Update 631


Christ’s Parables in the Book of Matthew

On March 22, 2014, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Christ’s Parables in the Book of Matthew.”

The live services are available at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Suffering From PPT

by Michael Link

Are we experiencing the symptoms associated with PPT?  Those of us who have been called out of this world, who live by the law of God and observe His commanded Sabbaths and Holy Days, can thereby expect trials of every caliber to impact us in some way as we approach a vitally important occasion in a few weeks from now, signifying “an outward symbol of acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice… by observing the death and sacrifice of Christ as a memorial once a year, during the evening Passover ceremony (Luke 22:14–20; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26)” (Compare our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days”).

These symptoms we have been experiencing every year and now once again, are our Pre-Passover Trials (PPT).  This is certainly not a bad thing, but should be considered encouraging, as God is the One who brings this about, by allowing us to go through various tests, not for the purpose of imperfection, but to bring us closer to perfection. 

As this has been the topic of discussion recently and will most likely continue to be so in the upcoming weeks, we are expected to examine ourselves as stated in 1 Corinthians 11:27-31, making sure that we don’t take the Passover in an unworthy manner.  This is not to be considered in a negative way, but we are to look at ourselves, expecting a positive result.  Our self-examination should determine that we are on the right track; that Christ DOES in fact live in us.  “And if, during the examination, a Christian finds that he is lacking in some aspects, he needs to REPENT of that; he needs to ask God for forgiveness; he needs to resolve and make an effort to do better; and, at the same time, he needs to understand that with God’s help, he can, and must, and will do better“ (See our free booklet, “The Meaning of God’s Spring Holy Days”).

We are not being tested for the purpose of failing, but with the expectation of success.  1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 

The countdown to Passover is indeed upon us, and the effects of PPT are increasing more and more.   We are being tested on the very things that we struggle with the most, and God is looking at US to see how we will react; how we will “handle” the situation.  We will fail from time to time, especially during initial stages of a trial. In recognizing our own actions when going through a trial, we are thereby examining ourselves and accepting the fact that we MUST do better, if we want to be counted worthy. 

The suffering we are going through is a beneficial part of God’s plan.  “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10, English Standard Version).  We should not feel defeated the moment a trial sets in, for God says that we will not be tempted or tested beyond our ability, since He is always present in our time of need and confident that we will overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13).  If we believe this, then we will be able to conquer the effects of PPT.

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While the ever-expanding search for the missing Malaysian airplane and its passengers is still ongoing, some very frightening scenarios are being discussed, one of which the State of Israel takes very seriously. In addition, Israel feels betrayed and forsaken by the USA and especially John Kerry; and the current Ukraine/Crimea crisis and America’s weak response might even motivate Israel to attack Iran without any prior approval from the USA, as at least one paper suggests.

Focusing on the Ukraine crisis, we discuss the distinct possibility that this is just one early “exploratory” move in Mr. Putin’s chess game, whose goal and dream it is to occupy the entire country of Ukraine and other prior Soviet satellite states, to bring them “back home” into the clutches of “Mother Russia.” Given the weak measures of the paralyzed West—especially the US and Europe–Mr. Putin may conclude that now may be an opportune time to make further moves to continue with his dream of occupation, exactly as Adolf Hitler did, when he found that other countries, including the USA and Great Britain, were unwilling to intervene and stop him.

However, all of this might prompt certain western European countries to unite militarily, in order to be able to oppose Russia, China and other Far Eastern nations, perceived to be threatening Europe. The Bible shows that ten European core nations or groups of nations will unite under German leadership. Even though Germany has been exerting a leadership role pertaining to the Ukrainian crisis, it has not been very successful, lacking a leader who would be willing to make some very hard and unpopular decisions. But the Bible shows that such a leader will arise in his due time.

We are also reporting on the chaotic situation in Libya, exemplifying again the misguided policy of Western nations, having only their self-interest in mind, while ignoring the plight of the Libyan people. We conclude with an article about the two Popes and a brief news clip regarding new “findings” pertaining to the Big Bang theory.

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Bizarre Twist in Disappearance of Malaysian Airplane

Breitbart wrote on March 16:
“As the possibility… grows that Malaysia Airlines flight 370 may have been hijacked and taken to a hidden location, Israeli authorities are preparing for the possibility that the hijackers might attempt to use the Boeing 777 to mount an attack. According to the Times of Israel, Israel’s Channel 2 has revealed that Israeli air defenses have been boosted, and approaching civilian aircraft will be asked to identify themselves far earlier.
“Though the flight was presumed at first to have crashed, whole or in pieces, into the ocean, passive satellite transmissions from the aircraft suggest that it made a deliberate course change and may have headed north into central Asia. Pakistan has already said that the flight never registered on its radar, but at least one expert has suggested the flight could have landed in Bangladesh, whose air defenses presumably would be weaker.
“Though the possibility that the Boeing 777 could be used in a terror attack is mere speculation, it is evidently being taken seriously by Israel. A plane filled with nuclear material would not need to be in Israeli airspace long to do catastrophic damage, even if shot down…”

The Washington Times wrote on March 16:

“The disappearance this month of a Malaysian jetliner was a result of ‘an intentional, deliberate act,’ the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said as more details emerged Sunday about the circumstances behind Flight 370. ‘This was not an accident. It was an intentional, deliberate act to bring down this airplane,’ Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas Republican, said on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ adding that mysteries about the plane’s disappearance continue to develop….

