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To the Ephesians, Part 4
On June 26, 2010, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “To the Ephesians, Part 4.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
by Rene Messier (Canada)
Several years ago I asked a friend how things were going and if he had gotten a job, since I knew that he had been searching for one. In the course of our conversation he informed me that he had landed a job with a certain company. I was surprised and asked him how he had managed to get a job there, since it was very difficult to get in.
He relayed to me that he showed up there on Monday morning at 8:00 am and asked to talk to the Personnel Manager. After an introduction and laying out his qualifications and desire to work for the company, he was told by the Manager that there were no openings at that time. On Tuesday morning, at 8:00 am, he showed up again and asked to see the Personnel Manager who was quick to ask him why he had returned. My friend told him that he wanted to get a job there. The Manager responded that he had already explained to him the previous day that there were no openings at that time.
On Wednesday, my friend showed up again at 8:00 am and asked to see the Personnel Manager. The Manager told him once more that they had no openings. On Thursday, at 8:00 am, my friend showed up again. The Manager took one look at him and said: “Just report for work tomorrow at 8:00 am.”
“So that’s how I got the job there,” my friend told me. “I guess, my persistence paid off.”
Indeed it had. Persistence can be described as an ongoing effort and action in spite of opposition, obstacles, set-backs, rejection or discouragement.
The concept of persistence can be found in the Bible. For instance, Christ gave the following parable of the widow and the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8:
“And He also spoke a parable to them to teach it is always right to pray, and not to faint, saying, A certain judge was in a certain city, not fearing God, nor respecting man. And a widow was in that city. And she came to Him, saying, Avenge me of my adversary. And he would not do so for a time. But afterward he said within himself, Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, that she not wear me down in the end. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge says. And shall not God avenge His own elect who cry day and night to Him, though He has been long-suffering over them? I say to you that He will avenge them speedily. Yet when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?”
The admonition is clear. We are not to throw in the towel if we are rejected the first time. We need to keep seeking, asking and knocking.
Perhaps God is really testing our persistence when we ask for something and do not receive an immediate response. What should we do? We should keep asking until we obtain what we have requested or until it is clearly revealed to us, for instance through obvious circumstances, that God’s answer in a particular situation is “No.”
Paul asked God to be healed. He might have suffered from an eye problem or even from malaria, as some commentators suggest. Did he quit after his first request was not answered in the way Paul had expected? No. He asked three times–apparently being anointed three times–until God’s answer was, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Paul clearly realized, after his third request, that God would not heal him in this life, and Paul accepted and even gladly submitted to God’s Will.
Sometimes we are asked to pray for an individual who is suffering from a sickness or who has a different serious problem. Do we quit praying after a few days, or do we continue until the person is healed or his problem is solved, or particular circumstances clearly reveal that God’s Will is different than what we were praying for?
Christ gives this promise to the Philadelphia church: “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
Paul encourages us in Ephesians 6:18-19 to pray “always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel…”
God commands us to be persistent and to persevere–just like the unjust judge who granted the widow her request and the Personnel Manager who gave my friend his job. They obtained what they desired because they would not give up.
How persistent are you?
We begin reporting on the ongoing innumerous and ever-increasing difficulties and problems which the Obama administration is facing. The quoted articles warn that the very fabric of our society is being undermined and a real fear is lurking that our democratic principles and institutions are being abandoned.
While the Arabs are deeply divided and even sporting events such as the current World Cup in South Africa do not change this, but rather intensify the hostilities, they are united in their hatred against Israel. At the same time, the relationship between Israel and Europe, especially Germany, is deteriorating, and even Israel’s announcement, bowing to international and US pressure, that they will ease the Gaza blockade, may not change Israel’s isolation. The concept, propagated by some based on their misunderstanding of Scripture, claiming that Germany would enter into a seven-year treaty with Israel, which would be broken after 3 1/2 years, must be rejected as unsupportable in the Bible.
An interesting proposal of a “two-tier” euro system is currently being discussed, which could have much more merit than the unrealistic suggestions that the euro would be abandoned. The new proposal envisions the creation of a “‘super-euro’ zone, which would initially include France, Germany, Holland, Austria, Denmark and Finland. The likes of Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and even Ireland would be left in a larger rump mostly Mediterranean grouping.” Of course, we can safely say, based on the Bible and history, that if such a “two-tier” euro system was to be adopted, countries like Italy and Spain would become part of the “euro-super” zone.
In addition, the relationship between the USA and Europe is constantly deteriorating.
