November 10, 2017
Did Jesus Resort to Violence?; Living a Full Life
On November 11, 2017, Norbert Link will present the sermonette, titled, “Did Jesus Resort to Violence?” and Kalon Mitchell will present the sermon, titled, “Living a Full Life.”
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.
Violence Fills the Earth
by Norbert Link
Violence seems to be a part of everyday human life. Three unspeakable acts of horror occurred recently in the USA… a mindless and despicable mass murder in Las Vegas through a deranged gambler; a cowardly terror attack in New York through a radicalized Islamist; and now another senseless mass murder in a small Texas church through a former disgraced member of the Air Force who apparently preached atheism. Other violent acts happen in the country on a daily basis. And the USA is no exception.
After each horrific act, politicians and the mass media are quick in pointing out the “causes” for such ungodly behavior… mental sickness; uncontrolled access to weapons; radical Islam; and many other ideas. And even though some of these explanations might play a role, the REAL culprit is hardly ever mentioned—Satan and his demonic forces. After all, it is SATAN who rules this world. It was through Satan that man became so corrupt and violent that God decided to destroy him in a worldwide Flood (Genesis 6:11,13).
Man has, from his youth (Genesis 8:21), given in to Satan’s evil devices, and Satan is THE destroyer and an extremely irrational violent being.
On the other hand, we are told that God HATES the wicked and the one who loves violence (Psalm 11:5). Jesus, the coming Prince of Peace, NEVER committed any violence when here on earth (Isaiah 53:9), and under His rule, “Violence shall no longer be heard in your land” (Isaiah 60:18). But today, our cities, the land and the entire earth are confronted with horrible and despicable violence (Ezekiel 7:23; 8:17). Christ said that at the time of His return, it will be similar as it was at the time of Noah… when violence, corruption and everything evil fill the earth (compare Romans 1:28-31).
God has been commanding repeatedly to abstain from violence (Jeremiah 22:1-5; Ezekiel 45:9). John the Baptist told Roman soldiers not to commit violence against anyone (Luke 3:14, Authorized Version). Christ told us that we must not even think of committing violence against others, let alone carrying it out (Luke 9:54-56; Matthew 26:52). He warned us that we will have to give account of every idle word which we speak (Matthew 12:36), adding that we will be justified or condemned by our words (verse 37). Paul reminds us not to engage in foolish talking (Ephesians 5:3-4). God’s ministers and deacons must not be violent (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). Since there is no partiality with God (Romans 2:11) and since God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, Authorized Version), His prohibition of violence applies to all of His children.
This world’s violence steadily increases, as Satan has great wrath, knowing that his time is short. Christ warned us that in these end times, we will hear more and more of wars and rumors of wars… and He spoke of civil wars, wars between two or three nations, as well as all-encompassing world wars. This is so as Satan, the originator of war, is trying to destroy all of mankind.
In quoting from the Old Testament, Paul summed up the way of this world with the following condemnatory remarks (Romans 3:10-18):
“… There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside… Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
God has called true Christians out of this evil and rotten world. We are to be different… shining lights in this violent society. Our new life must not be hidden or hypocritical. We cannot preach violence in any manner, shape or form, let alone act upon it. We must not hate others, which may lead to violent and murderous acts (1 John 3:15); nor must we advocate the destruction of our enemies through war and other violent means. Of course, it goes without saying that we cannot participate in any of man’s wars, whether or not they may be deemed “righteous” by politicians, religious leaders and the mass media.
We are to pray that God’s Kingdom will come soon. Then, and only then, will we experience a world without war and violence. We are to be ambassadors and representatives of that future kingdom. But are we? Are we truly peacemakers, by saying things which are good, gracious and wholesome for the hearer (Ecclesiastes 10:12; Ephesians 4:29-31)? Or are we at times conforming to this world by expressing its evil thoughts… thoughts of hatred, violence and revenge? Are we sometimes overcome by evil, or are we overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21), having regard for the good and peaceful things in the sight of men (Romans 12:17-18)? Are we allowing God to transform us by renewing our minds, so that we fulfill God’s good and acceptable and perfect Will for us (Romans 12:2)?
The choice is ours.
by Norbert Link
We begin with reporting on the terrible mass murder at a Texas church, which has been described as the “worst massacre at a place of worship in American history.”
We continue with developments in Germany and Europe and concentrate on a decision by Germany’s Supreme Court, which appears to be in violation of Germany’s Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion, but which is, in any event, deeply disturbing and unsettling for members of God’s Church; address the ongoing difficult coalition talks in Germany; and quote interesting articles about a “revival” of the Habsburg Empire; the prospects of a two-speed Europe; and the parallels between the ancient Holy Roman Empire and the EU.
We point out Christian concerns and warnings about events in Israel, which might lead to significant prophetic developments; and Pope Francis’ warning that mankind may be committing nuclear suicide.
We continue focusing on North Korea and President Trump’s impressive speech in South Korea; and address the Middle East and developments in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon; and speak on sad political and economic developments in the USA, as well as the unsuccessful Paris Climate Accord.
