What About the Secret Rapture?—Part 2
On September 10, 2011, Norbert Link will speak on current world events and give the sermon, titled, “What About the Secret Rapture?—Part 2.”
The Right Goal. The Right Plan.
by Eric Rank
The Bible is very clear about its instruction for us to be careful when we plan our activities in life, and in nothing is this more true than in our commitment to God. In the context of understanding our level of commitment to Him, Jesus provides us a comparison in Luke 14:28: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it.” Jesus then goes on to say that if for the sake of discipleship, we are not willing to give up everything detrimental to God’s Way of Life, we are not worthy to be a disciple. Our sacrifice for the sake of following Christ must be comprehensive. Since this commitment is so comprehensive, it is easy to slip up on.
A common aphorism is that failing to plan is planning to fail. But, how about plans that fail? Even if we have seriously “counted the cost” and think our commitment and sacrifices are complete and genuine, we will certainly find blind spots where we fail. How often are our intentions good and we have seemingly prepared everything to the best of our ability, but then we find ourselves behaving inconsistently? Is there something we can do?
Fortunately, God has provided us a way to correct our paths. Just as a global positioning system [GPS] or a satellite-based navigation system will recalculate a path for us when we get off track, the gift of repentance is a tool that we can use to obtain forgiveness, when we find that we are off track (compare Acts 5:31). However, repentance and forgiveness only work when we go through the process of evaluating the success of our plans. In order to do this evaluation, we first need to know where we plan to go. Only then can we even know that we are in need of a course correction.
Expanding on the example cited above, before counting the cost to build a tower, we first need to know that we want to build a tower. We must firmly establish our commitment to God, knowing that it is the most important thing in our lives, and then make the plans for how to work towards it.
The Bible gives us encouragement regarding the plans we make. It may be true that we have a righteous goal in mind – to commit our lives to God – but the steps in our plan to achieve that goal need to be consistent. The Bible is full of stories about people who had seemingly good intents, but poor plans, doing what was right in their own eyes (compare Judges 17:6). God must direct the plans we make (compare Proverbs 16:9). If we allow Him to do so and follow His lead, we are encouraged that we will have help and support along the way (compare Psalm 121:3). God wants us to succeed, but our success is only possible if we accept and choose God’s right goal and plan for us.
We begin reporting about the dire situation in the United States, including its natural disasters, its conflicts with its neighbor Mexico, and the prospects of its postal service defaulting; we speak of Canada’s ongoing problems with its submarine fleet; we continue with the situation in Europe, including the survival of the euro, and the demand for the creation of a two-speed Europe and for political unification; we speak of Angela Merkel’s recent defeat in another state election; we address popular conspiracy theories surrounding the attack on September 11; we report on the (prophesied) deteriorating relationship between Turkey and the state of Israel and Turkey’s desire to form a coalition with Egypt; we warn of a preemptive strike of Israel against Iran; we show the sense of “justice” of Libya’s rebels towards African migrants and the danger of Islamists creating a new Libyan state; we report on a widening unprecedented rift between the Vatican and Ireland; and we conclude with an attempt in Australia to ban Jesus Christ from school history books.
This Week in the News
USA Plagued by Natural Disasters
The Associated Press reported on September 3:
“Nature is pummeling the United States this year with extremes. Unprecedented triple-digit heat and devastating drought. Deadly tornadoes leveling towns. Massive rivers overflowing. A billion-dollar blizzard. And now, unusual hurricane-caused flooding in Vermont.
“If what’s falling from the sky isn’t enough, the ground shook in places that normally seem stable: Colorado and the entire East Coast. On Friday, a strong quake triggered brief tsunami warnings in Alaska. Arizona and New Mexico have broken records for wildfires.
“Total weather losses top $35 billion, and that’s not counting Hurricane Irene… There have been more than 700 U.S. disaster and weather deaths, most from the tornado outbreaks this spring… The U.S. has had a record 10 weather catastrophes costing more than a billion dollars: five separate tornado outbreaks, two different major river floods in the Upper Midwest and the Mississippi River, drought in the Southwest and a blizzard that crippled the Midwest and Northeast, and Irene…
“The East Coast got a double-whammy in one week with a magnitude 5.8 earthquake followed by a drenching from Irene… There are still four months to go, including September, the busiest month of the hurricane season… The insurance company Munich Re calculated that in the first six months of the year there have been 98 natural disasters in the United States, about double the average of the 1990s…
“Add to that, oppressive and unrelenting heat. Tens of thousands of daily weather records have been broken or tied and nearly 1,000 all-time records set, with most of them heat or rain related…”
We can expect terrible natural disasters to continue plaguing the United States.
Mexico Invades USA
ABC-7 reported on September 3:
“Border Patrol officials are investigating an incursion by Mexican federal police into the United States on Thursday morning. U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Doug Mosier said armed officers with Mexico’s Secretaria de Seguridad Publica Federal Police were involved in the incursion, which took place in El Paso, near the Border Patrol’s Ysleta station.
