Update 555


What Would Be Jesus’ Vote?

On August 25, 2012, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “What Would Be Jesus’ Vote?”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Your Heart

by Rene Messier (Canada)

You may have heard the expression that a person has a kind heart, which indeed some people do, and that others are somewhat calloused and hard-hearted. We know that the carnal unconverted mind is enmity against God, as stated in Romans 8:7- 8:  “…the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

Not only is the carnal mind at odds with and hostile towards God, it is not pleasing to Him either and does not want to be in subjection to God.

On the other hand, we are admonished to have the mind of Christ in us; that is, His Spirit, dwelling in our minds. This, in turn, makes us pleasing to God as long as we are in an obedient state and submit to His Will. Philippians 2:5 says: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

So we have to ask ourselves the question, what should our priorities and heart be, if the mind of Christ is in us?

For the answer we have to look at some of the statements of Christ.

In John 4:34, Jesus said to His disciples: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”

Notice, Christ’s heart and desire were to do God’s Will and to finish the Work which God had given Him to do.

Did He accomplish that task?

John 17:4 quotes Christ’s own words, as follows: “ I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.”

We see that Christ fulfilled the task given to Him by God, and He finished the Work that He had been given.

Christ’s Work, amongst other things, was to preach the gospel or good news to His disciples and those in Judea and other regions. But His disciples and His Church  were to go further and carry that message to the entire world (Matthew 24:14; Acts 1:8).

Although Christ finished His Work, the Work of preaching the gospel to all nations is the ongoing responsibility of the Church and the members which compose the Church. This ongoing responsibility will continue until the return of Christ, and even in the Millennium and beyond.

In Matthew 6:21, Christ tells us: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The hearts and treasures of those who have the mind of Christ in them and seeking to do God’s Will should be to zealously doing or supporting the Work of God in this current phase of God’s plan.

Our determination to actively be involved in the Work set before us is an indicator to God as to where our hearts and treasures are. So the big question now is: Where is your heart?

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We begin reporting on the terrible drought plaguing the United States, and continue with predictable developments in Russia—showing the ongoing and increasingly totalitarian dictatorship of former KGB spy Vladimir Putin; his support from the Russian Orthodox Church and even the Federation of Jewish communities; and the European willful indifference and tolerance of his actions—even though most recent internationally condemned Russian conduct may put a strain on European-Russian relations. We also include reports on developments within the Roman Catholic Church.

We continue reporting on the “hypocritical action” of the Ecuadorian government in granting political asylum to WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange, and the “absurd” and “blundering” “retaliatory response” of the British government.

Focusing on the volatile situation in the Middle East, we report on Israel’s apparent determination to strike Iran in October; Iran’s threat against Israel and Saudi Arabia; outrageous and blasphemous anti-Semitic false accusations of a leading Saudi Arabian (Sunni) cleric; and the unbelievable fact that the (Shiite) terrorist organization Hezbollah is permitted to operate unrestrictedly in most European countries, including and especially in Germany.

We conclude with further unsettling developments pertaining to Germany’s court decision, prohibiting circumcision on religious grounds, and the confusion pertaining to circumcision in general.

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America’s Drought

Deutsche Welle, August 20, 2012:

“Across the agricultural heartland of the US, the worst drought in at least 50 years is shrivelling crops, baking pastures and running livestock farmers out of business… The flat, almost treeless plains of eastern Colorado are dry in a good year. This summer has been one of the hottest and driest on record and the crops are devastated. Dale Mauch runs a large farm near Lamar, Colorado. He’s not used to seeing deep cracks in the earth… For four generations, Mauch’s family has used the Fort Lyon Canal to divert water from a nearby river in order to irrigate these plots. But the river dried out in early July and the canal is empty. ‘That’s something that has never happened in 152 years,’ he said…

“This scene is repeating itself across thousands of kilometers of farmland in the Midwestern United States. Corn is the big cash crop here. This past spring, US farmers planted more of it than any time since before World War II. They anticipated a recordbreaking harvest. Instead, half the crop is dead, or badly battered by the drought conditions… Soybeans, another lucrative crop, aren’t doing much better…

“Many farmers who raise cattle, hogs, dairy cows or poultry are now selling animals they’d rather keep… There are fewer live cattle in the country than at any time since 1950. High feed prices are expected to keep shrinking the US cattle herd this year.

“Until recently, most of the corn grown in the US was fed to animals. Now, the largest part of it is used to make ethanol. A government quota requires that petroleum companies use enough ethanol to account for 10 percent of the fuel burned in cars. The drought and corn shortage have led to an international call for the US government to relax its ethanol mandate…

“Joe Aistrup, a professor at Kansas State University, said the current situation leaves farmers high and dry ‘both in terms of the weather and in terms of relief from Washington.’ Farmers like Dale Mauch in Colorado have little choice but to hunker down and pray for rain…”

The Bible prophesies that in these end times, we will be plagued by droughts and famine, especially in the USA. Man’s laws (pertaining to the ethanol mandate) make a terrible situation even worse.

Putin’s Dictatorship–a Strain on German-Russian Relations

Deutsche Welle reported on August 17:

“Whoever thought the Russian state was able to demonstrate any form of lenience or clemency towards its opponents has been proven seriously wrong. The verdict against the three women of the punk band ‘Pussy Riot’ is not just a harsh punishment that will affect the accused artists personally. This trial has been used to set a precedent: Anyone in Russia who chooses to publicly speak out against the authoritarian Putin system, especially if it involves breaching the law, is going to feel the full force of the establishment.

