Update 567


Sacrifice of Words and Accountable for Faith

On December 8th, 2012, Robb Harris and Eric Rank will give split sermons, titled, respectively, “Sacrifice of Words” and  “Accountable for Faith.”

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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How Strong Are You?

by Eric Rank

The Bible teaches us that in our weakness, we are made strong if we rely on God (2 Corinthians 12:10). For that we can all feel relieved. We can trust in God to defend us and fight our battles. We know that we must rely on God for any strength that we might be able to claim. Indeed, all our strength comes from God. Since any strength that we have is not our own, does that mean that we don’t have to work to build our strength? Can we just sit back and relax while we wait for Christ to return? The answer is clearly, “No!” We cannot give up growing in strength just because that strength is not our own. While we know we are weak, we must become strong.

When Joshua was taking over the leadership of the nation of Israel, God told him through Moses, and personally, that he must be strong. In Joshua 1:7 we read an admonition to Joshua from God that we might also take to heart: “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.”

Instead of telling Joshua to simply let things happen as they might because God was in control, He tells Joshua to be strong! The strength Joshua is told to have is for the conviction to follow God. It takes effort and courage to face the world that is so set against the ways of God. Strength is absolutely necessary for a Christian to build, develop, and nurture.

Increasingly, the world that we live in is turning away from God. Because of this, anyone who follows God will stick out like a sore thumb. To face the ways of the world and to overcome them we encounter inevitable conflict. Without strength, training, and preparation, we put ourselves in a position of vulnerability. Building up our strength is absolutely vital to our salvation as this world becomes more contrary to God.

It is on our responsibility to become competent and capable of making the right decision in God’s eyes as we navigate through this life. What that means is that we need to be accountable for our understanding of God’s Word. We need to own it. We need to prove the truth to ourselves so that we are strong. Unlike previous generations on the earth who did not have access to even read the Bible, we have the privilege to have God’s Word available to us constantly. We lack no opportunity to learn from the Word of God. Modern technology even allows us to carry a completely searchable Bible in our pocket. We simply have no excuse precluding our ability to become very strong in our convictions.

In an effort to become strong, we must remember that it requires more than adopting a set of correct beliefs. Strength is developed by exercise. It is not enough to know that we need to keep the seventh day- Sabbath; we need to know why. It is not enough to know that God is a Family; we need to know how those Family relationships are defined. The principle here is that knowing doctrine is not enough. We need to be able to prove doctrine – to ourselves. Only when we can prove doctrine to ourselves, does it become truth in our minds allowing us to withstand the evil we encounter (Ephesians 6:13-14).

If we are not absolutely strong in our beliefs, we fall prey to becoming influenced by rhetoric rather than truth. Without investing the effort to increase our strength in our convictions, we increase our odds of choosing paths of behavior that we will later regret, leading to death. Fortunately, we have the opportunity right now, to spend our efforts wisely – to build our spiritual strength by learning and proving our understanding. Indeed, it requires work to become strong, but our efforts will prove to be worthwhile. By unwavering in our commitment to follow God, we will reap a reward much greater in magnitude than our relatively tiny investment of time and effort today.

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We begin with reporting on more and more attempts by especially dictatorial, autocratic and fanatical countries to control and censor the Internet. This course of conduct, if successful, would also hamper dramatically the effectiveness of God’s Church in proclaiming the true gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world as a witness (Matthew 24:14); so we can easily see who is really behind these attempts.

We continue with relating the Obama family’s obsession with Christmas trees; and focus on the true nature of the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement and Egypt’s desperate struggle for freedom and liberty.

We speak of the consequences of the UN’s decision to recognize Palestine as a state and the ensuing troubled relationship between Israel and Germany, as well as Europe’s outrage over Israel’s announcement to continue with its settlement program.

We report on Europe’s and especially Germany’s big and extremely lucrative business of weapons’ sales all over the world—including sales to unpredictable governments—and speak of potential sabotage attacks on nuclear power plants in Iran and Southern California.

We relate the White House’s questionable objections to further economic sanctions against Iran, speak of the dangerous situation in Syria, and conclude with an article on the rise of demonic possession and “exorcisms” in the Catholic Church.

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Control and Censor the Internet?

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 3:

“Talks in Dubai, under way until December 14, could bring radical changes to the Internet and who controls it… Proposals to place the Internet under the control of a global authority, like the International Telecommunication Union, a UN body, have resurfaced… Net observers say the Arab Spring would have failed to achieve the scale it did without Facebook and other social media – hundreds of thousands of unhappy citizens apparently agreed to protest and organized their demonstrations via these interactive platforms… Russia, China and Iran are among the countries that would like to see greater Internet controls, either in the form of new regulations or a global authority, or both… critics argue their real reasons are to control the packets of information that move across their borders…”

Countries under fanatical Islamist rule, as well as repressive countries such as Russia and China—and very soon a developing dictatorial European power bloc—will control the Internet or prohibit or shut down Internet access of their subjects—and violations will be punished with imprisonment or death.