For more information as to what is in store for Europe, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.” You might also want to read our free comprehensive commentary on the book of Revelation, titled, “Is That in the Bible?–The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”
We also report about the future of Poland. Last Sunday’s election was “closer than expected,” and the “July 4 runoff between the two [candidates] looks likely to be a neck-and-neck race.” German commentaries point out that nothing less than Poland’s political and economic survival is at stake.
We conclude with two articles describing the ongoing battle of the Catholic Church, questioning the willingness of the Pope and the clergy to really do anything productive about the sex scandal or regarding “aberrant” priests.
This Week in the News
Obama’s Declarations of War
The Washington Examiner wrote on June 22:
“The Obama administration has a lot of fights on its hands. Putting aside real wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there’s the battle against leaking oil in the Gulf, the struggle against 9.7 percent unemployment across the country, and clashes over the president’s agenda on Capitol Hill. Despite all that, the White House has found time to issue a new declaration of war, this time against an unlikely enemy: the state of Arizona.
“The Justice Department is preparing to sue Arizona over its new immigration law. The president has stiffed Gov. Jan Brewer’s call for meaningful assistance in efforts to secure the border. And the White House has accused Arizona’s junior senator, Republican Jon Kyl, of lying about an Oval Office discussion with the president over comprehensive immigration reform. Put them all together, and you have an ugly state of affairs that’s getting uglier by the day.
“First, the lawsuit. Last week, Brewer was appalled to learn the Justice Department’s intentions not from the Justice Department but from an interview done by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with an Ecuadorian TV outlet…
“Then there is the matter of the White House’s assistance, or nonassistance, in Arizona’s border-security efforts. On June 3… Brewer told reporters Obama pledged that administration officials would come to Arizona within two weeks with details of plans to secure the border. June 17 marked two weeks, and there were no administration officials and no plans. There still aren’t…
“And now, there’s the Kyl controversy. On June 18, Kyl told a town meeting in North Phoenix that Obama personally told him the administration will not secure the U.S.-Mexico border because doing so would make it politically difficult to pass comprehensive immigration reform… After Kyl’s statement went viral on the Internet, the White House issued a sharp denial… Kyl is not backing down. ‘What I said occurred, did occur,’ he told an Arizona radio station…
“Even if it didn’t have so many other fights on its hands, it would be unusual for an administration to align itself against an American state. But that’s precisely what has happened. Soon it will be up to the courts and voters to decide whether Obama’s campaign against Arizona will succeed or fail.”
On June 23, Reuters added the following to the list of problems:
“Sales of new homes dropped a record 32.7 percent in May to the lowest level in at least four decades as the boost from a popular tax credit faded, adding to worries of a slowing economic recovery.”
The problems of the American President and his administration are mounting, and they are far too many than could be solved. Many of these problems are admittedly man-made, but we need to realize that the Bible has predicted thousands of years ago that in these end times, the power and strength of the United States of America will be broken. This is due in large part to our sinful lifestyle, which is manifested in a subsequent article. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”
Ongoing Oil Spill Disaster
ABC News reported on June 23:
“Oil from the BP oil spill disaster is spewing again into the Gulf of Mexico at nearly full force after a venting system connected the so-called containment cap over the blown-out wellhead was damaged in an accident with a robot sub, said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the commander in charge of the government’s effort to control the 65-day-old spill.
“Separately, Allen said two cleanup workers have died in unrelated accidents in the Gulf, the first deaths reported since 11 people died in when Deepwater Horizon drilling rig burned and began the crisis in April…
“Up to 14 controlled fires are being conducted every day, and they’ve already burned 125,000 barrels that otherwise would have drifted toward shore. At the site of the accident, two tankers have been collecting oil siphoned up from the containment cap. And huge ocean skimmers, the largest of their kind, have been scooping up 8,000 barrels of oil per day. The current worst-case estimate of what’s spewing into the Gulf is about 2.5 million gallons a day… Anywhere from 67 million to 127 million gallons have spilled since the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon… the oil slick has spread over much of the northern Gulf of Mexico… Oil has been reported in the wetlands of the Mississippi delta at the southern tip of Louisiana, and tarballs have been found on the beaches of southern Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle.”
“A Political Apocalypse?”
USA Today wrote on June 23:
“Obama will need to convince Congress that more stimulus is needed and recently asked Congress for $50 billion to prop up the job market. But the severity of the economic crisis means that Obama will need to implore Americans to persevere as Reagan did 28 years ago, and they may well respond by rebuking Democrats in November as they did Reagan in 1982. Throw in the uneven government response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the uncertainty of the military effort in Afghanistan and a rising fear about government indebtedness, and the Democrats could be facing a political apocalypse far larger than the one Reagan suffered in 1982.”