“There’s no question about it. The public act of the punk activists at the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior in February was a scandal. Certainly it had the potential for hurting people’s religious beliefs. And certainly – according to German legal standards, too – such action within a church could be prosecuted on the basis of going against the freedom of practicing religion. Within that, the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion each put limitations on the other…

“But in a case like this, genuine rule of law commands the weighing of both rights against each other. This hasn’t happened in Moscow. For the judge it was enough to simply state that ‘this wasn’t art, but hooliganism stemming from religious hatred.’ The trial against the three women wasn’t anything but a show trial. They were in pre-trial custody for almost half a year. Shortly after their public protest, they were ruthlessly separated from their families and little children.

“All this despite the fact that the protest happened without any violence. No one was actually hurt. There was no doubt about what had happened, and the women didn’t deny the charges. And that means it would have indeed been possible for the court to show lenience and mark what had happened off as bad taste nonsense of some young people.

“Instead, the women were treated like dangerous criminals. They had to endure the trial handcuffed and locked up in a glass cage. The court gave little room for the defense to make its case. The accused, too, were barely able to tell their side of the story – and when they could, they focused on criticizing the Putin government as a repressive regime. There was no sign of religious hatred – it was clearly a political protest…

“Kremlin supporting politicians and representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church surpassed each other in demanding draconian punishments – as if they themselves were the prosecutors in this trial… The verdict becomes a dark omen for Putin’s third term in office – a technocrat of power, who only managed to reemerge as Russia’s leader by tricking the constitution itself. His first 100 days in office have clearly showed that there will be no further political liberalization. During the past weeks, members of the opposition have been browbeaten – also by exploiting the legal system. The demonstration law has been drastically tightened, and NGOs have seen further curtailing of their work.

“These developments, now including the verdict against the all-female punk band, are going to put a strain on German-Russian relations. Rarely has there been such a wave of protest against a trial in Russia – throughout all political ranks and all parts of society. In bilateral discussions, the German side increasingly asks the question whether a dialogue with Russia is at all possible when it comes to civil rights and society. After the verdict against Pussy Riot, politicians in Berlin could find themselves forced to reevaluate the… relations Germany has with Russia.”

Russia’s development into becoming a full-fledged dictatorship was foreseeable—only many commentators and politicians were and still are willfully ignorant and blind about Russia’s authoritarian government. That the relationship between Russia and Germany will deteriorate—for whatever reason—is clearly prophesied in the Bible.

Germany, the EU and the USA Condemn Russia

The Local wrote on August 17:

“The German government, the EU and the USA all condemned the verdict… Human rights organisation Amnesty International recently recognised the three women as political prisoners. ‘In my eyes, the harsh sentence has no relation to the music group’s protest action,’ German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told Saturday’s edition of the Tagesspiegel. He said he was ‘concerned about the effects of the sentence against the three musicians for the development and freedom of Russian civil society as a whole.’… [The] head of the Green parliamentary party Renate Künast… said it showed that Russia was ‘no democratic country.’”

It is high time that we wake up to this fact. But many are still unwilling to admit the obvious, mostly because of financial and economic “advantages.” The constant embarrassing support of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (SPD) for “his pal Putin” is indicative of a certain despicable mentality—after all, Schroeder has strong financial ties with Russia’s oil companies.

Putin Rules With an Iron Fist

The EUObserver wrote on August 20:

“The trial is seen as yet another proof of Putin’s decision to run his second presidency with an iron fist and his determination to crack down on opposition and dissent… Protests in support of Pussy Riot were staged on Friday in Moscow, Brussels, London, Berlin and Barcelona. Chess star and anti-Putin politician Gary Kasparov was reportedly arrested during the demonstrations. Pop and rock singers from Madonna to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paul McCartney and Sting have all voiced their outrage over the affair in recent weeks…

“For her part, the EU’s foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Friday said the sentence was ‘disproportionate’ and called for it to be reversed. ‘This case adds to the recent upsurge in politically motivated intimidation and prosecution of opposition activists in the Russian Federation, a trend that is of growing concern to the European Union. Respect for human rights and the rule of law is an indispensable part of the EU-Russia relationship,’ she said.”

Modern Russia–State and Church Against Dissidents

Der Spiegel Online wrote on August 17:

“The three members of Pussy Riot on trial in Moscow have received sentences of two years in jail. With the harsh verdict on the harmless artists, Russian President Vladimir Putin has committed a serious mistake: He is provoking the opposition to more aggression toward the state…

“It was inevitable that the stunt by the punk band in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior would provoke objections. By entering the altar space and insulting the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church as a ‘suka’ (‘bitch’) in their song, the band hurt the feelings of many believers. The performance, with its ‘blasphemous words which insult Christians,’ had deeply shocked ‘the faithful of all religious communities,’ read a statement by the Interreligious Council of Russia, which was also signed by the Federation of Jewish Communities.

“Some Orthodox Christians also separately called for the activists to be severely punished. One arch-abbot even went so far as to write, in a Moscow weekly paper, that ‘the country will go under if you do not punish profanity.’ The court has now ruled that the three women had been ‘motivated by religious enmity and hatred.’ But those in power seem not to understand that the Church and state are doing themselves a disservice by locking up the three young women, two of whom are mothers of small children… The trial has divided Russian society deeper than any other incident in the Putin era… By turning basically harmless artists into criminals, the regime has transformed the trial against Pussy Riot into a political time bomb.”