“Mr. McCaul said no evidence suggests terrorism but such a possibility shouldn’t be ruled out. He said the investigation is pointing toward actions on the part of the pilot and co-pilot, but the motivation and the intent are unclear. The scheduled destination was Beijing, but the plane could have been diverted north toward Kazakhstan or, more likely, south toward Australia and Indonesia, he said. ‘Now, two scenarios are here,’ he said. ‘One is the plane ran out of fuel and landed in the ocean… The other one is, it landed in a country like Indonesia, where it could be used later on as a cruise missile, as the 9/11 hijackers did.’…

“Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the possibility of terrorism was being investigated.”

CNN wrote on March 18:

“A law enforcement official told CNN Tuesday that the aircraft’s first turn to the west was almost certainly programmed by somebody in the cockpit. There is no indication of when the coordinates were entered into the computer. It could have been done during the flight or, as is more common, during preflight preparations, the official said… a leading theory from Malaysian investigators [claims that the] missing plane veered off course in a deliberate act by someone who knew what they were doing. But investigators still don’t know who was at the controls, or why whoever was flying the plane apparently took it far from its original destination.”

Newsmax reported on March 19:

“Iranian intelligence officials may be behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 earlier this month, former El Al Airlines security chief Isaac Yeffet says…  ‘They will land [the aircraft] in [a]place that nobody will know… Yeffet, who is also a former member of the Israeli Secret Service, believes the two passengers traveling with stolen passports may be a key part of the mystery, despite authorities discounting their culpability.

“‘With them [was] an Iranian man [who] said [he] was a businessman but this Iranian went to purchase three tickets for the three of them and paid cash,’ he said. ‘Who pays cash money, in the last 20 years, to purchase three tickets… For us, it’s immediately a suspicious sign. They boarded the flight without any difficulty and I am afraid if they had the plan to hijack the aircraft, inside the aircraft they will have more people to assist them.’

“Yeffet does not believe the Bejing-bound airliner, which had 239 passengers aboard, crashed into the sea. ‘If it was in the water we would find debris. History shows us that aircraft that crash in [the] ocean will be found immediately… if not the same day then the next day,’’ he said.”

Subsequently, it was claimed that debris from the crashed plane might have been located floating in the Indian Ocean.

John Kerry Betrays Israel

Breitbart wrote on March 14:
“On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that it would be a ‘mistake’ to insist that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state as a condition of a peace agreement. That statement was a complete reversal of recent promises by Kerry and by President Barack Obama, and effectively makes a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians impossible. Yet the news was completely buried by the mainstream U.S. media… perhaps because journalists are disinclined to document the failure of Obama’s peace push, or perhaps because a story about him breaking a promise is nothing new.”
Sad indeed. The Jewish press did run the story, of course, shaming the US mass media. For instance, Haaretz wrote on March 13:
“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday that it is problematic for people to continue raising the issue of whether Palestinians would agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state… Kerry added that the issue was resolved in 1947, referring to UN Resolution 181 that divided Palestine into two states, one for Jews and one for Arabs, and reminded of former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in 1988.

“According to the report, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said last week that the U.S. considers Israel as a Jewish state, but doesn’t require the Palestinians to do so. Kerry adopted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state back in December during a visit to Israel, and later turned to the Saudis and Jordan asking them to support Palestinian recognition. Last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made it clear there was ‘no way’ he would recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and later the Arab League came out in support of his statement.”

America’s back-paddling on the issue of the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state only shows its total lack of decisive leadership. Another example can be seen in America’s unsuccessful attempts to accomplish anything in regard to the Ukraine crisis. Note the next articles.

The Crimea Debacle —“Heim ins Reich” [“Back Home into the Empire”]

BBC News wrote on March 16:

“[97 %] of voters in Crimea have supported joining Russia… in a disputed referendum… Russia’s Vladimir Putin has said he will respect the Crimean people’s wishes. Many Crimeans loyal to Kiev boycotted the referendum, and the EU and US condemned it as illegal…

“Sergei Aksyonov, Crimea’s leader installed last month after the Russian takeover, celebrated the referendum on stage in Simferopol. Backed by the Russian national anthem, Russian flags, and the personnel of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, he told supporters that Crimea was ‘going home’… Some 58% of people in Crimea are ethnic Russian, with the rest made up of Ukrainians and Tatars. Most of the Tatars that the BBC spoke to said they had boycotted the vote, and felt that life under the Kremlin would be worse…

“The Tatars were deported to Central Asia by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. They were only able to return with the fall of the Soviet Union and many want to remain in Ukraine. But the referendum did not have an option for those who wanted the constitutional arrangements to remain unchanged. Voters were asked whether they wanted to join Russia, or have greater autonomy within Ukraine.

“Away from the Crimea region, unrest continued in the south-east Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Pro-Russian protesters stormed the prosecutor’s building shouting ‘Donetsk is a Russian city’, and then broke into the local security services headquarters for the second time in two days…”

Putin might very well use this “unrest” for justification of continued occupation of additional parts of Ukraine, knowing that the West sees no options to stop him. Ultimately, Russia and Ukraine will combine their military forces AGAINST the EU.

Crimea Parliament Declares Independence from Russia

BBC News wrote on March 17:

“Crimea’s parliament has formally declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation…

“According to the declaration approved by Crimean MPs, the region: becomes an independent state and applies to formally join Russia, with some autonomy; will adopt the Russia rouble as its currency within a month; will move to Moscow time (GMT+4 and two hours ahead of Kiev time) on 30 March; [and] will offer Crimean soldiers the chance to join Russian military.”

