Update 675


Dreams and Visions

On February 14, 2015, Robb Harris will give the sermon, titled, “Dreams and Visions.”

The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (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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by Dave Harris

Roughly defined, selfies are self-portraits in the digital age. With the advent of social media—such as Facebook, for instance—people seem more willing to reveal themselves in a public way. Using the camera on a cell phone to take a “selfie” has made the process virtually instantaneous.

There is an obvious spiritual counterpart in the making of selfies. We all want to project an acceptable image of our Christianity to others, but is what we think we are transmitting actually what others perceive? That is, are we only fooling ourselves, while others see us as we are?

There is a Church of God which doesn’t know that it is “‘wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.’” In fact, a member of this group would say, “‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’” (Revelation 3:17). What Jesus Christ sees in these Christians is not what they see in themselves!

Let me make this more applicable for us by asking a question—how would you describe a self-righteous person? Consider:

Self-righteous individuals are presumptuously arrogant along with being self-willed and right in their own eyes; they practice “fixing” others while ignoring their own problems; they have a spirit of defiance and disrespect—stubbornly resisting guidance.

Perhaps the most glaring shortfall of self-righteous people is that they are weak! Christians who hold onto and sustain the vanity of self-righteousness are blocking themselves from God:

“‘But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word’” (Isaiah 66:2).

Whether we realize it or not, we are all transmitting “selfies” to others in ways far more important than what might be captured by a camera. If we rely on God for our righteousness and not ourselves, then our “picture” will be acceptable to the Father, Jesus Christ, our brethren—and even to ourselves!

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We begin with an eye-opening excerpt from an article about America’s worldwide wars; address the extremely volatile situation regarding Russia and Ukraine and show how the relationship between Germany and the USA is rapidly deteriorating over the issue of defensive weapons for Ukraine—notwithstanding nice, but misleading photo-ops and political “assurances.”

We report on the ridiculous reactions to Pope Francis’ correct statements pertaining to child rearing; his planned historic address to the US Congress; and appalling comments by Catholics on the crusades and the Inquisition in response to President Obama’s remarks at a National Prayer Breakfast meeting.

We continue with the ongoing hysteria regarding the measles “outbreak” and unconstitutional attempts by legislators to abolish personal and religious exemptions against vaccinations.

We conclude with recent revelations that scientists willfully “adjusted” official temperature records to support their allegations of man-made global warming; an article about the destruction of insects due to pesticides; and a report about the legal confusion in Alabama regarding same-sex marriages, due to a controversial refusal by the US Supreme Court to put on hold same-sex marriages in Alabama and a subsequent contradictory injunction by the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

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A World at War

The Huffington Post wrote on February 9:

“The true State of the Union, and the state of the world, in 2015 can be described in one word: precarious. Despite our wealth, our technological knowhow, our global social media, we are a world at war…

“The real world is different from the imagined one of the mass media, and the happy talk of too many politicians… Though we are just 5 percent of the world’s population, we are directly involved in most of its wars… It is because the US can’t stop itself from sticking its nose into other people’s business.

“How in the world did the US get engaged in a non-stop thirty-year war in Afghanistan? How in the world did the US end up funding Muslim fundamentalists in that country and end up creating Al-Qaeda? How did the US get caught in a 25-year non-stop war with Iraq, leading to the deaths of half a million Iraqi Civilians? What in the world is the US doing trying to topple the Syrian Government through covert CIA operations, thereby stoking a civil war that has destroyed Syria’s irreplaceable antiquities of the world’s earliest civilizations, taken the lives of more than 200,000 Syrians, and opened the path to ISIS?…

“War is spreading, and the US is the key country that is spreading it…”

Putin a 20th Century Tyrant?

The Independent wrote on February 8:

“The West must stand up to Russia over Ukraine or Europe could descend into a major war for the first time since 1945, diplomats warned today… [John Herbst,] former US ambassador to Ukraine predicted that Estonia and the other Baltic states – all members of Nato – could be Vladimir Putin’s next targets if he is allowed to hold on to territory won by force…

“The Estonian President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, compared Western inaction against Russia with the appeasement of Adolf Hitler in 1938, when Nazi Germany was allowed to seize parts of the former Czechoslovakia… ‘We know from history that appeasement will never satisfy those that are being appeased,’ he said. ‘Munich ’38 I think should be a lesson to all of us even today.’

“British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond accused Mr Putin of ‘acting like some mid-20th century tyrant’…

“US Senator John McCain said ‘defensive arms’ should be sent to the Kiev government as a matter of urgency. ‘The Ukrainians are being slaughtered and we’re sending them blankets and meals. Blankets don’t do well against Russian tanks,’ he said.

“Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper reported today that German intelligence estimated up to 50,000 soldiers and civilians had been killed during the conflict, nearly 10 times higher than Kiev’s estimate…”

Heated Exchange between Germany and USA –Fragile Transatlantic “Consensus”

Reuters reported on February 7:

“Germany’s Angela Merkel warned on Saturday that sending arms to help Ukraine fight pro-Russian separatists would not solve the crisis there, drawing a sharp rebuke from a leading U.S. senator who accused Berlin of turning its back on an ally in distress. The heated exchange at a security conference in Munich pointed to the fragility of the transatlantic consensus on how to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over a deepening conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 5,000…

“The German leader… flatly rejected the idea that sending weapons to Kiev… would help resolve the conflict. Speaking after Merkel, U.S. Senator Lyndsey Graham, a Republican hawk… said it was time for [Merkel] to wake up to the reality of what he called Moscow’s aggressions. ‘At the end of the day, to our European friends, this is not working. You can go to Moscow until you turn blue in the face. Stand up to what is clearly a lie and a danger,’ Graham said. He accused Merkel of turning her back on a struggling democracy by rejecting down Kiev’s request for arms…”

Bild Online reported on February 7 that US Senator John McCain said on German TV and in German newspapers that Merkel should apologize to the Ukrainian families of 5,000 dead soldiers for not helping them and for being responsible for Russian murders and atrocities by refusing to send defensive weapons to Ukraine. He also said that “one could get the impression that Merkel is without a clue or that it does not matter to her that people are being slaughtered in Ukraine.”

According to the paper, “his final attack culminated in the allegation of Merkel’s appeasement policy. The senator compared Merkel’s refusal to send weapons to Ukrainians with the fatal international behavior towards Hitler’s Germany in the thirties before the Second World War. Historians believe that strong reactions in due time would have stopped Hitler’s morbid ambitions.”

Die Welt Online wrote on February 7 about the “German-American Dissension on Open Stage,” continuing: “The Americans do not understand why Germany refuses to give weapons to a people that are defending their freedom against aggressors (but) Merkel remains firm.”

US Weapons for Ukraine?

The New York Times wrote on February 9:

“President Obama said he was weighing providing lethal weapons to Ukraine to help Kiev defend against Russia’s aggression if diplomatic efforts fail to defuse the tensions there… ‘The prospect for a military solution to this problem has always been low,’ Mr. Obama said, given the extraordinarily powerful military that is at the disposal of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and the length of Russia’s border with Ukraine.

“Nevertheless, at a joint news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany at the White House Monday, the president said it was clear a set of steep sanctions against Russia ‘has not yet dissuaded Mr. Putin from following the course that he is on.’ He said that had prompted him to ask his team to ‘look at all options,’ including providing an array of defensive weapons to bolster Ukraine’s forces. ‘I have not made a decision about that yet,’ Mr. Obama said.

“Most European countries, including Germany and France, oppose sending arms, arguing that doing so would only make the conflict worse… The issue has threatened to cleave what has until now been a united front among the United States and its European allies over how to respond to the Ukrainian conflict, which has been stoked by a steady supply of weapons and soldiers from Russia…”

In spite of the typical political façade allegedly portraying unity between the USA and Germany, the reality is quite different, as the previous articles have shown. Also note the next article.

The New Minsk “Agreement” – Not Worth the Paper It Is Written On?

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 12:

“Leaders from France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine agreed on a ceasefire deal to end 10 months of fighting in eastern Ukraine. The deal is set to go into effect on Sunday. There were, however, concerns after Kyiv’s army reported seeing [50] tanks and [40]  missile launching systems crossing into its territory from Russia even while the peace talks were taking place…”

The Washington Post wrote on February 12:

“[Ukraine’s] Poroshenko is likely to face opposition to offer pardons for those involved in the fighting since many government supporters see the rebels as responsible for sparking the violence. Pushing through a new constitution — including offering greater self-rule to rebel regions — also will require broad support from lawmakers in Kiev… On the separatist side, meanwhile, a pledge to disband ‘all illegal groups’ may face stiff resistance…

“The agreement was signed by lower-level representatives from the Ukrainian and Russian governments… the national leaders themselves did not sign any such deal, and instead supported a nonbinding statement of support for peace. That suggested they were not willing to commit fully that the deal would be successful…

“The fundamentals of the deal appeared to be largely the same as a tattered September cease-fire agreement that was never fully observed and has fallen apart completely. Since then, thousands more people have died, and rebels have captured hundreds of square miles of additional territory.”

The Telegraph wrote on February 12:

“The new agreement in Minsk fails to resolve one of the central issues at stake, namely the presence of thousands of Russian troops on Ukrainian territory… the new agreement merely states that ‘foreign armed formations’ and ‘military equipment’ will leave the ‘territory of Ukraine’. No timetable is given and no deadline is set… the latest Minsk agreement requires no real concessions from Vladimir Putin. Instead, the proposals for a ceasefire and a withdrawal of heavy artillery impose disproportionate obligations on Ukraine.”

Bild Online wrote on February 12:

“Not even the greatest optimist believes that the new agreement will lead to a durable peace in Ukraine… ‘I have no illusions. We have no illusions,’ the Chancellor [Merkel] said… Foreign Minister Steinmeier refused to speak of a ‘breakthrough.’ He said he had hoped for more…

“Experience speaks against the idea that the cease-fire will hold… There is no indication that Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko changed the aggressive power-hungry Putin into an apostle of peace. There is therefore no indication that Putin will change his politics. But there is every indication that Putin can be much more happy with the results than the other three participants… Putin has won time and can determine now when he will start further escalations…”

Die Zeit Online added: “Putin collects his winnings… He is not interested in the end of the war. He wants the conflict to continue…”

Die Welt Online agreed: “There is only one winner—Putin.”