That the Russian Orthodox Church—with the support of the Jewish Communities—should support Putin’s totalitarian regime by ganging up on an unimportant punk group of three young women is not only shameful, but it is also terribly short-sighted and stupid. They are playing into the hands of former KGB spy Putin—as far too many Christians and Jews did in Nazi Germany, when they were all too willing to support Adolf Hitler in the beginning. On the other hand, note the hypocrisy manifested by top clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church, as explained in the next article.

The Pinnacle of Hypocrisy of Russian Orthodox Top Clerics

The Associated Press reported on August 18:

“Two top clerics in the Russian Orthodox Church said Saturday that it has forgiven the members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot who were convicted of hooliganism and sent to prison for briefly taking over a cathedral in a raucous prayer for deliverance from Vladimir Putin.

“Tikhon Shevkunov, who heads Moscow’s Sretensky Monastery and is widely believed to be the Russian president’s spiritual counselor, said on state television Saturday that his church forgave the singers right after their ‘punk prayer’ in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow in February. Archpriest Maxim Kozlov agreed, but he also said on state TV that his church hopes the young women and their supporters change their ways…

“Both clerics supported the court’s decision to prosecute Pussy Riot, despite an international outcry that called it unfair… The Pussy Riot case has underlined the vast influence of the Russian Orthodox Church. Although church and state are formally separate, the church identifies itself as the heart of Russian national identity and critics say its strength effectively makes it a quasi-state entity. Some Orthodox groups and many believers had urged strong punishment for an action they consider blasphemous.

“The head of the church, Patriarch Kirill, has made no secret of his strong support for Putin, praising his leadership as ‘God’s miracle,’ and [] describing the punk performance as part of an assault by ‘enemy forces’ on the church.”

Belief in Resurrection—Body and Soul—of the Queen of Heaven?

Zenit wrote on August 16:

“Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Mass of the Assumption at the parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova in Castel Gandolfo on Wednesday morning. The pontiff said the solemnity is ‘an invitation to praise God and to look to Our Lady’s greatness since we know who God is by gazing about the faces of those who are his.’ Entrusting the faithful to the blessed Mother, the Holy Father asked her intercession so that all may live their lives with hope… the Holy Father explained that Mary’s assumption, body and soul, into heaven at the end of the course of her earthly life is something that Christians throughout the world have always believed, confessed and celebrated…

“After the Marian prayer, the 85 year old pontiff greeted pilgrims in many languages… ‘Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady. May the example and prayers of Mary, Queen of Heaven, inspire and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith, that we may rejoice with her in the glory of the resurrection and the fulfillment of her Son’s promises…’ he said.”

The early New Testament Church did not believe that Mary was resurrected and that her body and soul went to and are now in heaven. Rather, it believed that Mary died and is in her grave and that she will be resurrected—with all other true Christians—at the time of Jesus Christ’s return. The book of Jeremiah speaks of a Queen of Heaven and chastises the Israelites and Jews for believing in and worshipping her.

Church Reconciliation Coming

Zenit wrote on August 13:

“The President of the Polish Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Jozef Michalik and Kirill I, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia will sign a joint declaration to both Polish and Russian people this Friday. The signing will take place during the first visit in Poland’s history of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. ‘It is an unprecedented event,’ stressed the representatives of the Catholic Church in Poland and of the Russian Orthodox Church…

“The first important step towards Russo-Polish reconciliation was the visit of a group of monks from a Russian monastery near Ostashkov to Jasna Gora, the shrine of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa in September 2009. The delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church was led by Arkadij Gubanow, Prior of the Orthodox Monastery of Saint Nil at Stolobienskoje, region of Twer. Archbishop Stanislaw Nowak of Czestochowa and Father Izydor Matuszewski, Prior General of Pauline Fathers and Custodian of the Shrine, also gave a copy of the Icon of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa to the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church.

“‘This Holy Icon of the Black Madonna is a sign of our spiritual closeness, and also a symbol of Europe’s two lungs, Eastern and Western, as the Servant of God John Paul II taught,’ said Archbishop Nowak at the consigning of the icon. The Orthodox monks kept the copy of the image of the Madonna in the Monastery of Saint Nil at Stolobienskoje… ‘In this place, in our monastery, we must pray together, Russians and Poles, before the Holy Icon of the Madonna of Czestochowa, to ask for peace and to pray for all those who were killed,’ exhorted Arkadij Gubanow, prior of the Orthodox Monastery of Saint Nil. The signing of the declaration this Friday is seen as another step towards reconciliation between the Churches of the East.”

“International Hypocrisy”–WikiLeaks Founder Assange Is Granted Asylum

Der Spiegel Online rote on August 17:

“For almost two years, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has wiggled out of efforts to have him extradited to Sweden where he faces sexual assault charges. Now with the decision of the Ecuadorian government to grant him asylum at its London embassy, Assange got another reprieve. What happens next is far from clear.

“The British government has retaliated by threatening to invoke a little used law to remove the embassy’s diplomatic status so that it can ship Assange to Sweden. The law was enacted in 1987 after a British police officer was shot outside a Libyan embassy. In doing so it would be violating the principles behind the 1961 Vienna Convention which deemed embassies as extra territorial areas so that diplomats could work undisturbed in foreign countries. Furthermore, London has promised to arrest Assange as soon as he sets foot on British soil, something he would have to do should he wish to travel to Ecuador…

“The conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘Whatever one thinks of Julian Assange and his deeds, he is neither Osama bin Laden nor a mafia boss. That’s why, carefully put, it was a blunder that the British government challenged Ecuador by referring to a law that allows it to retrieve asylum seekers from embassies in individual cases…. By heading down that path, the British government has done Assange a favor. Now, he can continue working on his own myth. That a government such as Ecuador’s, of all countries, can now pose as a defender of human rights is shameful, but that is in the end London’s fault. Unfortunately, it has also meant that the fact that Assange is accused of raping a woman in Sweden has taken a back seat.’