The Obama’s Christmas Trees Obsession

Investors.com wrote on December 3:

“Now safely ensconced in the White House for 49 more months, the Obamas have decorated the place with 54 Christmas trees this year. Even allowing for the usual Washington excesses with taxpayer money, that’s a whole grove of Christmas trees… In fact, the Obamas’ 54 trees this year are almost 50% more Christmas trees than last year. That was during the campaign before Obama whispered a reminder to the Russians that he had to be careful until Nov. 6, when a victory would give him more ‘flexibility’…

“In addition to 54 Christmas trees, Michelle Obama has overseen the placement of thousands of ornaments in public rooms. Many of the ornaments celebrate the Obama family dog, Bo, who seems to have become the First Family’s favorite symbol of Christmas… There’s several hundred yards of garlands and wreaths all over the hallways and rooms. And, of course, a traditional gingerbread house that has working chandeliers and weighs about 300 pounds…”

This would be preposterous even without realizing how pagan and ungodly Christmas decorations and celebrations are.

Muslim Brotherhood Pays Gangs to Beat Up and Assault Opponents

Mail on Line wrote on December 1:

“Egypt’s ruling party is paying gangs of thugs to sexually assault women protesting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square against President Mohamed Morsi, activists said. They also said the Muslim Brotherhood is paying gangs to beat up men who are taking part in the latest round of protests, which followed a decree by President Morsi to give himself sweeping new powers… activists have reported nearly 20 attacks in the last ten days and say there has been a dramatic increase in mob sex attacks on protestors in the last year…

“The newspaper spoke to two men who admitted they were paid to target female protestors… in a group of around 65 local men and got paid between £10 and £20 a time. But they would not reveal who pays them.”

The Muslim Brotherhood is an extremely dangerous organization, and their actions and course of conduct are reminiscent of Gestapo methods in Nazi Germany. Note the following articles as well.

Muslim Brotherhood Fooled Washington

NBC wrote on December 3:

“The era of the Muslim Brotherhood appears to have arrived. President Obama has hailed the Brotherhood’s President Mohammed Morsi as a pragmatist who helped end the Gaza crisis. Egyptians here think the Brotherhood has conned Washington, just like it conned them…

“Egypt was torn in half just over a week ago when Morsi made himself more powerful than Mubarak ever was, and the kings before him. Morsi declared himself above judicial oversight, his decisions final and unassailable. He made himself, according to critics, a new pharaoh on the Nile. Imagine if, after five months in office, an American president announced that he could pass any law he pleased regardless of Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court. Imagine if he said his decisions were final and inspired by God… Morsi last night apologized for the power grab and said he didn’t want the extra authorities, but that they were necessary for the good of the people and to safeguard the revolution. Dictators always say stuff like that. Burn down the village to save it.

“At first Egyptians were shocked that Morsi would make such an obvious and, according to Egyptian judges, blatantly illegal move. It’s clear now, as some analysts have long feared, that the Brotherhood is making sure it doesn’t lose power again by taking control of Egypt’s constitution. The Brotherhood wants to write the rules of the game. Now they’ve done that too. Protected by the president’s new-found supreme and unquestionable powers, Morsi ordered his Islamist allies to finish writing the constitution and get it on his desk by the end of this week. They did it, even though many independent legal experts, Christians and opposition politicians boycotted the drafting process. The Brotherhood called the new constitution ‘a jewel.’ Many Egyptians say it leaves too much room for the implementation of Shariah law…

“The constitution has long been the Muslim Brotherhood’s lodestar and, in the past, they have been willing [to] kill for it. In 1954, not long after a group of ‘free officers’ carried out a coup against the British-backed monarchy, a Brotherhood assassin tried to kill President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser, a leading free officer, favored a mostly secular, pro-military constitution. The Brotherhood, an Islamist group that supports the return of Arab and Islamic unity and the revival of ancient Muslim glory and Shariah laws, couldn’t accept the new rules.

“The Brotherhood’s assassination attempt failed. The gunman’s eight bullets, fired while Nasser was giving a speech in Alexandria, all missed. The Brotherhood was banned. The group went underground, at times tolerated but more often repressed by Nasser’s successors: presidents Mubarak and Anwar el-Sadat. When the revolts started against Mubarak, the Brotherhood saw that fate had given them another chance…

“Looking back now, it all seems so obvious, yet many Egyptians refused to see it coming. In fact, many of the secular revolutionaries backed the Brotherhood, arguing they were better allies than the hated military. The Brotherhood played its cards well… The protests continued to grow. Labor unions went on strike. The military enacted a coup against Mubarak. President Obama withdrew his support for Washington’s long-time Arab friend. And Mubarak the president was no more.

“The Brotherhood first said it wouldn’t seek the new presidency at all. It promised to exist solely as an influential member of civil society. Back then, many Egyptians feared the Brotherhood… The Brotherhood went to work… It sent its representatives around the world, especially to Washington, on a charm offensive. We’ve been oppressed, they claimed. We were slandered by a tyrant. We’re not what you’ve heard. We can unite the Sunni world against Iran. We can help bring Israeli-Palestinian peace. There were many promises of a great future…

“Morsi won the election by a narrow margin and then five months into his term, made himself a dictator and ordered his Islamist friends to quickly finish the constitution… Yet the United States has remained mostly silent on all this, urging both sides to stay calm and work it out. Washington’s policy seems to be that what’s going on is simply democracy in progress as Egyptians learn to use their new rights. But in Tahrir Square people seem convinced the Brotherhood isn’t testing its fledgling wings. They say Morsi knows exactly what he’s doing, Washington be warned.”