“Obama and Merkel Should Not Try to Fool Anyone”

Deutsche Welle reported on February 10:

“Merkel, the politician, probably has no other choice than to present a united front, in case Obama decides in the end to deliver desperately needed weapons to the struggling Ukrainian army. Obama and Merkel, however, shouldn’t be trying to fool anybody. Russian President Vladimir Putin has long ago noticed the small crack in the Western alliance, and he knows how to use it to his advantage. Putin will try to push the US and Europe further and further apart, bit by bit.

“An agreement between the US and Europe is now more important than ever. Not only in the conflict with Russia, but also in the fight against the so-called ‘Islamic State,’ in nuclear talks with Iran, the Middle East conflict and in Afghanistan. Since World War II, the world has rarely seen so many highly volatile conflicts. And everywhere, Americans and Europeans are depending on each other. Consensus and functional crisis management is almost essential for survival…

“In the US, Merkel is seen as the one person that held Europe together in the conflict with Russia. She has led Germany back to the political world stage. It’s up to her. The American president finally has that long-awaited phone number – already sought after by Henry Kissinger – which he can call if he wants to talk to Europe’s key decision maker: the German chancellor…

“Angela Merkel, who understands Russia well, has recently admitted that she has no answer here. And so the question whether or not to deliver arms to Ukraine does no more than highlight complete helplessness…”

“Brave Decisions Are Needed!”

The EUObserver wrote on February 10:

“Once again in history, Ukraine has become the bloodiest place on the continent. Russian military aggression has already claimed 5,358 lives, according to the most recent UN report, and made around a million Ukrainians homeless. Despite all the diplomatic efforts and concessions meant to appease Russia, there is no end to the bloodshed on the horizon. The Minsk protocol – last year’s ceasefire accord – is dead.

“The cause of death is clear: Russian aggression against Ukraine has bigger goals than the current territorial gains in Crimea and in the Donbas region in east Ukraine. The failure of peace efforts does not come as a surprise. Since September, Russia has been pouring heavy modern weaponry into Donbas on a scale unprecedented in modern day military conflicts. It was clear that such a military buildup was not intended to respect the ceasefire. For many long months, world leaders pretended to see no hard evidence of direct Russian aggression…

“The recent, massive offensive by Russia-controlled militants and regular Russian troops against the Ukrainian army marks the end of illusions about a ‘diplomatic solution’ in many capitals… Instead of hastily ruling out a military response to the conflict back in March 2014, the US president should have found courage to declare that his country will honour its obligations under the Budapest security memorandum – a 1994 treaty on protecting Ukrainian territorial integrity in return for its renunciation of its nuclear arsenal, which was co-signed by the US, France, the UK, and Russia… Instead, the Budapest memorandum has become a symbol of the failure of non-proliferation initiatives and of international law. Russia broke its obligations under the memorandum, and Western governments didn’t respect theirs.

“Crimea was de facto sacrificed. But this kind of ‘diplomacy’ only further encouraged Kremlin aggression… Meanwhile, in Ukraine, which suffered from Russian colonialism for centuries, even the most pro-Western politicians can hardly hide their disappointment with the West’s leniency towards Russia.

“Last March, it would have been hard to imagine that it would take almost a year for a country under attack to establish in world public opinion that it is being invaded, not by some unknown masked men but by irregular and regular armed Russian forces. But even today Putin ‘understanders’ in the West find a way to deny proven facts, manipulate public opinion, and mislead their nations… many do not trust the mediation by European leaders. They remember the outcome of similar mediation in Georgia’s war with Russia in 2008…

“The West’s refusal to send arms is increasingly seen as a betrayal both of Ukraine and of the principles on which Western democracies are supposed to function… Putin has shifted the world into a brutal, new era. He created a new precedent of international relations with no rules or laws… Ukraine needs brave decisions from its partners.”

Europe’s Losing Battle with Russia Regarding Ukraine

The Local wrote on February 11:

“Merkel, Hollande, Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko are meeting in the Belarusian capital, with the European leaders hoping they can revive a ceasefire agreement signed there just six months ago in September 2014… Merkel has become the de-facto lead negotiator for Europe… Germany stands at the centre of the fractious Western coalition supporting the pro-European government in the Ukrainian capital Kiev… Germany has its own reasons for trying to defuse the conflict as, along with France, it has significant economic ties to both Russia and Ukraine…

“There was news last night that Obama had telephoned Putin to warn the Russian leader there would be ‘costs’ if he continued supporting ‘aggressive acts’ in eastern Ukraine. He directly accused Putin of sending troops, weapons and financial support to the separatists…

“But even with western arms deliveries, the Kiev government is set to run out of money in just a few months, as a temporary agreement with Russia over gas supplies comes to an end… Putin’s best interest is to drag out the conflict for as long as possible, and he appears for now to have the will and the means to do it…”

Ultimately, Ukraine and Russia will join forces against Europe, according to biblical prophecy.