We report on the potential for further turmoil in the Catholic Church; and conclude with articles about prophetic expectations of Christian Zionists regarding momentous events pertaining to the state of Israel before the end of the year; and a young Russian claiming to have lived on Mars before being reborn on Earth.
Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.
This Week in the News
Creepy Atheist Commits Mass Murder at Texas Church
The Daily Beast wrote on November 5:
“Devin Patrick Kelley has been identified as the gunman who killed at least 26 people at a church Sunday morning in Texas, a U.S. official told The Daily Beast. A week before he committed the worst massacre at a place of worship in American history, Kelley posted a photo of a semiautomatic rifle to Facebook…
“It’s part of a disturbing picture emerging of the 26-year-old, who was discharged under dishonorable circumstances from the Air Force in 2014, according to Defense Department records. Kelley was court-martialed in November 2012 for assaulting his wife and their child. A judge sentenced him with a bad-conduct discharge, 12 months confinement, and two reductions in rank to basic airman, according to an appeals court decision in 2013 that affirmed the decision against Kelley.
“Kelley entered First Baptist Church at approximately 11:30 a.m. Sunday and opened fire, witnesses reported. Officials said he wore a ballistic vest and was dressed in all black. A law-enforcement source close to the investigation said the rifle Kelley used is similar to the one pictured but could not confirm it is the same rifle. When Kelley exited the church, he dropped his rifle… Kelley was pursued by a civilian with a shotgun and died near the city of New Berlin, Sheriff Joe Tackett said Sunday evening at a press conference. It is unclear if Kelley was killed or died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“Police told reporters that Kelley’s victims range in age from 5 to 72, with approximately 20 wounded being treated at area hospitals. Kelley was a resident of New Braunfels, a suburb of San Antonio, according to public records. Kelley was married and his mother-in-law listed a P.O. box in Sutherland Springs as a mailing address…”
The Daily Mail added on November 5:
“The Texas church shooter who shot dead 26 people and injured 24 others was an ‘outcast’ who ‘preached his atheism’ online. Former classmates say Devin Patrick Kelley… was ‘creepy’, ‘crazy’ and ‘weird’… ‘He was the first atheist I met…”
Other reports suggest that the deranged murderer had a prior dispute with his mother-in-law, who attended the church. In any event, his demonical influence cannot be neglected.
Bringing Guns to Church?
Christian Headlines wrote on November 7:
“In 2007, the unthinkable happened at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. A gunman opened fire outside the church, just as its midday service had dismissed. His bullets hit several members of the same family as they left, wounding David Works and killing his two teenage daughters… ‘I know there’s a great theological debate about what Jesus would do,’ [church pastor Brady Boyd] told RNS. ‘I just know… we could have very well lost 100 people that day.’ Boyd believes that didn’t happen because… Jeanne Assam, a former police officer and member of the church security team who was legally carrying a pistol… returned fire, ending the attack…
“The memories of that day came flooding back for Boyd when he learned of the mass shooting Sunday (Nov. 5) that left 26 people dead and tens more wounded at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, described as the deadliest attack on a church in modern American history…
“Across the country, many churches and other places of worship are considering security measures as mass shootings have become a tragically familiar narrative in the United States… On Sunday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton suggested on Fox News that churchgoers carry concealed weapons.
“He was echoed by Rev. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas, also on Fox News, who insisted that if a gunman opened fire at his church, ‘they may get one shot off or two shots off, but that’s it, and that’s the last thing they’ll ever do in this life.’ That’s because as many as half his church members carry concealed weapons into church with them on a given Sunday, Jeffress estimated.
“… few Americans were in favor of guns in churches in a 2012 PRRI survey: More than three-quarters of respondents (76 percent) said concealed weapons should not be allowed in houses of worship…”
Christ drove moneychangers out of the Temple. Would He approve of churchgoers to bring concealed weapons to His spiritual Temple, the Church of God?
Germany’s Constitutional Court Denies Religious Freedom
Deutsche Welle wrote on November 6:
“A newly published decision from March reveals that Germany’s Constitutional Court rejected a lawsuit by Muslim parents who wanted their son to be exempt from the religious teachings at a publicly funded Catholic school in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia… Underlining Germany’s sometimes porous boundary between church and state, the court has effectively affirmed the elementary school’s right to force non-Catholic students to attend religion classes and services…
“NRW is the only state that still maintains publicly funded religious schools. The court’s decision confirmed an NRW administrative court’s ruling that states are free to set up publicly funded schools administered by Germany’s two official Christian denominations: Catholics and Evangelicals… Article 7 of Germany’s constitution, or Basic Law, states: ‘Parents and guardians shall have the right to decide whether children shall receive religious instruction…
“Michael Wrase, a public law professor at the University of Hildesheim… thought the court’s decision was problematic… pointing out the legal paradox: ‘The state is allowed to set up such schools even though it is obligated to maintain religious neutrality.’ ‘It’s absurd to force a Muslim child, or an atheist child, to take Catholic religion lessons,’ he added. ‘For me that’s a major invasion of religious freedom…’
“In 1949, when the Basic Law came into force, nearly everyone in Germany was a declared member of one or other of the two formal Christian churches, and paid their church tax to the state — so it seemed only natural that the state should fund Christian schools… [Hans Michael Heinig, a professor of church law at the University of Göttingen] said political cowardice was in part to blame for the problems associated with public religious education in NRW: The Social Democrats, who governed Germany’s most populous state for many years, ‘didn’t want to have a conflict with the Catholic church in the state, so they didn’t touch this school system.’