“The Mexican government, Border Patrol and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are investigating the incident. U.S. federal authorities are also responding to the incident. An ABC-7 viewer contacted the station early Thursday, saying her son, husband and friends were hunting on the Rio Grande levee on the U.S. side when men on the Mexico side fired shots, narrowly missing them. The woman said more men on the Mexico side drove up with automatic weapons and into the U.S. side. She said the armed men fired weapons and stole the hunter’s chairs and drove back into Mexico.
“Mosier said Border Patrol agents and Texas Parks and Wildlife officers were sent to the area immediately. ‘Upon approach, our agents observed those subjects (Mexican officers) who committed the incursion return back to Mexico,’ Mosier said.”
This is just an extremely small foretaste of a real invasion of the United States of America to take place in the not-too-distant future; but that invasion will be launched by a United States of Europe.
US Postal Service Is Nearing Default
The New York Times wrote on September 4:
“The United States Postal Service has long lived on the financial edge, but it has never been as close to the precipice as it is today: the agency is so low on cash that it will not be able to make a $5.5 billion payment due this month and may have to shut down entirely this winter unless Congress takes emergency action to stabilize its finances. “Our situation is extremely serious,” the postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe, said in an interview. ‘If Congress doesn’t act, we will default.’
“In recent weeks, Mr. Donahoe has been pushing a series of painful cost-cutting measures to erase the agency’s deficit, which will reach $9.2 billion this fiscal year. They include eliminating Saturday mail delivery, closing up to 3,700 postal locations and laying off 120,000 workers — nearly one-fifth of the agency’s work force — despite a no-layoffs clause in the unions’ contracts…”
Even the most prestigious institutions of the United States are in danger of defaulting.
Canada’s Troubled Submarine Fleet
The Vancouver Sun reported on September 4:
“The navy’s last operational submarine is now sidelined until 2016, leaving the service without an underwater capability and potentially throwing into question the future of the submarine fleet. The submarine program, which has already cost around $900 million, has been plagued with various maintenance issues that have prevented the boats from being available for operations on a regular basis. A media report in July noted that one of the subs, HMCS Windsor, arrived in Canada in the fall of 2001 but since then it has operated at sea for just 332 days.
“HMCS Corner Brook, damaged when it hit the ocean floor during a training accident in June on the West Coast, is now dockside. It will be repaired and overhauled during a planned maintenance period now underway. But it is not scheduled to return to sea until 2016, the navy confirmed in an email to the Ottawa Citizen. HMCS Chicoutimi, damaged by a fire in 2004 that killed one officer, still remains sidelined. That leaves HMCS Windsor and HMCS Victoria, which are also not available for duty at sea… defence analyst Martin Shadwick said the latest news on the four submarines is yet another blow to the program… He said the future survival of the submarine force could be put in jeopardy if the problems continue… The subs are still not capable of firing Canadian torpedoes… the subs are also restricted in the depth they can dive because of rust problems.”
Canada will not be spared when the future United States of Europe will begin to invade the American continent—but Canada might be ill-prepared, militarily, for such an attack.
Europe Needs to Relinquish National Sovereignty
Deutsche Welle reported on September 4:
“Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has appealed for the pace to be stepped up in the building [of] a more federal Europe… Schröder said Brussels needed to quicken the pace on establishing a federal style of European government – at least as far as the economy is concerned. ‘We [are] going to have to relinquish national sovereignty, ’ said Schröder, referring to domestic economic policy. ‘The European parliament should become the highest authority for whatever power is given up by national parliaments. ’… Schröder welcomed efforts by Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the direction of a common economic government… Otherwise, Schröder said Europe and its individual nation states would ‘sink into insignificance.’
“He also attacked the position of Britain within the European Union. ‘Great Britain causes the biggest problems,’ Schröder said. While the country was not a member of the single currency, London still maintained an interest in shaping the debate over the economic zone, he said. ‘The two things do not go together,’ said Schröder, calling for a clear recognition that Europe had an ‘inner core’ of countries. ‘Concrete decisions about the organization of any economic governance can only be made by eurozone members and not by the whole of the EU council,’ said Schröder.”
Reuters added on September 5:
“Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Sunday called for the creation of a ‘United States of Europe,’ saying the bloc needed a common government to avoid future economic crises… He added: ‘We will have to give up national sovereignty… we should make a government which would be supervised by the European Parliament. And that means the United States of Europe… In the crisis lies a real opportunity to achieve a political union in Europe… Great Britain causes the greatest problems. (It is) not in the euro but the British nevertheless always want to participate when it comes to designing a European economic area,’ he said. ‘That doesn’t work.’”
We should take good note of Gerhard Schröder’s very perceptive statements regarding the future of Europe, which are totally in line with biblical prophecy.