“Germany to Become Leading Power in Europe to Solve Big European Problems”

Deutsche Welle reported on February 9:

“The current endeavors by the chancellor and foreign minister, and Germany’s willingness to take over the chair of the OSCE next year, indicate that Germany is ready to take on a more important role in matters of peace and conflict.

“Germany is in a good position to be a leading power in Europe to try to solve the big European problems we have at the moment, and it’s very useful that Germany is doing this together with France.”

“Pope’s ‘Smack’ Approval Draws Ire in Germany”

The Local wrote on February 6:

“In a general audience dedicated to the role of fathers, the Pontiff said a good father is one who can forgive and disciplines with firmness while not discouraging the child. ‘One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say “I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face as to not humiliate them”’, said Pope Francis.  ‘How beautiful. He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and move on,’ he added.

“In an interview with N-24 broadcaster, head of the DKSB said that the Pope’s words were incredibly damaging. ‘He is a world leader with a global audience,’ said Paula Honkanen-Schoberth. ‘It damages children’s rights around the world.’…

“Manuela Schwesig added her own ire to the comments from the Holy See. ‘There is no “dignified” hitting of children,’ tweeted the Minister of Families, Women and Children on Friday. ‘There should be no misunderstanding: Any violence against children is unacceptable.’

“The Catholic Church, in a follow-up statement, said the Pope was not advocating for beating children, but for ‘helping someone to grow and mature.’… The German Bishops Conference simply said ‘We don’t speak for the pope.’”

This reflects a total lack of balance. The Pope’s statements were 100% correct, and left-wing liberals and voter-friendly politicians are not going to change this one iota. It is hoped that at least in this case, the Vatican is not going to back paddle even more and “explain” away what the Pope has said.

Historic Address to US. Congress by Pope Francis in September

UPI reported on February 5:

“Pope Francis will deliver an unprecedented address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Sept. 24, House Speaker John Boehner announced Thursday. The Pope will make his first visit to the United States to attend the World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia, and confirmed in January he would also visit New York, where he will address the United Nations, and Washington. Although several popes have delivered speeches to the United Nations, an address to Congress would be historic.

“Boehner, a Catholic, offered an invitation to the Pope in March, saying he ‘has inspired millions of Americans with his pastoral manner and servant leadership, challenging all people to lead lives of mercy, forgiveness, solidarity, and humble service.’”

We wonder whether the White House was “consulted” before the invitation was extended to the Pope to speak to Congress, and if not, whether President Obama, Vice President Biden [a Catholic] and other Democrats will refuse to attend, as they have threatened to do so in the case of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Terrible Crimes in the Name of Religion

The Washington Post reported on February 6:

“Remarks made by President Obama at Friday’s National Prayer Breakfast proved divisive to some… Obama pointed out how Christianity has been invoked in the past to justify hideous deeds… ‘remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,’ Obama said…

“But were Obama actually in the market for a historical parallel to describe the Islamic State, there are safer options. Indeed, Iraq’s top Christian cleric already suggested it last year when lamenting the ravages of the extremist militants, who had overwhelmed cities, desecrated holy sites and slaughtered innocents. ‘How in the 21st century could people be forced from their houses just because they are Christian, or Shi’ite or Sunni or Yazidi?’ Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako asked…  ‘This has never happened in Christian or Islamic history. Even Genghis Khan or Hulagu didn’t do this,’ he said.

“He was talking about the Mongols, who led by Hulagu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, crushed the once powerful Abbasid Caliphate and ravaged its capital in Baghdad in the mid-13th century… It was at this historic and landmark city that the Mongols arrived in 1258. Their army, estimated at over 150,000 soldiers, stood before the city that was just a shadow of the great capital of the Muslim world of the 800s. The siege began in mid-January and only lasted two weeks. On February 13th, 1258, the Mongols entered the city of the caliphs.

“A full week of pillage and destruction commenced. The Mongols showed no discretion, destroying mosques, hospitals, libraries, and palaces. The books from Baghdad’s libraries were thrown into the Tigris River in such quantities that the river ran black with the ink from the books… In 1400, another Mongol army overran the great city of Aleppo, in what’s now Syria… The victorious Mongols, according to some accounts, piled a mountain of skulls outside the city gates.

“The scale of devastation and upheaval wrought by the Mongols also carries a historical echo — the Islamic State, which has emerged amid the collapse of Middle Eastern states, is redrawing the political map of the region, not unlike the Mongol conquests seven centuries ago.”

It is true that the Mongols behaved like ravenous beasts, like the demonically-inspired murderers of the Islamic State do today, and it is also interesting that the Bible prophecies that the descendants of the ancient Mongols will play another predominant role in future wars to come (note for instance Ezekiel 38 and 39—compare our free booklet, Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy,” pages 24-25). But this does not in any way excuse the violent behavior of the Roman Catholic Church, even though some would like to try.

On February 6, The Fox News channel broadcast a highly offensive edition of “The Sean Hannity Show,” during which the ridiculous proposition was propagated by two Catholic guests, including a priest (and which was supported by Hannity, a Catholic) that the crusades were justified as a defensive war against Muslims. The question is answered in the next article whether the same argument will also be made for the horrible crimes of the Inquisition perpetrated by the Catholic Church–or for the slaughter of religious minorities such as the Waldensians, because they would not subject themselves to the religious credos of the Pope.