“The leftist Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘The case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has become an unbelievable example of international hypocrisy. Both of the countries involved, Great Britain and Ecuador, are blameworthy. Far from the world’s attention, the (Ecuadorian) government is evicting an ex-government worker from Belarus who has enjoyed three years of asylum status in Ecuador. The reason is that six weeks ago, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko was in Quito to sign a number of trade agreements and applied pressure. A short time later the man… was arrested in Quito. Against this background, the flowery words of Ecuador’s foreign minister about the huge importance of political asylum don’t hold much value.

“‘Great Britain, for its part, has openly threatened to storm the Ecuadorian embassy with police forces in order to arrest Assange. That makes an absurdity out of its own internationally supported position about the protection of diplomatic representatives and adherence to the Vienna Convention. That the British government is prepared to even suggest setting such a precedent is a tough blow…’

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

“Why does (Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa) have so much sympathy for an Australian named Julian Assange?… By publishing classified dispatches that have exposed the US above all, Assange has pleased Correa. He belongs alongside Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Cuba’s Fidel Castro as the most important opponents of Washington… Correa is allowed to protect his embassy from encroachment by England. Yet he should display just as much respect for his critics at home.’

“The business daily Financial Times Deutschland writes:

“Julian Assange… has received a lot of free PR from the blundering Brits who have catapulted the almost forgotten Australian back into the headlines. And he is even in his favorite roll as David fighting against the Goliaths of the world, mainly the US and Great Britain. Great Britain has helped Assange again portray himself as a victim of political persecution…. In truth Assange is fleeing from a long prison term in Sweden…”

It seems, whatever Great Britain is doing these days is backfiring. There are reasons for that, and the Bible tells us why. The UK is not being blessed by God. Their sins separate them from the God of Abraham who had given them their land because of the unconditional obedience of the ancient patriarch and “father” of the children of faith.

Israel Determined to Strike Iran Before US Elections

Times of Israel wrote on August 20:

“Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‘is determined to attack Iran before the US elections,’ Israel’s Channel 10 News claimed on Monday night, and Israel is now ‘closer than ever’ to a strike designed to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive.

“The TV station’s military reporter Alon Ben-David… said it seemed that Netanyahu was not waiting for a much-discussed possible meeting with US President Barack Obama, after the UN General Assembly gathering in New York late next month — indeed, ‘it’s not clear that there’ll be a meeting.’ In any case, said Ben-David, ‘I doubt Obama could say anything that would convince Netanyahu to delay a possible attack.’

“The report added that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak believe Obama would have no choice but to give backing for an Israeli attack before the US presidential elections in November. There is considerable opposition to an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the report noted — with President Shimon Peres, the army’s chief of the General Staff and top generals, the intelligence community, opposition leader Shaul Mofaz, ‘and of course the Americans’ all lined up against Israeli action at this stage. But, noted Ben-David, it is the Israeli government that would have to take the decision, and there Netanyahu is ‘almost guaranteed’ a majority.

“Other Hebrew media reports on Tuesday also said Netanyahu had despatched a senior official, National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, to update the elderly spiritual leader of the Shas ultra-Orthodox coalition party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, on the status of the Iranian nuclear program, in order to try to win over Shas government ministers’ support for an attack.”

No “October Surprise”

WorldNetDaily wrote on August 19:

“… if the strike is made prior to the election, Obama is much more likely not to condemn Israel. It just wouldn’t be a popular political move for him. Even most Democrats in the U.S. Congress will support Israel’s right to defend itself.­ On the one hand, most Israeli leaders would like to see Obama, the harshest critic of Israel ever to reside in the White House, be defeated in November…

“The likelihood of this attack is growing. The timing is nearly predictable. Yet, Americans and the U.S. media have not focused much attention on it. The only thing that might change the equation is if Mitt Romney soars far ahead of Obama in the polls, effectively buying Israel more time to make its strike without major political fallout from the U.S.

“As it stands now, the election is too close to call–and, in the minds of Israeli leaders, the strong possibility of an Obama re-election must be considered in the equation. As long as that is the case, you can take it to the bank that October is the likely time for a strike on Iran… That’s why 2012’s ‘October surprise’ might not be so surprising at all–for those who understand the politics of the Middle East.”

The Volatile Situation in the Middle East

Al Jazeera wrote on August 17:

“Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon-based Hezbollah group, and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, the Iranian president, have issued stern warnings to Israel, saying that any aggression on that country’s part would be met with a swift armed response.

“Nasrallah… said that his fighters will make the lives of Israelis ‘a living hell’ if it is attacked… Any such action would present Iran with ‘the opportunity it has been dreaming of’ since it was founded in 1979, he said.

“Last month, an Israeli general warned that the Israeli military would respond ‘decisively’ to any rocket attacks aimed at Tel Aviv… He also said that towns in southern Lebanon used as launching bases for Hezbollah rocket attacks would be ‘destroyed’…

“Meanwhile, the governments of the United States and Turkey have asked their citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Lebanon… The [US] embassy also announced the suspension of the State Department’s flagship Fulbright and English Language Fellow programmes in Lebanon, cutting short research projects and teaching grants for US university students and educators in Lebanon… Several Gulf countries have ordered their nationals to leave the country immediately in the face of threats, particularly against Saudis and Qataris whose governments are staunch opponents of the Syrian regime.”