“This is in contrast, oddly enough, with Bavaria, which has a much larger Catholic population and is governed by the conservative Christian Social Union, but has a much more secularized school system. In many areas, officials enforce a strict separation of religion and government in schools… ‘It’s really out-of-date,’ Heinig said of the situation in NRW… ‘The lawmaker has to change the system there. It’s quite easy… There should be a school system for all religions — with religious instruction for those that are religious, but no obligation to join this instruction.’”
This decision poses a problem for members of Sabbath-keeping Churches of God in NRW whose children might attend publicly funded Catholic or Protestant schools, but who would not want them to be exposed to unbiblical religious teachings.
What if the Jamaica Coalition Fails?
Deutsche Welle wrote November 6:
“Talks to return Chancellor Angela Merkel at the head of a new three-way ‘Jamaica’ coalition resumed on Monday, with politicians vowing to start working concretely on possible compromises. But as if to illustrate how much the conservative CDU-CSU, the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens still need to iron out, there is disagreement about whether the coalition negotiations will succeed at all.
“Over the weekend, FDP leader Christian Lindner raised the possibility that talks could fail, which would necessitate new elections. And he reiterated that stance in Berlin on Monday…
“Statements like these are in marked contrast to those from the Greens, who see no alternative but to make the coalition talks work. Conservative leaders also seem to consider a Jamaica deal inevitable… The partner that stands to lose the most if Jamaica talks fail is undoubtedly the conservatives. Merkel’s image took a hit after the CDU only polled 32.9 percent, and the previously unassailable chancellor feels compelled to re-assert her leadership abilities. Meanwhile, the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, is reeling from its own electoral losses and is in the midst of a leadership struggle.”
Looking for German and French Positions in Europe
Express wrote on November 4:
“New chiefs of the EU Commission, Council, Parliament, Foreign Office and European Central Bank are set to be assigned by 2019. And reports in the German media suggest Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing for current Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann [to] become the next head of the central Bank. Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, wants a Frenchman to take over the European Commission.
“According to Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the two nations are closely aligned in their aims, with both wanting a ‘strong personality’ to take the reins.”
Resurrecting the Habsburg Rule?
EU Times wrote on October 29:
“Hungary has signaled its readiness to develop closer ties with the new Austrian government… Norbert Freiherr van Handel, a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, called for full-fledged cooperation between Vienna and the member states of what was once known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire. ‘I see, of course, not only Austria, but also the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Slovenia, countries which managed to preserve friendly ties,’ Norbert Freiherr van Handel of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty said.
“He added that it is impossible to repeat history and that it was impossible to return to 1918, when the defeat of the Central Powers spelled an end to centuries of Habsburg rule. ‘But you can look at an economic space where people get along with each other — both culturally, and in terms of traditions, religions and their common history’…
“He noted that Austria’s neighbors Croatia, Slovenia and Northern Italy as well as… Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, are especially close to Vienna. These countries, which have been tied to each other for centuries, could form a community under the common keyword ‘Central Europe’ and act within the EU as one state, according to Van Handel…
“Van Handel was echoed by German political analyst Herbert Auinger, who [said] that the new positioning of Central European states is likely… Meanwhile, Austria’s Chancellor-Elect Sebastian Kurz [called] Austria the European Union’s foothold. Kurtz emphasized that he wants close cooperation with Germany, France and other states as well as ‘good contacts with Eastern Europe.’”
Austria, Hungary and other countries of the former Habsburg Empire are destined to play a significant role in the final configuration of the European revival.
Coming—a Two-Speed Europe
Politico wrote on November 7:
“There’s a feeling among European leaders that the bloc has weathered the worst of its recent crises — euro, refugee, Brexit — and should now turn its focus to the future… The only real option is to get behind Macron’s vision: Leave reluctant countries behind and allow others to move ahead on key policies.
“It won’t be easy, of course… But… current political trends make it likely the EU will move toward Macron’s model. The French president has found a powerful partner in German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom he is preparing new initiatives on Eurozone governance. These are likely to help further integrate the monetary union and create new eurozone institutions, including its own budget and system of parliamentary scrutiny… A more supple EU would be harder to break apart and more viable in the long run…”
“EU ‘Regime’ Is DOOMED ‘like the Holy Roman Empire’”
Express wrote on November 4:
“The European Union (EU) will end by 2027 like the Holy Roman empire (HRE) did, argues the Brexit campaigner and author Dr Niall McCrae. The HRE was a group of Papal territories in Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages… Writing in an article for the think tank, the Bruges Group, Dr McCrae said: ‘Just as the European Union is becoming less united, the HRE was not really holy.’…
“He wrote that in 2027 the chief Brexit negotiation, Michel Barnier, and his fellow commissioners will be behaving like the ‘enlightened despots’ of the European past… He argues… that the HRE ‘ended as an embarrassment of corrupted ideals and the EU may be going the same way’.