The true nature of the Muslim Brotherhood should have been understood from the outset. But it seems Washington and other Western nations are refusing to hear or heed the warning; and that God has poured out a spirit of deep sleep and of blindness on our leaders (Isaiah 29:10), as well as on Egypt (Isaiah 19:14), so that they would stumble and fall, without waking up to and perceiving the real dangers.

Egypt’s Struggle for Freedom

Die Welt wrote on December 3:

“Egypt lies on the fault line of two continents, not just geologically, and the European coast is not far away either. What moves Egypt today moves the region tomorrow, and the shockwaves could very well spark fear and terror among the Europeans.”

The Bible shows us that Europe and Egypt will at first be allies against Israel, but they will then become enemies. Please read our free booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy.”

Morsi Won’t Relent

The Times of Israel reported on December 6:

“Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi addressed the country for the first time since mass protests began earlier this week, defiantly standing his ground on the issue of the draft constitution, the upcoming national referendum, and his immunity from oversight…

“Earlier in the day, the Egyptian army sealed off the presidential palace with tanks and barbed wire Thursday, a day after fierce clashes between supporters and opponents of the Islamist leader over a disputed constitution killed at least seven people… Protesters defied a deadline to vacate the area… The Brotherhood, which had erected metal barricades and manned checkpoints with rocks and empty glass bottles overnight, withdrew from the area by afternoon…

“The violence on Wednesday was the worst since Morsi was elected in June… The intensity of the overnight violence, with Morsi’s Islamist backers and largely secular protesters lobbing firebombs and rocks at each other, raised the specter that the country would grow even more polarized and violent.”

Palestine a “State”—Dark Clouds Before the Storm

Newsmax reported on December 1:

“The General Assembly vote declaring that Palestine, within the pre-1967 borders, is a ‘state,’ at least for some purposes, would have nasty legal implications, if it were ever to be taken seriously by the international community.

“It would mean that Israel, which captured some Jordanian territory after Jordan attacked West Jerusalem in 1967, is illegally occupying the Western Wall (Judaism’s holiest site), the Jewish Quarter of old Jerusalem (where Jews have lived for thousands of years), the access road to the Hebrew University (which was established well before Israel even became a state) and other areas necessary to the security of its citizens.

“It would also mean that Security Council Resolution 242, whose purpose it was to allow Israel to hold onto some of the territories captured during its defensive 1967 war, would be overruled by a General Assembly vote… It would be the first time in history that a nation was required to return all land lawfully captured in a defensive war…

“These absurd conclusions follow from the theater of the absurd that occurred when the General Assembly, for the thousandth time, issued an irrelevantly one sided declaration on Palestine. As Abba Eban once put it: ‘If Algeria introduced a General Assembly Resolution that the world was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass 100 to 10 with 50 abstentions.’ That’s pretty much what happened the other day. I wonder whether the European countries that voted for the Resolution knew what a tangled web they were weaving.

“Nor was this Resolution a recognition of the two-state solution, since a considerable number of states who voted for it have refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist. What they were looking for was a one-state resolution — that one state being yet another Islamic country that voted for Hamas in the last election and that is likely to be governed by Sharia Law that will not allow Jews or Christians equal rights…

“The United Nations’ action will also incentivize Hamas to continue firing rockets into Israel on a periodic basis in order to provoke Israeli retaliation. Many in Hamas believe that the recent fighting in Gaza actually helped the Palestinians get more votes in the General Assembly…This is all a prescription for continued warfare, lawfare, and enmity. It is not a prescription for resolving a complex and difficult issue in a realistic manner. But what else is new at the United Nations!”

Very true. Israel will be all alone, and the next articles prove the point.

Germany Has Distanced Itself From Israel

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 3:

“Berlin has distanced itself from Israel with the decision to abstain from voting on enhancing the Palestinians’ status in the UN General Assembly. Israel had expected a clear ‘no’ vote, but Chancellor Angela Merkel balked at Prime Minister Netanyahu’s uncompromising approach to the peace process… Germany’s stance on this issue shows just how deeply frustrated its government is with the Netanyahu government’s policies. The UN vote was a defeat for Israel. In the end, 138 of the 193 UN member states supported the Palestinians’ petition, including France and 13 other European Union member states. Germany’s abstention weighed particularly heavy because it meant that Canada and the United States were the only major Western nations to vote on Israeli’s side.

“…relations between Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Netanyahu have rarely been as bad as they are now… When it became apparent that a series of EU member states would support the Palestinians’ bid for observer-state status, the Israelis asked Germany to push all of its fellow EU states to abstain. Up until that point, Netanyahu had pressured Merkel’s government to gather as many ‘no’ votes as possible within the EU. But the Israeli change of heart arrived too late. In the meantime, the governments of a majority of EU states, including France’s, had decided to back the Palestinians… Merkel was upset that the Israelis were treating Germany’s vote like a bargaining chip.

“The chancellor was particularly annoyed because Netanyahu had shown himself completely unwilling to make concessions. On several occasions, Merkel had urged him to at least make a gesture on the issue of settlement construction in order to send out a signal to the Palestinians. Doing so would have made it easier for Merkel to campaign for the Israeli position. But Netanyahu stubbornly ignored her wish…”

EU Countries Summon and Rebuke Israeli Ambassadors In Protest

The Times of Israel wrote on December 3:

“Several European capitals on Monday summoned Israeli ambassadors to sharply express unhappiness over Israel’s plans to significantly expand settlement construction, as anger over the move worldwide continued to simmer. In Washington, the White House called on Israel to reconsider its plans to develop the controversial E1 tract of land east of Jerusalem in the West Bank. Yet officials in Jerusalem said they would not back down from the plan, which is seen as a punitive measure against the Palestinians for going to the United Nations to be upgraded to a nonmember observer state.