Obama Fires US General Stanley McChrystal–but Germany, NATO and Afghanistan Defend McChrystal
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 23:”US General Stanley McChrystal, who commands NATO troops in Afghanistan, [was fired] by President Barack Obama on Wednesday over disparaging comments he made to Rolling Stone magazine… Germany’s defense minister has come out in strong defense of the beleaguered American General…
“‘I have extraordinary respect for General McChrystal, we work exceedingly well together,’ German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told public broadcaster ARD on Wednesday, adding that McChrystal is crucial to ‘the new strategy in Afghanistan.’ Guttenberg also warned of a ‘very difficult summer,’ with a new wave of attacks feared in the run-up to Afghan elections… I personally value him tremendously’…
“At NATO headquarters in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also expressed his support for McChrystal. ‘The Rolling Stone article is rather unfortunate, but it is just an article,’ a NATO statement read. ‘We are in the middle of a very real conflict, and the secretary-general has full confidence in General McChrystal as the NATO commander, and in his strategy.’
“In a statement released on Wednesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai described McChrystal as the ‘best commander’ so far. In an hour-long video conference with Obama on Tuesday, Karzai also expressed his support for the general…
“In the Rolling Stone article, the general or those close to him sharply criticized Vice President Joe Biden and Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador to Kabul. In addition, a close adviser to the general is also quoted as saying that McChrystal thinks very little of Obama’s Afghanistan policies.
“Most of the highly controversial quotes in the feature are made by unnamed aides to McChystal, who, for example, dismiss Obama’s national security adviser, James Jones, as a ‘clown.’ They disparagingly refer to Vice President Joe Biden as ‘Joe Bite Me.’ The profile also depicts the US special representative to Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, in a negative light. ‘The Boss says he’s like a wounded animal,’ a member of the general’s team told the magazine. ‘Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he’s going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous.’
“The president is also characterized as a clueless novice in the feature. For example, an adviser to the general describes McChrystal’s first meeting with Obama thusly: ‘It was a 10-minute photo op. Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his […] war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.'”
Obama’s Failing Support
On June 22, the Associated Press reported the following:
“The Obama White House has accomplished more than any other on gay rights, yet has drawn sharp criticism from an unexpected constituency: the same gay activists who backed the president’s election campaign. Instead of the sweeping change gays and lesbians had sought, a piece-by-piece approach has been the administration’s favored strategy, drawing neither serious fire from conservatives nor lavish praise from activists…
“For instance, Obama signed a hate crimes bill into law, expanded benefits for partners of State Department employees and ended the ban on HIV-positive persons from visiting the United States. He referenced families with ‘two fathers’ in his Father’s Day proclamation last week and devoted 38 words of his State of the Union address to repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ the ban on gays serving openly in the military…
“Obama’s campaign pledged to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ yet that goal remains years away. His Justice Department invoked incest in a legal brief defending the traditional definition of marriage, prompting some gay donors last year to boycott the Democratic National Committee. And just last week, a committee at his Health and Human Services Department recommended the nation retain its policy barring gay men from donating blood…
“Gay constituents are hardly the only member[s] of the Democratic bloc to come up disappointed with this White House. Environmental groups groan as a comprehensive climate bill has languished on the Hill. Organized labor saw its signature legislation, which would make it easier for workers to form unions, go nowhere without the White House’s backing. And women’s groups were in open revolt during the debate over the health care overhaul because of anti-abortion provisions…
“A Gallup poll last month found 70 percent of American[s] favor allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. That same poll, however, included a reminder: 53 percent opposed legalizing gay marriage.”
Nevertheless, slowly but surely, rights for homosexuals and others pursuing “alternate lifestyles,” are being established, which are undermining and destroying the fabric of our society. God calls these practices “abominations,” and no society can survive which forsakes the laws of God.
Obama’s Dismantlement of American Democracy
Investors Business Daily wrote on June 21:
“American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it. The president’s poll numbers are going down because increasing numbers of people disagree with particular policies of his, but the damage being done to the fundamental structure of this nation goes far beyond particular counterproductive policies.
“Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere. And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico…
“If our laws and our institutions determine that BP ought to pay $20 billion — or $50 billion or $100 billion — then so be it. But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by the government without ‘due process of law.’
“Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a difference. With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution. If you believe that the end justifies the means, then you don’t believe in constitutional government.
“And, without constitutional government, freedom cannot endure. There will always be a ‘crisis’ — which, as the president’s chief of staff has said, cannot be allowed to ‘go to waste’ as an opportunity to expand the government’s power. That power will of course not be confined to BP or to the particular period of crisis that gave rise to the use of that power, much less to the particular issues.
