Update 76


Prepare To Endure

The Sermon this weekend will be given by Edwin Pope and is titled, “Prepare To Endure”.

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”

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The Best of Times


As we watch events around the world, we can’t help but think that we are entering into the last days. War is imminent with Iraq, ostensibly over weapons of mass destruction. North Korea is now flexing its muscle with the announcement that it is removing itself from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The pope grows old, as radical candidates wait anxiously in the wings. Generations are being wiped out in Africa by AIDS. Approximately 800 million people around the world are persistently hungry. False prophets, wars, pestilence and famine are already here.

Yet, this is the best time! As the world spins more and more quickly out of control, I can’t think of a better time to be doing what’s right. That is to say, that which is right in God’s eyes. By the same token, there really has never been an easier time, specifically in our Western civilization, to be about the task of being a Christian.

In our present day climate there can be a propensity to become complacent due to the freedoms and luxuries we experience in the free world. Yet, given the illustrations above, our disposition should be diametrically opposed. We should be asking ourselves a few probing questions: Are we letting down? Are we becoming weary of doing well? Are we saying to ourselves that God is delaying His coming for one reason or another? Are we taking on any of the attributes of a Laodicean?

We have the tools readily available to combat any such tendency or merely to stay on top of those inclinations. We all know what they are…prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting to mention a few. Let’s encourage one another to use them as time grows short.

Let’s be a light to the world as we practice being a Christian for NOW and for harder times ahead.

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Captivity – Beyond the Pale

This week, riveting headlines revealed death and terror in North Korean gulags.  From www.msnbc.com, 1/15/03, a stunning article about torture and inhumanity begins: ” ‘It’s one of the worst, if not the worst situation–human rights abuse situation–in the world today,’ said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who held hearings on the camps last year.  ‘There are very few places that could compete with the level of depravity, the harshness of this regime in North Korea toward its own people.’ “

This article reveals that some 200,000 men, women and children are held as political prisoners.  Among the atrocities inflicted on these captives:

    “Inmates are used as human guinea pigs for testing biological and chemical agents, according to both former inmates and U.S. officials.”

    ” ‘…horrific mistreatment–all sorts of suffering, beatings to death, executions.’ “

    ” ‘…from time to time a living infant is delivered.  And then if someone delivers a live infant, then the guards kick the bloody baby and kill it.  And I saw an infant who was crying with pain.  I have to express this in words, that I witnessed such an inhumane hell.’ “

Throughout history–both ancient and modern–this kind of human debauchery has occurred.  The Bible reveals yet a future time of captivity.  Revelation 13:10 states:  “He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity;  he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword.  Here is the patience [perseverance] and the faith of the saints.”  Parallel to this time frame is the warning from Jesus in Luke 21:24:  ” ‘And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations…‘ ” 

Note this amazing charter given to Ezekiel in chapter 21, verses 6 and 7:  ” ‘Sigh therefore, son of man, with a breaking heart, and sigh with bitterness before their eyes.  And it shall be when they say to you, ‘Why are you sighing?’  that you shall answer,  ‘Because of the news;  when it comes, every heart will melt, all hands will be feeble, every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water.  Behold, it is coming and shall be brought to pass,’ says the Lord God.’ “

The people of God are commanded to watch and to pray, and as we do this it must be done just like Ezekiel had to do it–on the job–faithfully proclaiming God’s message of warning and of hope!

“Big Brother” in the United States?

A highly publicized report from the most-famous American Civil Rights group, the “American Civil Liberties Union,” (ACLU), which was released this week, has warned that the United States is “heading toward Big Brother society.” The report is titled, “Bigger Monster, Weaker Chains: The Growth of an American Surveillance Society.” As Der Spiegel Online and Yahoo! News related on January 16, ACLU‘s report states, “A combination of lightning-fast technological innovations and the erosion of privacy protections threatens to transform Big Brother from an oft-cited but remote threat into a very real part of American life.”

The study points to “the Total Information Awareness pilot project, in which the Pentagon is exploring amassing a database of Americans’ medical, health, financial, tax and other records. “There are few privacy laws to prevent businesses from selling the government such information,” according to Yahoo! News. “Moreover,” Yahoo! News continues, “under the Patriot Act — the anti-terrorist legislation passed by Congress immediately after the September 11 attacks — the government can demand that libraries turn over reading habits of patrons. Authorities can more easily attain telephone and computer wiretaps, and conduct searches in secret without immediately notifying the target… New rules, the report notes, reinstate the FBI’s ability to spy on Americans even when no crime is suspected.”

Saudi-Arabia’s Point of View

On Monday, January 13, 2003New York‘s Today Show aired a newscast about Saudi-Arabia, followed by interviews with Crown Prince Abdullah and Prince Al-Faisal of Saudi-Arabia. In the newscast, it was pointed out that the United States needs the support of Saudi Arabia, economically and politically. A strong suggestion was given that all American governments have been overlooking problems in and differences with Saudi Arabia, wooing them instead, to secure continued access to and price control of their oil.

Abdullah said in the interview, “I have a sense it won’t come to war [with Iraq]. I can’t explain it. There is a solution to every problem. Force only brings about death and destruction. That is why I hope my sense is correct.” Prince Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs, concurred. “We are working for the prevention of use of military force,” he said, “If we tell the Iraqis, war comes, no matter what, then they will support Saddam. If we don’t succeed peacefully, those who want their war can have it. It will be a catastrophe for the region.”