Europe Needs Deeper Political Union
The Associated Press reported on September 3:
“Finance officials and experts gathered in Italy mostly agreed Saturday that Europe needs deeper political union to preserve the troubled euro… Unless Europeans agree ‘to complete economic and monetary union … with a fiscal union, with a strong governance, with a feeling that some political decision should be adopted in common by those who are sharing the single currency, we will not succeed,’ said Joaquin Almunia, a vice president of the EU commission, the closest thing to a central government in the union.
“While most governments bristle at this, Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado bravely concurred, saying she supported ‘more fiscal integration’ and noting that her country was in any case deeply dependent on trade with the rest of the EU.
“Many of the speakers in Cernobbio singled out Germany, which as the best performing EU economy both benefits from the union and is called upon to subsidize others… At the heart of the matter is the fact… that the European Union is operating at two speeds, with Germany and a few other mostly northern nations performing far better than the southern rim and even France…
“China’s Zhu Min, the recently minted [sic] deputy director of the IMF, urged Europeans to start by overcoming their divisions: ‘At the end of the day if you don’t have a single market, you won’t have a single currency and a common growth,’ he said.”
As the next articles suggest, and as the Bible makes very clear, core Europe will unite politically under German leadership, and the euro, as the necessary glue for the establishment of a political and military union, will not fail.
Cameron: “Eurozone Should Become United States of Europe”
On September 7, The Daily Mail published the following article:
“[British Prime Minister] David Cameron was branded an EU ‘enthusiast’ by Tory Eurosceptics last night as he said Britain must let eurozone countries move towards a United States of Europe with a common economic policy…
“Mr Cameron, appearing before MPs, repeated his pledge that Britain would never join the euro while he is in charge… Mr Cameron insisted he was a ‘practical Eurosceptic’ – but warned of economic disaster for Britain if the euro is allowed to collapse.”
“If the Euro Fails, Then Europe Fails!”
Der Spiegel wrote on September 7:
“In a speech before German parliament, part of a general debate on the budget, Merkel made a plea for ‘more Europe’ and said that to make Europe strong and lasting, ‘treaty amendments can no longer be taboo in order to bind the EU closer together.’ She also reminded her country that a strong Europe was in Germany’s interest… ‘The euro is much, much more than a currency,’ Merkel said. ‘The euro is the guarantee of a united Europe. If the euro fails, then Europe fails.’”
… and we know from biblical prophecy that Europe—modern Babylon–will not fail, until it has fulfilled its designed role in world affairs.
Decision of Highest German Court Victory for the Euro
The Local wrote on September 7:
“Germany’s top court ruled on Wednesday that aid for Greece and rescue packages for other eurozone countries was legal but said parliament must have greater say in any future bailout… the judges insisted that parliament may not approve any deal that leads to a pooling of national debt, apparently ruling out the idea of ‘eurobonds’… German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the pivotal court ruling upholding rescue packages for stricken eurozone members confirmed Berlin’s policies during the debt crisis.”
Deutsche Welle added on September 7 that the court decision was a “Victory for euro-backers.”
The New York Times agreed, stating on September 7:
“The decision was viewed by some analysts as a rare triumph for Chancellor Angela Merkel and seemed to place fewer restrictions than some had expected on her ability to react to the European debt crisis. At the same time, the high public standing of the court should lend broader legitimacy to government efforts to shore up the European currency… The euro rose slightly on currency markets as word of the ruling emerged…
“Hannes Hesse, president of the German Engineering Federation, which represents manufacturers… Hesse added, ‘In the long term it will only be possible to stabilize European currency union when the national parliaments of all the euro countries accept limits on their fiscal sovereignty… The euro project will make a more unified economic policy in the euro zone unavoidable’…
“’In Europe, there is no Constitutional Court stronger or more visible in the public sphere and political landscape than the German constitutional court,’ said Matthias Herdegen, director of the Institute for Public Law at the University of Bonn… Supporters of greater integration contend that a common economic government is the missing element for a stable future for the currency bloc.”
Warning for Those Who Would Like to Return to Deutsche Mark
Der Spiegel wrote on September 7:
“The Swiss decision on Tuesday to peg its currency to the euro should serve as a warning for those who would like to see the return of the deutsche mark: No country can escape the dynamics of the tightly intertwined global market. German commentators hope that calm can now be restored to the euro debate…
“Switzerland on Tuesday pegged its currency to the euro, announcing that the exchange rate was not to fall below 1.20 Swiss francs per euro… The bank said it was ‘prepared to buy foreign currency in unlimited quantities’ in order to maintain a cheaper franc.
“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘Even if it might be expensive in the end, the Swiss decision will ultimately be cheaper than having an economy that is no longer competitive. It should be a lesson to all those who shout “Get Rid of the Euro” and “Give Us Back the deutsche mark.” Were we to get the mark back, it would appreciate at least as rapidly as the franc has and German exports would suffer… Switzerland has its own currency, a diminutive budget deficit and a legally mandated balanced budget (debt brake) — and still it found itself being chewed up by the market machinery. In a world of globalized finances, there are no islands of bliss. This network creates a dynamic that solitary actors like Switzerland cannot escape. And Germany certainly couldn’t either.’