“When Franklin D. Roosevelt arbitrarily took the United States off the gold standard, he cited a law passed during the First World War to prevent trading with the country’s wartime enemies. But there was no war when FDR ended the gold standard’s restrictions on the printing of money. At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law ‘for the relief of the German people.’ That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people — indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others…
“The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP’s money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed ‘czars’ controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are…”
It is very true that in times of crises, democratic governments will use dictatorial means, and democratic values and institutions will suffer in the process. The Bible predicts that Europe will also develop from a more democratic to a very dictatorial power bloc.
Obama’s Healthcare Making Matters Worse
USA Today reported on June 22:
“President Obama… discuss[ed today]… [n]ew rules to stop health insurance ‘abuses’ and provide new consumer protections for health care consumers… Obama also warned insurance companies against ‘unjustified rate increases,’ and he said his administration would be watching ‘to make sure the new law is not being used as an excuse to drive up costs.’
“Congressional Republicans such as Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the restrictions and expense of the new law can’t help but drive up costs throughout the health care system. ‘This shouldn’t be called a health care bill of rights, but a bill of goods that the American people aren’t buying,’ Hatch said. ‘Politically-motivated threats won’t lower skyrocketing health care costs…’
“Hatch cited polls showing that most Americans are worried about the impact of the law on their own health care…”
Of course, greedy insurance companies use and will continue to use the new healthcare bill as an excuse to raise premiums in astronomical and unprecedented ways. As the Associated Press reported on June 21, “People who buy their own health insurance have been hit lately with premium hikes that far exceed increases in premiums for employer-sponsored coverage… recent premium hikes requested by insurers for individual coverage averaged 20 percent.” It added in a related article: “…about 14 million purchase insurance on the individual market and have the least bargaining power when it comes to costs.”
But a 20% increase in premiums is just the average. In many cases, greedy insurance companies demand premium increases of 30% and beyond. This development was predictable, and the shortsightedness of the healthcare legislators is absolutely deplorable. The Bible says that in these last days, the United States of America would be ruled by leaders incapable of recognizing or solving the country’s problems.
ABC wrote on June 23:
“President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius warned insurance companies not to impose outsize premium increases while healthcare reform is being implemented… In a call with reporters, Sebelius said she is urging state insurance commissioners to investigate suspicious premium increases and said the federal government is also monitoring such increases… On July 1, people with preexisting medical conditions who haven’t been able to obtain insurance will be eligible for a new, temporary, high-risk pool called the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan.”
Arabs Deeply Divided
Deutsche Welle reported on June 22:
“When Algeria faces the US on Wednesday in the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, many Arabs will be rooting for the Americans rather than for their Arab brethren. Even soccer, it seems, can’t paper over the cracks in unity.
“In Egypt, deep-seated anti-Americanism is likely to be drowned out for the duration of the match by memories of the scuffles, fires and broken glass that marked the Egyptian national team’s qualifier for the World Cup against Algeria. The violence sparked demonstrations on three continents and a fierce political row. Egypt and Algeria recalled their ambassadors and Libyan leader Col. Moammar Ghadafi was forced to intervene to prevent the dispute from escalating.
“‘Damn the so-called Arab unity, we should no longer talk about it. We should review our situations. We can no longer bear such incidents,’ fumed Egyptian sports news caster Ibrahim Hegazi in the wake of Egypt’s defeat at the feet of the Algerians.
“The fallout of the Egyptian-Algerian qualifier and the mood in coffeehouses and private homes across the Middle East as millions watch the World Cup games on television is a telling barometer of the fault lines that divide the region. Unlike Africans, who cheer their national teams in South Africa but see victory not only as success for their country but for their continent as a whole, Arabs aren’t rooting for the one Arab team that made it to the World Cup.
“In fact, in the Middle East soccer is proving to be divisive rather than unifying. The notion of sports as a bridge builder like in South Africa where rugby eased the transition into the post-apartheid era lies beyond the Middle East’s realm of the imaginable. Brazilian, German, Spanish, Italian and Argentine flags flutter from cars in Beirut where fans express passions for their World Cup favorite normally reserved for one’s own national team. In the Gulf, many have their bets on Brazil while England is often the favorite in Jordan and Israel…
“The Palestinians, a national team without a country, never made it out of the starting block. Israeli travel restrictions prevented the team from fielding 11 players in what was supposed to be their first qualifying match against Singapore. Likewise, Lebanon, a country in which spectators have been barred from soccer games since the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, never stood a chance…
“On the pitch, Iran’s World Cup hopes were narrowly ditched by South Korea. But members of the Islamic republic’s national team had more on their minds than the World Cup. Several players took to the pitch in the first half of the game wearing green armbands in support of the Green Revolution movement that was protesting the outcome of the country’s presidential election. Supporters unfurled banners in the stadium saying ‘Free Iran.’ The government and the team’s coach were outraged forcing the players to leave their armbands in their lockers during the second half. Iranian newspapers reported that the armband-wearing players were fired after the game because of their insubordination…
“With the country tearing itself apart in a frenzy of sectarian violence and teetering on the verge of civil war, Iraq’s national team of Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish players won the 2007 Asian Cup. Its World Cup hopes were however initially dashed by Qatar, whose long-term prospects of reaching the World Cup have since probably been thwarted by FIFA’s objections to the gas-rich Gulf state’s attempts to seduce Latin American players by offering them citizenship in addition to bags full of cash.