“He said: ‘For now, the EU seems to have strength and resilience: the combined might of France and Germany… The European Council has similarities to the Empire’s old Reichstag, where the representatives of the German cities would meet…
“Earlier this year, Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London said that history teaches us that attempts to create a unified body have always been doomed to failure. He said: ‘Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods. But fundamentally what is lacking is [that there] is no single authority that anybody respects or understands…’”
Although the conclusions in the article are basically wrong, some statements are quite remarkable. First, the modern EU is indeed related to the “Holy Roman Empire” (HRE)… it is becoming the last or tenth revival of the ancient Roman Empire and the seventh revival of the HRE. If we apply biblical definitions to the word “holy,” then there was indeed nothing holy about it. Furthermore, Napoleon and Hitler revived the “Holy Roman Empire” for a short time, constituting the eighth and ninth revivals. The missing “single authority” will exist in a few years from now. Finally, the last European revival of the ancient Roman Empire will not slowly disintegrate within the next ten years, but it will be suddenly and forcefully destroyed in a world war, which will be fought with nuclear weapons.
“Christians Concerned over “Attempts” to Threaten Right to Worship in Old Jerusalem
Christian Today wrote on November 2:
“The peace of Jerusalem is being undermined along with open access to the holy Christian sites by the prospect of legislation which, if left unchecked, would be ‘catastrophic,’ the head of the Church in the Holy City has warned.
“The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilus III, widely seen as the most senior Church figure in the Holy Land, issued the stark warning about the ability of religions to worship in peace side by side. He said ‘enough is enough’ at a press briefing in London today as part of an international tour to gain support for the position of the Church inside the Old City of Jerusalem…
“In July, 40 members of the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, signed a proposed bill that would restrict the rights of the Churches to deal freely and independently with their lands and would threaten their confiscation. The bill proposes to allow the state to confiscate lands of the Churches that have been leased to third parties. The Patriarch, who also visited king Abdulla II of Jordan, last month met at the Vatican with pope Francis, who said: ‘The Holy City, whose Status Quo must be defended and preserved, ought to be a place where all can live together peaceably; otherwise, the endless spiral of suffering will continue for all.’
“[The Petrarch] told journalists today: ‘Recently we have seen the emergence of a trend that threatens to undermine the Christian presence and destabilise the peace of the Holy City of Jerusalem. The ‘Status Quo’ rule that has guaranteed the rights of Jews, Christians and Muslims to live, flourish and thrive together in Jerusalem for centuries is in grave danger… If we do not act soon it will be too late…’”
According to clear Bible prophecy, the final revival of the ancient Roman Empire, in collaboration with the Roman Catholic Church, WILL intervene militarily in the Middle East and occupy Jerusalem to safeguard their Christian interests.
Pope Francis: Mankind Is Risking Nuclear Suicide
National Post wrote on November 3:
“Like the recent pontiffs before him, Pope Francis traveled to Nettuno, Italy, on Thursday to visit the burial ground of the 7,860 American soldiers who died liberating southern Italy and Rome during World War II. There, he told several thousand people at Mass that he believed the world was heading into what could be its biggest war yet… Commemorating the young soldiers who died in World War II was of particular significance today, he said, because ‘the world once more is at war and is preparing to go even more forcefully into war.’
“Francis did not elaborate on what he meant in saying the world is heading ‘more forcefully into war.’ But the ominous statement comes as antagonism between leaders in the United States and North Korea raises fears of a nuclear confrontation, and as violence and instability around the world have led to more profound human suffering and loss of innocent lives… ‘Please Lord, stop. No more wars. No more of these useless massacres,’ he said in an improvised homily… Before visiting the U.S. military cemetery Thursday, Francis on Monday warned that ‘humanity risks suicide’ with the increased danger of nuclear war…”
The Curse of North Korea’s Nuclear Tests
The Telegraph wrote on November 7:
“North Korea’s underground nuclear test site has turned the surrounding area to wasteland and caused defects among newborn babies, defectors have reported. About 80 per cent of trees that are planted die at Punggye-ri and underground wells have also run dry, according to 21 defectors who used to live in Kilju county, the location of the site… Defectors… testified that local people were not warned in advance…
“According to another source… residents have been banned from making hospital appointments in the capital, Pyongyang. Officials also appear to be intent on keeping a lid on accounts from Kilju county, with anyone caught boarding trains with samples of soil, water or leaves reportedly being arrested and sent to prison camps.”
Donald Trump Speaks to Kim Jong Un… But Is Kim Listening?
