Update 536


“Our Deliverer” and “We Are At War!”

On April 13, 2012, is the Last Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread with morning and afternoon services. In the morning, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “Our Deliverer”: In the afternoon, Brian Gale will give the sermon, titled, “We Are At War!”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm Pacific Time, respectively (which is 11:00 am Mountain Time; 12:00 pm Central Time; 1:00 pm Eastern Time for the morning service; and 3:00 pm Mountain Time; 4:00 pm Central Time; 5:00 pm Eastern Time for the afternoon service). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.


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by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

Not too long ago, I happened to come across a photograph on the Internet of an old friend of mine from nearly half a century ago! This old friend lived close to our family in the 1950’s and early 1960’s in the north-east of England. I only had one photograph of him in a group from long ago, but I could still visualise him in my mind’s eye. I first of all recognised his name and then could certainly see a big resemblance to someone I knew from the distant past. As he was presenting an award at a prestigious university, I did have a point of contact and, after a number of e-mails and telephone calls, his wife rang me and remembered me even though I could only recall meeting her once.

It got me to thinking about recognition and all that it entails. We can be recognised by our facial characteristics and by our voice (and maybe even our mannerisms), but what about being recognised by our behaviour? As we have been called by God, we are to be a light to the world, but would our behaviour give that impression to anyone who didn’t know about our Christian faith?

As someone once asked, “If we were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us?” What if someone followed us around all week, what would they discover? Would we be showing the fruit of God’s Spirit? What would those who knew us well have to say? Would we pass the test? Or would we be shown as falling far short of that which was expected of us?

Recently, we kept the Passover and are now keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread, before which we should have undergone a time of personal examination. Were we diligent in that approach, and has it paid off with us being more recognisable as someone who does indeed follow the full instructions of the Bible and the teachings of Christ?

In a few weeks time, we will be celebrating another one of God’s Holy Days, the Feast of Pentecost (see Acts 2), when the Holy Spirit was given on that wonderful day nearly 2,000 years ago. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit will enable those who come into contact with us to recognise that we do behave differently from society and, that there is something different about us.

But, most importantly of all, God will recognise His own.

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This week powerful earthquakes have once again occupied the news cycle. Strident views calling for “Islamization of life” are reported; Syria stays front and center for its neighbors as well as world leaders; Iran warns of terror responses to attacks on its nuclear program; Tennessee passes a surprising law, while  Russia creates controversy with its anti-gay enforcement; we conclude by quoting a frightening article that addresses bee colony collapse–which also reveals the questionable safety of the products we eat! 

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More Powerful Earthquakes!

The Japan Times Online reported on April 12, 2012:

“Two powerful earthquakes struck off the western coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island on Wednesday, triggering tsunami alerts around the Indian Ocean.

“But the waves observed as of Wednesday night were minor, and there were no immediate reports of casualties or serious damage.

“Nevertheless, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said a tsunami watch was in effect around the entire Indian Ocean, including India, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Somalia, Tanzania, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.

“The center said that while it was not immediately known whether the strong temblor had generated massive waves, ‘earthquakes of this size have the potential to generate widespread destructive tsunami that can affect coastlines across the entire Indian Ocean basin’…

“Speaking to reporters soon after the first, 8.6-magnitude quake jolted Sumatra at 2:38 p.m., Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the country remained on alert but was unlikely to experience massive tsunami.

“The second temblor, with an estimated magnitude of 8.2, rocked Sumatra at 5:43 p.m., and Indonesia’s government immediately issued tsunami warnings for the five provinces along the island’s western coast.

“Reporters in Banda Aceh and the city of Lhokseumawe in North Aceh Regency said the earthquakes caused panic among locals, many of whom were seen fleeing their homes screaming in terror.”

Following the earthquake activity near Indonesia, a strong earthquake was experienced in Mexico and a lesser quake occurred off the Oregon coast–all within a twenty-four hour period:

USA Today wrote on April 11, 2012:

“A strong earthquake struck a sparsely populated area in the mountains of western Mexico on Wednesday, and caused tall buildings to sway more than 200 miles away in Mexico City. People evacuated some buildings in the capital, but the city government said helicopter flights detected no signs of damage.

“Authorities in Michoacan state, where the tremor was centered, also had no immediate reports of damage.

“The U.S. Geological Survey initially reported a preliminary reading of 7.0 magnitude for the quake, but later downgraded it to 6.5.