Putin Signs “Treaty” of Accession with Crimea; Declares Kiev as Mother of all Russian Cities

The Washington Post wrote on March 18:

“Invoking the suffering of the Russian people and a narrative of constant betrayals by the West, President Vladimir Putin declared Tuesday that Russia was within its rights to reclaim Crimea, then signed a treaty that did just that. Putin, defiant in the face of U.S. and European pressure, dispensed with legal deliberation and announced a swift annexation of Crimea, as if to put Europe’s most serious crisis in decades beyond the point where the results could be turned back…

“Putin declared that Russia has no interest in expanding its hold within Ukraine… But he also said that Russia would always be ready to stand up for the rights of fellow Russians living in other countries. He mentioned, seemingly in passing, that Russians in eastern Ukraine, in the cities of Kharkiv and Donetsk, had been subject to the same sort of abuse at the hands of Ukrainian nationalists that he said had led him to act on Crimea…

“He also touched on Russians’ roots in the Ukrainian heartland, in a way that many Ukrainians may not have found reassuring. ‘We sympathize with the people of Ukraine,’ he said. ‘We’re one nation. Kiev is the mother of all Russian cities.’…”

Following the signing of the “treaty,” violence erupted in Crimea. According to Deutsche Welle, dated March 18, “Ukraine’s military says a base in Crimea has been stormed with one serviceman killed… The Ukrainian premier says the crisis has now become a military one… Kyiv [Kiev], which blamed Russia for the attack, authorized Ukrainian troops to use weapons if necessary to defend themselves… ‘Today, Russian soldiers began shooting at Ukrainian servicemen,’ said Yatseniuk. ‘This is a war crime.’” CNN added that “Ukraine’s defense ministry authorized its forces to open fire.”

Subsequently, on March 19, Reuters reported: “Russian troops and unarmed men stormed Ukraine’s naval headquarters in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on Wednesday and raised the Russian flag.”

John Kerry Fails in Ukraine Crisis

Prior to the “referendum,” Deutsche Welle reported on March 14:

“Talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry have failed to resolve differences over Crimea… ‘We have no common vision of the situation. Differences remain,’ Lavrov said…”

The referendum was of course a manipulated effort to justify Russia’s continued occupation of the Crimean peninsula, but while it is true that a majority of Russians living there wanted to be annexed by Russia (one is reminded of the vast majority of Austrians supporting Austria’s Anschluss to Nazi Germany), it is also true that the Russian military apparatus employed terror measures to “persuade” the people of Crimea NOT to vote against Russian occupation, as the next articles show.

NATO Allies Criticize USA

The Washington Times wrote on March 18:

“NATO members criticized Washington for getting caught off guard by Russia’s military buildup… Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski told Mr. Biden directly that Russia’s actions should not have come as a surprise, given Moscow’s significant increase in military spending… Estonian President Toomas Ilves told Mr. Biden that Russia’s action in Crimea should be a wake-up call… Mr. Biden tried to reject the suggestion that the U.S., in the midst of defense cutbacks, was allowing Russia to gain a strategic advantage…

“Mr. Ilves also sounded a note of discontent about the U.S.-led response with sanctions… In Congress, Republicans increased their calls for the administration to consider sending military aid to Ukraine and to reassess the U.S. relationship with Russia.” 

Russia’s Terror Regime in Crimea

The New York Times wrote on March 14:

“With a mix of targeted intimidation [and] an expansive military occupation by unmistakably elite Russian units… Crimea has been swept almost instantaneously into the Kremlin’s fold. This has happened well ahead of the referendum… Organizers of counterprotests have been threatened and in some cases disappeared…

“Crimean journalists have been ordered not to describe the soldiers on their soil as Russian or to use the word ‘occupation.’ And foreign and local journalists have been beaten and had their materials confiscated by uniformed men who are not officially connected to any government.

“Civilian airline flights to and from Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, have been blocked. The Berkut riot police, disbanded in February under accusations of brutality by Ukraine, the state they once served, have regrouped in Crimea, where they stand as enforcers of the new authorities’ will. All the while, Ukrainian government centers are blockaded by a mix of Russian troops and men identifying themselves as their supporters.

“… the Kremlin… has ensured that most anyone who might publicly resist secession is marginalized or discouraged…”

These methods are indeed similar to Gestapo activities in Germany prior to, and during World War II. And as the world did nothing then, so nothing is being done now. Chancellor Merkel of Germany placed Russia and the world on notice that European military actions are not an option. Even though some concerned German residents with Ukrainian roots hit the streets on Saturday to voice their disapproval of Putin’s occupation tactics, many short-sighted Germans are apparently indifferent as to what is happening in Ukraine and don’t seem to care whether or not a WORLD WAR breaks out. Indeed, this world is sound asleep.

Bloomberg reported on March 16:  “Russia has deployed about 60,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, the government in Kiev said. Ukraine closed border crossings to Russia and will mobilize as many as 15,000 volunteers in the next 15 days to defend the nation, officials said today.”

Of course, Ukraine alone has NO military chance against Russia, and since the West made it clear that it will not militarily intervene, Ukraine is as good as gone.