Iran Warns Saudi Arabia

WorldNetDaily reported on August 16:

“Iran has warned Saudi Arabia and Qatar that if either country allows Israel to use its airspace, Tehran may retaliate directly against those Gulf nations… one official said that in talks with Gulf nations, Iran ‘hinted’ that a couple of Iranian missiles ‘may lose their way’ and strike Qatar, Saudi Arabia or any other Gulf nation that allows Israel to use its airspace in any attack against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

“Such threats may help to account for a reported change in Saudi Arabia’s attitude toward an Israeli strike on Iran. Last week, Israel’s Yedioth Aharonot newspaper reported Saudi Arabia informed the Jewish state that it would intercept any Israeli aircraft crossing its airspace en route to Iran… Saudi Arabia does not maintain an open diplomatic relationship with Israel. But the Sunni Muslim country, together with Qatar, Jordan and other moderates, views itself as threatened by the growing and opposing influence of Iran, dominated by Shiite Islam.”

Saudi Cleric Questions Holocaust

The Washington Free Beacon wrote on August 16:

“A prominent Saudi Arabian religious cleric declared that the Holocaust is an ‘exaggeration’ and that Jewish people consume the blood of children during a wide-ranging interview with an Arabic television station. Saudi cleric Salman Al-Odeh, a well-known scholar revered by millions globally, went on a lengthy tirade against the Jews during an interview Monday in which he stated that ‘the role of the Jews is to wreak destruction, to wage war, and to practice deception and extortion,’ according to a translation of his remarks by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“Al-Odeh ranted about the use of human blood in Jewish religious rituals, a notorious anti-Semitic smear commonly referred to as a ‘blood libel.’ ‘It is well known that the Jews celebrate several holidays, one of which is the Passover, or the matzos holiday,’ he said. ‘I read once about a doctor who was working in a laboratory. This doctor lived with a Jewish family. One day, they said to him: “We want blood. Get us some human blood,”’ Al-Odeh explained. ‘He was confused. He didn’t know what this was all about,’ Al-Odeh says as the interviewer nods along. ‘He found that they were making matzos with human blood. They eat it, believing that this brings them close to their false god, Yahweh.’ Jewish people ‘would lure a child in order to sacrifice him in the religious rite that they perform during that holiday,’ Al-Odeh adds.

“The prominent Saudi Cleric also believes that the Holocaust ‘has been turned into a myth of tremendous proportions.’ Jewish people across the globe now use the Holocaust to extort governments, Al-Odeh claimed… Jewish people ‘believe that [they] have the right to kill anyone who does not adhere to their religion,’ Al-Odeh adds.

“The Obama administration has gone out of its way to maintain stellar relations with the Saudi government, which is known to oppress its people. The president famously took heat early in his presidency for bowing to Saudi King Abdullah.”

These anti-Semitic libelous and blasphemous comments by a prominent Saudi Arabian cleric should make us realize to what extent Satan has been able to deceive the world and to prepare it for persecution and a future outright war against the modern descendants of the houses of Israel and Judah—as well as God’s true followers, members of God’s Church, who are spiritual Israelites and Jews. It is also telling and abominable that this false Arabic cleric is allowed to libel the true God of the Bible as the “false god, Yahweh,” while Muslims are in arms when Christians point out that the true Word of God does not endorse Allah and the prophet Mohammed.

Hezbollah Operates With Few Restrictions in Germany and Europe

The New York Times wrote on August 15:

“As American officials sound the alarm over what they call a resurgent threat from the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, thousands of its members and supporters operate with few restrictions in Europe, raising money that is funneled to the group’s leadership in Lebanon. Washington and Jerusalem insist that Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed terrorist organization with bloody hands, and that it is working closely with Tehran to train, arm and finance the Syrian military’s lethal repression of the uprising there. Yet, the European Union continues to treat it foremost as a Lebanese political and social movement…

“While the group is believed to operate all over the Continent, Germany is a center of activity… The European Union’s unwillingness to place the group on its list of terrorist organizations is also complicating the West’s efforts to deal with the Bulgarian bus bombing and the Syrian conflict…

“The stark difference in views reflects the many roles that Hezbollah has played since it emerged in Lebanon after the Israeli invasion in 1982. Hezbollah’s militant wing was responsible for a string of kidnappings and for sophisticated bombings at home and has been accused of bombings abroad. But the group also became a source of social services that the shattered Lebanese government was incapable of providing, and has evolved since then into a political force with two cabinet ministers and a dozen seats in Parliament…

“Some analysts [in Germany] say that Shiite groups like Hezbollah pose less of a risk than Sunni militant organizations like Al Qaeda… American officials sound more concerned about the threat posed by Hezbollah to Europe than the Europeans themselves… The Netherlands declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 2004, saying that it did not distinguish between the group’s political and terrorist wings. Britain distinguishes between the parts, listing only the militant wing.”

That Hezbollah is a dangerous terrorist organization cannot be questioned. That many European states are willing to tolerate its activities shows once again their hypocrisy and political indecisiveness.