The Washington Post wrote on November 8:
“The U.S. president directly addressed his 33-year-old nemesis [Kim Jong Un] in a speech to South Korea’s National Assembly. This time, Trump did not call Kim “Little Rocket Man” or use the kinds of rhetorical flourishes that play so well on Twitter. But the words that Trump did use cut deeper, because they struck at the very heart of the Kim regime. If there is one thing that Kim has shown he cannot tolerate, it is personal criticism.
“‘North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned,’ Trump said to Kim, who, if he was in Pyongyang, was just 120 miles away. ‘It is a hell that no person deserves.’ Kim Il Sung, who is revered like a god in North Korean propaganda, established the country in 1948 as a ‘socialist paradise’ of free housing, health care and education where people would want for nothing. Grandson Kim Jong Un claims his legitimacy as North Korea’s supreme leader by virtue of being a direct descendant of this quasi-deity.
“Trump devoted a large part of his address to detailing the human rights abuses that the Kims have committed in North Korea, filling his speech with words such as ‘twisted,’ ‘sinister,’ ‘tyrant,’ ‘fascism’ and ‘cult.’ ‘I wanted to stand up from my seat and shout “Yahoo!” ‘said Lee Hyeon-seo, an escapee from North Korea who was sitting in the assembly hall during Trump’s address. ‘We just don’t hear people talking about North Korea in this way in South Korea, so I was very emotional during the speech. I was very impressed.’
“Trump noted the slave-like conditions North Korean workers face, the malnutrition among children, the suppression of religion and the forced-labor prison camps where he said North Koreans endure ‘torture, starvation, rape and murder on a constant basis’…
“‘President Trump spoke about human rights in North Korea more than any other previous U.S. president,’ said Jeong Kwang-il, who was held as a political prisoner in North Korea and now runs the No Chain for North Korea human rights group in Seoul…
“It is hard to exaggerate the reverence with which North Koreans are forced to treat the Kim family. Every home and all public buildings must display portraits of Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il that must be cleaned only with a special cloth. North Koreans must bow at monuments to the leaders and sing songs celebrating their supposedly legendary feats… So to suggest that the regime is founded on a ‘fantasy’ and that the country is something other than a socialist paradise amounts to heresy in North Korea…
“‘North Korea tends to react sensitively to criticism in human rights,’ said Cheong Seong-chang, director of the unification strategy program at the Sejong Institute, a private think tank in South Korea… ‘North Korea is highly likely to take Trump’s address as a declaration of war and call for a holy war of its own against the U.S.,’ Cheong said.”
President Trump expressed what had to be said about North Korea. The brutal dictatorship of that regime is similar to the barbaric Nazi rule under Hitler and the oppressive tyranny under Stalin. Trump also challenged those countries (especially China and Russia) which still have trade relationships with North Korea, saying that they would be at least partially responsible if North Korea’s conduct was to lead to a nuclear war.
Saudi Arabia Shake-Up
The Washington Post wrote on November 6:
“The Saudi leadership shake-up and wave of arrests over the weekend have rattled potential investors… Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has made the modernization drive, dubbed Vision 2030, the centerpiece of his plan for the kingdom, combining economic reforms and modest steps toward social liberalization. But the kingdom has pared back important but painful domestic economic reforms… Now the abrupt internal purge… has left experts wondering whether it is truly aimed at corruption or at Mohammed’s political rivals…
“‘The kingdom is at a crossroads,’ Bruce Riedel, director of the intelligence project at the Brookings Institution… said in an email. ‘Its economy has flatlined with low oil prices; the war in Yemen is a quagmire; the blockade of Qatar is a failure; Iranian influence is rampant in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq; and the succession is a question mark. It is the most volatile period in Saudi history in over a half-century.’
“… as part of the weekend shake-up, Adel Fakeih, the minister of economy and planning and a member of Saudi Arabia’s oversight council, was dismissed… Ibrahim Al-Assaf, a former finance minister and current director of Saudi Aramco, was among at least 17 princes, current and former government ministers and business executives taken into custody… Assaf was arrested on charges of corruption linked to an urban expansion project in the city of Mecca…”
The future of Saudi Arabia might be very important for America’s reliance on Saudi oil.
Bombshells in the Middle East
CNN added on November 6:
“A 24-hour sequence of political bombshells began on Saturday afternoon, when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation from the Saudi capital of Riyadh, blindsiding his country’s political establishment. Hours later, Saudi Arabia’s official news agency reported that the country’s military had intercepted a Yemen-borne ballistic missile over Riyadh. Even as images of the blast were flashing on TV sets around the region, similarly dramatic news began to trickle in: Some of Saudi Arabia’s most high-profile princes and businessmen were being sacked and detained in an anti-corruption drive…
“The events serve as an opening salvo for a new period in the region’s crisis-ridden history, analysts say. They represent an escalation in a years-long proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, threatening to activate new fronts in the region, with the Saudi show of force beginning with a sweeping consolidation of power from within.