Crimea Just the Beginning

The Financial Times wrote on March 16:

“Crimea is now occupied by Russia – in violation of all norms of international law and treaties signed by Moscow itself. Russia is rapidly emerging as a rogue state…

“Crimea is a tasty slice of historic Russia – a region with the best resorts, beautiful scenery and strategically important military bases. Whoever controls Crimea controls the Black Sea… The invasion of Crimea cannot be explained with concern for the Russian-speaking people of Crimea. Russia’s rulers do not even care about their own people, robbing them cynically. Why would they suddenly care about their kinsmen in Crimea? And nobody has oppressed the Russians in Crimea…

“Mr Putin’s goals are far beyond the Crimean peninsula. First, Moscow’s rulers are terrified that Ukraine’s Maidan protest movement could replicate itself in Russia. The fate of Viktor Yanukovich, the ousted Ukrainian president, frightens them. They are also frightened by the tough anti-communist spirit of the Maidan. The revolution is taking place amid collapsing monuments to Soviet leaders: Lenin, Kirov, Dzerzhinsky. But in neighbouring Russia, 25 years after the ban of the Communist party, Grandpa Lenin is still resting in his mausoleum on Red Square, his monuments still stand. In Russia, we have a metamorphosis of the Communist order; in Ukraine, a decisive parting from it.

“This scares the KGB officers in charge of Russia today. It is also one of the reasons why the Russian media has branded the Maidan participants ‘fascists’. It is a logic familiar to many older Russians: if you oppose the Soviet Union, you are a fascist. Such was the custom in the Stalinist era; it has been now reborn…

“Second, Mr Putin is well aware of the Brezhnev doctrine – the principle of limited sovereignty of the involuntary allies of what was then the Soviet Union. The USSR kept its satellites on a leash, the length of which could  [be] adjusted according to taste… But even more important is the belief that, in the countries of the former Soviet Union, it is Moscow that must define the rules of the game. Ukraine, like Poland in 1981, Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Hungary in 1956, rose up against this principle of limited sovereignty. And the Russians want to bring Ukraine to heel, just as they did with its western neighbours…

“So the occupation of Crimea is only a means for the current political regime in Russia – a means towards goals that are extremely dangerous for Europe, for Ukraine and for the Russian people itself.”

Der Spiegel Online added on March 19:

“It’s not only in Crimea where Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing with fire, but also in eastern Ukraine. The majority of the people in the economically powerful region speak Russian and reject the new government in Kiev.”

Consequences of Putin’s Invasion

Breitbart wrote on March 17:

“Russia has pushed the ‘reset’ button all right, resetting history and geography to take the Crimea back, while the U.S. and the European Union do virtually nothing… The weakness of the west in facing the Russian seizure of the Crimea is likely to have a significant geopolitical effect, both in the short term and long term. Here are five of the most likely consequences of the ‘Crimea reset’:

“1. China advances claims over territory and airspace. An aggressively nationalist China was already moving to broaden its air defenses and its claims to the Senkaku Islands, despite U.S. plans to ‘pivot’ from the Middle East to the western Pacific. It will now be even more assertive, knowing there are few consequences.

“2. Al Qaeda steps up its attempts to create an Islamic caliphate. The Obama administration, having dispatched Osama bin Laden, has left Al Qaeda to expand across Africa and the Middle East. Those hoping to establish an Islamic state in the ruins of Syria and Iraq will be encouraged by the failure of the west to defend the sovereignty of Ukraine, because the artificial borders of the Middle East seem even more vulnerable now.

“3. Israel plans for completely unilateral action on Iran. It is clearer than ever before that the Obama administration has no ability to enforce its own ‘red lines’ and no will to risk armed conflict. Israel will likely set aside the task of obtaining U.S. approval for a pre-emptive strike on Iran and will make independent plans–perhaps in coordination with Saudi Arabia, which has likewise learned that Obama is not to be trusted.

“4. Europe gets serious about fracking… the EU has realized that energy independence is vital to its security. It will start to reject pseudo-scientific ‘green’ arguments in favor of oil and gas development.

“5. Russia continues to challenge U.S. allies and create crisis. The Crimea crisis is hardly over, and may reach other parts of Ukraine, as well as NATO allies in Eastern Europe, as Putin tries the same trick again. He is also expanding Russian influence into Latin America…”

America Disappoints…

An article by The Associated Press, dated March 18, seems to support the concerns of Israel, stating:

“Israel cannot depend on the United States to lead any action against Iran’s nuclear program and can only rely on itself, the country’s defense minister said in remarks published Tuesday… the defense minister alleged American influence is waning in other parts of the world, such as Ukraine over the crisis there. ‘Weakness certainly does not pay in the world,’ he said. ‘… I hope the U.S. will come to its senses.’”

JTA added on March 19:

“In response, a [US] senior administration official told Israeli media, ‘We were shocked by Moshe Yaalon’s comments, which seriously call into question his commitment to Israel’s relationship with the United States. Moreover, this is part of a disturbing pattern in which the defense minister disparages the U.S. administration and insults its most senior officials. ‘Given the unprecedented commitment that this administration has made to Israel’s security,’ the unnamed official said, ‘we are mystified why the defense minister seems intent on undermining the relationship.’”

The Obama Administration seems to be delusional and sound asleep, not realizing reality. The USA imposed toothless sanctions on seven Russian and four Ukrainian officials, as well as a Russian bank, and the EU could only agree on 21 officials, while some had originally proposed to enact sanctions against at least 100 persons. Later, the EU added another 12 individuals to their list. None of the sanctions are targeting Putin. In fact, Putin laughed about and ridiculed them, while announcing sanctions in retaliation against U.S. White House officials and Senators. However, the EU and especially Germany might become bolder in their action. Note the next article.