Crusades and Inquisition Justified???

On February 6, Breitbart published the following outrageous and grossly inaccurate comments in one of their articles:

“Historically speaking, the Crusades were a response to Islamic aggression in Europe and the Middle East; the Inquisition… was designed to regularize executions rather than leaving them to the will of the masses. Christians undoubtedly pursued horrible brutalities against people, including innocent Jews. However… [quoting a writer, Goldberg, with approval] ‘Christianity, even in its most terrible days, even under the most corrupt popes, even during the most unjustifiable wars, was indisputably a force for the improvement of man…’”

These kinds of statements are appalling and 100% wrong. To state that the Inquisition was designed to regularize (!) executions is grotesque and perverse. But it reveals a deeply troubling and dangerous thought process of those who are willing to advocate persecution, injustice, torture and war for “religious reasons.” We hasten to point out that President Obama’s comments about “Christianity” were misplaced for the reason alone that the Inquisition and the Crusades were not established and carried out by true Christians. Rather, true Christians were many times the victims of such horrible crimes.

Don’t Justify the Crusades!

The Daily Beast wrote on February 10:

“[There is] a shocking belief held by many Christian conservatives: that the Crusades weren’t really so bad.

“… the Crusades were one of the worst episodes in history: marauding Christian soldiers massacring everyone in sight. Especially Jews… the Crusades were a dark chapter in Christian history, with extraordinary violence carried out in Christ’s name… between one and three million people died in the Crusades (including the Crusaders)…

“Perhaps the leading theme in [some] literature is that ‘The Crusades—despite their terrible organized cruelties—were a defensive war’…

“In fact, the Crusaders massacred, massacred, and massacred some more. They massacred Jews in the Rhineland, Albigensian heretics in Spain, Muslims in the Holy Land… whitewashing of one of the most bloody periods in world history is troubling on many levels…”

How Bad They Really Were…

The Town Talk wrote on February 7:

“The Crusades lasted almost 200 years, from 1095 to 1291. The initial spark came from Pope Urban II, who urged Christians to recapture the Holy Land (and especially the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem) from Muslim rule. Like the promise of eternal life given to Muslim martyrs, Crusaders were promised absolution from sin and eternal glory.

“… Along the way, the Crusaders massacred. To take but one example, the Rhineland Massacres of 1096 are remembered to this day as some of the most horrific examples of anti-Semitic violence prior to the Holocaust…  The Jewish communities of Cologne, Speyer, Worms, and Mainz were decimated…

Although most of us regard the Inquisition as a particular event, it actually refers to a set of institutions within the Roman Catholic Church that operated from the mid-13th century until the 19th century. One actually still survives, now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was directed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before his 2005 election as Pope Benedict XVI.

“These institutions were charged with prosecuting heresy — and prosecute they did, executing and torturing thousands of suspected witches, converts from Judaism (many of whom had been forced to convert), Protestants and all manner of suspected heretics, particularly in the 15th and 16th centuries.

“… the Inquisition… used torture as a method of extracting confessions. Methods included starvation, burning victims’ bodies with hot coals, forced overconsumption of water, hanging by straps, thumbscrews, metal pincers, and of course, the rack… all of this was meant to be for the victim’s own good: better to confess heresy in this life, even under duress, than to be punished for it in the next…”

The “Insane” Measles Hysteria Is Continuing and Worsening

The LA Times wrote on February 4:

“A group of state [Democratic] lawmakers [in California] announced legislation Wednesday that would abolish an exemption from the mandate that children get vaccinated before they enter school if it conflicts with their parents’ personal beliefs… Gov. Jerry Brown signaled that he was open to such a bill…

“The legislation does not address children who are completely home-schooled. It would still allow children to avoid vaccination for medical reasons including allergic responses and weak immune systems. The mandate only applies to children attending public or private schools.

“Currently, 13,592 children have personal belief affidavits on file; of those, 2,764 were identified as based on religious beliefs. Pan said if the bill passes, the religious exemption would also disappear…

“Currently, two states, Mississippi and West Virginia, do not allow exemptions except for medical reasons, and 46 states allow exemptions based on religious beliefs…

“Any proposal to eliminate the personal belief exemption is ‘absolutely insane,’ according to Alan Phillips, a North Carolina attorney who has represented clients in California and other states seeking exemptions…

“Eliminating the personal belief exemption is opposed by Matthew B. McReynolds, senior staff attorney at the conservative Pacific Justice Institute, a Sacramento-based organization that advocates for parental rights and religious freedoms. ‘It’s concerning to me that the measles outbreak seems to have prompted some hysteria and this seems like a pretty sweeping approach to what really is a very limited problem that could be addressed in other ways,’ McReynolds said… He also said parents who lose the ability to be exempted on religious grounds could have cause to challenge that change on grounds it violates their First Amendment rights.”