The Circumcision Debate

USA Today wrote on August 20:

“Evidence that male circumcision has health benefits is growing, even as the quick but often-controversial surgery becomes less common in the United States, say medical experts making new efforts to publicize the benefits… The researchers say that if U.S. rates dropped to 10% — the level seen in European countries where insurers don’t cover circumcision — the results would include:

“… 12% more HIV cases in men. 29% more human papillomavirus (HPV) cases in men. 18% more high-risk HPV infections in women. The fallout also would include more cases of cervical and penile cancer linked to HPV, but the highest costs would be associated with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, the researchers say…”

The often-claimed health benefits from circumcision are non-existent, generally speaking. God would have never abrogated the need for circumcision, if it had been a health law. But what we can see is that health benefits are claimed regarding diseases which man is bringing upon himself, such as sexually transmittable diseases, HIV and HPV. As USA Today, dated May 8, 2012, explains, “HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says at least half of all sexually active people will get genital HPV at some time in their lives. But certain strains of human papillomavirus also can live in the mouth, passed on through oral sex.” So we see, if sex were limited to marriage, then there would be no transmittable sexual diseases, and the whole discussion about health benefits of circumcision would become moot.

The discussion regarding the terrible decision in Germany, prohibiting circumcision on religious grounds should not be confused with unsustainable claims of medical benefits of circumcision. However, it is also wrong to say that circumcision is in any way harmful to boys and must be prohibited to protect the boys’ welfare. God would have never ordered circumcision in Old Testament times if that were the case. Such ignorant and incompetent postulations from our medical community and others ignore the tragic fact that man has no right to prohibit what God allows. But religious persecution is on the rise, especially in Germany and Europe, as the next article shows.

Criminal Charges Pressed Against German Rabbi for Conducting Circumcision

The Times of Israel reported on August 21:

“For the first time, criminal charges have been pressed against a German rabbi for performing circumcisions, a Jewish weekly reported on Tuesday. A doctor from Hesse filed a criminal complaint against Rabbi David Goldberg, who serves in the community of Hof, in Upper Franconia (northern Bavaria), according to the Juedische Allgemeine weekly newspaper. The chief prosecutor of Hof confirmed that charges had been filed against the rabbi. The charges are based on the controversial decision of a Cologne district court, which ruled in June that circumcisions for religious reasons constitute illegal bodily harm to newborn babies. ‘I am shocked,’ said Cologne Rabbi Yaron Engelmayer, co-chairman of the national umbrella group of Orthodox rabbis in Germany, in a first reaction to the report. This marks the first time that a court in the Federal Republic of Germany is investigating a rabbi for performing a religious ritual, Engelmayer told the paper.

“Goldberg, a qualified mohel (ritual circumciser) who says he has performed more than 3,000 circumcisions, was informed about the criminal charges against him by journalists, the paper said. Born in Jerusalem, the 64-year-old has been the rabbi of Hof since 1997… The Cologne court decision caused a major uproar in Germany’s Jewish and Muslim communities… Rabbi Engelmayer, from Cologne, told The Times of Israel in July that the court decision had ‘enormously’ impacted Jewish life in his community. ‘De facto it looks as if doctors across the country are afraid [to perform circumcisions],’ he said. ‘The mohels are inquiring, and we tell them: without circumcision, there is no Judaism,’ he said at the time…”

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Did the sorcerers and magicians at the time of Moses perform real miracles? If so, what is the significance for us today?

During one of the early encounters of Moses and Aaron with Pharaoh, “Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers (or soothsayers); so the magicians of Egypt, they ALSO DID IN LIKE MANNER with their enchantments. For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods” (Exodus 7:10-12).

In the New Testament, Paul identifies the two leading magicians of Egypt as Jannes and Jambres, stating: “Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith;  but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was” (2 Timothy 3:8-9).

After God had instructed Moses to say to Aaron to stretch out his staff and strike the waters that were in the river, “all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. The fish that were in the river died, the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink the water of the river. So there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt” (Exodus 7:20-21).

Now notice what we read in the next verse:

“Then the magicians of Egypt DID SO with their enchantments [or: secret arts]; and Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them [Moses and Aaron], as the LORD had said” (verse 22).

Following these events, God instructed Moses to tell Aaron to stretch out his staff over the waters of Egypt, and after doing so, “the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt” (Exodus 8:5-6). But again, we read, “the magicians DID SO with their enchantments, and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt” (verse 7).

However, when God used Moses and Aaron to bring the third plague of lice or gnats on Egypt, by apparently changing the dust into lice, as the dust “became” lice (Exodus 8:16-17), “the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not” (verse 18). They recognized that their powers were limited, and they told Pharaoh: “This is the finger of God” (verse 19). From that moment on, we do not read that the magicians tried to copy or duplicate the additional wonders and miracles that God brought on Egypt.

We see, then, that the powers of the magicians, which were obviously derived from Satan and his demons, had limits. We understand, of course, that Satan and his demons, let alone their human instruments, can only do what God allows them to do. In the case of the magicians of Egypt, God allowed some magical enchantment to harden the heart of Pharaoh, and to show His superiority over the dark powers of Satan and his servants.

The question is, did these magicians perform real miracles—albeit “lying,” “deceitful” or “deceiving” wonders—or were they just illusions?

Some feel that they were only man-made illusions and trickery. For instance, the commentary of Barnes’ Notes on the Bible states:

“Enchantments – The original expression implies a deceptive appearance, an illusion, a juggler’s trick, not an actual putting forth of magic power.”

The commentary of Gill’s Exposition on the Entire Bible agrees, stating:

“… the magicians of Egypt… also did in like manner with their enchantments; or by their secret wiles and juggles, making things seem to appear to the sight when they did not really, but by dazzling the eyes of men by their wicked and diabolical art, they fancied they saw things which they did not…”

Gill suggests some form of mass hypnosis and hallucination. But is this an accurate interpretation as to what happened?