“Like Iraq, war-ravaged Somalia, another Arab state, fields a multi-ethnic, multi-clan national team. But it operates under even more harrowing conditions than its Iraqi counterpart. The stadium in Mogadishu, the country’s only sporting facilities, often serves as a battlefield. Players disperse of bullets and bodies prior to training. Members of the team have been killed or maimed for life, others have gone into exile.
“Fans share their fate. Islamists recently stormed a home near Mogadishu where World Cup enthusiasts were watching the match between Nigeria and Argentina; two people were killed and 10 others detained, while 15 others were arrested while watching the Germany-Australia game. There is little, if any, indication that Middle Eastern rulers will recognize the opportunities offered by sports to manage the region’s fault lines any time soon…”
Even though Arab states are deeply divided, they are united in their hatred of Israel. The Bible says that for a short while, many Arab nations will unite with Germany and Turkey, to fight against Israel.
“German-Israeli Relations in a State of Crisis”
Der Spiegel wrote on June 21:
“German Development Minister Dirk Niebel was denied entry to the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Once again, it would seem, Israel has failed to strike the correct diplomatic tone. And it shows that the country cannot deal with criticism…
“The object of his Gaza Strip visit was the site of a €12 million waste water treatment plant. Israel denied permission, however, because ‘Hamas uses such visits in a manipulative fashion in order to show that its diplomatic isolation in the international arena has been broken,’ according to an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
“But it is hard to say exactly what helps Hamas. It seems likely that Israel’s storming of the pro-Gaza fleet at the end of May helped Hamas more than Niebel ever could have done by visiting Gaza, particularly since the German politician had no plans to meet any representatives of Hamas anyway…
“Even former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, representing the Quartet on the Middle East (a diplomatic foursome made up of the United States, the UN, the EU and Russia), had to make several attempts before he got permission for a visit…
“It is also important to note that Niebel is anything but a detractor of Israel. As a young man, he was a volunteer on a kibbutz, Kfar Giladi on the border of Israel and Lebanon. He has also defended Israeli military actions more than once in the past. He is currently the vice-president of the German-Israeli Society. Niebel is a friend of Israel…
“One cannot see what happened to Niebel over the weekend in isolation. The Israelis are testy because they have noticed that, over the last few months, many good friends of their nation have begun to drift away. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel all belong to that group.
“German-Israeli relations are in a state of crisis. The arrogance of the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to blame…”
The relationship between the state of Israel and Germany, as well as Europe, will deteriorate. Some claim, because they don’t understand and misinterpret a particular passage in the book of Daniel, that Germany will enter into an unspecified treaty or friendship pact with Israel, which will allegedly last for 3 1/2 years. This concept does not find any support in Scripture.
Israel Eases Blockade
A-7 News reported on June 21:
“United States officials praised Israel’s change in policy regarding the blockade on Hamas-run Gaza Sunday. Quartet representative Tony Blair expressed satisfaction as well, but added, ‘the test of course will be not what it said, but what is done.’
“Israel will now allow all civilian goods into Gaza through its crossings in the southern Negev, and only weapons and materials used to make weapons will be banned. Dual-purpose goods such as cement, which is also used for reinforcing bunkers and launching pads, will be allowed through for supervised projects… The policy change followed criticism from U.S. President Barack Obama, who recently called the blockade ‘unsustainable’ after a clash between Israeli commandos and terror activists on a Gaza-bound flotilla that aimed to break Israel’s naval blockade.
“The naval blockade will remain in place, Netanyahu said Sunday. Sources reported that the prime minister believes loosening the blockade on goods will increase international acceptance of the security blockade on Gaza.”
In that, Netanyahu may be woefully mistaken.
A Two-Tier Euro?