“The foreign ministries of France, Britain, Spain, Denmark and Sweden on Monday summoned and sharply rebuked the Israeli ambassadors to their countries. An Israeli official quoted by Israel Radio said the tone of the rebukes was ‘harsh and very unpleasant.’ A British Foreign Office spokesman issued a severely worded condemnation of the Israeli government decision on Friday to approve 3,000 housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem…

“Elsewhere in Europe, Germany and Russia joined the chorus of condemnations, with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeting a steady stream of denunciations.”

The EUObserver added on December 3:

“‘The European Union has repeatedly stated that all settlement construction is illegal under international law and constitutes an obstacle to peace,’ said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.”

Der Spiegel Online added on December 3:

“United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday sharply criticized the Israeli government’s plan to expand settlement building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, calling the plan ‘an almost fatal blow’ to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… German Chancellor Angela Merkel also found unusually strong words. Her spokesman said the government was ‘extremely concerned’ about the settlement plans. ‘Israel is thereby undermining confidence in its readiness to negotiate.’”

Merkel and Netanyahu Meet in Germany

On December 6, 2012, Der Siegel Online reported about a meeting between Merkel and Netanyahu in Germany, stating:

“‘On the settlement question, we have agreed to disagree,’ said Merkel on Thursday. Netanyahu struck a similar tone: ‘One should be able to voice different opinions among friends.’ In contrast to the emotion he showed during the German-Israeli government consultations a year and a half ago, Netanyahu was much more relaxed as he took questions from the media this time around. Then, he held a stern lecture on settlements as he stood at Merkel’s side. This time, he was brief and to the point…

“Despite their recent differences, Merkel left no room for doubt in Berlin that she supports the right for the Jewish state to exist… She said it has been ‘unfortunately’ necessary to make this clear again, after the rocket attacks by Hamas from Gaza. The chancellor emphasized that the recent violence in the Gaza Strip, which saw an eight day skirmish between Israel and the Palestinians, was triggered by Hamas rockets…

“In three years, Germany and Israel will celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations. The peace process in the Middle East remains a constant theme even as the situation in the Middle East seems to have become more challenging than ever in recent months. The Europeans, Netanyahu says, believe the settlements issue is the root cause of the conflict. But, he argues, it is not purely a territorial issue, which is evident in the most recent attacks from the Gaza Strip, where Israel doesn’t keep troops…

“Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian National Authority, recently celebrated his success at the United Nations, as a large majority of the UN General Assembly essentially recognized a state of Palestine by granting the Authority non-member observer status. Netanyahu had hoped Germany would vote no on the measure, and even before his visit to Berlin he voiced his disappointment over Germany’s abstention on the vote. Merkel said she had ‘taken note of it.’

“There had even been speculation in the Israeli media over whether or not Germany might even join in possible sanctions against Israel. The press conference at the Chancellery showed how deep the feeling of insecurity was. Merkel was asked by an Israeli journalist if Germany would take ‘further measures’ against Israel. Clearly irritated, Merkel said after a brief pause: ‘I am not someone who threatens.’ This week’s consultations, she said, focused on solutions to problems and on the question as to whether the construction of settlements would be a ‘helpful step, or not a helpful step.’ The foundations of German-Israeli relations are ‘untouchable’ Merkel affirmed, adding ‘and they withstand differences of opinion.’”

However, this is clearly wishful thinking.

Germany’s and Europe’s BIG Weapon Sales

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 3:

“Germany used to be extremely careful about where it exported its weapons. In recent years, however, Chancellor Angela Merkel has shown a preference for sending high-tech armaments abroad rather than German soldiers — even if that means doing business with questionable regimes…

“The government of Qatar has… shown interest in buying up to 200 [Leopard 2] tanks, a deal that, should it come to fruition, could be worth up to €2 billion ($2.6 billion).

“The Saudis, for their part, have already become loyal customers. Last summer, the German government responded positively to their request to buy up to 270 of the Leopard 2 tanks. But now Riyadh wants more. In a new request, the sheikhs have petitioned the German government for its approval of the purchase of a few hundred ‘Boxer’ armed transport vehicles… The government hasn’t issued a decision yet on the deal, which would likewise be worth billions.

“German high-tech weapons are a hot commodity among Arab potentates and other autocrats. They haven’t failed to notice that the coalition government of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) has steadily relaxed Germany’s otherwise restrictive arms export policy…

“The official (and most recent) Military Equipment Export Report for 2011 shows that business is booming, with arms export permits issued by the German government topping €10 billion for the first time. Some 42 percent of the weapons are destined for so-called third-party states, outside NATO, NATO-equivalent and European Union countries, another number that could very well be record-setting. In 2010, it was just 29 percent…

“In accordance with the chancellor’s wishes, Germany is now sending soldiers to conflict zones in emergency situations only. Instead, ‘partner countries’ in the affected regions are to be strengthened through arms exports…