Will Europe Impose Serious Sanctions?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on March 17:

“The EU has imposed new sanctions to prevent Vladimir Putin from further escalating the crisis in Ukraine. Berlin has played a leading role in the punitive actions, despite protests from the German business community. There’s no turning back for Merkel… Despite pressure from many European Union member states and the US, Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel initially managed to prevent swifter sanctions. They wanted to attempt to resolve the Crimean crisis through talks. The strategy ultimately failed because of Putin’s intransigence…

“Both the Americans and the Europeans have ruled out the possibility of a military response and instead want to strike Putin where he is most vulnerable: Russia’s economic dependency on the West…  The main role here also continues to lie with Germany. The reason is simple: The country has very close business relations with Russia and has the greatest capacity to exert pressure… Economic warfare could prove expensive for Germany. And this puts Merkel in a difficult situation since she may be forced to push through political measures that harm her country’s business interests. Now that it has made a claim to leadership, Berlin can’t simply retract it.

“The sanctions the EU imposed against Russia on Monday in response to Sunday’s Crimea referendum remain moderate. The plan involves freezing bank accounts and issuing travel bans against 21 Russian and Crimean politicians. If Putin continues to escalate the situation, however, more decisive action could follow…

“The consequences would be serious — for both sides. Last year, Germany and Russia had trade in goods of close to €77 billion ($107 billion). Russia primarily supplies petroleum and natural gas to Germany. Germany, on the other hand, exports mechanical engineering products, medicines, trains and automobiles to Russia. More than 6,000 German companies are registered in Russia and, together, they have invested €20 billion in recent years. German chemical giant BASF has holdings in Siberian gas fields and Russian gas monopoly Gazprom obtained natural gas storage facilities in the state of Lower Saxony in exchange.

“Without special chemicals from Germany, it would be difficult for Russia to refine its crude oil. It would be a shattering blow to supplies for Putin’s massive country if Merkel were to turn the screws on Germany-Russian economic relations. At the same time, Germany’s business community would also have to assume some severe losses…

“It is unlikely that such punitive measures would go unanswered by Russia; Putin has not been shy about threatening retaliation. A senator with his United Russia party is now calling for the expropriation of foreign companies doing business in the country. Moscow could respond by freezing bank accounts held in Russian banks as well as seizing assets…

“In Berlin, all officials can do is guess at just how far Putin might be willing to go… high-ranking diplomats believe it is… conceivable that Moscow might attempt to destabilize other regions like the Baltics or the Caucuses by using economic pressure or the presence of strong Russian minorities in countries in those places…”

Ukraine—Not All As It May Seem

The EUObserver reported on March 18:

“With Russia’s ratification of the Crimea bill to be completed by the end of next week, the annexation looks like a fait accompli. But there are fears Putin will go further.  He also told MPs that ethnic Russians in the Ukrainian cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Kiev are ‘still’ appealing for his help and he described Kiev as the ‘mother of all Russian cities … ancient Russia, our common source.’

“He has amassed military forces on Ukraine’s north and eastern borders. If he is going to absorb Crimea, he will also need to take control of the electricity and water infrastructure which feeds it and which is located on the Ukrainian mainland…

“Yushchenko… warned the West that all may not be as it seems in Ukraine. Some Russian media reports say Yushchenko’s old rival, former PM Yulia Tymoshenko, cut a deal with Putin – to give him Crimea in return for helping her to regain power… Yushchenko said it is ‘quite strange’ that Ukraine’s Tymoshenko-dominated government has done nothing to secure the Crimean electricity and water infrastructure on the mainland.

“He said it is equally strange Ukraine did not close its border with Russia to stop Russian nationals from going to pro-Russia rallies in Donetsk and Kharkiv. ‘I belong to this group of people [who believe there is a Putin-Tymoshenko deal],’ Yushchenko said. ‘This is one of the biggest mysteries for Europeans … The line of relations between these two people have been significantly underestimated and Europe risks falling into their traps,’ he added.”

Ukraine Crisis–Parallel with the Crimean War of 1853…

Der Spiegel Online wrote on March 14:

“The Crimean War of 1853-1856… which ultimately consumed well over half a million lives, began when Russia sent 80,000 troops into the Ottoman-controlled Danubian principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. Russia argued that it had the right and obligation to act as the guardian of orthodox Christians within the Ottoman Empire, much as it today claims the right to safeguard the interests of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine…

“NATO, as the alliance formed to protect Western interests in the Cold War, is focused firmly on the global balance of power, just as the Crimean coalition was in the 1850s. NATO and the EU are not coextensive and not identical in their interests. When the Americans, the Poles and the Baltic states proposed the extension of NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine in 2008, France and Germany objected, just as Prussia refused to join the anti-Russian Western coalition of 1854-5…

“The Ukrainian emergency is a reminder of how quickly events can undo the best-laid plans and produce unforeseen constellations…”

The Bible warns that oblivious people will be caught by surprise when they are being hit by another World War…which will threaten to annihilate all human life on this planet.

Libya Is Falling Apart… and Western Powers and Media Are Much to Be Blamed

The Independent wrote on March 16:

“Without a central government with any real power, Libya is falling apart. And this is happening almost three years after 19 March 2011 when the French air force stopped Mu’ammer Gaddafi’s counter-offensive to crush the uprising in Benghazi. Months later, his burnt-out tanks still lay by the road to the city. With the United States keeping its involvement as low-profile as possible, Nato launched a war in which rebel militiamen played a secondary, supportive role and ended with the overthrow and killing of Gaddafi.