“The conservative daily Die Welt writes: ‘… All euro-critics should take note. Were Germany to reintroduce the deutsche mark, the exchange rate would rocket upwards much quicker than the franc did. Company bankruptcies and mass unemployment would be the result — the economy would collapse. Germany isn’t an island either.’
“The center-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘The world is so networked that no country can go against the grain for long. Those adherents to the deutsche mark should think about that fact, because the Swiss were on exactly that path which critics of the euro recommend for Germany — and the Swiss couldn’t stand it for long. A fifth of Swiss companies, it was said, would have faced insolvency if the franc had climbed further. Those who would like to plunge the German export industry … into a comparative situation must be very courageous. It would be nice if the Swiss decision would inject a bit of cool-headedness into a euro discussion that has become overheated.’…”
Those who do demand and believe in a return to the Deutsche Mark simply do not understand the economic situation in Europe and Germany, nor the prophecies of the Bible. The euro and the Eurozone (howbeit, not necessarily in its present constellation) are here to stay, but there will also still have to develop a political unity of ten European nations or groups of nations, and the next article shows the thinking of Europeans as to how to bring about such a core European unity (arising out of the Eurozone) within the broader confines of the EU.
A Two-Speed Europe
Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 5:
“Herman Van Rompuy tends to be overlooked whenever European heads of state and government meet for their summits… He is one of the most powerful politicians in Europe, but he is almost unknown in most EU countries, including Germany… Merkel wants to propose giving the European Council president even more power…
“Merkel has recently been thinking about abandoning the concept of a unified EU — and assigning a key role to Van Rompuy in the process. The EU has always been careful to ensure that all members acted in unison… But in times in which the common currency threatens to break apart, the 17 nations of the euro zone need a common economic and financial policy. Otherwise, as the crisis has demonstrated, the euro cannot function…
“Today, it is primarily Great Britain that is preventing the EU from growing closer together. Merkel, though, has had enough — and is now planning a two-speed Europe. It would mean tightly interlocking the countries of the euro zone, possibly by means of a separate treaty that would apply in parallel to the EU Treaty of Lisbon…
“In addition to the club of 27 nations that primarily manages the common domestic market as it has done until now, Merkel envisions a tight alliance of the 17 euro-zone members — one which would unify their fiscal, budgetary and social policies… She can draw on a concept known as ‘Core Europe,’ which was developed in the 1990s by the then-chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, a certain Wolfgang Schäuble, who now serves under Merkel as finance minister. Both have established various measures to rescue the euro in recent months, some for the EU as a whole and others exclusively for the 17 euro-zone member states…
“The monetary union already had its own bodies that make decisions more or less independently of the European Commission. The important decisions have already been made for some time within the Euro Group, the group of finance ministers from the member states of the monetary union. They meet once a month, or more often, if necessary… But that isn’t enough for Merkel and Sarkozy. They want the 17 leaders of the euro zone countries to convene for a summit twice a year, with Van Rompuy serving as its permanent chairman…”
Defeat for Angela Merkel
The Local reported on September 4:
“The governing centre-left Social Democrats on Sunday trounced Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in her home state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania… the SPD was the strongest party, with 37 percent of the vote, a significant gain on their 2006 performance of 30.2 percent. Merkel’s Christian Democrats mustered 24… percent of the vote in the northeastern state on the Baltic Sea, a decline from the 28.8 percent they won five years ago. The third-strongest party was the hard-line socialist Left party (Die Linke), with 17 percent.
“The resurgent Greens scored 8.5 percent, ensuring their representation in the regional parliament for the first time… The neo-Nazi NPD appeared set to remain in the state legislature… The far-right extremists managed to win 5.5 percent of the vote, down from 7.3 percent five years ago. The pro-business Free Democrats failed to crack the five-percent hurdle to win any seats.”
Deutsche Welle added on September 4:
“Currently governed by a grand coalition between the SPD and CDU, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the poorest of Germany’s 16 states with unemployment at 11.5 percent and per capita gross domestic product (GDP) below the European Union average.
“Chancellor Merkel’s CDU has suffered a series of losses in five regional elections this year. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s current Social Democratic Minister President Erwin Sellering has expressed openness to other coalition partners. But around 47 percent of voters in Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania continue to support the grand coalition while 34 percent are calling for the SPD and the Left Party to join forces. A coalition between the SPD and the Greens enjoys the support of 35 percent of the electorate.”
On September 5, The Local quoted the “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” stating that “the continuing success of the neo-Nazi party in the northeast of Germany was deeply disturbing. ‘The problem how to undermine support for this party remains elusive… Something is deeply wrong in a society when the NPD has greater success in a state election than the FDP.’”
The future of Angela Merkel is anything but sure. The Bible speaks of a coming German political and military leader who will be extremely influential and powerful. We know that Angela Merkel is not that person, but it has not yet been made manifest as to who that person is. We therefore need to continue to watch world events, and especially the developments in Germany.