“Israel gets nuclear-capable submarines from the Germans, as well as any other weapons it wants… Last Monday, with impressions from the most recent Gaza war in their minds, Merkel and her ministers decided to approve [a new] weapons deal with Jerusalem. Germany had to support Israel, ‘now more than ever,’ one minister argued, saying that the threat coming from Hamas is serious. The group agreed that the arms shipment should also send a message. In this context, [German Foreign Minister Guido] Westerwelle is the personification of German paradox. Only a week earlier, he had tried in vain to serve as a peace broker between Israel and the Palestinians. And now the same minister was rubber-stamping the delivery of weapons that could be used in the Palestinian conflict…

“In addition to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates is the other major importer of German weapons… six guarantees have been issued for deals with countries in troubled regions throughout the world. The biggest recipient is Algeria, followed by Egypt, Israel, Indonesia, Iraq and Pakistan. The guarantees for Egypt (€700 million) and Israel (€405 million) are especially sensitive. For both countries, the guarantees are intended to secure the purchase of submarines…

“The submarines for Egypt, which are not as technically sophisticated as the ones for Israel, led to a dispute between Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who would like to block the Egypt purchase. The issue has yet to be resolved, but it is possible that Islamist Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi may soon take delivery of two new submarines…

“Compared to France and the United Kingdom, Germany is still restrained when it comes to promoting the domestic arms industry. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy remains the champion of promoters of his own war industry. He is thought to have promised rising nuclear power India a nuclear technology deal as a bonus if it chose to buy French fighter jets. It was an offer the Indians couldn’t pass up.

“Merkel is now using her trips abroad to pave the way for weapons deals. In Angola, for example, she offered President José Eduardo dos Santos the prospect of an energy partnership. But she also reminded him of the many offshore oil platforms that are largely unprotected. ‘We would also like to help you with your defense efforts, such as upgrading your navy,’ Merkel said at an economic conference in the Angolan capital Luanda. Specifically, she was talking about patrol boats for the Angolan coast guard, at €10 million to €25 million apiece.

“The government also uses the Bundeswehr for its export offensive. For instance, there has been a ‘Eurofighter Task Force’ in place at the Defense Ministry since 2008. The German Air Force spends more than €20 million in taxpayer money to support the marketing of Eurofighters to India…

“Chile, for example, is getting 172 tanks, for which it is paying the Bundeswehr €46 million with an additional €78.6 million being spent on upgrades. Turkey took delivery of 354 tanks, which were outfitted with new combat technology for €298 million. A similar deal is in the works with Singapore, and Indonesia is expected to follow suit…”

Europe, under German leadership, is described as modern Babylon in Revelation 18—a very rich and powerful brutal economic entity which is rich and increased with goods—also, and especially, through its sales of submarines and other weapons of war (Revelation 18:3, 5, 13, 19, 24; compare also Revelation 13:4, 7, 10).

Iran’s Nuclear Reactor Sabotaged?

DEBKA reported on December 1:

“Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr was shut down in mid-October for fear of an explosion. [On] Saturday Dec. 1, an authoritative Russian nuclear industry source revealed the cause of its malfunction: ‘Indicators showed that some small external parts were… in the [Bushehr] reactor vessel….’ They were identified as ‘bolts beneath the fuel cells.’…

“Moscow sources report this information came from a source in the office of Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Russian nuclear energy authority Rosatom, which supervised the construction of Iran’s first atomic reactor at Bushehr…  Russian scientists and engineers were rushed from Moscow to Bushehr when Russian leaders including Vladimir Putin were warned that the danger of an explosion at Bushehr was high. Neither Moscow nor Tehran reported what was happening. Now they are racing against the clock to get the reactor back on stream.

“Russian experts estimated that an explosion at the Bushehr reactor had the potential for causing a million Iranian deaths and hundreds of thousands of radiation victims in the Persian Gulf emirates, which supply the world with one-fifth of its fuel. The hazard was so great in October that Putin ordered command teams of the Russian emergency ministry trained to deal with nuclear disasters to set out for Bushehr in southern Iran…

“[On] Friday, Nov. 30, shortly before the disclosure from Moscow, Tehran for the first time in its twenty-year nuclear program showed concern about the impact of ‘nuclear accidents’ at Iran’s nuclear sites on the wellbeing of the population and environment. Gholamreza Massoumi, head of Iran’s accident and medical emergency center,… referred to ‘accidents’ at the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility where yellowcake is converted into highly toxic uranium hexafluoride and revealed: ‘People who have been in the region, for example – Isfahan’s UCF – have had some accidents for which they have been treated.’ He admitted that some employees at Isfahan had suffered from ‘health issues’ and warned of ‘problems that civilians living close to nuclear sites could face.’ Massourni’s comments were removed from the semi-official Mehr news agency’s website a few hours after they were published.

“Officials in Tehran, already jumpy over the near-catastrophe in Bushehr, must have realized that the comments about the urgent need to prepare emergency services for nuclear accidents… were a recipe for a nightmare scenario of mass panic in the population and an outcry in the Gulf region against the hazards of Iran’s nuclear program – even before it produces a weapon.”

If the near-catastrophe in Bushehr was indeed caused by sabotage, it would be interesting to speculate who might have been behind that. At the same time, Western powers such as the USA are not  immune against nuclear sabotage, either, as the next article might show.

Southern California Power Plant Sabotaged?

NBC News wrote on November 30:

“Security has been beefed up at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California after it was discovered that a generator there might have been tampered with, the plant operator said. The plant has been out of service since January due to a leak in a steam generator. Southern California Edison said it discovered engine coolant in an oil system in the backup diesel generator in late October during routine monitoring. An internal probe found evidence of potential tampering, though it could not be confirmed…

“The news is the latest blow to San Onofre’s majority owner, which earlier this month said the cost of the prolonged outage at the damaged nuclear power plant has topped $317 million. San Onofre’s Unit 2 and Unit 3 reactors have been shut down since January after operators discovered a leak in a steam generator tube in Unit 3…

“The investigation into the potential tampering is ongoing, the utility said, adding that it has enhanced security at the nuclear power plant that sits on the coast about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego…”

If true, it would likewise be interesting to speculate who might have been behind that act of sabotage.

White House Disapproved New Sanctions Against Iran

On November 30, 2012, the cable.foreignpolicy.com wrote the following:

“The White House announced its opposition to a new round of sanctions that the Senate unanimously approved Friday, in the latest instance of Congress pushing for more aggressive punitive measures on Iran than the administration deems prudent… The new legislative language would blacklist Iran’s energy, port, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors, while also placing new restrictions on Iran’s ability to get insurance for all these industries. The legislation would also vastly expand U.S. support for human rights inside Iran and impose new sanctions on Iranians who divert humanitarian assistance from its intended purpose…

“But the White House told several Senate offices Thursday evening that the administration was opposed to the amendment… One of the White House’s chief concerns is that Congress is not providing the administration enough waivers, which would give the United States the option of negating or postponing applications of the sanctions on a case-by-case basis.

“The White House also said that secondary sanctions should apply only to those Iranian persons and entities that are guilty of aiding Iran’s nuclear and missile programs… The new sanctions too broadly punish companies that supply materials, such as certain metals, that could be used in Iran’s nuclear, military, or ballistic missile programs, the White House worries. The bill allows those materials to be sold to Iranian entities that intend to use them for non-military or nuclear-related purposes, but the administration said that the ambiguity in that part of the legislation will make it hard to implement.

“Finally, the White House doesn’t want to implement the part of the new legislation that would require reports to Congress on the thousands of boats that dock at Iranian ports and the dozens of Iranian planes that make stops at airports around the world. Those reporting requirements ‘will impose serious time burdens on the Intelligence Community and sanctions officers,’ the White House said in the e-mail. The Obama administration often touts the Iran sanctions it once opposed…”

All of this begs the question as to how serious is the Obama Administration when it comes to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon?

Syria—Worst Fears Confirmed

NBC News reported on December 6:

“The Syrian military is prepared to use chemical weapons against its own people and is awaiting final orders from President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday. The military has loaded the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, into aerial bombs that could be dropped onto the Syrian people from dozens of fighter-bombers, the officials said.

“As recently as Tuesday, officials had said there was as yet no evidence that the process of mixing the ‘precursor’ chemicals had begun. But Wednesday, they said their worst fears had been confirmed: The nerve agents were locked and loaded inside the bombs. Sarin is an extraordinarily lethal agent. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s forces killed 5,000 Kurds with a single sarin attack on Halabja in 1988.”

Commentators estimated that these chemical weapons, if used, could kill in excess of one million Syrians and many more people outside Syria, including Israel. It may be inconceivable to believe that a leader would use deadly weapons against his own people, but sadly, many historical examples do exist for such horrific conduct. For instance, Adolf Hitler, obviously being demonically possessed, ordered the destruction of the German people just prior to his death by suicide.

Demon Possession on the Rise?

The Independent wrote on November 30:

“The Catholic Church has established an exorcist hotline in Milan, its biggest diocese, to cope with demand. Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, the diocese’s chief exorcist since 1995, said the curia had also appointed twice as many exorcists to cope with a doubling in the number of requests for help over 15 years… The Monsignor said he knew of one exorcist who had been seeing up to 120 people a day. ‘But with so little time per client he was only able to offer a quick blessing. That’s not enough,’ he said…

“It’s not clear why the number of suspected possessions has risen so sharply…Father Gabriele Amorth, who was the Vatican’s chief exorcist for 25 years, claims to have dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession. [He] said that sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church were proof that ‘the Devil is at work inside the Vatican’. He also claimed that satanic behaviour lay behind Vatican attempts to ‘cover up’ the deaths of Alois Estermann, then commander of the Swiss Guard, his wife and another Swiss Guard, Corporal Cedric Tornay, in 1998…

“Defined by the Catholic Encyclopaedia as ‘the act of driving out, or warding off, demons, or evil spirits, from persons, places, or things which are believed to be possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice,’ exorcism has been practised by the Church for centuries, but its use has increased dramatically over the last half century.”

Even though we do not believe that “exorcisms,” as practiced by the Catholic Church, will in fact cast out demons and heal demonically possessed persons, there can be no doubt that people being troubled by demons and cases of severe demonic possession have increased drastically in recent years. The Bible predicts that in these end times, Satan and his demons would become extremely angry and active. You might also want to read our Q&A, addressing the question as to how to understand “miraculous healings” and “exorcisms” which do not originate with God.

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Are the Land Sabbath and the Jubilee Year still to be observed today? (Part 4)

In the previous three installments, we discussed the biblical regulations of the Land Sabbath (Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7, 18-22) and rejected extreme viewpoints which hold that either these regulations must be enforced today, literally and in their entirety, by the Church of God and its members, while others hold that they are no longer applicable today, not even in principle.