“On Friday, ISIS’ last strongholds in Iraq and Syria fell. It marked a major milestone in a fight that saw archrivals converge on the extremist group until its so-called caliphate was on its last legs… the dismantling of the so-called caliphate will basically intensify the geostrategic struggles between the pro-Iranian camp led by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and its allies in the region, including the United States…”
The Algemeiner added on November 5:
“Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his sudden resignation on Saturday, citing fear of an assassination plot backed by Iran. Hariri made the announcement from Saudi Arabia, comparing the current situation in Lebanon to the time leading up to the assassination of his father, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, in 2005… In his address, Hariri sternly criticized Iran and its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah of fueling conflict throughout the Middle East…”
Clinton’s Dubious Dealings with the Democratic Party
JTA wrote on November 2:
“Donna Brazile, who became interim Democratic National Committee head after Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced out, says in a book that her predecessor ceded control of the indebted party to the Hillary Clinton campaign.
“Brazile said the arrangement with the Clinton campaign was unfair to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who lost to Clinton in the primaries. Brazile… said she had called Sanders to inform him of Clinton’s assuming the DNC debt… ‘I explained that the cancer was that she had exerted this control of the party long before she became its nominee…’
“Brazile said the DNC had been $24 million in debt, in part because of Obama’s years of neglect…”
Politics is SUCH a dirty business…
Bad News for Wall Street Stock Analysts Due to Europe’s Regulatory Changes
Flipboard wrote on November 1:
“Wall Street stock analysts are about to find themselves on the chopping block, and only the best will survive. That was the hard truth Mary Erdoes had for a room full of analysts Thursday…
“Erdoes, the head of JPMorgan Chase’s $1.9 trillion asset and wealth management business, was asked about impacts from MiFID II — Europe’s sweeping financial regulatory changes that will be implemented in 2018 — and painted a future in which asset managers chop their budgets and only pay for research from top-tier analysts… This is bad news for stock analysts, as it could result in a 50% ‘compression’ in research budgets… That means less money to go around.’”
The Paris Climate Accord Did Nothing…
Investor’s Business Daily wrote on November 3:
“Here’s a United Nations climate report that environmentalists probably don’t want anybody to read. It says that even if every country abides by the grand promises they made last year in Paris to reduce greenhouse gases, the planet would still be ‘doomed.’ But it turns out that the Paris accord was little more than a sham that will do nothing to ‘save the planet.’
“According to the latest annual UN report on the ‘emissions gap,’ the Paris agreement will provide only a third of the cuts in greenhouse gas that environmentalists claim is needed to prevent catastrophic warming…
“What the report does make clear… is that all the posturing by government leaders in Paris was just that. Posturing. None of these countries intended to take the drastic and economically catastrophic steps environmentalist claim are needed to prevent a climate change doomsday…
“Whether you believe in climate change or not, the Paris climate accord amounted to nothing, or pretty close to it. Even the UN admits that now.”
More Turmoil in the Catholic Church?
The Independent wrote on November 2:
“Pope Francis has reportedly requested that married men in Brazil be allowed to become priests – a controversial move likely to prompt a backlash from conservatives in the Catholic Church… The President of the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon, Cardinal Cludio Hummes, reportedly asked the pontiff to consider the move because there is a shortage of ordained ministers in the Amazon’s remote communities…
“The Pope has also said that the principle of celibacy for priests is a discipline, rather than a dogma. The church already allows some exceptions to priestly celibacy. Those in the eastern rite Catholic Church are allowed to be married, as are married Anglican priests who convert to Catholicism…
“However, the move is likely to anger conservatives in the church, who are already furious about the pontiff’s decision to allow divorced people who re-marry to receive communion if their priests or local bishop approve.”
More Prophetic “Expectations”… Israel-Related Anniversaries Just Coincidence?
JTA wrote on November 2:
“It has been 50 years since the Six-Day War, 100 years since the Balfour Declaration and 150 years since Mark Twain first visited Palestine. These are just a few of the big Israel-related anniversaries of 2017. To the Jewish state’s most diehard Christian supporters, the barrage of milestones is… prophecy being fulfilled… According to this pattern, something momentous should happen to Israel before the end of the year…
“When Israel captured eastern Jerusalem and its holy sites from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War, some Christians saw proof that the messianic era was nigh. They began scouring history for signs they may have missed. Many such harbingers were identified, from ‘blood moons’ to stock market crashes… In 1917, the British defeated the Ottoman Empire and took control of Palestine… Christian Zionists singled out 1517, the year the Ottomans conquered Jerusalem…
“Christian Zionists have had decades to speculate about what historic change would happen in 2017, a half century after the Six-Day War… a popular guess among the 100 or so evangelical and Jewish participants was that President Donald Trump would fulfill his campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. But with only two months left in the year, time is running out…”
These human speculations (some of them rather ridiculous) help no one. In fact, they only belittle God and the Bible and give unbelievers reasons to scoff.