“A striking feature of events in Libya in the past week is how little interest is being shown by leaders and countries which enthusiastically went to war in 2011 in the supposed interests of the Libyan people. President Obama has since spoken proudly of his role in preventing a ‘massacre’ in Benghazi at that time. But when the militiamen, whose victory Nato had assured, opened fire on a demonstration against their presence in Tripoli in November last year, killing at least 42 protesters and firing at children with anti-aircraft machine guns, there was scarcely a squeak of protest from Washington, London or Paris.

“Coincidentally, it was last week that Al-Jazeera broadcast the final episode in a three-year investigation of the Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people in 1988. For years this was deemed to be Gaddafi’s greatest and certainly best-publicised crime, but the documentary proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Libyan intelligence officer, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted of carrying out the bombing, was innocent. Iran, working through the Palestinian Front for The Liberation of Palestine – General Command, ordered the blowing up of Pan Am 103 in revenge for the shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane by the US navy earlier in 1988…

“This is not to defend Gaddafi, a maverick dictator who inflicted his puerile personality cult on his people, though he was never as bloodthirsty as Saddam Hussein or Hafez al-Assad. But the Nato powers that overthrew him – and by some accounts gave the orders to kill him – did not do so because he was a tyrannical ruler. It was rather because he pursued a quirkily nationalist policy backed by a great deal of money which was at odds with western policies in the Middle East. It is absurd to imagine that… the real objective of the war was to replace Gaddafi with a secular democracy…

“Libya is imploding. Its oil exports have fallen from 1.4 million barrels a day in 2011 to 235,000 barrels a day. Militias hold 8,000 people in prisons, many of whom say they have been tortured. Some 40,000 people from the town of Tawergha south of Misrata were driven from their homes which have been destroyed…  Libya is a land of regional, tribal, ethnic warlords who are often simply well-armed racketeers exploiting their power and the absence of an adequate police force. Nobody is safe: the head of Libya’s military police was assassinated in Benghazi in October while Libya’s first post-Gaddafi prosecutor general was shot dead in Derna on 8 February. Sometimes the motive for the killing is obscure, such as the murder last week of an Indian doctor, also in Derna, which may lead to an exodus of 1,600 Indian doctors who have come to Libya since 2011 and on whom its health system depends.

“Western and regional governments share responsibility for much that has happened in Libya, but so too should the media. The Libyan uprising was reported as a simple-minded clash between good and evil. Gaddafi and his regime were demonised and his opponents treated with a naïve lack of scepticism and enquiry. The foreign media have dealt with the subsequent collapse of the Libyan state since 2011 mostly by ignoring it, though politicians have stopped referring to Libya as an exemplar of successful foreign intervention…”

Evidence for a Big Bang?

The Associated Press reported on March 18:

“Researchers say they have spotted evidence that a split-second after the Big Bang, the newly formed universe ballooned out at a pace so astonishing that it left behind ripples in the fabric of the cosmos… The discovery ‘gives us a window on the universe at the very beginning,’ when it was far less than one-trillionth of a second old, said theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University, who was not involved in the work. ‘It’s just amazing,’ Krauss said. ‘You can see back to the beginning of time.’”

As we explain in our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution—A Fairy Tale for Adults,” the big bang theory is by no means an accurate explanation of the beginning of the universe. However, what it does admit is that the universe HAD a beginning! With this admission, it totally contradicts the Theory of Evolution. The Bible tells us of course WHY the universe had a beginning. It had a beginning and did not always exist BECAUSE GOD created it: “In the beginning, God created the heavens—the universe—and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

Pope Benedict and Pope Francis

Zenit wrote on March 19:

“Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s private secretary, has disclosed that Pope Francis asked his predecessor to write down a critique of the interview he gave the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica last August. The German archbishop, who is also Prefect of the Papal Household under Pope Francis, told the German television channel ZDF over the weekend that, after the interview was published in September, the Pope gave him the interview, instructing him to take it to Benedict XVI so he could ‘read it and write down any criticism he may have.’

“The Pope Emeritus ‘did his homework,’ Archbishop Gänswein continued. ‘He read it and, in accordance with his successor’s request, he did indeed offer some thoughts and some remarks on certain comments or certain questions on which he thought something additional could perhaps be said in another context.’…

“The interview drew controversy, especially over the Pope’s comments on abortion, contraception and same-sex ‘marriage’ … Archbishop Gänswein said the Francis and Benedict ‘have a very good relationship,’ adding that ‘clearly they are in accordance with regard to the substance… There is a marked and visible difference with regard to presentation…’”

It was also reported that both popes are expected to be present and participate in the upcoming sanctification ceremony for the canonization of Pope John Paul II in April.

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What is the new commandment of Jesus?

Some claim that Jesus came to do away with the Law of the Ten Commandments and replace it with a “new” Law, which happens to be identical with the Ten Commandments, except for the omission of the Sabbath. This treacherous and deceitful argument has convinced quite a few people that they do not have to keep the Sabbath anymore. But the truth is that the Ten Commandments have not been abolished, and when you break one of the Ten Commandments, you break them all. 

