October 11:
“Germany’s lower house of parliament on Friday overwhelmingly approved extending the deployment of 3,000 troops and six reconnaissance jets in Afghanistan for another year, despite mounting public skepticism about the mission. The vote in the 613-seat Bundestag — 454-79 with 48 abstentions — was the final step needed to extend the mission.”
Der Spiegel Online added on October 12:
“In total, the cost of the extended deployment for the next year is estimated at €487 million ($690 million). National opinion polls show increasing numbers of Germans oppose the mission in Afghanistan, particularly after recent kidnappings of Germans in the country.”
China Angry With the USA and Germany
Reuters reported on October 16:
“China expressed fury on Tuesday that the United States is to honor the Dalai Lama with an award… The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since staging a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, is to receive the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday after being hosted at the White House by President George W. Bush.
“China, which views the Dalai Lama as a separatist and a traitor, pulled out of a meeting this week at which world powers were to discuss Iran in protest at the U.S. plan to honor him. China has also cancelled an annual human rights dialogue with Germany to show [its]displeasure over German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s September meeting with the Dalai Lama…
“Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said that if the decision to honor the Dalai Lama was not reversed it would have an ‘extremely serious impact’ on bilateral relations.”
The Dalai Lama received, as planned, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday, in a televised ceremony, with President Bush in attendance.
Germany Jumps Ahead–Action Plan for the Middle East
Reuters reported on October 15:
“Germany proposed on Monday what it called an ‘action plan’ for fostering Middle East peace with new steps to bolster the Palestinian economy, security forces and state institutions. Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier told counterparts meeting in Brussels there was no need to await the outcome of a U.S.-hosted conference on the Middle East next month and added he had already informed U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of the proposal…
“He said the measures could include EU help for… special economic zones in the Palestinian territories, and targeted assistance for small- and medium-sized companies. The EU calls itself the largest aid donor to the Middle East. Steinmeier put total financial and humanitarian aid from the EU and its member states to the region at 800 million euros ($1.14 billion) for 2007 so far.”
The End of the American and British Empires?
Le Monde wrote in its October 2007 edition:
“The ‘American Century’ only began 60 years ago. But it seems already to be over, with the disaster of Iraq forcing some of the United States’ ruling elites to realise that its hegemony has been severely weakened. But nobody seems to know what to do next, or even how to behave… The disastrous outcome of the invasion and occupation of Iraq has caused a crisis in the power elite of the United States deeper than that resulting from defeat in Vietnam 30 years ago… Transnational opinion surveys show a consistent and nearly global pattern of defiance of US foreign policy as well as a more fundamental erosion in the attractiveness of the US: the narrative of the American dream has been submerged by images of a military leviathan disregarding world opinion and breaking the rules…
“The invasion and occupation of Iraq is not the sole cause of the trends sketched. Rather, the war significantly accentuated all of them at a moment when larger centrifugal forces were already at work: the erosion and collapse of the Washington Consensus and the gradual rise of new gravitational centres, notably in Asia, were established trends when President George Bush went to war. Now, as the shift in the world economy towards Asia matures, the US is stuck in a conflict that is absorbing its total energies. History is moving on and the world is slipping, slowly but inexorably, out of US hands.
“For the US power elite this is deeply unsettling. Since the mid-20th century US leaders have thought of themselves as having a unique historic responsibility to lead and govern the globe. Sitting on top of the world since the 1940s, they have assumed that, like Great Britain in the 19th century, they were destined to act as hegemon – a dominant state having the will and the means to establish and maintain international order: peace and an open and expanding liberal world economy…
“As early as 1940 US economic and political elites forecast a vast revolution in the balance of power: the US would ‘become the heir and residuary legatee and receiver for the economic and political assets of the British Empire – the sceptre passes to the United States.’… Great Britain’s long exit from empire may shed some light on the present moment. At the end of the 19th century few British leaders could begin to imagine an end to empire. When Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in 1897, Britain possessed a formal transoceanic empire that encompassed a quarter of the world’s territory and 300 million subalterns and subjects – twice that if China, a near colony of 430 million people, was included. The City of London was the centre of an even more far-flung informal trading and financial empire that bound the world…
“The war that broke out in 1914 bankrupted and exhausted its European protagonists. The long end of the British era had started. However, the empire not only survived the immediate crisis but hobbled on for decades, through the second world war, until its inglorious end at Suez in 1956…
“For the US power elite, being on top of the world has been a habit for 60 years… The institutional realist critics of the Bush administration have no alternative conceptual framework for international relations, based on something other than force, the balance of power or strategic predominance.”
Will the United States go the way of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth–one from incredible power and influence to one of more or less obscurity and paralysis–never to revive from their demise? To learn more about this, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.” Also, please watch our new StandingWatch program, titled, “The Origins of America and Britain, Part 1.”