Russian Claims to Have Lived on Mars before Reborn on Earth
The Daily Mail wrote on November 6:
“Boriska Kipriyanovich has confounded experts with his knowledge of outer space for nearly 20 years. His parents claim that he was able to speak months after he was born and would often discuss subjects they had never taught him, such as alien civilisations…
“Boriska, from Volgograd, claims to have lived on a ‘war-ravaged’ Mars, which suffered from a nuclear catastrophe in the distant past. He says that Martians measuring about seven-feet tall still live undergound on the Red Planet and breathe in carbon dioxide. According to Boriska, they are immortal and stop aging at an age of 35 years. They are also technologically advanced and capable of interstellar travel.
“As a schoolboy, Boriska explained how the Martians had a strong connection to the ancient Egyptians on Earth and how he had once visited the planet as a pilot. He said that life on Earth will change dramatically when the Great Sphinx monument in Giza is ‘unlocked’, adding that the opening mechanism is hidden behind an ear.’”
The reason why we report this fantasy is to show how gullible people can be to entertain such nonsense, willing to believe just about everything BUT the Truth. If the facts about Boriska are accurately reported, then it is clear to us that demons are using him in an attempt to deceive mankind.
Acknowledgement and Disclaimer
These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.
How Are We to Understand Psalms that Plea for the Demise of Enemies in Light of Jesus’ Commandment to Love Our Enemies?
Many of the Psalms written by David describe his grief in facing conflict with his enemies. The context of many passages expresses his frustration, often facing dire circumstances, frequently with his life being threatened. In some of the Psalms, David prays for the demise of his enemies. For example, we read in Psalm 143:12: “In Your mercy cut off my enemies, And destroy all those who afflict my soul; For I am Your servant.” In this open prayer to God, it is apparent that David is asking for the death of people who cause him grief.
In Psalm 109 David records a plea for God’s retaliation against those who “have rewarded [him] evil for good, And hatred for [his] love” (Psalm 109:5). Within this chapter of the Bible, we read about several very specific requests. He requests for his accusers to be judged and found guilty (verses 6,7). He asks for the prayers of the one who afflicts him to become sin (verse 7). He prays that this man’s life may come to an untimely end (verse 8). David prays for the demise of his enemy’s family, to make his wife a widow and his children orphans and beggars, and remain unforgiven (verses 9,10, 13). He even prays that his accuser’s mother’s sins may not be forgiven by God (verse 14, 15). While the complete context of the situation is not revealed, it is clear that David was afflicted and troubled by those who betrayed him, and caused him to plea for vengeance.
In stark contrast to passages such as these, we learn about the commandment by Jesus to love our enemies. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). From this we can see that it is required of a Christian to have a merciful attitude towards those who might cause us trouble in life. We are even told to pray for those with whom we find ourselves coming into conflict. But our prayers for our enemies should not include personal wishes for revenge, death, and destruction. Such desires are not an expression of the love which Jesus has instructed us to have. On the other hand, we read repeatedly that we ought to have the wish and desire for God’s justice to be done on earth.
Seeing that we have a commandment to express love as Christians, even towards our enemies, how are we to understand the Psalms in which it is apparent that death, destruction, and demise are prayed for? Are there situations in which it is acceptable to harbor hateful and vengeful desires in our heart towards others? Do the Psalms pleading for vengeance provide us an example to follow? Is it right to pray for the death of our enemies, and the demise of their families? If we have hateful wishes in our hearts for our enemies, what are we to do? Since the Bible cannot contradict itself (compare John 10:35, 1 Peter 1:25, John 17:17), there must be an explanation.
First, we must realize that in many cases, the Bible just reports words, conduct or actions without evaluation or judging them. In the Psalms, David’s feelings are written down, but we must note that David, even though he was a man after God’s own heart, was a man of war, and it took him a lifetime to learn that war and the feeling and desires leading to war are wrong. This knowledge came to him only very gradually.
As always, the passages about revenge must be viewed in context. The first observation to make involves the sin of those who are the subject of these Psalms. In Psalm 109, recall that those whom David seeks vengeance upon have committed sin, having behaved in “evil” way, with “hatred” (compare Psalm 109:5). Being the victim of sin, David is essentially making a plea for punishment by God for the sinful behavior. Sin, as the Bible teaches, is punishable by death (compare Romans 6:23). These open prayers for vengeance are therefore consistent with the consequences of sin. Quite plainly, David writes “He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth” (Psalm 54:5)(.) Nowhere does David make a plea for the death or demise of an innocent, righteous person. It is frequently apparent that the requests for God’s intervention involve a threat of evil against him. In this context, the prayers for revenge can be interpreted as a plea for God’s judgment against the sinful man to be sentenced. They might also be viewed as prophetic statements regarding God’s conduct and judgment in the future.
The context of the sins committed against David in the cited psalms are not fully described, and therefore we don’t understand the heart of those who are committing them. However, what we do know from the Bible is that sins cannot go unpunished by God. In our booklet, Punishment For Our Sins, we write about the fact that there are automatic consequences of sinful conduct. As such, it may be the case that David’s pleas were for such consequences to be applied and not overlooked:
“We must realize that sin may have automatic consequences. For instance, if we drive under the influence of alcohol and are responsible for a serious car accident, which may result in bodily injury of ourselves and others, or even the death of an innocent person, then these consequences will remain for the rest of our lives, even though God will forgive our sinful conduct upon true and genuine repentance. But the death or the loss of a limb will not be automatically ‘annulled,’ as if it had never happened….