Please note these excerpts from pages 14-15 of our free booklet, “Baptism–A Requirement for Salvation.”:

“What, exactly, is it that we need to repent of…? Simply put, we must repent of the sins we have committed. What is sin? The biblical definition is: ‘…sin is the transgression of the law’ (1 John 3:4, Authorized Version). Which law? The law of God’s Ten Commandments. James calls it the ‘royal law according to the Scripture’ (James 2:8). It defines our love toward God and our love toward neighbor. When we break even one of the Ten Commandments, we are guilty of having broken them all and have become a transgressor of the law (James 2:10-11).

“The law of the Ten Commandments is a spiritual law, as Paul explains in Romans 7:14, because it regulates not only our actions, but also the motives and intents of our heart. We sin when we commit adultery (Exodus 20:14), but we also sin when we DESIRE or COVET the wife of another man (Exodus 20:17), or when we look at another woman with the desire to commit adultery with her (Matthew 5:28). Additionally, we sin when we kill someone (Exodus 20:13), but we have already sinned by violating God’s spiritual law of the Ten Commandments when we even HATE another human being (Matthew 5:21-22; 1 John 3:15).”

It is true that Christ said that He gave the disciples a “new” commandment, but as we will see, not even the most liberal “interpretation” of His statement should persuade an honest person that the Ten Commandments are no longer valid. Christ never said that He gave a new commandment to replace with it the Ten Commandments. Quite to the contrary, He told the young rich ruler that he had to keep the Ten Commandments if he was to enter the Kingdom of God and inherit salvation and eternal life (Matthew 19:16—26).

What then did Jesus say, and what did He mean, when He spoke of a “new commandment”?

He says this in John 13:34:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another…”

The Greek word for “love” is “agapoa,” which is derived from “agape,” describing “godly love.”

But to love one another is hardly a commandment which was new and which was never stated before. When Christ was asked what was the greatest commandment in the Law, He responded by quoting two Old Testament passages, demanding that we love God with all our heart and our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). In both cases, the Greek word for “love” is “agapoa,” referring to “godly love.” And as was pointed out above, when we keep the Ten Commandments, we show our love towards God and neighbor, because we honor God in the way which is required of us, and we don’t do harm to our neighbor by, for instance, not killing him, lying to him, committing adultery with his wife or with her husband, or lusting after the things which our neighbor has.

1 John 3:11 confirms that the message of love towards one another is not really anything new: “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”

And again, we read in 2 John 5-6:

“And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. This is love [Greek, “agape”], that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.”

At the same time, we read this startling statement in 1 John 2:7-10:

“Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him…”

Again, the context is loving our brethren. And even though John says that this is NOT a new commandment, he goes on to say that it IS a new commandment. Is there a contradiction? Some try to explain this by saying that even though it is an old commandment, it is always new for us. But this is not really convincing.

The key to understanding this “mystery” is to return to Jesus’ statement in John 13:34. When quoting this passage above, we purposefully omitted the second part of Christ’s saying. Let us now read the passage in its entirety:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, that you also love one another.”

The New King James Bible places erroneously a semicolon before “as I have loved you,” thereby totally obscuring the meaning. In the original Greek, there were no commas or semicolons, and the translator added those, as he felt best, but in this case, he did so wrongly. Christ was saying here that we are to love one another AS He loved us; that is, in the SAME WAY AS He loved us.

He repeats this command in John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love one another AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.” And He explains in the next two verses this extraordinary love: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do WHATEVER I command you” (verses 13-14).

The connection between loving each other—even to the point of death, if necessary—and obeying Christ is obvious (compare John 14:15, 21). Christ gave up His eternal existence as an immortal God being and became a mortal man and died for us so that we could inherit eternal life; and He demands of us that same KIND of unselfish and outgoing love toward others.

This is not remotely possible for a human being to fulfill, except through and with the help of God. ONLY if God’s Holy Spirit dwells in us, will we be able to begin to manifest that great godly love towards God and others. As a whole and barring a few exceptions, Old Testament Israelites did not have the Holy Spirit within them, and neither did the disciples prior to Christ’s resurrection and the Day of Pentecost, but Christ announced to them that the Holy Spirit would be given to them (John 14:16), which would give them the power to LOVE each other AS Christ loved them.

Even though the command to love God and neighbor had been given from the beginning—and it was therefore an “old” commandment—it had now become a “new” commandment, in that it encompasses a much more demanding DEGREE of love which can only be manifested through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

We said the following in our Q&A on Galatians 3:

“In fact, if you are a truly converted Christian, you have received the Holy Spirit of God, dwelling in you, and through the Holy Spirit, you have received the love of God (Romans 5:5). The love of God is defined as keeping the commandments. 1 John 5:3 says: ‘For this IS the love of God, that we keep His commandments.’ Paul tells us that ‘love is the fulfillment [better: “fulfilling,” AV] of the law’ (Romans 13:10); Love does not do away with it; quite to the contrary, it FULFILLS or KEEPS it. Rather than thinking that the Ten Commandments have been abolished, God’s Holy Spirit in you reveals to you that they are still binding for you, and God’s love in you will motivate you to KEEP them.