Iraq–No End In Sight!
The Associated Press wrote on October 13:
“The U.S. mission in Iraq is a ‘nightmare with no end in sight’ because of political misjudgments after the fall of Saddam Hussein that continue today, a former chief of U.S.-led forces said Friday.
“Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who commanded coalition troops for a year beginning June 2003, cast a wide net of blame for both political and military shortcomings in Iraq that helped open the way for the insurgency — such as disbanding the Saddam-era military and failing to cement ties with tribal leaders and quickly establish civilian government after Saddam was toppled.
“He called current strategies — including the deployment of 30,000 additional forces earlier this year — a ‘desperate attempt’ to make up for years of misguided policies in Iraq… Sanchez… did criticize the State Department, the National Security Council, Congress and the senior military leadership during what appeared to be a broad indictment of White House policies and a lack of leadership to oppose them… ‘There is nothing going on today in Washington that would give us hope’ that things are going to change, he said.”
Torture and Murder in Iraq
The New York Times published the following article on October 15, which was re-published by Der Spiegel Online:
“Ten days ago The Times unearthed yet another round of secret Department of Justice memos countenancing torture… By any legal standards except those rubber-stamped by Alberto Gonzales, we are practicing torture, and we have known we are doing so ever since photographic proof emerged from Abu Ghraib more than three years ago.
“… two women, both Armenian Christians, were gunned down in Baghdad by contractors underwritten by American taxpayers. On this matter, the White House has been silent. That incident followed the Sept. 16 massacre in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, where 17 Iraqis were killed by security forces from Blackwater USA, which had already been implicated in nearly 200 other shooting incidents since 2005. There has been no accountability…
“Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those ‘good Germans’ who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It’s up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war’s last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country’s good name.”
Billions of Dollars Pilfered in US Election Campaign?
CNN reported on October 15:
“A wide-open presidential race and a willingness by candidates, interest groups, unions and corporations to buy TV time will lead to historic spending for political and issue-advocacy advertising in the 2008 election cycle, an analysis shows. The cost to try to influence the 2008 election could exceed $3 billion… This is nearly twice as much than what was spent in 2004 when political and issue-advocacy television advertising rang in at $1.7 billion. In 2006, $2.3 billion was spent on political and issue-advocacy TV commercials.”
But will this waste of money do any good–or at least accomplish the goal of the candidates’ intentions? Hardly. The article continued:
“What television advertising challenges do candidates and interest groups face in the coming months? Chances are, just as what happened in 2006, voters will be numb after watching [hundreds] and hundreds of ads,’ said Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report. ‘The sheer number of ads probably dilutes their importance. After a while, the ads just become lots of chatter and an ad will have to be really good to cut through the noise.'”
Russia and Iran vs. the West
AFP wrote on October 16:
“Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday warned against military action against Iran and backed its right to nuclear energy, during the first visit to the country by a Kremlin chief since World War II…
“Along with the presidents of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, Putin declared the states ‘would not allow their territory to be used by a third country to commit military action against one of the parties.’
“The United States has never ruled out military action against Tehran but Iran’s northern neighbour Azerbaijan, a US ally, has repeatedly insisted it would not allow the US military to launch an attack from its soil. The declaration also supported Iran’s right to nuclear energy, which the United States claims Tehran only wants as cover for [an] atomic weapons drive…
“Putin’s comments highlighted the differences between Russia and the West, which is seeking more unilateral and UN sanctions to punish Tehran for its nuclear defiance.”
False Signs and Lying Wonders…
The Daily Mail wrote on October 15 about a strange story. Even though it appears to be laughable at first sight, it is rather indicative of an interesting and frightful development, considering the Biblical prophecies about increasing occurrences of false miracles and signs in the future. The article reported about a photograph, allegedly picturing an appearance of the late Pope John Paul II, waving in the flames of a bonfire from beyond the grave.
“The image, said by believers to show the [Pope] with his right hand raised in blessing, was spotted during a ceremony in Poland to mark the second anniversary of his death. Details appeared on the Vatican News Service, a TV station in Rome which specialises in religious news broadcasts. Service director Jarek Cielecki, a Polish priest and close friend of John Paul II, travelled to Poland after hearing an onlooker had photographed the image. [He] said he was convinced the picture showed the former pontiff. ‘You can see the image of a person in the flames and I think it is the servant of God, Pope John Paul II,’ he said.
“The pictures were being broadcast continuously on Italian TV and also posted on religious websites, some of which crashed as thousands logged on to see for themselves the eerie figure formed by the flames. The bonfire was lit during a service at Beskid Zywiecki, close to John Paul’s birthplace at Katowice, southern Poland, on April 2 – the second anniversary of his death.