Attorneys Alan Phillips and Matthew B. McReynolds are absolutely correct: To enact any law eliminating religious exemptions against vaccinations is in fact “absolutely insane” and constitutes quite clearly a blatant violation of the US Constitution. To even entertain such nonsensical avenue is revealing an unbelievable disrespect for religious minorities in this country. Please view our recent StandingWatch program, presented by Attorney and Evangelist Norbert Link, titled “Measles Outbreak”– Blaming the Unvaccinated?”

Man-Made Global Warming—a Gigantic Scientific Fraud?

The Telegraph wrote on February 7:

“When future generations look back on the global-warming scare of the past 30 years, nothing will shock them more than the extent to which the official temperature records – on which the entire panic ultimately rested – were systematically ‘adjusted’ to show the Earth as having warmed much more than the actual data justified… this wholesale manipulation of the official temperature record… has become the real elephant in the room of the greatest and most costly scare the world has known. This really does begin to look like one of the greatest scientific scandals of all time.”

Climate Depot wrote on February 8:

“Meteorologist Anthony Watts on ‘adjusted’ U.S. temperature data: ‘In the business and trading world, people go to jail for such manipulations of data.’”

The Worldwide Massacre of the Monarch Butterflies

The Washington Post wrote on February 9:

“Threatened animals like elephants, porpoises and lions grab all the headlines, but what’s happening to monarch butterflies is nothing short of a massacre. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service summed it up in just one grim statistic on Monday: Since 1990, about 970 million have vanished.

“It happened as farmers and homeowners sprayed herbicides on milkweed plants, which serve as the butterflies’ nursery, food source and home… Monarch butterflies are a keystone species that once fluttered throughout the United States by the billions. They alighted from Mexico to Canada each spring on a trek that required six generations of the insect to complete. Afterward, young monarchs… fly back, resting, birthing and dining on milkweed…

“The extinction of certain butterfly species is not unheard of. The blueberry-colored Xerces blue disappeared from San Francisco years ago, and recently Fish and Wildlife announced that two subspecies — the rockland skipper and Zestos in South Florida — haven’t been seen since 2004 and are probably extinct. On top of that, pesticide use has also caused a collapse of other pollinators — wasps, beetles and especially honeybees.”

And so, rather than preserving God’s creation, man has been systematically destroying it…

Legal Confusion in Alabama Over Same-Sex Marriages

The Associated Press reported on February 10:

“The Supreme Court is inappropriately signaling it intends to clear the way for gay marriage across the nation, Justice Clarence Thomas complained Monday in a stinging dissent to the court’s refusal to block the start of same-sex marriages in Alabama. Bitterly objecting to Monday’s action, Thomas provided a rare insider’s perspective on the widely held view that the court’s embrace of gay marriage is a done deal. Thomas filed a dissenting opinion [which was joined by Justice Antonin Scalia] after his colleagues rejected Alabama’s plea to put a hold on same-sex marriages in the state until the Supreme Court resolves the issue nationwide in a few months.

“He criticized his fellow justices for looking ‘the other way as yet another federal district judge casts aside state laws,’ rather than following the customary course of leaving those laws in place until the court answers an important constitutional question… many legal commentators have predicted not only the case’s outcome this spring (in favor of same-sex marriage), but the vote (5-4) and the author of the majority opinion (Justice Anthony Kennedy). The number of states in which gay and lesbian couples can marry has nearly doubled since October, from 19 to 37, largely as a result of terse Supreme Court orders that allowed lower court rulings to become final and rejected state efforts to keep marriage bans in place pending appeals.”

The Washington Post reported on February 10:

“A federal judge on Tuesday said she will consider whether to require a local official to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, a day after dozens of counties refused to comply with a ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Alabama.

“U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, who last month struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban, set a hearing on the new matter for Thursday in Mobile. Lawyers for about a dozen couples have asked Granade to clarify that her previous ruling applies to the probate judge in Mobile County, where couples were turned away when they sought marriage licenses Monday.

“Gay rights advocates hope a favorable decision by Granade, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, will force other probate judges around the state to fall in line. More than 40 of these judges refused this week to give licenses to gay couples. The advocates are also looking for Granade’s ruling to serve as a repudiation of Roy Moore, the chief justice of the state supreme court who had called on local officials to ignore the federal ruling making gay marriage legal…

“The stalemate eased somewhat on Tuesday, with probate judges in about 10 counties who had refused to issue licenses changing course and opening their doors to everyone. Among those places was Elmore County, just outside the capital Montgomery. John Enslen, the probate judge there, said he decided not to issue marriage licenses on Monday after receiving a letter late Sunday from Moore, who had written to all probate judges ordering them not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples despite the federal ruling. Enslen said he changed his mind later in the day Monday after reading the U.S. Supreme Court opinion, leading him to believe that same-sex marriage will probably become legal across the nation…

“But he wasn’t happy about it. Enslen said he opposes same-sex marriage; and while he will issue licenses, he will stop performing wedding ceremonies for anyone, heterosexual or homosexual…”

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Who is a Hebrew?

Both the Old and the New Testament use the word “Hebrew” in several passages. However, the word has different meanings, depending on the context.