“One good way for a person to determine if he has really responded to his call to repentance and conversion, is to analyze and examine himself to find out whether he is willing to keep ALL of God’s Ten Commandments–including the Seventh-Day Sabbath. If a person believes that these laws are no longer required and that he is ‘free’ to ignore or break them, then it is extremely unlikely that he is truly converted, and that God’s Holy Spirit dwells in him. If this applies to you, then you need to pray to God that He may open your understanding to the truth, REPENT of your errors and sins; ACCEPT and BELIEVE IN the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ; understand that Christ DIED for YOUR transgressions of His LAW; and become baptized to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. To help you, please read our free booklets, ‘And Lawlessness Will Abound’ and ‘Baptism–A Requirement for Salvation.”  …”

In order to fulfill Christ’s “new” commandment to love each other AS HE LOVED US, we must become a “new” creation and put on the “new” man (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). We are to become a “new lump”—“unleavened” (1 Corinthians 5:7), without malice and wickedness (verse 8). We must walk the “new and living way” of love which Christ consecrated for us (Hebrews 10:20). When we have been baptized and received God’s Holy Spirit, we are to walk “in newness of life” (Romans 6:4)—or, as we quoted John above, we are to “walk” “in love.”

In order to become a new creation, enabling us to keep Christ’s “new” commandment, we must receive God’s Holy Spirit and be led by it (Romans 8:14).

We read in Ezekiel 18:31: “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die…?”

Let us notice God’s promises:

“Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, THAT they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20).

And again:

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Far from abolishing the Ten Commandments, Christ commanded us to keep them in a new way–with even more zeal and enthusiasm and much deeper spiritual understanding and commitment—showing the love towards God and neighbor in a way which is impossible for the carnal mind (Romans 8:6-9). It requires that God gives us a “new heart” and a “new spirit,” and that is exactly what He promises us so that we can obey the “new” commandment of manifesting godly love by keeping His commandments.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

“What Putin’s Russia Will Do Next!” is the title of the new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Vladimir Putin has placed the world on notice as to what he wants to do, but are we listening? The occupation of Crimea is just the beginning. Putin will continue to invade other countries, stating that Kiev is the mother of all Russian cities, and that Russia will always “stand up for the rights of Russians in other countries,” where Russians are being “abused.” Some observers view Putin’s conduct and ambitions as “extremely dangerous for Europe,” and several most likely unpleasant consequences of the Crimea invasion are being discussed, including some “unforeseen” new “constellations.” What does the Bible say about all of this?

Norbert and Johanna Link will travel to Germany on April 7th of this year. Plans are being made for counseling brethren as well as conducting services for Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread along with finalizing organizational arrangements for the Church in Germany. Michael Link will also travel to Germany for Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread and assist with Church functions and organizational arrangements. Several baptisms are anticipated, and Norbert Link will officiate at a church wedding on May 1. Norbert and Johanna Link will return to the US on May 5, 2014.

The 2014 Church Conference will begin Friday, March 28th, and continue through Tuesday, April 1st, in San Diego, California. Brian and Jill Gale will stay following the Conference, and Mr. Gale will conduct Passover services in Ramona, California. Rene and Delia Messier will be in Oregon for Passover and the beginning of Unleavened Bread. Passover Services will be conducted by the ministry in Fort Collins, Colorado, as well.

We are requesting your URGENT prayers for a German Feast of Tabernacles site for 2014. All arrangements had been made with an hotel in the Black Forest, but we are now being informed that due to financial difficulties and lack of investors, the hotel ceased operation and cancelled all contracts with their guests. We are looking for a new Feast site in Germany, but this search proves very difficult. Please pray for God’s speedy intervention and the revelation of His Will in the matter.

“Christi Gleichnisse vom Reich Gottes, Teil 2,” is the title of this week’s new German sermon. In this continuing series about the parables of Jesus Christ, Norbert Link addresses several more parables in the books of Matthew and Mark. Title in English: Christ’s Parables of the Kingdom of God, Part 2.

A new StandingWatch Talking Points program has been presented by Pastor Rene Messier (Canada) in which he brings out highlights from our booklet, “The Ten European Revivals of the Ancient Roman Empire.”

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by Christian Mrosek

When I visited my parents a couple of weeks ago, I had a very good talk with my father. My mother was still at work, and my brother was not at home either. So my father and I had a drink and a nice chat in the living room.

At the end of the conversation, my father gave me his analysis of my current situation. By that time we were standing outside in the courtyard. My father pointed at my chest and said: “It’s good to look around and search, but eventually you have to become clear with what you want. You just don’t know yet what you really want.”

I had to admit to him, and most importantly to myself, that he was right.

He then told me an analogy: “If I set myself a goal to become the best street cleaner, I will put on that orange jacket and do everything I can to accomplish my goal. When someone recognizes me, saying: ‘What’s wrong with you, what are you doing there?…’, it doesn’t bother me for I am not looking left or right but only forward to the goal that I want to accomplish. But when I say to myself: ‘Well, let’s put on that orange jacket and see what I can do…’, it won’t work, because then, when the people scoff at me, I will put off the jacket, saying: ‘Yes, you are right, what am I doing here? Let’s try something else…’”

I realized how important it is for me to set clear goals in my life. Without a motive, I cannot have motivation. How can I sow if I don’t know what I’m sowing for? There is much that I have to think and pray about. What will I do after finishing my studies at the university? What kind of job would I like to have? What do I have to accomplish this week; what do I have to do today, tomorrow, the day after… so that God may reward me in His due time?

I know that God wants me to live the best life I possibly can live. He knows what my talents are. He knows the goals He has set for me to accomplish – in this day and age and for all eternity. He is helping me to become clear with accomplishing my short-term and long-term goals, according to His Will. I know that God has called me out of this world to reveal to me His Will for my life, and to be trained today for the ultimate goal – to enter His Kingdom in glory and honor.

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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