The Conspiracy Theories Surrounding September 11
Der Spiegel wrote on September 6:
“Andreas von Bülow used to be a German cabinet minister and member of parliament for the Social Democrats… he harbors suspicions that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were not the work of 19 ‘suicide Muslims,’ as he calls them, but rather an ingenious, cold-blooded operation in psychological warfare organized by the United States itself… he feels fairly certain that either the Bush administration or other, far more powerful groups operating behind the scenes allowed more than 3,000 people to die in order to construct an unassailable argument supporting geopolitically desirable military operations such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“These are astonishing theories on the part of a former German government minister, one who spent 25 years representing the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany’s federal parliament, the Bundestag… A new… book, published in time for the 10-year anniversary of the attacks, includes an extensive afterword which casts doubt on the claim that Osama bin Laden was in fact shot in Pakistan by US Special Forces…
“Bülow… was a member of parliament, state secretary in the Defense Ministry and even German research minister under Chancellor Helmut Schmidt… In Bülow’s version of events… the intelligence services, particularly the CIA, display an almost inhuman degree of precision and competence. Not only did they allegedly control the terrorist planes remotely using special technology, but they also supposedly placed explosives on multiple floors of the World Trade Center towers in advance, to facilitate the buildings’ peculiar controlled, vertical collapse. In the case of the Pentagon, they possibly directed a cruise missile into the building, while at the same time making the crew and passengers of Flight AA77, the plane officially believed to have hit the Pentagon, disappear without a trace.
“Along the way, they invented the story about the 19 terrorists, substantiating it with false witness testimony and strategically placed documents and evidence. In Bülow’s world view, the CIA is an organization of nearly limitless power and fearsome efficiency, an organization capable of forcing an enormous number of people — the many accomplices and participants such an operation would have required — to keep quiet for 10 years and more, all for the sake of national interests…
“Over the past decades, successive US administrations have themselves certainly provided ample fodder for the formation of such views: the fable of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; the fact that it was American help that turned Afghanistan’s mujahideen into the powerful force that later gave rise to the Taliban and al-Qaida; the Iran-Contra affair; the country’s unscrupulous cooperation with dictators and coups; the Vietnam War. The US government and its intelligence services have been caught lying, deceiving and breaking international treaties so often that many people now believe anything is possible…”
Many Europeans, especially Germans, agree with the conspiracy theories postulated by von Bülow and others…
Massive Falling Out Between Turkey and Israel
The EUObserver wrote on September 2:
“Italy has said the massive falling out between Turkey and Israel could spell trouble in terms of Middle East stability… ‘We have always said that normal relations between Turkey and Israel are a very important factor in terms of regional stability,’ Italian foreign ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari told Euobserver… Massari spoke after Turkey earlier in the day expelled Israel’s ambassador to Ankara and froze all future imports of Israeli arms in the climax of a year-long dispute over Gaza.
“Turkey says Israel should formally apologise for what it sees as the illegal killing by Israeli commandos of nine Turkish citizens during peacetime in international waters last year. Israel launched the attack in order to stop the Mavi Marmara and other boats in the so-called Gaza Flotilla from breaking its naval blockade on the Palestinian enclave. A UN panel in a report out this week said Israel’s blockade of Gaza is ‘legitimate’, that Gaza flotilla members acted ‘recklessly’ and put up ‘violent resistance.’ It added that Israel’s use of force was ‘excessive and unreasonable’, however.
“Maja Kocjancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton, said: ‘Turkey and Israel are crucial partners of the EU – their dialogue and good relations are thus equally crucial to us, including to address the difficult problems of the region, such as the MEPP [Middle East peace process].’ She noted that ‘the EU is ready to assist if needed’ in rebuilding bridges…”
The Bible prophesies that the end-time relationship between Turkey—biblical Edom—and the state of Israel will become very hostile.
Strategic Cooperation between Turkey and Egypt
Haaretz wrote on September 4:
“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan is set to visit Egypt next week in order to discuss a strategic cooperation agreement between the two countries… Erdogan is scheduled to meet with the Egyptian prime minister and the head of the Egyptian military council on September 12 to discuss increased diplomatic and military cooperation, and overall improvement of ties between Turkey and Egypt. The two are due to sign a strategic cooperation agreement concerning military, diplomatic, and economic issues.
“The moves come as the crisis in Israel-Turkey relations deepened after the UN-commissioned report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid was leaked to the New York Times, foiling a last-ditch effort to patch up relations between the two countries. Meanwhile, following the expulsion of the Israeli envoy from Turkey, Egyptians called on their government to follow in Turkey’s footsteps, Al Jazeera reported on Sunday, and expel the Israeli envoy in Cairo, as well as alter the Camp David Accords to allow more Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula.