“Hundreds had attended the ceremony. Gregorz Lukasik, the Polish man who took the photographs, said: ‘It was only afterwards when I got home and looked at the pictures that I realised I had something. I showed them to my brother and sister and they, like me, were convinced the flames had formed the image of Pope John Paul II. I was so happy with the picture that I showed it to our local bishop who said that Pope John Paul had made many pilgrimages during his life and he was still making them in death.'”
And More Perversion–Grey Squirrels for Pancakes
The Daily Mail reported on October 16 about another development in Britain, which makes us wonder how far human cruelty and perversity can go. The article stated:
“A top restaurant is serving up free grey squirrel pancakes to hungry diners. Peking duck-style squirrel wraps are being offered to diners at The Famous Wild Boar Hotel… Lord Redesdale’s Red Squirrel Protection Partnership specialises in trapping and despatching greys to protect the reds.
“The partnership has killed 4,521 greys since January, and Lord Redesdale said: ‘The problem is that when we catch and despatch greys, there is nothing we can do with them… Our reds are disappearing, and perhaps the more greys that are eaten, the better it is for the reds…’
“Carri Nicholson, manager of the Save Our Squirrels project based at Northumberland Wildlife Trust, said: ‘A number of places in Northumberland are thinking of having grey squirrel on the menu… The Americans have numerous recipes for grey squirrel, with the most popular being Brunswick Stew, which is casseroled squirrel.'”
Discrimination Against “Traditional” Marriages in California?
The Website of EQCA [Equity California] Legislative Center has posted the following press release, dated October 12, 2007:
“Six bills protecting and supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians were signed on Friday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor put his signature on six of eight bills sponsored by Equality California this year, including two youth measures that provide important protections for students…”
The Website continues to state that the purpose of the bill, especially SB 777, was to prevent harassment of homosexuals, lesbians and others with “alternate lifestyles.”
WorldNetDaily alleged in an article, dated October 13, that SB 777, which will become effective on January 1, 2008, will have the following effects:
“‘Mom and Dad’ as well as ‘husband and wife’ have been banned from California schools under a bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who with his signature also ordered public schools to allow boys to use girls restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa, if they choose…. The bills signed by Schwarzenegger include SB777, which bans anything in public schools that could be interpreted as negative toward homosexuality, bisexuality and other alternative lifestyle choices. There are no similar protections for students with traditional or conservative lifestyles and beliefs, however.”
In a recent Q&A (Update #311), you said that the Bible requires the testimony of two eye witnesses to convict a person, but this seems to be incorrect. The Scriptures talk about witnesses who are testifying before the judge–not persons witnessing a crime with their eyes. Therefore, it seems that two witnesses could testify to scientific evidence or circumstances to establish a connection with a crime, including DNA, fingerprints, blood stain or similar evidence. What do you think?
To clarify, our stance against serving on a jury is based on many Biblical passages and principles, not just on the requirement of two witnesses. For an in-depth discussion on this issue, please read our Q&A in Update #289.
Regarding the requirement of two witnesses, we discussed this in several previous Q&A’s (compare Update #311 and #66). We pointed out that the Bible requires the “testimony” of at least two witnesses to establish the guilt of a person. The context makes it abundantly clear that these witnesses have to be “EYE witnesses” of the crime–circumstantial or “hearsay” evidence is simply not admissible or sufficient, according to the Bible, to convict a person.
Deuteronomy 17:6-7 reads that “whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” The Authorized Version says, “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death.” It is established, then, that witnesses had to speak or testify. In order to give relevant testimony, they had to testify about the alleged crime of the accused. As we will show, they had to be “EYE” or “EAR” witnesses–who had observed the crime–and who were asked to testify about what they themselves saw and heard, with sincerity, certainty and total honesty. It will also become clear that the term “witness” cannot be applied to someone not present at the scene of the crime. A “scientific expert” who testifies about “DNA evidence” simply does not fit the BIBLICAL definition of “witness.”
The Nelson Study Bible states: “The guilty was condemned to death only after guilt was established by two or three witnesses (compare Matt. 18:16; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28).” In all the Scriptural examples quoted by the commentary, the reference is to EYE witnesses–not to persons who give “hearsay evidence” or testify about some “scientific CIRCUMSTANTIAL evidence.”
The New Bible Commentary: Revised adds that the witnesses had to be of “unquestioned veracity and unanimous opinion… and the severe penalty was to be imposed only on the basis of irrefutable evidence.” In fact, when more than two witnesses were available, they all had to come forward and testify, and all of their testimony had to be unanimous. If it was not, the accused could not be condemned. (This shows that “testimony” of “scientific experts” would not be admissible or conclusive, in any event, as the “experts” of the prosecution and the defense seldom, if ever, agree on anything.)
Notice the following comments by Soncino:
“Although his crime was brought to the notice of the judges both in secret and in public…, no sentence of death can be passed unless there are two witnesses to testify… Everyone who WITNESSES THE CRIME, even if the number be more than the two witnesses required, has to appear before the court to be questioned.”