We concluded the last installment by pointing out that the correct view has been taught for many years by the Worldwide Church of God, under Herbert W. Armstrong, and is being adhered to today by the Church of the Eternal God in the USA, the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada, and the Global Church of God in the UK.  We will now explain what this correct view is, and how it relates to us today.

In a letter by the Personal Correspondence Department of the Worldwide Church of God, the following was stated:

“The question naturally arises, then, how can a Christian apply these laws of God now? Obviously, an individual cannot observe all the details of these laws, since they would require national legislation. An individual cannot release his own debts, and there is no divinely appointed inheritance for each family today. But these laws are all for man’s good, so we ought to observe them to the extent that this can be done in the present system. Even where a law cannot be practiced in the letter, it should be kept in the spirit…

“A farmer who owes money to banks probably cannot let all his land rest every seven years, since he owes mortgage and other loan payments that must be made each year. In such a case, it is suggested that the land be rested in rotation so that each field receives its rest sometime during a seven-year period. If one is able to rest the whole farm at once, so much the better. He can reckon his seventh year from the time of baptism or from the time that the knowledge comes to him regarding the land rest…

“Virtually all agricultural colleges know the benefits of crop rotations and of ‘resting’ land by putting it in pasture or cover crops periodically. Good soil conservation measures should also be practiced.”

In a letter by the Global Church of God to a reader in the UK, dated September 10, 1996, the following was stated:

“Since God’s laws are not being observed nationally, there is no set year in which the land Sabbath is observed today. Can anyone today prove conclusively that he knows the original cycle which began the 7th year after Israel entered the land in about 1400 B.C.? But an individual can obey the biblical directive by resting his land one year out of every seven. The land sabbath is a wonderful law which teaches stewardship, ecological principles, economics and social responsibility, as well as lessons in living by faith (by trusting God to perform a miracle in the sixth year so that there would be sufficient bounty to carry over the rest year, and on until the new crop comes in after that).

“The Global Church of God believes, as did the Worldwide Church of God under Mr. Herbert Armstrong’s leadership, that a person should rest his land, whether he is a farmer with acreage or a backyard gardener. However, few of God’s people ‘work the land,’ as many more did just a few decades ago, and so, today, there is little discussion of such matters. Even without a national observance, the land Sabbaths can be observed on one’s own seven year cycle, just as brethren pay their third tithe on their own cycle (from the date of baptism or from the feast [of tabernacles] nearest to their baptism…

“Even though the land Sabbaths are important and should not be diminished by omission or neglect, they are not the primary focus of God’s Word…”

This is indeed correct. “For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking [or physical matters related thereto], but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). For example, the laws pertaining to clean and unclean meat, as well as to the Land Sabbaths, are dealing first and foremost with physical matters. They are physical injunctions for our physical good and for our health. They DO become spiritual, however, when we refuse to obey those laws and principles, although we know better, because we don’t care for God’s Word, or because we want to live in defiance and rebellion against Almighty God.

In a subsequent letter, dated April 16, 1997, Evangelist Colin Adair wrote the following for the Global Church of God:

“It is simply not possible for the Church as a whole to impose the seventh year land Sabbath on its members. We are not living in a physical nation today as a Church. For instance, farmer members come into the Church at different times. If the Church imposed a particular year on everyone, then some farmers would be keeping a land Sabbath any time in a series of seven years.

“The Church is a spiritual body today, not a physical nation under a physical government. However…the Global Church does teach that farmers and gardeners should keep a land Sabbath because it is a physical law of God. Land does need rest… the general principle is that we obey the physical laws given to Israel as much as we can, living under our circumstances. But there are some laws God gave Israel which we cannot follow because they need a priesthood.”

In addition, ritual laws and certain national laws need not to be followed today. For more information and a thorough discussion, please read our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound…” 

Since it is our teaching and understanding that the principles of the Land Sabbath ought to be adhered to today, as much as possible, how are they to be applied in particular?

In the April 1969 edition of The Good News, the following was explained in an article, titled, “A Sabbath Rest for the Land!”:

“Many think the word ‘REST’ means let the soil lie IDLE! Some have even wondered if the farmer should sell his stock (if he has any), padlock the gates and either go for a long holiday, or get himself a job. This is a totally WRONG impression!!

“The seventh YEAR of rest is typified by the seventh DAY of rest, and you know that you are NOT commanded to observe the weekly Sabbath by climbing into bed and lying perfectly still for the 24 hours!… Likewise a YEAR of rest is the time when we physically recharge our soil and lay the foundation for success during the coming six years!…

“HARVESTING is the key to the Sabbatical Year! Crops are NOT to be planted for harvesting. Lev. 25:5 shows that the principle involved is not one of refraining from planting or growing. The growth of plants is actually encouraged during the Sabbatical Year!… the command is only against the harvesting of commercial crops. We are told that the poor can come and take whatever their immediate needs may be…

“Then what is the specific PHYSICAL purpose of the Sabbatical Year? It refers to the principle of building up large reserves or organic residues, both in and on the soil. The diligent farmer will take full advantage of his one-in-seven-year opportunity… if you’re just a home gardener, the principles outlined here are as applicable to you as to any farmer with a large field…

“The most efficient way to GIVE the maximum amount of dead plant matter to the soil is certainly not by refraining from planting crops during the seventh year. We should refrain from planting anything we INTEND TO HARVEST… harvesting of crops [is] the focal point behind the Sabbath Year…

“If this extra plant growth is not to get widely out of hand and produce a massive seeding of less desirable plants, it must be ‘topped’ regularly with some type of mower. THIS IS NOT HARVESTING! No, not even if you take some of it away to compost it – providing it is returned to that area. We left the ‘topped’ portions of our pastures to decompose right where they fell from the mower…”

The Bible also speaks of cattle or livestock and beasts in the land grazing the ground during the Land Sabbath (Leviticus 25:6-7). The ensuing manure contributes, of course, to soil fertility.