Technically, the first time the word “Hebrew” is used is in Genesis 14:13, where it is applied to Abram, in connection with the defeat of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah in battle and the captivity of Lot. We read: “Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew…”

Commentaries give several explanations for the use of this word in this passage.

The Ryrie Study Bible says:

“Abraham was the first person to be referred as a Hebrew, an ethnic designation that his descendants derived from him. The word comes from the name of his ancestor, Eber (11:10-14). It also had a wider use as a general designation for nomadic people like Abraham, who would have been considered a migrant by the Canaanites, since he came from Ur and Haran.”

The Nelson Study Bible adds the following:

“Here is the first use of the word Hebrew in the Bible. It comes from the name Eber, first mentioned in the table of nations in ch. 10 [compare Genesis 10:21]. The word is related to a verb meaning ‘cross over’ or ‘pass through,’ perhaps reminding us that Abram ‘passed through’ or ‘crossed over’ from another place in order to obey the Lord’s command.”

Friedman, Commentary on the Torah, writes:

“This is an unusual use of the word ‘Hebrew.’ Elsewhere in biblical stories it is used to identify Israelites only when one is speaking among foreigners. It is not the standard term for the people, which is rather ‘Israelite’… Perhaps it is used here because there are not yet any other Israelites around, and Abraham himself is a foreigner.”

This explanation is not entirely correct. First, there were other Israelites around (for instance, Lot and his family); and second, there are incidents where the word “Hebrew” is applied to Israelites when one is NOT speaking among foreigners, even though the use is related (see below in regard to the term, “Hebrew slave”).

A very convincing and comprehensive explanation is given by Rienecker, Lexikon zur Bibel. The commentary points out that the word “Hebrew” is derived from Eber, a descendant of Shem, one of Noah’s sons. One of the descendants of Eber is Abram [Genesis 11:16-26]. It is then explained that the word “Hebrew” can also refer to one “who has passed over” and who ‘”came from beyond’ (the River Euphrates), which applies to Abraham (compare Joshua 24:2, 3).” It continues: “Later, Joseph and his brothers in Egypt are referred to as Hebrews (Genesis 39:14, 17; 41:12; 43:32), and Joseph calls his homeland the land of the Hebrews (Genesis 40:15). The word distinguished the sons of Jacob as belonging to a people which is different from the natives, but we cannot determine exactly how all-encompassing the term Hebrew was at that time.”

It is then pointed out that subsequently, the word is used exclusively for Israelites, and always in opposition to peoples of non-Israelite descent. This applies first to the Egyptians (Exodus 1:15, 16, 19; 2:6, 7,11, 13), and Moses emphasizes in front of Pharaoh that he is acting pursuant to the command of “the LORD God of the Hebrews” (Exodus 3:18; 5:3; [7:16; 9:1; 10:3]); then [the term “Hebrews” applies] at the time of [Samuel and] Saul and the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:6, 9; 14:11; 29:3; [13:7, 19; 14:21] and at the time of Jonah in comparison with the foreign sailors (Jonah 1:9)…”

Rienecker also points out that the word “Hebrew” is applied to Israelite servants or slaves (Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12; Jeremiah 34:9, 14). We should note that in Jeremiah, “Hebrew slave” is described as “Jewish brother.” The commentary continues to state that the Hebrew slave is distinguished from non-Israelite slaves and that the life of a Hebrew slave must be viewed in light of the fact that all Israelites had been slaves in Egypt (Deuteronomy 15:15). Friedman adds that “Hebrew slave” had become “a fixed phrase through assonance: the two words ‘slave’ [ebed] and ‘Hebrew’ [ibri] begin with the same two letters” (since there are no vowels, but only consonants, in the Hebrew language).

In the New Testament, the distinction between Hebrews and non-Hebrews was also known, which caused problems in the early Church. We read in Acts 6:1: “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.” The Hellenists were Greek-speaking Jewish Christians who had adopted Greek culture, or they were Greek “proselytes” who had converted to Judaism (compare our Q&A about the Day of Pentecost); and the “Hebrew” Jews—Hebrew-speaking Jewish Christians—looked down on them and were not willing to treat them with the same respect. The apostles solved this problem by ordaining deacons to look after all the brethren in the congregation.

We also find that the apostle Paul uses the term “Hebrew” to identify his physical lineage, in defense against those who questioned his appointment as an apostle and minister of God. He says in 2 Corinthians 11:22: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I? Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.”

We see that he uses the terms “Hebrew”, “Israelite” and “seed of Abraham” in the same context, showing his physical heritage (Compare also Romans 11:1).

Paul adds in Philippians 3:5 that he was “circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee…”

Here, he is explaining that he is a descendant of Benjamin, one of the twelve sons of Israel. We know that under Solomon’s son, the house of Judah separated from the house of Israel. The house of Israel consisted of ten tribes, which later became known as the LOST ten tribes, since they never returned to the Promised Land after their Assyrian captivity. The ten tribes of Israel consisted of the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Ephraim (son of Joseph) and Manasseh (son of Joseph). Note that Joseph—one of the sons of Israel—was divided up into two tribes—Ephraim and Manasseh. We see a similar “division” in Revelation 7:4-8, where Manasseh is mentioned as well as Joseph (referring to Ephraim). The house of Judah consisted of the tribes of Judah, Levi and Benjamin, and they returned to the Promised Land after their Babylonian captivity. Paul is making the point that he is not only an Israelite and a Hebrew, but also a descendant from the tribe of Benjamin; meaning that he belongs to the house of Judah. As the descendants of the house of Judah (Judah, Benjamin and Levi) were identified as “Jews,” Paul referred to himself as a Jew, compare Galatians 2:15.