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Why do you teach that a Christian should not vote in governmental elections?

Please read first, in regard to this question, our special tribute to Herbert W. Armstrong and the excerpts from his 1984 article, titled, “How Would Jesus Vote for President?”, which are published in this issue of the Update. The tribute and excerpts give an overview regarding the problems for a Christian being involved in voting in governmental elections. We need to understand that the issues of jury duty and voting for the government are connected with the issue of military service and war. We have addressed the problems regarding Christian participation in jury duty and joining the military in previous Q&A sections of these Updates (compare Issues #66 and #67, dated November 8 and 15, 2002).

It is inconsistent to take the position that one cannot join the military, because one is an ambassador of Jesus Christ and a citizen of another government — the Kingdom of God — while at the same time serving on a jury or voting in governmental elections. For instance, in the United States, the President is also the Commander-in-Chief with the right and obligation under the Constitution, in certain circumstances, to declare war. How can one refuse to participate in war, while voting for a person with the right and obligation to declare war? In the past, people were disqualified as conscientious objectors because they did not refuse to serve on a jury and to vote in governmental elections. It was ruled that such an obvious inconsistency in position showed evidence for non-sincerity of the applicant.

In addition, when one votes for a particular political candidate, one votes for the “totality” of the person. Some have argued that one needs to vote for candidate X, rather than candidate Z, as constituting “the lesser evil.” Following that kind of reasoning, one still would vote for an “evil,” which a Christian could not do (compare 1 Thessalonians 5:22). Somebody might want to vote for candidate X, as that candidate might reject abortion. However, the same candidate might, on the other hand, support the tobacco industry, or the pollution of the environment. A Christian could not support such a candidate, who might be right on one issue, but who would still be wrong on other issues. In addition, as stated above, every candidate would support his right as the future president or leader of his nation to declare war on other nations.

Another reason why a Christian should not vote in governmental elections is the truth that this is Satan’s world. It is Satan, with the permission of God, who places candidates into governmental office. If we were to vote, we might involve ourselves quite directly in Satan’s system. Hosea 8:4 gives us God’s warning in this regard:”‘They set up kings, but not by Me; they made princes, but I did not acknowledge them.'”

Sometimes, in order to insure that certain aspects of His plan are fulfilled, God Himself might intervene to see to it that the person best (or perhaps worst) suited for the job at that time gets the job (compare Daniel 4:17). How would God look at us when He intervenes directly to place a specific person into office, while we did not vote for that person, but rather for someone whom God does not want to see in charge at that time? Wouldn’t our vote be found to be in opposition to God’s Will?

To give a prophetic and an historical example, Biblical prophecy reveals that a final political leader of the resurrected Roman Empire — the “beast” — will soon arise in Europe. According to God’s plan, this person will be placed in office at the very last days, bringing havoc on this planet. It is Satan, with God’s permission, who will give his power and authority to this person (Revelation 13:4-5). A Christian could not and should not vote for this person, of course, as he will persecute and kill many of the “saints” (Revelation 13:7), and he will even attempt to fight the returning Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:19). Neither should a Christian have voted for Adolph Hitler, although it is clear now that Hitler came to power, as prophesied, to bring about the ninth resurrection of the Roman Empire. This is to say that God allowed Hitler to become ruler over Germany, so that prophecy could be fulfilled.

The Bible shows that God sometimes appoints directly, or permits Satan to place into office, strong or weak leaders, depending on the situation, in order to insure that God’s purpose will be carried out. God allowed ancient Pharaoh at the time of the Exodus to be ruler over Egypt for a very specific reason — “that [God] may show [His] power in [him], and that [God’s] name may be declared in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).

Further, we cannot look at the heart of a person, in any event. When God wanted king Saul to be replaced, He had Samuel anoint David as the new king. If it had been left to Samuel, he would have appointed one of David’s brothers (compare 1 Samuel 16:6-13).

Participating in voting for governmental elections shows a lack of appreciation for the Will of God. It also shows a misunderstanding of the fact that Satan rules this world, and that Christians are ambassadors of Christ, called to come out of this world to be separate.

As Christians, we are in no way to resist our leaders whom God has allowed to be placed over us. Rather, we are to be thankful for whatever good they provide for us, and we are to pray for them so that we can lead a quiet and peaceable life (1 Timothy 2:2) and fulfill our God-given job to preach the Gospel and to feed the flock (compare Q&A section on Romans 13:3 in Update #62, dated October 11, 2002).

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Member Letter
Our latest member letter, which you can find at https://www.eternalgod.org/lit/letters/brethren-20030110.pdf, was sent out this week. It discusses some of the reasons why the
Church of the Eternal God exists.

The text of our booklet on the Sabbath and the annual Holy Days was forwarded to our Graphics Designer, Shelly Bruno, for finalization and layout. We will be sending the final product shortly to our printer in the United Kingdom. The proposed text for a new booklet, proving from the Old and New Testament that God is a Family, was sent this week to Phyllis Bourque for a first review.

As we announced in our last Update, we are currently running an ad in Canada for our booklet, “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families!” The ad runs this and next weekend.

United Kingdom
We are currently conducting an advertisement campaign in Great Britain for our booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.” The mailers were sent out on Friday, January 10. We are expecting initial responses by the end of January.

Plans are underway to advertise our booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord,” in a local paper in

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

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

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

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

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

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