“On Friday morning, Turkey announced a series of measures against Israel, beginning with the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and the downgrading of bilateral relations to the level of second secretary. Another step announced by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu could lead to a military confrontation with Israel. ‘Turkey would take every precaution it deems necessary for the safety of maritime navigation in the eastern Mediterranean,’ Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News quoted him as saying Friday. The paper reported that Turkey’s navy would escort civilian vessels carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and would guarantee free navigation in the zone between Israel and Cyprus.”
These are interesting developments, in the light of biblical prophecy. Please read or re-read our Q&As on Egypt and Turkey.
Pre-Emptive Strike Against Iran?
AFP reported on August 31:
“France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy warned on Wednesday that Iran’s alleged attempts to build long-range missiles and nuclear weapons could lead unnamed countries to launch a pre-emptive attack. ‘Its military nuclear and ballistic ambitions constitute a growing threat that may lead to a preventive attack against Iranian sites that would provoke a major crisis that France wants to avoid at all costs,’ he said.
“Sarkozy did not say which country might launch such a strike, but it has been reported that Israel — perhaps with US support — has considered bombing Iranian nuclear sites if it believes Tehran is close to building a weapon.
“The French leader placed the blame for the crisis on Iran, which insists it has no intention of building a nuclear weapon, and is merely enriching nuclear fuel for medical research and a domestic atomic energy programme… But, despite being targeted by four sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to suspend enrichment, Iran remains adamant that it will push ahead and denies Western claims that it seeks to build a nuclear bomb.
“This week Iran upped the ante once again, announcing that it had abandoned talks with the international community to negotiate a nuclear fuel swap that would see it forego its own enrichment in return for civilian-level fuel. Western powers fear that if Iran perfects enrichment technology it could rapidly convert uranium into weapons grade material and thus be considered a ‘threshold’ nuclear power capable of rapidly constructing a bomb…”
A pre-emptive strike against Iran is very likely. However, the consequences might be horrific.
Justice Pursuant to Libya’s Rebels
The Associated Press reported on September 1:
“Rebel forces and armed civilians are rounding up thousands of black Libyans and migrants from sub-Sahara Africa, accusing them of fighting for ousted strongman Moammar Gadhafi and holding them in makeshift jails across the capital. Virtually all of the detainees say they are innocent migrant workers, and in most cases there is no evidence that they are lying.
“But that is not stopping the rebels from placing the men in facilities like the Gate of the Sea sports club, where about 200 detainees — all black — clustered on a soccer field this week, bunching against a high wall to avoid the scorching sun.
“… the African Union and Amnesty International have protested the treatment of blacks inside Libya, saying there is a potential for serious abuse.”
Such developments were to be expected. Note also the next article.
Islamic State of Libya?
The Washington Times wrote on September 4:
“Jihadists among the Libyan rebels revealed plans last week on the Internet to subvert the post-Moammar Gadhafi government and create an Islamist state, according to U.S. intelligence agencies… the jihadist plotting coincided with the high-profile emergence of Abu Abdallah al-Sadiq, a former leader of the al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and now a leading rebel. He is currently known as Abdel Hakim al-Khulidi Belhaj and led rebels in overrunning Col. Gadhafi’s Tripoli compound.
“A U.S. official familiar with intelligence reports on the region said there are concerns that some LIFG members remain committed to al Qaeda and others may be temporarily renouncing their ties to the terrorist group for ‘show’… A defense official familiar with jihadist strategy said Islamists likely will emerge in power from the turmoil expected after the demise of the Gadhafi regime and the West will be partly to blame. ‘We’re helping pave the way for them’ through NATO airstrikes and other support, he said.”
Unprecedented Rift Between Vatican and Ireland
CNN reported on September 4:
“Ireland stepped up its battle with the Roman Catholic Church over child abuse Sunday, with Justice Minister Alan Shatter vowing to pass a law requiring priests to report suspicions of child abuse, even if they learn about them in confession. The Catholic Church regards information learned in confession as completely confidential. But under the law proposed by Shatter, priests could be prosecuted for failing to tell the police about crimes disclosed in the confession box… The minister’s comment to a local radio station Sunday comes after the Vatican rejected Irish accusations that church leaders sought to cover up extensive abuse of young people by priests in Ireland.
“Saturday’s 25-page statement is the latest development in a row that has seen an unprecedented rift open up between the Vatican and Ireland, a heavily Roman Catholic country. ‘The Holy See does not accept that it was somehow indifferent to the plight of those who suffered abuse in Ireland,’ the statement says. Rather, it says, the Holy See ‘devoted considerable attention to the Irish situation,’ through meetings with Irish bishops and directions given by the Pope to Irish church leaders. The Vatican response says ‘the accusation that the Holy See attempted to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign democratic republic is unfounded.’
“The Vatican response follows a biting attack by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny in the wake of the Cloyne report, published in July, which investigated abuses in the diocese of Cloyne, near the southern city of Cork… Addressing lawmakers, Kenny claimed the report exposed the Vatican as trying to hinder an inquiry into child sex abuse for its own benefit and said it revealed the ‘dysfunction, the disconnection, the elitism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.’
“Irish lawmakers then passed a motion deploring ‘the Vatican’s intervention which contributed to the undermining of the child protection framework and guidelines of the Irish State and the Irish Bishops.’ The Vatican responded to the criticism by Kenny and other Irish lawmakers by recalling its envoy to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza.”
It remains to be seen how the relationship between the Vatican and Ireland will develop. We can expect that in the future, the Roman Catholic Church will play a much more forceful role than it does now.
Emphasis of Secularism and Sensitivity to Non-Christians
Mail On Line reported on September 3:
“Australia is to remove the birth of Jesus as a reference point for dates in school history books. Under the new politically correct curriculum, the terms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) will be replaced with BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era).
“The Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, yesterday condemned the move as an ‘intellectually absurd attempt to write Christ out of human history’…
“Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne, of Australia’s Liberal National Party, also criticised the government changes, which were supposed to be pushed through next year but have been delayed because of the row. ‘Australia is what it is today because of the foundations of our nation in the Judeo-Christian heritage that we inherited from Western civilization,’ he said…
“The Common Era was originally introduced in the Sixth Century and appeared in English as early 1708… Use of the CE abbreviation was introduced by Jewish academics in the mid-19th century. The terms CE and BCE became popular in academic and scientific publications in the late 20th century. They were used by publishers to emphasise secularism or sensitivity to non-Christians…”
This is a sad testimony indeed, when “Christians” are unwilling to stand up for their beliefs for fear of non-Christian sensitivities or because they want to cater to secularism.
Could you explain Isaiah 26:14, 19? Isn’t there a contradiction?
It might appear so at first sight, but upon closer scrutiny, we will see that there is no contradiction.
Isaiah 26:13-14 states: “O LORD our God, masters besides You Have had dominion over us; But by You only we make mention of Your name. They are dead, they will not live; They are deceased, they will not rise. Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, And made all their memory to perish.”
On the other hand, we read in Isaiah 26:19:
“Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead.”
At first sight, these statements might say that while God’s dead—those who were faithful–will be raised in a resurrection, God’s enemies will never come back to life. However, we know that all will come back to life (compare John 5:28-29; Daniel 12:2; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Revelation 20:4-6, 11-15).
All will be raised in one of three resurrections—either in the first resurrection of eternal life; or in the second resurrection of judgment; or in the third resurrection of eternal condemnation or destruction. Please read our Q&A on the three resurrections, and study our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible?—The Mystery of the Book of Revelation.”
What then is the meaning of the passages in Isaiah 26, as quoted above?
In Isaiah 26:13-14, Isaiah is not denying the resurrection of the wicked. Rather, the context is that they will not rise again to have dominion or power over others. If the reference is to those being raised in the third and final resurrection, which will destroy the wicked, then this is self-evident. But even in the context of the second resurrection, when the dead will be raised to physical life to be given their first opportunity to accept Jesus Christ and embrace God’s Way, they will not be allowed to have autocratic power to abuse and persecute others. If they repent and are forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit, they would ultimately qualify to become immortal kings and priests in the Family of God—but the power to rule that God would give them would be associated with justice, fairness, love and compassion.
Notice how several commentaries understand and explain the passage in Isaiah 26:13-14.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible writes, referring strictly to the third resurrection, even though he seems to be confused about the last two resurrections:
“They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise… The above tyrannical lords, the kings of the earth and their mighty men… shall not live again in this world, nor rise from their graves, and return to their former state, power, and authority; or tyrannise over, molest, disturb, oppress, and persecute the people of God any more; though they shall live again at the end of the thousand years, and shall awake to everlasting shame and contempt, and come forth to the resurrection of damnation.”
The Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament states:
“The tyrants who usurped the rule over Israel have now utterly disappeared… The meaning is not that Jehovah had put them to death because there was no resurrection at all after death; for… the prophet was acquainted with such a resurrection…”
Wesley’s Notes add:
“Those tyrants are destroyed; they shall never live or rise again to molest us.”
By contrast, Isaiah continues to say in verse 19 that the persecuted, downcast and maligned people of God will be raised in power. Even though they are now abused subjects and victims of this world’s terrible oppressions, they will become loving and almighty Spirit beings—God beings–in the Family of God, ruling over those who had harmed them in this life.
Some commentaries say that this verse does not primarily teach the resurrection from the dead, but merely a restoration of the tribe of Judah to power and rule. Even though it is true that the modern houses of Israel and Judah will be restored and placed in the Promised Land, when Christ returns, and that also those of the houses of Israel and Judah, who died and who will be resurrected in the second resurrection, will be brought back to the Promised Land, this is not what Isaiah is primarily emphasizing here.
The reason is that Isaiah includes himself, saying that his dead body will also arise in the future. Some commentaries point out that the words “Together with” in verse 19 (“Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise”) are not in the original, and that therefore Isaiah is not referring to himself in this statement. However, he clearly is including himself, as the words, “my dead body” are in the original. Some try to contradict this by saying that the phrase “my dead body” should be rendered as, “my dead bodies” or even “their dead bodies,” but this is not what the original Hebrew says.
The Interlinear Hebrew/English Old Testament renders Isaiah 26:19 as follows: “Your dead ones shall live, my dead body, they shall arise…” The Zuercher Bible confirms that in the Hebrew it says, “my dead body,” but adds that the meaning is uncertain. The Tanakh, even though rendering the phrase as, “let corpses arise,” says in an annotation that the Hebrew Grammar is uncertain.
What is certain is that Isaiah knew that he will rise to eternal life in the first resurrection, and that he will not remain dead forever, or that he will only be brought back to physical life in the second resurrection. Even though Isaiah says that his dead body will arise together with the other dead of God, he is not saying that he will be raised in a “bodily” physical resurrection, but that he will be resurrected to eternal life; and that he will receive a spiritual glorified body. For more information, please read our Q&A on the bodily resurrection.
Note the following comment by Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:
“And the earth shall cast out the dead – This is language which is derived from the doctrine of the resurrection of the body; and shows also that that doctrine was understood by the Hebrews in the time of Isaiah. The sense is, that as the earth shall cast forth its dead in the resurrection, so the people of God in Babylon should be restored to life, and to their former privileges in their own land.”
This statement could be confusing, when referring to the “resurrection of the body,” and in addition, it is not quite what Isaiah had in mind, as he primarily emphasized the first resurrection—not the restoration of the Jewish people. The Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament states more accurately:
“When compared with the New Testament Apocalypse, it is ‘the first resurrection’ which is here predicted by Isaiah. The confessors of Jehovah are awakened in their graves to form one glorious church with those who are still in the body.”
Notice too this comment by the Nelson Study Bible:
“Isaiah, addressing his faithful peers, assures them that their dead will rise in the resurrection (Job 19:26; Dan. 12:2). Dew is a picture of new life and blessing (Ps. 133:3; Hos. 14:5).”
The Soncino commentary adds:
“This verse [Isaiah 26:19] is the source of the belief in the resurrection of the dead, a fundamental of Jewish dogma… [Isaiah] knew that he was righteous and would [be in] the [first] resurrection.”
In conclusion, the above-quoted passages in Isaiah 26 do not contradict each other, but they explain the fate of different categories of people. While the wicked oppressors will not rise again to abuse and persecute God’s people—and as such, even the memory of their oppression will fade away—God’s people will rise to eternal glory and power. Isaiah does not deny the second or third resurrection, and he does not say that those who were wicked in this life would never come back to life—he only says that they won’t come back to life to be given opportunity to oppress others again.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
The final text of our new booklet, “Paul’s Letter to the Philippians,” was sent to our Graphic Designer, Shelly Bruno, for finalization. Shelly has already designed a striking full-color cover for the new booklet.
A new member letter was written and will be sent out shortly. In the letter, Rene Messier reminds us of the times we are living in and the individual and collective responsibilities that we have as members of the Church of God, especially in light of the upcoming annual Holy Days.
This week, Norbert Link video-recorded the message for the Feast of Tabernacles 2011, which will be sent out to be played at different Feast sites.
Please feel free to proceed with making reservations for the Feast of Tabernacles 2011 with the Hilton Garden Inn at 601 James Way, Pismo Beach, CA 93449. When you call under 1-805-773-6020, please make sure that you mention that you are attending the Feast convention of the Church of the Eternal God. Further information is available on our Web site (www.eternalgod.org), under “Feasts.”
The Anguish of the Past
by Ben Agbayani
In 199I, when living in the Philippines, I was elected as a president of a union for a multi-national corporation. One of the issues we were fighting for was the receipt of meaningful medical benefits. Our benefit had changed for the worse, as if someone had taken a child’s candy out of his mouth. Because such a fight could be compared with David fighting Goliath, and since I did not know God nor have the faith that God would fight my battles, I ended up seeking help from a leftist group.
I became exposed to different labor complaints and witnessed many atrocious activities between management and their labor counterpart. As these multi-national corporations had the government backing them, some of them used governmental officials and the police force in dealing with labor activities by torturing and, to some extent, permanently terminating union officials.
I realized that I was in too deep in the movement. I even had my own code name. Since management made a move harassing the very people that had elected me as their leader, all turned their back on me and left me hanging. I was threatened to my very core. Fearing that they may do harm to my family, and that no one would help me except for the people that were in the movement, I decided to ask for God’s help—as best as I knew God at the time–and God answered my prayer by allowing us to leave the country and to give us a new life.
Being now members of the Spirit-begotten Family of God, my wife and I know that in the future, when God rules this world, man will no longer do these terrible things to his fellow man. In spite of the anguish of the past, this knowledge gives me great peace and joy.
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.
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