The Telegraph wrote on June 19:
“Germany and France are examining ways of creating a ‘two-tier’ euro system to separate stronger northern European countries from weaker southern states. A European official has told The Daily Telegraph the dramatic option was being examined at cabinet level. Senior politicians believe their economies need to be better protected as they could not cope with another crisis on a par [with] the one in Greece.
“The creation of a ‘super-euro’ zone would initially include France, Germany, Holland, Austria, Denmark and Finland. The likes of Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and even Ireland would be left in a larger rump mostly Mediterranean grouping.
“The official said French and German officials had first spent months examining how to exclude poor-performing states from the euro but decided it was not feasible. A two-tier monetary system in the 16-member euro zone is being examined as a ‘plan B’. ‘The philosophy is the stronger countries might need to move away from countries they can’t afford to bail-out,’ said the official.
“As a way of containing the damage, they may have to do something dramatic, though obviously in the short term implementation is difficult. ‘It’s an act of desperation. They are not talking about ideal solutions but the lesser of evils. Helping Greece could be done relatively cheaply but Spain they can’t afford to let fail or bail-out. And putting more pressure on the people of France and Germany to save other countries is politically unfeasible.’
“One option, to protect the wealthier northern European countries and to help indebted southern Europeans, would be for Germany to lead a group of countries out of the existing euro into a new single currency alongside the old. The old euro would decline sharply against the new German and French dominated currency but both north and southern Europeans would be protected.”
Of course, one has to be extremely careful with “news” like this, especially when it is being reported by an anti-euro publication such as the Telegraph. We can safely say that the abandonment of the euro in lieu of another currency is not an option. However, the idea of a “two-tier” euro may have some merit.
Further Deteriorating Relationship Between Europe and the USA
The EUObserver wrote on June 22:
“The UK government announced its toughest budget in a generation on Tuesday (22 June), while the Spanish parliament approved a package of labour market reforms it says will reduce the country’s high level of unemployment. At the same time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday said she had spoken with US President Barack Obama, telling him that Europe would push ahead with its austerity plans, despite US concerns this could slow global growth.
“‘Yesterday, during a phone call with Barack Obama, I told him how important budgetary consolidation was,’ Ms Merkel said, an indication of the division that has opened up ahead of this weekend’s G20 leaders’ meeting in Toronto.
“Non-eurozone Britain was the latest country to jump on the European austerity bandwagon on Tuesday, with chancellor George Osborne outlining drastic cuts of 25 percent for most government departments by 2014-15. The emergency budget also raised the rate of value added tax from next January to 20 percent and imposed a £2 billion levy on banks…”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 22:
“Poland’s presidential election last Sunday was closer than expected, with centrist candidate Bronislaw Komorowski winning only a few percentage points more than his right-wing opponent Jaroslaw Kaczynski. The July 4 runoff between the two now looks likely to be a neck-and-neck race… Komorowski, the acting president, belongs to the Civic Platform party of Prime Minister Donald Tusk and shares Tusk’s vision of steering Poland closer to the European mainstream and joining the euro single currency.
“Kaczynski is a populist firebrand who opposes joining the euro and who upset Poland’s relations with Germany, Russia and the European Union during his time as prime minister in 2006 and 2007. The president has some important powers in Poland including the right to veto laws and appoint key officials. He also has a say in foreign and security policy. Kaczynski would be expected to carry on his brother’s habit of vetoing government bills…
“German media commentators writing in Tuesday’s papers hope the Poles will choose Komorowski… They have to choose whether they want to integrate more closely with the EU or move to the periphery — whether to move forward or back.
“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘For Kaczynski, a strong state means that EU members don’t transfer any more powers to Brussels. Instead he wants a ‘Europe of fatherlands,’ an approach that France and Bavaria used to stand for and that Britain’s Conservatives still adhere to. That means he is absolutely opposed to joining the euro, contrary to Komorowski and Tusk. He would be a far more difficult partner for the other EU states than Komorowski.’
“Business daily Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘The run-off election on July 4 in the most populous of the EU’s new members will be a decision between fear and optimism, between openness and segregation. That means it will be a signal for Europe…'”
The Bible strongly indicates that Poland will adopt the euro and become an integral part of the European Union.
The Ongoing Battle of the Catholic Church
The Local wrote on June 22:
“What is going on in the Catholic Church in Germany? Wracked by sexual abuse scandals, it has now decided to get into an ugly row with disgraced Bishop Walter Mixa…
“It’s the perfect storm at exactly the wrong time for the Catholic Church: the personal tragedy of a man who was clearly not suited to be a bishop has smashed head-on into the stone cold attitude of his fellow clerics. How devastating is it when the Archbishop of Munich decides to keep secret serious accusations against Walter Mixa ‘in his own interest,’ but allows his own spokesman to mutter the former bishop of Augsburg’s stay in a psychiatric clinic is a first step to recovery?…
“In keeping with its tradition, the Church maintained its silence about Mixa for too long. This explains the force with which the affair has now erupted… When… Walter Mixa of the small Bavarian town of Schrobenhausen was appointed bishop of Eichstätt in 1996, the people of Schrobenhausen raised their eyebrows at first. But they did not speak up, because in a good Catholic area one does not dispute the local priest.