Throughout the New Testament, distinctions are made between physical Jews and physical Greeks, but we need to understand that “Greeks” is representative for all non-Jewish and non-Israelite “nations” or “Gentiles.” A big controversy existed in the early New Testament Church as to whether or not “Greeks” could become members of the Church, and Peter had to receive God’s instruction in a vision to allow this, without requiring them first to become physically circumcised. The issue was settled during the ministerial conference in Acts 15, but even following this decision, some still wanted to compel the non-Jewish Christians to be circumcised and adopt the traditions of the Jews, as we can see, for example, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

At the same time, Paul emphasizes that there is neither Jew nor Greek or Gentile—neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (Romans 3:29-30; 9:24; 10:12; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 3:28), but that all converted Christians—regardless of their physical heritage—are spiritual children of Abraham and spiritual Jews and Israelites (Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 5:6; 6:16); which means that converted Christians are spiritual Hebrews as well, having become “foreigners” in this world who are waiting for a better world to come, when God will establish His government on this earth. Converted Christians have passed from death to life; they have passed through this world and have left it behind. There is no need for Christians to engage in any of the Jewish traditions or rituals which are not taught in the Bible; or which were superseded by the death of Jesus Christ. In fact, the Bible says that in God’s eyes, only those who are spiritual Israelites or Jews (or Hebrews) and who “are of the faith of Abraham” (Romans 4:16) are of the [spiritual] seed of the patriarch Abraham—the first to be named a “Hebrew” (Romans 9:6-9; compare Galatians 3:29).

In this context, it is important to read how Paul continues his statement in Philippians 3:7, after just having set forth his physical lineage as “a Hebrew of the Hebrews”: “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Jesus Christ.”

Paul emphasizes the fact that even though he was very much aware of his physical lineage and even though he had a strong desire to see the Jews—his “countrymen according to the flesh”—accept God’s Way of Life (Romans 9:1-5; 10:1), he never allowed this desire to prevent him from preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. He said that he became a Jew to the Jews and a Gentile to the Gentiles so that he might gain some (compare 1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

We need to also understand the purpose for his letter to the Hebrews, which was apparently written at the beginning or the middle of the sixties. The Jews had continued to bring animal sacrifices, and it appears that Jewish Christians might have participated in this practice. And so, Paul explained in his letter to the Hebrews that sacrifices were no longer necessary, since Christ’s death constitutes the ultimate Sacrifice; and that very soon, the temple would be destroyed (in 70 A.D.) so that animal sacrifices were no longer possible (compare Hebrews 9:9-10; 10:8-9, 11, 18). But he comforted them by saying that they should not worry about this, as the need for animal sacrifices ceased anyhow when Christ died.

Converted Christians are spiritual Israelites, Jews and Hebrews. They are, in God’s eyes, the true descendants from the spiritual seed of Abraham. They are to reflect in their lives the faith and obedience of Abraham (James 2:21-24), and they can do so, as Jesus Christ, their High Priest, lives in them through the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

“Heavens and Earth… Before and After the First Man!” a new booklet written by Norbert Link, is currently being reviewed in preparation for printing with distribution anticipated during the Spring Holy Days.

The Passover will be observed on Thursday evening, April 2, 2015, after sundown; the first Day of Unleavened Bread (A Holy Day) is Saturday, April 4, 2015; and the last Day of Unleavened Bread (a Holy Day) is Friday, April 10, 2015. The weekly Sabbath immediately follows. Please remember to pray for God’s guidance during our upcoming Church Conference.

We will meet in San Diego, California, beginning Friday, March 20th and continue through Tuesday, March 24th.

“Neu! Erfolgreiche Gebete—Gottes Reich und Gottes Wille,” is the new German sermon for this coming Sabbath. This continues the series on the outline of prayer in Matthew. This part addresses the coming Kingdom of God and our responsibility in this regard, and the Will of God in our lives. Title in English: “Successful Prayers–God’s Kingdom and God’s Will.”

“Enemies of Faith,” the sermon given by Mike Link last Sabbath, is now posted. Here is a summary:

How strong are we when it comes to our faith and when our faith is being tested, will we give in to the enemies of faith? What are these enemies of faith?

“Evolution or Creation?” the sermonette presented by Norbert Link the past Sabbath, has been posted and here is a summary:

Are plants, animals and humans the product of an evolutionary process which began by accident when an organic soup was bombarded by gases from the universe? Was Darwin correct when he called man nothing more than a walking amoeba? Why are there living fossils? Did man evolve from apes? Was Neanderthal an ape or a man–or was he a missing link?  Is the Radio Carbon method correct which scientists use to determine the age of remains? Would the Bible allow for the existence of a Loch Ness monster or Bigfoot?

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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

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