There may be many more questions arising as to the practical application of the Land Sabbath provisions, but we hope to have given you a general overview in this series of articles. The principle should be clear. Let the land “rest” (understood in the right way) the seventh year as best as you can, by refraining from harvesting commercial crops (recall for example that fruit trees are excluded, but vineyards and olive yards are included), while using the time to build up large reserves or organic residues.

As we have pointed out, in this day and age, the regulations of the Land Sabbath and the Jubilee Year can only be applied in principle by the Church and its members, as the Church has no legal authority and jurisdiction over many of these provisions. However, when Jesus Christ returns and RULES, the provisions of the Land Sabbath and the Jubilee Year will be restored and literally applied within the spirit of the Law. Man will be taught what is best for him and, in time and for the most part, he will accept God’s truth.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

The draft of our new booklet on the biblical timeline, titled, “Biblical Prophecy — From Now Until Forever,” has entered the second editorial review stage. We anticipate publication early next year.

A new member letter for the month of December has been written. It will be posted on our webpage and sent out early next week. In the letter, Pastor Dave Harris warns of the false concept of trying to set dates to determine the time of Christ’s return, and encourages all of us to be always ready and to do the end-time Work of God.

On December 1, 2012, our brethren, who were assembled for Sabbath services in Germany, were able to connect via SKYPE (that is, via video transmission) with several other scattered brethren and prospective members to allow all an opportunity to “meet” together. Being able to participate in song services and opening and closing prayers, see and speak with one another, “see” and hear Thilo Hanstein presenting the sermonette, and play the recorded video sermon presented by Evangelist Norbert Link added greatly to the fellowship. We are planning to continue these types of services in Germany on a regular basis.

This week’s German sermon is titled, “Neu! Michas und Dans Goetzendienst”. It is discussing the account of idolatry in Judges 17 and 18, and also addresses the identity and future of the tribe of Dan. The English translation of the German title would be: “Micah’s and Dan’s Idolatry.”

Please note that live services are broadcast in the U.S. each Sabbath and can be accessed through our website–http://eternalgod.org/. In addition, we have meetings in Ramona, California; Woodburn, Oregon; Fort Collins, Colorado; Summerland, BC (Canada); and,in addition, we conduct services in England. Members also participate in the Chat Room that is associated with our Internet transmissions. If you desire more information, please contact us.

A new StandingWatch program, titled, “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Its Future,” has been recorded and posted. Here is the review: President Morsi of Egypt has been wrongly applauded for his involvement in the Gaza crisis. Subsequently, he showed his true colors and that of the Muslim Brotherhood. The West’s ignorant assessment of the Arab Spring is shameful, since the real goals of the radical Islamic movement should have been clear from the outset. Egypt’s future will be grim, and much turmoil, defeat in war and captivity is in store for the country.

StandingWatch Radio will run a program on the origin of the Christmas tree starting Sunday, December 16th and again the following week. “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Its Future” will be aired beginning Sunday, December 30th.

NOTE: Both the audio recordings of our Sermonette and Sermon from this past Sabbath are now posted on our webpage. The video recording of the Sermon is also posted. In these important messages, Norbert Link addresses alarming developments in some fellowships of the church along with warnings from the examples of others who turned away from God. Here are the titles and summaries:

“Apostasy in the Church of God“–For over ten years, we have warned that another falling away from the truth will occur in the Church of God, but only very few have heeded the warning. We now see that the prophesied renewed apostasy has begun.

“Idolatry in the Book of Judges“–When we commit idolatry, we forsake the true God. The book of Judges gives us many examples and warns us not to follow the bad lead of the ancient Israelites. But sadly, our Christian nations engage today in the same kind of Baal and Astarte worship, and calamity will be the consequence. Also available in video.

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Change of Address

Shelly Bruno

My family moved across town a few months ago. The decision to move was based on a number of reasons, but primarily the fact that our boys are growing and we wanted a bigger backyard. My oldest was also starting at a new school, and we felt it would be beneficial to live closer to both school and work.

We moved 7 miles, but that small distance has actually created a world of change for us. Everything is different: time not spent in a car, time now spent on bikes, where I store our belongings, the places I run my errands, how long it takes to drive to a friend’s house, and especially the view I see when I look out of our windows. My perspective has been transformed.

The time and energy spent moving across town has consumed far more effort than I would have guessed. Challenges seemed to spring up out of nowhere and the best laid plans weren’t always easy to follow. Despite some of the negative aspects, the outcome has been very positive in ways I also would not have guessed.

This experience makes me think of the changes of address coming in the future. This much anticipated spiritual move will provide benefits that are difficult to imagine. I look forward to what God is preparing for me in His house, and how my perspective will forever and completely be changed.

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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

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

©2024 Church of the Eternal God