“Similarly, when Mixa’s transfer to Augsburg was imminent in 2005, rumours of unseemly sexual behaviour emanated from the seminary of Eichstätt, but they did not trickle through to the key Church officials because the wisdom of the Vatican was not to be questioned.
“It may also be true that objections were not heeded – or were not allowed to be heeded – in the higher rungs of the clergy hierarchy, because in the last few decades the Vatican has systematically barricaded itself from all protests affecting bishop appointments. When conflicts arose, as in the case of Joachim Meisner in Cologne, the Vatican has often preferred to force through its own candidates rather than bow to the wishes of a ‘rebellious’ Church congregation.
“The balance of power within the Church also protected Mixa, since he belonged to the conservative wing of the Bishops’ Conference, which was not willing or able to accept the weakening of its position. Such reflexes have made everything much worse. They have not only damaged the reputation of a single faction, but of the entire Church.
“The massive scope of child abuse scandal at Catholic institutions has forced Church officials to end the era of leaden silence. Under John Paul II, it would have been unthinkable to see bishops question one of their own in public, destroying the ‘unity of the episcopate.’ But Pope Benedict XVI has allowed this to happen. He does not defend the indefensible; he prescribes a course of self-purification for his Church.
“But the pontiff has not offered any actual suggestions for what institutional reforms could result from this self-purification – neither for bishop appointments, dialogue with the church laity, nor priest celibacy. Benedict XVI is certainly closing one epoch, but as yet he is failing to open a new one.”
The Local added on June 23:
“Just one week ago, a defiant Mixa insisted he had been pressured to resign over claims he beat children in a Catholic orphanage in the 1970s and 1980s, and vowed to take his case to the Vatican. But on Wednesday he issued a joint statement with his former Augsburg diocese, announcing he was resigning for good. He recanted the claim he had been forced out by the head of Bavaria’s Catholic bishops, Archbishop Reinhard Marx, and the country’s top Archbishop, Robert Zollitsch…
“Last week, he claimed he had been forced to resign and vowed to have his case reviewed by the Vatican. He also moved back into his old quarters at the Augsburg bishop’s palace, apparently because he had nowhere else to stay. This was followed by media reports of a secret Church dossier that detailed Mixa’s alleged alcohol abuse and sexual assaults on young priests.
“The joint statement by Mixa and the diocese said he would leave his quarters at the bishop’s palace, and the diocese would find temporary accommodation for him… Crucially, it also stated that ‘former Bishop Mixa holds no one responsible, and reproaches no one, for the pressure which he felt in signing his resignation.'”
Why did Sarah lie?
Sarah, the wife of Abraham, is described in Scripture as a faithful and righteous woman (Isaiah 51:1-2; Hebrews 11:11; 1 Peter 3:5-6). Still, we read that she broke the ninth commandment and lied on several occasions. There are mainly two different sets of circumstances, inducing Sarah to lie.
Sarah’s first lie is recorded in Genesis 18. God appeared with two angels to Abraham and Sarah and promised them that they would have a son within a year. Genesis 18:11-15 states:
“Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’ And the LORD said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?” Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.’ But Sarah denied it, saying, ‘I did not laugh,’ for she was afraid. And He said, ‘No, but you did laugh!'”
Sarah denied or lied against the truth because she was afraid. She did not want to admit that she had not enough faith.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible states:
“‘She denied, saying, I did not laugh,’ thinking nobody could contradict her: she told this lie, because she was afraid; but it was in vain to attempt concealing it from an all-seeing eye; she was told, to her shame, ‘Thou didst laugh…’ It is a shame to do amiss, but a greater shame to deny it; for thereby we add iniquity to our iniquity. Fear of a rebuke often betrays us into this snare. See Isaiah 57:11, ‘Whom hast thou feared, that thou hast lied?’ But we deceive ourselves if we think to impose upon God; he can and will bring truth to light, to our shame. ‘He that covers his sin cannot prosper,’ for the day is coming which will discover it.”
The second set of circumstances involving SARAH’S deceitful conduct is described in Genesis 20, when ABRAHAM told the lie that Sarah was his sister, denying the truth that she was his wife. As a consequence, King Abimelech took Sarah to become his wife. One might ask why Sarah did not speak up and tell Abimelech that she was Abraham’s wife. Why did she keep silent? Why did she cover up Abraham’s lie?
We read of an earlier account in Genesis 12:11-13:
“And it came to pass, when he [Abram, later called Abraham] was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai [later called Sarah] his WIFE: ‘Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, “This is his wife”; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please SAY YOU ARE MY SISTER, that it may be well with you FOR YOUR SAKE, and that I may live because of you.”‘
God revealed to Pharaoh that Sarai was Abram’s wife. BOTH Abram and Sarai lied to Pharaoh about this. And later, BOTH repeated the same lie to Abimelech.
As God did in the case of Pharaoh, He revealed the truth to Abimelech–this time in a dream. We read in Genesis 20:4:
“But Abimelech had not come near her, and he said, ‘Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, “She is my sister”? And she, even SHE HERSELF SAID, “He is my brother.” In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.'”
Why did Sarah participate in Abraham’s lie? Why did she even repeat it herself?
We read in Genesis 20:10-13:
“Then Abimelech said to Abraham, ‘What did you have in view, that you have done this thing?’ And Abraham said, ‘Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife. But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, “This is YOUR KINDNESS that you should do FOR ME: in every place, wherever we go, say of me, ‘He is my brother.”‘
Abraham’s and Sarah’s lies are not justified by the fact that Sarah was Abraham’s half-sister. In God’s eyes, they were husband and wife, and God calls them consistently that way in His word. Abraham and Sarah suppressed the truth that they were married, with the intent to deceive their neighbors.
Abraham had asked Sarah to lie in order to save his life, placing a guilt trip on her by suggesting that she would be unkind to him if she did not tell the lie, and she would be without the protection of her beloved husband if they killed him and let her live. Sarah obeyed her husband and broke one of God’s commandments in the process. She should have never done this. Even though we read that wives are to submit to their husbands, we are also told that this must be done “in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). That is, they must never violate God’s Will, and if a demand or request of their husbands would violate God’s Word, they must disobey. We are told that we must obey God, rather than man, in a conflict situation (Acts 5:29).
Of course, Abraham should have never asked Sarah to lie for him or to actively or passively participate in or condone his lie. Both showed a lack of faith. They were afraid that if they were to tell the truth, Abraham would be killed. They did not fully believe that God would be powerful enough to protect them.
But we also read that both Abraham and Sarah grew in faith, as we all must do (Romans 4:19).
Wives are not to obey their husbands when they are asked to do wrong. And husbands must not listen to the voice of their wives when they ask or suggest to them that they do or say something which would violate God’s Will.
Even before God appeared with two angels to tell Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son within a year, God had already promised descendants to Abraham (Genesis 15:1-5, 18). God had specifically said to Abraham (then called Abram) that “one who will come from your own body shall be your heir” (verse 4).
But as time progressed and Abraham and Sarah remained childless, they began to doubt in God’s promise and reasoned that they had to produce offspring through Abraham and Sarah’s maid, Hagar (Genesis 16:1-2). This episode showed a lack of faith of both Abraham and Sarah. This is perhaps another reason why Sarah later denied that she had laughed when God repeated His promise that they would have a son. She realized that she had again, for a second time, manifested a lack of faith in God’s Word and Power.
However, there were other occasions when God told Abraham to listen to the voice of his wife (Genesis 21:8-12). It is always a matter of what God’s Will is in a particular matter.
Generally, Abraham and Sarah obeyed God and kept His commandments. But they were not perfect and sinned on occasion–and every lie is a sin against God and neighbor. When they realized their sin and repented, God forgave them, and they will be in God’s Kingdom and one of God’s born-again sons and daughters, ruling under Christ in the Millennium and beyond (Hebrews 11:39-40).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Norbert Link’s video-recorded sermon, “To the Ephesians, Part 3,” was posted on the Web.
A new StandingWatch program was posted on the Web, titled, “Current Catastrophes and Bible Prophecy.” Are we close to Christ’s Second Coming? The Examiner, in reporting about the Gulf Oil Spill, wrote: “… we have never experienced anything like this before.” The Associated Press said: “In Revelations, it says the water will turn to blood. That’s what it looks like out here [in Florida]…” Nasa warns of a Space Storm in 2013, saying it could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina. And the Independent says that the next asteroid slamming into Earth could end it all, stating that “it could happen any time.” HOW NEAR IS CHRIST’S RETURN?
The text of our new booklet, “The Authority of the Bible,” was sent for finalization to our graphic designer, Shelly Bruno.
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
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