The commentary of Jamiesson, Fausset and Brown also tries to give an explanation which is strictly based on human efforts:

“Jannes and Jambres… had time after the summons to make suitable preparations–and so it appears they succeeded by their ‘enchantments’ in practising an illusion on the senses.”

Even though the Bible says nothing of the kind, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary seems to agree:

“The magicians were cheats, trying to copy the real miracles of Moses by secret sleights or jugglings, which to a small extent they succeeded in doing, so as to deceive the bystanders…”

None of these opinions seem to be correct, as they disregard the clear statements of the Bible.

Wesley’s Notes admit that more was involved than just human trickery:

“The two chiefs of them were Jannes and Jambres. Their rods became serpents; probably by the power of evil angels artfully substituting serpents in the room of the rods, God permitting the delusion to be wrought for wise and holy ends. But the serpent which Aaron’s rod was turned into, swallowed up the others…”

The best explanation can be found in Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible:

“They also did in like manner with their enchantments – The word… probably signifies such incantations as required lustral fires, sacrifices, fumigations, burning of incense, aromatic and odoriferous drugs, etc., as the means of evoking… spirits or assistant demons, by whose ministry, it is probable, the magicians in question wrought some of their deceptive miracles: for as the term miracle signifies properly something which exceeds the powers of nature or art to produce… There can be no doubt that real serpents were produced by the magicians. On this subject there are two opinions:

“1. That the serpents were such as they, either by juggling or sleight of hand, had brought to the place, and had secreted till the time of exhibition, as our common conjurers do in the public fairs, etc.

“2. That the serpents were brought by the ministry of a familiar spirit, which, by the magic flames already referred to, they had evoked for the purpose.

“Both these opinions admit the serpents to be real, and no illusion of the sight, as some have supposed. The first opinion appears to me insufficient to account for the phenomena of the case referred to. If the magicians threw down their rods, and they became serpents after they were thrown down, as the text expressly says, Exodus 7:12, juggling or sleight of hand had nothing farther to do in the business, as the rods were then out of their hands. If Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods, their sleight of hand was no longer concerned. A man, by dexterity of hand, may so far impose on his spectators as to appear to eat a rod; but for rods lying on the ground to become serpents, and one of these to devour all the rest so that it alone remained, required something more than juggling. How much more rational at once to allow that these magicians had familiar spirits who could… convey one thing away and substitute another in its place! Nature has no such power, and art no such influence as to produce the effects attributed here and in the succeeding chapters to the Egyptian magicians.”

The Bible states that the rod of Aaron BECAME a serpent, and that the magicians did in like manner. Unless one wants to say that Aaron operated with a trick or performed an illusion (which would be ridiculous), the magicians did not operate in that way, either. Later, God changed water into blood, and the magicians “did so” as well. Also, God brought frogs over Egypt, and the magicians did so as well.

It is obvious that these magicians acted with the power of Satan the devil and his demons. One should not try to diminish or underestimate Satan’s powers, nor try to explain them as man-made illusions or trickery. The Bible shows that in the near future, powerful men will arise on the world scene who will be influenced and empowered by Satan to perform real miracles—not just illusions–but they will do so with the demonic purpose of deceiving mankind.

We state the following in our free booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World”: 

“Satan and his demons can show great signs and wonders. It is prophesied that Satan will ultimately give his power to a religious leader who will work ‘signs… by which he deceived’ the people (Revelation 19:20). False religious teachers, inspired by demons, might even be able to accurately foretell the future (Deuteronomy 13:1–4; Acts 16:16–19).

“Satan has the power to inspire people to go to war (Job 1:9–15; Revelation 16:13–14; Revelation 20:7–10). He has the power to throw down fire to consume man and beast (In Job 1:16, people felt that God brought this fire, but the context shows that Satan was the power behind it). As the ‘prince of the power of the air’ (Ephesians 2:2), he can bring destruction through mighty winds.

“Though many people don’t believe in the existence of Satan and demons, they are quick to dabble in the occult, being ignorant of the danger therein. Demons are called ‘familiar spirits’ because they want to familiarize themselves with man (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27). Haunted houses, poltergeists, séances, communication with the dead, and contacts with ‘aliens’ are all clearly of demonic origin. Satan and demons are destructive. They love to torment people (Luke 6:18). Once we have made ‘contact’ with demons, we can’t get rid of them anymore, barring a miracle from God (Luke 11:24–26).

“There are many Scriptures that prove that Satan or demons can possess animals and people, forcing them to do terrible things (Luke 22:3; John 13:27). Demon-possessed people can be extremely violent (Matthew 8:28) and self-destructive (Mark 5:2–5). They lose all sense of decency (Luke 8:27).

“The Bible also shows that demons can possess or influence people to make them spiritually, psychologically, and physically sick. Even Paul was sick because ‘a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me’ (2 Corinthians 12:7). Through the influence of demons, people can be mute, deaf and dumb (Mark 9:17, 25), epileptic (Matthew 17:15–18), and infirm (Luke 13:11, 16). When a demon leaves such a person, it may appear as if the person has been healed from a physical sickness.

“Satan and demons have the power to transport a human being from one place to another (Matthew 4:5, 8; Luke 4:5, 9). This explains strange encounters with UFOs, where ‘abducted’ people are sometimes found hundreds of miles away from their residence, without knowing how they got there.