The testimony or witness of one person was not sufficient. Neither was mere hearsay. Leviticus 5:1 does not allow for testimony of second-hand knowledge as being sufficient to convict a person. The passage reads: “If a person sins on hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter–if he does not tell it, he bears guilt.”
First, note, that a witness is someone who has HEARD the utterance of the oath–that is, he was PRESENT when it occurred. This is further confirmed by the fact that he has “SEEN” it. The additional expression, “or known of the matter,” is a misleading English rendering. The words, “of the matter” were added and are not found in the Original. The Hebrew word for “known” is used in a variety of senses, but it describes foremost the act of “ascertaining by SEEING” (see Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, No. 3045). It does not describe obtaining second-hand knowledge in some way from someone else.
It is also important to realize that the person addressed in Leviticus 5:1 is charged not to HIDE relevant facts, but to testify to them. However, his testimony alone would not be sufficient, as noted, to convict a person–at least one more witness had to corroborate his testimony. On the other hand, Proverbs 25:8 cautions us not to go to court too hastily, which includes the warning that we must be sure of our testimony, as the Bible provides harsh penalties for an untruthful witness.
The Bible does refer, in describing legal procedures, to documentary or other “scientific” evidence, but we must note the context. For instance, in Jeremiah 32:10, the prophet is signing a deed in the presence of witnesses–again showing that witnesses are those who are PRESENT so that they are able to testify later to the event. This procedure will again be followed in the Millennium, so that the veracity of a legal deed is established without doubt (compare Jeremiah 32:44).
In addition, “scientific evidence” was permitted to exculpate an accused–clearing him of wrongdoing–but never to convict him.
Exodus 22:10-13 provides: “If a man delivers to his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep, and it dies, is hurt, or driven away, NO ONE SEEING IT, then an oath of the LORD shall be between them both, that he has not put his hand into his neighbor’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept that, and he shall not make it good… If it is torn to pieces by a beast, then HE SHALL BRING IT AS EVIDENCE, and he shall not make good what was torn.”
Let us also note Deuteronomy 22:13-15. In that case, a newly-married woman is accused by her husband of having committed fornication prior to her marriage. She can establish her innocence by producing “the evidence of [her] virginity” (verse 15) by spreading the “cloth [with the evidence of the woman’s virginity] before the elders of the city” (verse 17). If, however, no such evidence can be produced, because the allegation is true, then the woman will be convicted (verses 20-21), “IF it had been proved by the evidence of two witnesses” (Soncino).
A similar situation is described in Numbers 5:12 ff. In that case, no witnesses are found to testify about the adultery of a wife, but the husband becomes suspicious. God designed a special supernatural procedure to establish innocence or guilt of the accused (compare Update #311).
In conclusion, the Biblical requirement of at least two witnesses for a conviction speaks clearly of EYE witnesses who are able to testify what they themselves have WITNESSED. To stretch this clear requirement and allow for “testimony” of “scientific experts” about what a particular piece of “scientific evidence” might or might not establish, goes far beyond the strict Biblical injunctions.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
by Kalon Mitchell
We have all recently returned back to our homes from the Feast of Tabernacles. After arriving at home from God’s Feasts, I always feel sad about leaving a beautiful site and miss the daily interaction with brethren and people of like minds.
While the world will celebrate its new year on January 1, 2008, we have already recognized God’s new year six months ago. It is the custom of this world to make “New Years” resolutions and then, within a few months, to forget all about them and go back to what they were doing the year before.
So, using this analogy, I need to personally think about what I have learned at the Feast. I need to remind myself that I must not forget what I have learned, but rather, I need to take action. I should not become one of those people who make “year-end” resolutions and then let them slip a little further down the line.
I have to constantly remind myself that this way of life takes commitment and a plan. And while no person is perfect–if I have a plan and fall down, I can get up and try again and continue and still have a plan! I know that God has a Plan! I know that I am in His Plan. That is why I am called now. And if I can make God central to my plans and actions, I will never fail in my calling! As one author once wrote: “The test of man lies in action.”
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new member letter by the ministry was sent out this week. It is posted on our Website. In the letter, the ministry reflects on the celebration of the Feast and our responsibilities and challenges that lie ahead.
A new StandingWatch program has been posted on our Website and on Google Video. It is titled, “The Origins of America and Britain, Part 1.” In the first installment of several programs, Norbert Link asks the following questions: Are the USA and Great Britain mentioned in the Bible? How could they not be? But where can we find them described? And what is prophesied for the future of these great powers?
A new video-recorded sermon by Norbert Link (dated September 22, 2007) has been posted on Google Video, titled, “The Meaning of the Atonement Rituals.” The audio version is posted on our Website.
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.
While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
Donations should be sent to the following addresses:
United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198
Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0
United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom