What Is Our Difference?
by Dave Harris
We miss something if our manner, outlook and standards all mirror the times in which we live. Doing so would mean that we are living as a part of this world—that we are not different from everyone else.
But we are!
Here is what Jesus Christ stated—both about His disciples and Himself: “‘They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world’” (John 17:16).
However, we know that Jesus Christ was born in the nation of Judah and except for those who knew Him personally, He blended in with the people of His time–so much so that it was necessary for Judas, in betraying Him, to identify Him from among His disciples (compare Matthew 26:47-49).
What Jesus had that totally separated Him from both His countrymen and the rest of the world was His membership in the Family of God—from which He also drew His citizenship (compare John 8:23;18:36).
Christians, those converted individuals who have been called by God to come out of this world, are now also citizens of God’s Kingdom (compare Philippians 3:20); we are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20); we are to live “as sojourners and pilgrims” (1 Peter 2:11); and, we are not to misuse this world (compare 1 Corinthians 7:31).
As such, we have a different status than those among whom we are to live. We have been given the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, and “now we are children of God” (1 John 3:2). Along with our RIGHTS to the promises of God, we also have DUTIES, and if we fulfill them, then we will be unmistakably different—a stark contrast to an age that is writhing in its own, final death-throes!
We begin with reporting on Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington and discussing the fragile relationship between China and the USA; speak of the ongoing mystery of President Obama’s birth place; and point out a new, but largely ignored twist in the Arizona shooting.
Focusing on Europe, we report on the EU’s “vision” of being a “Fatherland of peace”; emphasize German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s commitment to the euro; and show ongoing anti-American feelings in Europe, and especially in Germany.
Speaking of religious and social issues, we report on the Catholic Church’s bizarre plan to beatify Pope John Paul II; explain the unbiblical reasons for the abandonment of the weekly Sabbath; and discuss the continuing mysterious deaths of many animals—including cattle.
We conclude with reporting on developments in the USA pertaining to “Obamacare,” which might not be good for the country in the long run.
This Week in the News
China vs. the USA
Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 19:
“When US President Barack Obama took office two years ago, among the many hopes riding on him was an improvement in US relations with China… But instead of a new era of harmony between the major powers, the opposite has happened. US-Chinese relations are currently tenser than they have been in years. Chief among the many bones of contention is bilateral trade. American politicians accuse China of keeping its currency undervalued against the dollar to make its exports artificially cheap.
“Meanwhile Beijing, which has huge foreign currency reserves, has been flexing its burgeoning economic might by buying up European sovereign debt, ostensibly to help the euro zone overcome its current woes. Observers believe that China is keen to diversify its investments as a result of economic trouble in the US; it already owns massive amounts of American debt. Washington is also eyeing China’s ongoing military expansion with concern. Beijing’s recent unveiling of a new stealth plane was just the latest sign that China’s armed forces are becoming increasingly powerful. America’s ally Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province, also remains a contentious issue between the two countries…
“The countries are also divided over issues of democracy and human rights. Obama’s support for the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, is unlikely to have won him many friends in Beijing. The US is also concerned about China’s growing influence in Africa, where Beijing has been trying to secure access to raw materials, and is frustrated that the Chinese leadership has not done more to reign in its unruly ally North Korea.
“Hence the four-day visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to Washington is being closely watched… The lavish reception that the US is laying on for Hu shows how important the trip is to Obama. Progress on the fundamental issues that divide the rival powers seems unlikely, however, and the main aim of the meeting appears to be a thawing in the frosty atmosphere… German commentators ponder the future of the US-China relationship and wonder how the new world order will function once Washington has to share power with Beijing.
“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘The two nuclear powers must find a way in which they can build trust and avoid misunderstandings… Weakened by the financial crisis, America is seen — at least partially — as a superpower in decline. In contrast, China, whose economy is now the world’s second largest, is regarded as the savior of the global economy.’
“The conservative Die Welt writes: ‘… They know that they need each other, but at the same time they are also rivals competing for the riches and loyalties of the Pacific Rim. They are separated by the question of who will inherit the Earth. For today, the answer is the US. But how long will that last? And how will America share the role of the world’s leading power, moderate the ensuing conflicts and achieve the transformation from hegemony to a new balance of powers? And what will this mean for the Europeans, including Russia, in terms of equilibrium and their influence?’
“The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes: ‘… Obama… cannot afford a rift with China; he needs Beijing’s vote on the Security Council to impose further sanctions against Iran, just as he needs its influence in North Korea… Even if Europe does not want a new world order based on the G-2, no one wants a power struggle between the US and China whose consequences cannot be predicted.’”
As the old saying goes, man thinks, and God directs. The Bible has prophesied that an altogether different picture will emerge. The influence of the United States will continue to decline, while China, Russia, India, Japan and other Far Eastern countries will build a strong confederacy. At the same time, Europe will emerge as the most powerful entity in the world, and a military conflict between these two new power blocs (Far Eastern countries and Europe) will become a certainty. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”
Mysteries Regarding President Obama’s Birthplace Continue
WorldNetDaily wrote on January 18:
“Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie suggested in an interview published yesterday that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Barack Obama may not exist within the vital records maintained by the Hawaii Department of Health… For seemingly the first time, Abercrombie frankly acknowledged that presidential politics motivated his search for Obama birth records, implying that failure to resolve the questions that remain unanswered about the president about his birth [and] early life may damage his chance for re-election…
“So far, the only birth document available on Obama is a Hawaii Certification of Live Birth that first appeared on the Internet during the 2008 presidential campaign. It was posted by two purportedly independent websites that have displayed a strong partisan bias for Obama… the Hawaii Department of Health has refused to authenticate the [same]…
“…in 1961, Obama’s grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, could have made an in-person report of a Hawaii birth even if the infant Barack Obama Jr. had been foreign-born. Similarly, the newspaper announcements of Obama’s birth do not prove he was born in Hawaii, since they could have been triggered by the grandparents registering the birth as Hawaiian, even if the baby was born elsewhere… the address reported in the newspaper birth announcements was the home of the grandparents…
“Tim Adams, a former senior elections clerk for the city and county of Honolulu in 2008 has maintained that there is no long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate on file with the Hawaii Department of Health and that neither Honolulu hospital, Queens Medical Center or Kapiolani Medical Center, have any record that Obama was born there.”
Whether the existence or non-existence of a long form birth certificate will have any influence on the President’s re-election appears to be highly doubtful. Sadly, most Americans don’t seem to care about the requirements and injunctions of their own Constitution; otherwise, the outcry over the lack of evidence that the President is actually eligible for the office he occupies would be deafening and ongoing. Not only the left-liberal press, but also many “conservative” voices seem to have no interest whatsoever of entering into the “debate.”
New Twist in Arizona Shooting
The Washington Post reported on January 16:
“One of the Arizona shooting victims was arrested Saturday and then taken for a psychiatric evaluation after authorities said he took a picture of a tea party leader at [a] televised town hall meeting and yelled: ‘you’re dead.’
“James Eric Fuller, 63, [a left-liberal “activist”] objected to something Trent Humphries said during the forum taped for a special edition of ABC’s ‘This Week’… [Fuller] was in the front row and apparently became upset when [it was] suggested that any conversations about gun control should be delayed until all the dead were buried…”
This story was virtually suppressed by the left-liberal American media, as it does not fit into the paradigm of those who claim that the Tea Party movement and Sarah Palin were somehow responsible for Jared Loughner’s mass murders. As we show in our last Update, the real culprit must be seen in forces which most people do not even want to consider.
Europe—the “Fatherland of Peace”
The EUObserver wrote on January 17:
“EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy has issued a robust defence of the European Union in the face of growing ‘suspicion and fear’, arguing that the bloc must not be seen as a new ‘Moscow’, but instead, the ‘Fatherland of peace.’ … The President said… said that the EU was responsible for hastening the demise of the Soviet Union…
“While in Berlin last November, he issued a stark warning against the forces of nationalism, euro-scepticism and populism: ‘… Fear leads to egoism, egoism leads to nationalism, and nationalism leads to war… ‘I sometimes explain that the enlargement of the European Union with the countries of Eastern and Central Europe in and after 2004 is not a bureaucratic process, driven by “Brussels”, but that enlargement should rather be seen as a deeply political enterprise, driven by a great historic event: the end of the Cold War and the unification of the European continent’… He said the coming year must see a deepening of the single market…”
President Van Rompuy’s stunning allegation that the EU was responsible for hastening the demise of the Soviet Union carries with it the germ of future conflict, and the Bible shows that a military confrontation between the EU and Russia will ensue in the not-too-distant future. The illusionary claim that the EU is the “Fatherland of peace” is also remarkable in light of Paul’s warning in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6:
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief… therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.”
“Keeping the Euro”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 19:
“Chancellor Angela Merkel has categorically stated that Germany will not abandon the euro and reintroduce the deutsche mark…
“’There can be no return to the deutsche mark,’ she said, adding that Germany would ‘continue to do everything necessary to guarantee a stable euro.’ She told the magazine [“Der Stern”] that, while she took citizens’ concerns very seriously, she was convinced that ‘we in Germany can handle everything.’
“She expressed strong support for the common European currency and dismissed talk of splitting the euro zone into economically stronger northern countries and weaker southern countries. ‘Not on my watch. On behalf of Germany I say a clear “no”’…
“On the subject of France’s demands for a so-called European economic government, Merkel said that the leaders of the EU’s 27 member states had already said in February 2010 that they saw themselves as an economic government…”
The unification of Europe is unstoppable, and the euro will continue to become the most powerful currency in the world—much more powerful than America’s or China’s currencies. The Bible also prophesies that ten core nations or groups of nations will emerge WITHIN—not outside—the EU. And, that these nations will transfer dictatorial powers to a political and military European leader, setting in motion the final stages of the last revival of the ancient Roman Empire. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible?—The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”
Anti-Americanism in Germany
The following provocative article was first published in Der Tagesspiegel and then re-published in The Local. The warnings contained in the article should not be readily dismissed. When political agendas, restrictions of individual liberties, and pre-conceived prejudices are at play, all of us suffer.
The Local wrote on January 17:
“Germans certainly love freedom of thought, and if they could turn those thoughts into actions, the country would have become a foreigner-free zone a long time ago. But Germans are not so keen on freedom of speech, which is why they limit it with all kinds of laws. And they welcome any opportunity to plead for more restrictions and regulations.
“The latest of these opportunities is the horrific attack in Tucson, Arizona on US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The shooting has been used as a chance to crow about the ‘climate of hate’ in the United States, regardless of the question of what exactly motivated a man to kill six people and wound 14 others. This satisfies two German urges at once.
“Firstly, it gives them a chance to exercise their wonted anti-Americanism, which has been stifled since the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Now it can run riot again, not with the despised and derided George W. Bush, but by targeting Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement. The German pressure cooker, long bubbling with accusations of Yankee gun-loving, the death penalty, evangelical Christianity, and rabid anti-government rhetoric, has finally found a way to blow off steam. Apparently the revival of ‘Evil America’ has been bursting to get out [for] quite some time…
“Secondly, the assertions of a ‘climate of hate’ in the United States have fed the conviction that freedom of speech can be a little too free – in other words, that the rigid German model is superior to the libertarian American approach. This assertion is good for German self-satisfaction. It pacifies them… Just as the now discredited Senator Joseph McCarthy pursued alleged communists in the 1950s, today’s German witch hunters are hunting the likes of Palin and the Tea Party for causing the tragedy in Tucson…
“We should be… worried about Germany (and Europe). Here, freedom is still a luxury. One can almost feel the subliminal desire to use the Tucson attack to finally ban public appearances by Thilo Sarrazin [who wrote a book speaking out against Islamic influence in Germany.]”
Dead Pope Works Miracles?
On January 14, BBC News published the following incredible story. Sadly, many gullible and deceived people will believe it, and so the heretical concept that those who have died can work miracles from heaven will spread:
“Pope Benedict XVI has formally approved a miracle attributed to his late predecessor, paving the way to John Paul II’s beatification on 1 May… John Paul II died in 2005 after a papacy of nearly 27 years. The Vatican credits him with the miraculous cure of a nun said to have had Parkinson’s Disease.
“Church officials believe that the Polish pope, who himself suffered from the condition, interceded for the miraculous cure of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, a Frenchwoman in her late forties. She has said her illness inexplicably disappeared two months after John Paul II’s death, after she and her fellow nuns had prayed to him.
“Church-appointed doctors agreed that there was no medical explanation for the curing of the nun, although last year there were some doubts about the validity of the miracle… Up to a million people are expected to gather in Rome for the beatification… In order for John Paul II to be canonised as a saint, a second miracle would have to be verified following the beatification.”
Please note that these miracles must occur AFTER the death of the pope, to give “evidence” to the idea that the dead pope (or his “immortal soul”) went to heaven and is answering prayers, which were directed to him (!), by working miracles. This unbiblical concept is rejected in Scripture for numerous reasons. If you want to learn more about the TRUTH, please read our free booklet, “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?”
Why NOT the Sabbath?
WorldNetDaily wrote on January 15:
“It’s perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of not only the Holy Bible, but also the history of mankind and Christianity…It was first mentioned the day after the first man, Adam, was created, as God set apart the seventh day of the week from the other six. And it is so important, God made it one of the famous Ten Commandments, telling us to remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy and not do any work that day.
“But this day of rest that was observed for thousands of years on the seventh day of the week, Saturday, has mysteriously been transformed into a special reverence for the first day of the week, Sunday. In fact, if you ask Christians today, ‘Which day is the Sabbath of God?’ most will undoubtedly answer ‘Sunday.’
“Just how did this enigmatic change take place? …
“In the archives and libraries of international scholarship… researchers have discovered the secret strategies that changed the Christian day of rest on Saturday to the primary day of worship on Sunday… One novel approach took the form of a letter, a letter that supposedly came directly from heaven… It was actually a fraudulent epistle demanding the rigorous observance of Sunday, an example of the heavy-handed attempts to manipulate the consciences of medieval Christians… The promotion of Sunday, commonly called ‘the Lord’s Day,’ was an integral part of the Reformation-era conflict over Church authority.”
That the Roman Catholic Church “changed” the Sabbath to Sunday, without any biblical or divine backing whatsoever, cannot be denied. It was done for two reasons—to embrace Sunday-worshipping pagans into their fellowship, and to distance themselves from the Jews, due to blatant anti-Semitic feelings. God does not endorse this unauthorized “change”; in fact, He condemns it. For more information, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”
Wsaw.com reported on January 17:
“The 200 dead cattle were discovered on a farm field on 4th Street in Amherst [Wisconsin], Sunday, the bodies were taken out in semi-loads to be disposed of. The farm’s veterinarian says preliminary results show the animals died of acute interstitial pneumonia, also known as AIP. Samples from the dead animals were sent to Madison for testing.
“The vet says the steers began to die early last week, with the last dying Saturday. The animals started showing symptoms of illness and then died within 12 hours. The vet says animals didn’t respond to treatment… The cattle on the farm are not quarantined.”
For further information, please view our StandingWatch program, “Birds And Fish Will Waste Away.”
House Repeals New Healthcare Law…
The Los Angeles Times wrote on January 20, 2011:
“House Republicans passed a largely symbolic resolution Wednesday to repeal the nation’s new healthcare law, fulfilling a top campaign promise and setting the stage for a renewed battle in the Senate. The Senate showdown… promises to be substantially messier and more drawn-out than the debate just completed in the House. The result could be a return to bitter partisan gridlock ahead of a budget confrontation in March, when the healthcare law repeal could become intertwined with a debate over federal spending.
“House Republican lawmakers, who hold a commanding majority, passed their two-page repeal resolution 245 to 189 after less than two days of floor debate. Three Democrats joined all 242 Republicans in support of the repeal resolution… In the Senate, Republicans will have to use contentious procedural maneuvers to pressure Democrats to vote on a repeal measure. Democrats retain a 53-47 edge in the Senate, counting two independents who caucus with them, and Democratic leaders firmly oppose repeal…
“Independent voters, who were crucial to GOP electoral gains in November, do not want years of gridlock that produce no alternative to the current healthcare law…”
USA Today added on January 20:
“House Republicans will move ahead today with an effort to replace parts of the nation’s health care law after easily passing legislation to repeal the measure. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid… has vowed the repeal legislation will go nowhere in the Senate… President Obama has said he’ll veto the bill that aims to overturn one of his proudest achievements.
“Still, GOP committee chairmen in the House will outline their plans today to replace the law with proposals to lower health-care costs, expand access to coverage and protect the doctor-patient relationship… congressional Republicans will look for leadership from GOP governors, who control a majority of the nation’s states. Already, half the states have joined lawsuits filed by states such as Florida and Virginia to overturn the law’s mandate that all Americans obtain health insurance coverage.”
You say that God consists of two Beings, the Father and the Son. How do you explain passages in Isaiah, where the LORD says, “I am God, and there is no other?” (Isaiah 45:5)
In Isaiah 45, “the LORD” (“Yahweh” in Hebrew) speaks to Cyrus and tells him that he will be an instrument in God’s hands to fulfill His Will. He specifically prophesies that and how Cyrus will conquer Babylon (compare verse 1) and that he will allow Jerusalem to be rebuilt and Judah to be released from captivity (compare verse 13). He also emphasizes that Cyrus did not know God, when He called him for his special mission (verses 3-5).
It appears that Cyrus was an idol worshipper of the Persian sun god Mythra (whose day of worship was Sunday, and whose birthday was celebrated on December 25). He apparently also worshipped the Babylonian god Marduk. It is in that context, that the LORD (“Yahweh”) says: “I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me” (verse 5, compare verse 6).
It is true that Yahweh’s comments are more encompassing than just referring to Cyrus. He repeats His claim that He is God, and that there is no other God besides Him, in several verses throughout the chapter (verses 14, 18, 21, 22; compare also Isaiah 46:9).
All these passages deal with the true God in contrast with false “gods” or idols. The “LORD” is stating that He created the universe and everything that exists; that He is carrying out His Will and that His prophecies will come to pass; and that no other “god” had or will have any part in any of this. But does this mean, as some have suggested, that Isaiah taught that there was only one God Being—the “LORD”?
We have seen in previous Q&As that God is a Family, consisting of two Beings. We also pointed out in our booklet, “The Book of Zechariah—Prophecies for Today,” that the “LORD” (“Yahweh”) can refer to any one of the two Beings within the God Family. Although normally referring to Jesus Christ, it can also refer to God the Father.
It is therefore obvious that when the LORD says that He is “God,” and that there is no other, this must be referring to either one and including both of the two Personages, who are both identified as “LORD.” The word for “God” is “elohim” in the Hebrew, describing a (family) unit. Remember, God (“elohim”) said in the beginning: “Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness…” (Genesis 1:26). Here, God (“elohim”) is used as a plural word, describing a unity of more than one being.
The LORD—whether the reference is to the Father or to the Son—is declaring that He—as the representative of the God Family—is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. (We discussed before that God the Father created everything through Jesus Christ, compare Colossians 1:12-16). No other god or idol must be worshipped or thought of as having participated in any creation process. But as we saw in a previous Q&A on Deuteronomy 6:4, the Father and the Son are “one”—totally unified in approach, purpose and goal—so that when the One speaks, He speaks likewise for the Other.
Several commentaries have clearly understood that the passages in Isaiah 45, as quoted above, do not teach that God consists of only one person. For example, we read in Isaiah 45:22 that Yahweh says: “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”
Clarke’s Commentary to the Bible states:
“This verse and the following contain a plain prediction of the universal spread of the knowledge of God through Christ; and so the Targum appears to have understood it; see Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10. The reading of the Targum is remarkable, viz., … look to my Word, … the Lord Jesus.”
To explain in passing, “Targum” is defined as, “Any of several Aramaic translations or paraphrasings of the Old Testament” (The American Heritage Dictionary, copyright 1992). The above quote from Isaiah 45 is an adaptation from such Aramaic paraphrased translations of the original Hebrew Old Testament. Aramaic was the commonly spoken language in Judah during the time of Jesus.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible adds:
“’Look unto me,’…. And not to idols, nor to any creature, nor to the works of your hands… all must be looked off of, and Christ only looked unto… He is to be looked unto as the Son of God, whose glory is the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth; as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world; as the only Mediator between God and man; as the Saviour and Redeemer…’for I am God, and there is none else’; and so mighty to save, able to save to the uttermost, all that come to him, and to God by him, be they where they will; since he is truly God…”
These commentaries explain that Yahweh, who is speaking here, is actually Jesus Christ; they also understand that Christ is God—but not the only God Being, of course, because the FATHER later impregnated Mary with the Christ child through the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:30-35).
Christ—Yahweh—exclaims that He is God, and there is no other—not in reference to God the Father, but in reference to pagan idols and gods who were invented through the maneuvering and under the influence of Satan the devil to create a substitute for Jesus Christ. That is the reason why pagans believed in Savior “sun-gods,” such as Mythra or Attis, who died around Easter time, on a Friday, and who were believed to have come back to life on a Sunday.
Sadly, orthodox Christianity absorbed those pagan concepts and applied them to Christ, claiming that Christ was born on December 25; that He was crucified on a Friday and resurrected on a Sunday; and that He must be worshipped today on a Sunday. All these unbiblical practices and beliefs are of pagan origin, and the Bible strongly condemns this kind of syncretism (Deuteronomy 12:29-32).
Likewise, we read in Isaiah 46:9, that Yahweh says: “Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me.”
Again, this is not teaching that there is only one God Being, but that we must not worship any pagan gods, as they are of no relevance.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible remarks:
“Remember the former things of old… which are so many proofs of the true deity of the God of Israel, in opposition to the idols of the Gentiles…”
In conclusion, Isaiah does not teach that there is only one God Being, but that both the Father and the Son, referred to as “Yahweh,” are members of the one true God Family. Isaiah also teaches that no “god” or “idol” must be viewed as a helpful way to salvation; rather, whatever is not of, or belonging to the true God, is to be avoided and rejected.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Our newest (32nd) booklet, “Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians,” was sent out this week to our readership, together with a cover letter.
A new German sermon was recorded this week and will be posted shortly on the Web, titled, “Die Welt der Daemonen, Teil 3” [“The World of Demons, Part 3”].
Norbert Link’s video-recorded sermon, “Babylon’s False Prophet,” was posted on the Web.
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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