“A quake of that magnitude is capable of producing severe damage in an urban area, but this one occurred about 41 miles below the surface and a tremor’s power to cause damage is often dissipated when it is so deep.

“The USGS said the tremor was centered in Michoacan state 238 miles west-southwest of Mexico City and 88 miles northwest of the Pacific resort of Zihuantanejo.

“Manuel Ortiz Rosete, the Michoacan state civil protection director, said no damage had been reported in major cities and coastal communities of the state.

“Wednesday’s tremor was the latest in a series of strong shakes to hit Mexico City since a powerful 7.4-magnitude quake hit southern Mexico three weeks ago, but this was not an aftershock of that one , USGS geophysicist Dale Grant said.

“‘It’s a different earthquake. We are calling it an individual earthquake,’ Grant said. ‘There’s a potential for aftershocks.'”

Reuters published this additional report on April 11, 2012:

“A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck off the coast of Oregon on Wednesday and was followed a minute later by a smaller quake off the coast of central California, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

“The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quakes were unlikely to trigger a tsunami. The Oregon quake was initially reported as a magnitude 6.2 and the California one as a 5.3. Both were later downgraded.”

CNN reported on April 12, 2012:

“A pair of strong earthquakes rocked Mexico’s Gulf of California only minutes apart early Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
“The quakes — magnitude 6.9 and 6.2 — were centered about 85 miles northeast of Guerrero Negro in the Mexican state of Baja California, or 325 miles south-southwest of Phoenix in the United States. Both epicenters were shallow, a little more than six miles underground.
“No tsunami warnings were issued and there were no immediate reports of damage, but people as far north as Tucson, Arizona, reported feeling them.”

While people all over the earth now can receive virtually instantaneous reports of major occurrences such as these, the fact remains that those who are experiencing these events are living in terror! In speaking of the time that would signal the end of this age of human government and His imminent return, Jesus said, “‘And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven'” (Luke 21:11). One must consider, are we just getting better reporting, or are events such as those prophesied to occur by Jesus actually taking place in our time?

A Worldview From the Muslim Brotherhood…

The Jerusalem Post wrote on April 10, 2012:

“The Muslim Brotherhood’s main presidential candidate seeks to fundamentally Islamicize Egyptian society if elected, according to newly uncovered footage of an extended address he gave supporters last year shortly after his release from prison.

“Egyptian activists have transcribed Khairat al-Shater’s 90- minute address into English, offering a rare glimpse into the worldview of the normally tight-lipped candidate who is a front-runner in upcoming elections to lead the Arab world’s most populous state.”

The article continues with these quotations from Khairat al-Shater:

“’Everywhere, the Brothers are working to restore Islam in its all-encompassing conception to the lives of people,’ Shater says in the address. ‘Thus the mission is clear: restoring Islam in its all-encompassing conception, subjugating people to God, instituting the religion of God, the Islamization of life, empowering of God’s religion, establishing the renaissance of the ummah [worldwide Muslim nation] on the basis of Islam… Every aspect of life is to be Islamicized.

“’We call upon God Almighty to make this transformation the beginning of a new renaissance for the ummah and the shaking off of the state of backwardness from which it has suffered for decades,” ‘Shater says in the clip.” ‘As Muslim Brothers, it is imperative that we, as well as the entirety of the ummah, God willing, take advantage of this revolution which took place in Egypt and continues in the countries surrounding us.’”

Does Syria Matter to the U.S.?

On April 10, 2012, CNN published the following:

“In between taking care of their families, working and trying to keep up with everyday life, many Americans have caught at least a couple of stories about Syria. Many probably know that clashes between government forces and protesters who want the country’s president to relinquish power have become increasingly bloody over the past several months. Much of that violence has been represented in online videos, ostensibly that Syrians have posted, suggesting the slaughter of children and families.
“It’s horrible. No one would argue anything else. But there is violence in many corners of the world. Why should what’s happening in Syria be especially important to Americans? It’s clear a lot of people think it’s not. Several readers reacted to Tuesday’s top story on CNN about Syria by commenting: ‘Zzzzzz not our problem’ and ‘Anyone surprised? *yawn*.'”

The reporter of this article adds several very key reasons why the upheaval in Syria should and does matter to the United States. However, this conflict may be just one revolt too many for the U.S. to take on! The seemingly endless involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan; the hard feelings with Pakistan; the unwelcomed extremist turn of the Arab Spring; and any number of other misadventures is causing Americans to–more and more–not want national involvement as peace keepers for the world!

Will Syria Boil Over?

Reported in the Washington Post, April 9, 2012:

“Conflict in Syria burst into neighboring Lebanon and Turkey on Monday, with one Lebanese cameraman killed and at least four people injured in fighting on the Syria-Turkey border.

“The attacks, on the eve of a deadline under a fading U.N.-backed deal for ­Syrian troops to withdraw from cities and cease hostilities amid a widespread uprising, risked bringing the Syrian conflict to what the Turkish government called a ‘new stage.’”

Will Europe and America be Attacked?

WND.COM posted the follow article on April 4, 2012:

“Terror cells have been placed on high alert to attack targets in the United States and Europe should Iran’s nuclear facilities be attacked, a source in the Revolutionary Guards says.

“The terror cells in the U.S. are being coordinated by Quds Force personnel operating out of the Iranian Interests Section in Washington, the source says. Because Iran and the U.S. have no diplomatic relations, Iran’s Interests Section operates under the umbrella of the Pakistani embassy.
“’These cells work out of safe houses where ammunition and explosives are stored, each with an operational commander who reports back to Iran,’ the source says.
“Analysts in Iran believe Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, has provided two choices to the West: either accept a nuclear Iran or face all-out retaliation if its nuclear facilities are attacked.
“According to the source, who has served in the Guards’ intelligence apparatus, Iranian leaders have long prepared for an all-out confrontation with the West. The Guards’ commander, Hussein Babai, has openly stated that after the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon, Quds Force and Hezbollah terror cells began expanding in cities across Europe and America.”

The Bible Belt Takes a Stand…

Huffingtonpost.com reported on April 4, 2012:

‘A Tennessee bill meant to protect teachers who allow students to question and criticize ‘controversial’ subjects such as evolution and climate change became law on Tuesday after Gov. Bill Haslam (R) declined to act.
“The state legislature had sent the bill to Haslam earlier this month. He had until Tuesday to veto it, sign it or allow it to pass without his signature.
“Critics of the legislation have dubbed it the ‘Monkey Bill’ and charge that it is anti-science, backdoor approval of the teaching of religion in schools that reminds of the state’s history with the Scopes Trial.
“‘It would open the door to creationism, it would open the door to climate change denial, and to other sorts of pseudosciences being introduced into Tennessee classrooms,’ Josh Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education told The Huffington Post last month.

Assessing the remarkable controversy this bill has aroused speaks to just how upside-down and far-removed people really are when it comes to biblical knowledge. The sad truth is that this bill would not pass in the legislature of almost all of the other states–it certainly would be soundly rejected on the federal level!

Russia Takes a Stand…

Reported in Spiegel Online on April 6, 2012:

“For the first time, police in St. Petersburg, Russia, have made arrests on the strength of a new law banning the dissemination of information on homo-, bi- and transsexuality. Two men were arrested in the city center on Thursday after holding up a sign reading ‘Homosexuality Is Normal,’ according to the newswire Interfax.

“Russia’s second-largest city passed the controversial law on Feb. 29. The two men now face a possible maximum fine of 500,000 rubles (€12,800/$17,000). The maximum penalty is more than the average annual income in Russia.

“The law bans films, music videos, books and newspapers that contain homosexual content as well as the rainbow flag, which is a common symbol of gay pride. And the ban may soon no longer be limited to just St. Petersburg and other cities in Russia. At the end of March, Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party introduced a bill in the country’s parliament, the Duma, which would impose the ban at the national level.

“”We are trying to protect our society from homosexual propaganda,’ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Russian radio three weeks ago.

“German Green Party parliamentarian Volker Beck — who, like German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, is openly gay — said the bill is a “hate law” and that Russia is on the ‘path to the Dark Ages.’ In the past, Beck has attended anti-homophobia rallies in Russia.

“Homophobia remains widespread in Russia, and it is an open secret in the country that many public figures have sought to hide their sexual preferences by entering into marriages of convenience. The Russian Orthodox Church views homosexuality as a sin, and it was only in 1999 that homosexuality was stricken from the list of mental illnesses in the country.

“Vitaly Milonov, the United Russia politician who is one of the initiators of the proposal for a nationwide ban in the Duma, accused the German band Rammstein of ‘gay propaganda’ earlier this spring. He also warned the American singer Madonna against transgressing the law at a planned summer concert. Madonna, for her part, has said she plans on defying it.”

In considering the preceding two articles, this profound indictment from God comes to mind: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).

Pesticides and Bee Collapse

Wired Science wrote on April 4, 2012

“A controversial new study of honeybee deaths has deepened a bitter dispute over whether the developed world’s most popular pesticides are causing an ecological catastrophe.

“Researchers led by biologist Chensheng Lu of Harvard University report a direct link between hive health and dietary exposure to imidacloprid, a so-called neonicotinoid pesticide linked to colony collapse disorder, the mysterious and massive die-off of bees across North America and Europe.

“The study isn’t without critics, who say doses used in the study may be unrealistically high. But the level of a realistic dose is also a matter of controversy, and even critics say the findings are troubling.

“’Our result replicates colony collapse disorder as a result of pesticide exposures,’ said Lu, who specializes in environmental exposures to pesticides. “We need to look at our agriculture policy and see if what we’re doing now is sustainable.”

“Developed in the 1990s as a relatively less-toxic alternative to pesticides that seriously harmed human health, neonicotinoids soon became the world’s fastest-growing pesticide class and an integral part of industrial agricultural strategy. In the United States alone, neonicotinoid-treated corn now covers a total area slightly smaller than the state of Montana.

“Like earlier pesticides, neonicotinoids disrupt insects’ central nervous systems. But unlike earlier pesticides, which affected insects during and immediately after spraying, neonicotinoids spread through the vascular tissues of plants. They’re toxic through entire growing seasons, including flowering times when bees consume their pollen.

“The first reports of colony collapse disorder came in the mid-2000s from commercial beekeepers, who depending on region have experienced colony losses ranging from 30 to 90 percent. Commercial pollination costs have since skyrocketed, and as wild bees are also afflicted, even naturally occurring pollination is threatened.

“Measuring bee declines, however, proved much easier than explaining them. Among a lineup of potential culprits including fungus, mites, viruses, bacteria and pesticides, studies failed to find an obvious, smoking-gun cause — but, piece by piece, evidence against neonicotinoids has steadily accumulated…

“Some European countries, including France, Germany and Italy, have even banned neonicotinoids, though pesticide companies vehemently defend their ecological safety and say concerns are based on inconclusive and premature science.”

Continuing from the Wired Science article:

“Among Bayer’s (the chemical and pharmaceutical giant that manufactures imidacloprid) criticisms is that imidacloprid, a first-generation neonicotinoid, is little-used in the United States. It’s largely been replaced by newer formulations — but these, said pesticide expert Charles Benbrook of The Organic Center, an organic food research consultancy, are chemically similar to imidacloprid.’

“’Virtually all our corn seed has been treated with a very similar neonicotinoid,” said Benbrook. If the study had been conducted with clothianidin, another controversial neonicotinoid, ‘they’d almost certainly have found the same thing.’”

Our honey bees may just be the so-called “canary” in the mine shaft–for us! With mounting strange sicknesses and allergies, many people are beginning to question what they are eating and how their food is being prepared and brought to market.

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What does the Bible say about the future boundaries of the Promised Land?

After Christ has returned and freed the tribes of Israel from slavery, brought them into the Promised Land and begun the reinstitution of the temple service, He will allot the Promised Land to the twelve tribes. This will apparently occur during the remaining 3 ½ years of Christ’s ministry to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (compare our Q&A, “What will Jesus do after Satan has been banished?”).

Beginning with Ezekiel 47:13, and continuing until the end of chapter 48, we are introduced to the description of the borders by which the Promised Land will be divided as an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph will have two portions in his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh, who will each have a separate inheritance. The priestly tribe of Levi will receive a special area (Ezekiel 45:1-8; 48:8-14), but since Joseph’s inheritance is divided into two tribes to compensate for Levi, the number of twelve for the tribes will be maintained.

As the Nelson Study Bible and the Ryrie Study Bible explain, the tribes will not be arranged as they were historically under Joshua. A reason for this deviation is not expressly given, but some indications can be deduced, as explained below. To the north of the central district around Jerusalem, which will be set aside for religion and government, will be the seven tribes of Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben and Judah. To the south will be the remaining five tribes, i.e., Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulon and Gad.

The Nelson Study Bible includes the following interesting comments:

“The tribes resulting from the offspring of Jacob and his wives’ servants are given lands farthest from the most holy areas…, while the descendants of Jacob’s wives occupy a central position… the tribe of Judah is most favored, for it produced the Davidic and messianic line…. Historically, the tribe of Dan had occupied the northern limits of the land… Its idolatry was well known—Jeroboam had placed a golden calf there… Benjamin like Judah is favored.”

Some, like Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, maintain that the boundaries of the Promised Land and the borders are different than they were under Joshua—that they will be much larger and more extensive, being similar to the borders and boundaries under David and Solomon—while others state that the boundaries “are substantially the same as those given by Moses in Nu[mbers] 34:1-29; they here begin with the north, but in Numbers they begin with the south (Nu[mbers] 34:3)” (compare Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary).

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible agrees, adding: “The borders of the land follow closely Numbers 34, where they begin from the south, as the people came up from Egypt; in Ezekiel, they begin from the north, as they might return from Babylon.”

The Ryrie Study Bible summarizes the boundaries in Ezekiel 47 in this way:

“The northern border of Israel’s land will run from the Mediterranean north of Tyre to a point near Damascus (vv. 15-17); the eastern border will be formed by the Jordan River and the Dead Sea (v. 18); the southern boundary will run from a little below the Dead Sea to the river of Egypt (v. 19… [Note that some commentaries feel that the reference to the “river of Egypt” is not identical with the Nile]); and the western border will be the Mediterranean. This particular area will be allotted to the Israelites for their residences, though apparently they will control all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates (cf. Gen. 15:18).”

Ezekiel 47:21-23 specifically adds that strangers who will join and live among the tribes of Israel, will also obtain the right of inheritance. That was not the case under Moses and Joshua, showing further distinctions between the original distribution of the Promised Land under Joshua and the future allotment of the Promised Land, as foreseen by the prophet Ezekiel.

We also read that there will be exits of the city of Jerusalem, and the gates of these exits will be named after the tribes of Israel. Note the following comments by the Nelson Study Bible:

“The northern gates are Reuben (the firstborn), Judah (the tribe of the messianic line), and Levi (the priestly tribe)—all descendants of Jacob and Leah [Jacob’s first wife, even though Jacob was tricked into this marriage by his uncle Laban]… On the eastern side the gates represent Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan. While the first two were children of Jacob and Rachel [Jacob’s second wife whom he really loved and wanted to get married to in the first place], the third [Dan] was the child of Jacob and Rachel’s servant Bilhah… South of the city, the three other offsprings of Jacob and Leah have gates named for them: Simeon, Issachar and Zebulon… The three western gates are named after Gad and Asher—the sons of Jacob and Leah’s maidservant Zilpah—and Naphtali—a son of Jacob and Bilhah.”

It is interesting to compare the physical description of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas with the spiritual or heavenly Jerusalem (in which there will be no Temple), as described in Revelation 21 and 22, which will descend to the earth after the Millennium, the Great White Throne Judgment and the Third Resurrection, when God will create a new heaven and a new earth, in which there will dwell righteousness. This will be the topic of a further Q&A.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Brian and Jill Gale will be returning to England on Monday, April 16, 2012. The Gales have spent several weeks in the United States in conjunction with our Church Conference and in helping in the Ramona congregation. Their visit has been a special highlight for the brethren here.

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Almost in Common

Shelly Bruno

While shopping before Passover last week, the checker asked me if I had any special recipes I was preparing. That is all he asked, but someone familiar with Passover traditions would know I wasn’t buying Matzos for just any reason. I knew exactly what he was referring to—the Passover Seder. I was quick to point out that I’m Christian and also observe Passover, but not in the same traditions the Jews do. I excitedly wanted to tell him what I do observe and celebrate, but in the 2 minutes that our paths crossed, there seemed little interest on his part. I was no longer Jewish to him, so our connection was lost.

Yet we almost had faith in common, at least it briefly seemed so. I couldn’t help but wonder as I walked away what it will be like when all people have true faith in common. I look forward to that glorious future! No longer will we encounter others and wonder how their traditions differ from ours—we will walk together and worship together. And depending on what the future holds, we might even buy Matzos together.

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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

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While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

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