“Sorcery, witchcraft, hypnosis, and certain meditation practices are further methods of Satan to overpower the mind of a human being and to make him or her into a helpless victim. Whenever we give ourselves ‘over’ to another influence, we have become victims of the powers of darkness…

“It appears from Scripture that demons cannot materialize themselves the way that angels can. Demons cannot appear as men. They can, however, create an illusion, or an apparition that might look very real to people…”

Notice also the following excerpts from our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord”: 

“There is another frightening prophecy given in the pages of the New Testament that reveals events to occur just prior to the coming of the day of the LORD.

“2 Thessalonians 2:1–3, 8–9 tells us: ‘Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ [NU: the Lord; “NU” is, according to the New King James Bible, “the most prominent modern Critical Text of the Greek New Testament”] had come. Let no one deceive you by any means: for that Day will not come unless the falling away [apostasy—a falling away from the truth of God] comes first, and the man of sin [NU: lawlessness] is revealed, the son of perdition [the false prophet discussed earlier in this booklet] … And then the lawless one will be revealed [or become manifest] whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming [by throwing him, together with the Beast, into the lake of fire]. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders.’

“This religious leader—the false prophet—will receive power to do miracles from Satan himself (compare Revelation 19:20). He, and the system that he represents, is described in Revelation 13:11 as a beast with ‘two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon.’ He ‘performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs’ (verses 13–14). This system is also described as engaging in ‘sorcery’ (Revelation 18:23). We are warned in Matthew 24:24 that some of those ‘signs’ will be so convincing that, if it were possible, even the elect of God would be deceived.

“Historical records establish the fact that Simon Magus, who had been baptized but had never truly repented (Acts 8:13–24), became a leader in the early Babylonian system. He had been a sorcerer, regarded as ‘the great power of God’ (Acts 8:9–10).

“Quoting from Millennium Prophecies, p. 59, let’s learn more about Simon Magus and the Satanic powers which he allegedly possessed. This should make us a bit more prepared for what is going to happen in the future and why the false prophet will be able to deceive so many people with his sorcery: ‘The Samarian-born Simon Magus (15 BC–AD 53), son of a Jewish sorcerer, was educated in the cradle of Gnosticism, Alexandria. He was a disciple of Dositheus, who had been a follower of John the Baptist and contended with Jesus Christ for the title of Messiah. Simon traveled widely in Persia, Arabia [and] Egypt to learn all he could about magical lore. He was accompanied by a sorceress called Helena, whom Simon claimed was a reincarnation of Helen of Troy. In Samaria, even Christians spoke of Simon as ‘the great power of God’… Simon Magus performed many miracles, including healing the sick, raising the dead, walking through fire, flying through the air, turning stones into bread, creating phantom banquets, making himself invisible, animating stone statues, changing his own shape and, of course, reputedly commanding elemental spirits or possibly demons to do his bidding.’

“Simon Magus was not the only leader within the Babylonian system who practiced sorcery. Millennium Prophecies tells of another famous sorcerer, Pope Silvester II, who lived at the end of the first century. Quoting from pp. 68 and 69: ‘Tradition has it that he was an advanced student of the black arts… It was said that he regularly conversed with the Devil… he was credited with possessing a “brazen head” that spoke to him and could prophecy future events… [He] learned… to summon ghostly figures from the lower world… [The] demons obeyed him in all that he required of them day and night, because of the great sacrifices which he offered, and his prayers and fastings and magic books and great diversity of rings and candles.’

“The false prophet—the last leader of the religious system called ‘Babylon the Great’ in the Bible—will appear soon on the world scene. He will be able to perform mighty miracles because Satan will give him the power to do so. Many will be deceived by those signs and will follow the wrong teachings of this man. May God protect YOU from doing so.”

In conclusion, it appears that the magicians at the time of Moses did perform real, albeit deceitful and lying, wonders or miracles. However, their enchantments will pale into insignificance, when compared with the powerful actions of the false prophet and other deceivers who are prophesied to appear in the not-too-distant future.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Here is the summary for the new SW program, titled, “Putin’s Rise as Russia’s Dictator” (This program will also be broadcast on radio, beginning with Sunday, September 2, 2012): The three young Russian women of the punk band “Pussy Riot” were condemned to harsh prison terms, with the obvious involvement and approval of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church, even though the conduct of the band was not of a religious nature, but clearly a political protest. The Western world has unanimously condemned the punishment, but Vladimir Putin does not care. It is his goal, with the help of the Russian Orthodox Church, to establish an authoritarian dictatorship to suppress all opposition voices. As a consequence, the relationship between Russia and Europe will deteriorate. The Bible predicts an outright war between these two power blocs in the near future.

Norbert Link recorded a new German sermon this week, and it is Part 2 in a series on meditation–titled (in English): “Think about God.”

Our newest booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy,” has been approved for printing, and it should be finished during the next week. Watch for the posting on our website of this eye-opening presentation with explanations about today’s news and what the Bible reveals for the immediate future of this tumultuous area! You may also have your own free printed copy of this booklet by contacting us with your request.

Mr. and Mrs Link, along with Mrs. Margaret Adair, will be visiting brethren in Woodburn, Oregon, this coming weekend. Live Sabbath Services will originate from that location, and you are welcome to participate by “tuning in” at www.cognetservices.org.

A reminder for those wishing to attend the Feast of Tabernacles with us for 2012–please review details posted on our website under the “FEASTS” heading. Our locations for this year are Pismo Beach, California, and Deganwy, North Wales.

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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

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

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

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

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