“Consider that even though God forgave David his sins, He later brought up again ‘the matter of Uriah the Hittite’ (1 Kings 15:5), as this was not sinful conduct that was committed because of ignorance or temporary temptation. Rather, these sins belonged to a slightly different category. It was not the unpardonable sin, to be sure, since David will be in the Kingdom of God (compare Jeremiah 30:9; Hosea 3:5; see also Luke 13:28, referring to ‘all the prophets,’ and David was a prophet, Acts 2:29–31). However, they were not sins that were committed ‘in ignorance’ or because of a temporary, passing weakness that had ‘snuck up’ on David. Rather, this was planned, premeditated, carefully designed and thought-out sinful conduct. David thought through very diligently how to cover up his adultery with Bathsheba, ultimately resorting to the murder of Uriah. God brought up the ‘matter of Uriah’ because He was terribly grieved that David would have acted in such a way, and He wanted to impress on the reader the awful consequences of these sins for David, as well as his entire household.”
If the sins that were committed against David warrant such dramatic consequences as are requested, we can conceive that prayers for vengeance against the enemies who sin against David were made out of a desire for justice rather than hatred.
While David clearly made requests for relief and help in the time that he lived, his requests for justice conceivably extend to the final judgment, during the third resurrection. “Behold, God is my helper; The LORD is with those who uphold my life. He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth” (Psalm 54:4-5). Even if those who commit unrepentant sin were not punished at the time of David’s life, God’s justice will ultimately be served. This passage declares the plain fact that God will ultimately punish people committing unrepentant sin by cutting off their lives from the Truth. We are told not to avenge ourselves, but to give place to God’s wrath and His vengeance (Romans 12:19). Again, David’s plea for revenge and God’s intervention must be seen in light of the knowledge and realization that God will act in His due time.
Even if sins committed by the enemies of David were rightly deserving of the horrible consequences prayed for, is this the best example to follow in our lives when we are victims ourselves? Is it best to pray for the death and destruction of those who sin against us, or is there a better way? As the Bible clearly shows, it is always better to be merciful.
Offering forgiveness and mercy is central to the commandment of love given by Jesus Christ (compare Luke 6:27-29). Forgiveness offered to those who sin against us also has a benefit for us. “‘For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses’” (Matthew 6:14-15). We can plainly see that if we want our own sins to be forgiven, we must be willing to forgive those who sin against us once they come to repentance. And we must not harbor grudges and have hatred towards them. By providing forgiveness to others, we show God that we value mercy, and become worthy of receiving it ourselves.
Consider the example of Stephen, who was killed for his testimony. “And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60). There is no question that Stephen was the victim of wicked sin in this historic event. Rather than make a plea for the death of those who were murdering him, Stephen makes a plea for mercy. This kind of attitude showing love towards our enemies may be difficult to the carnal man, but it is the superior approach to take when victimized by sin.
Going even further than offering forgiveness and mercy to those who sin against us, we are instructed to react with kind and generous behavior. “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21). Rather than respond with pleas for death and the demise of the family members of those who sin against us, it is better, and even required, for us to respond with good works. When we show kindness and mercy in response to evil, there are two important results. The first is that God sees the love that we have for others. The second may have an effect on those who are the ones that victimize us. Just as sin has an automatic consequence, good works have a positive consequence. In this example, guilt is affected in the sinner, likely resulting in correction. By offering kindness and mercy to others who commit sins against us, we propagate a good example of lovingkindness.
Our hearts need to be carefully monitored when we find ourselves victims of sin. Hatred and a desire for death must not take root. Even when we are angry with another, if we do not remove and replace that anger with mercy and love, we place ourselves in danger of punishment (compare Matthew 5:22-23). The Bible also plainly states that hatred that resides in our heart is sinful, causing us to walk in darkness, instead of the light (compare 1 John 2:10-11). There is no place for hatred of another and wishes for another’s death in the heart of a Christian—even though we realize that God’s justice will and must require the death of unrepentant sinners in the third resurrection.
When reading the Psalms that make a plea for sinful enemies to be “cut off”, implying their death, the context must carefully be considered. In some situations, the Scripture may be a plea to God for the automatic consequence of sin to be applied swiftly. In other situations, these open prayers may be considered a request for God to execute His judgment upon unrepentant sin in the future. Always, these Psalms are rightly interpreted as a request for God’s righteousness to prevail over evil. Yet, caution must be observed in using these Scriptures as a model to follow in our own lives. The commandment to love our enemies, offering love and kindness in response to evil inflicted upon us is always the superior path to follow. Hatred must be expunged from the heart of a Christian, always preferring God’s mercy over spiteful vengeance.
Lead Writer: Eric Rank
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“NO! The Holy Roman Empire Is NOT Dead!” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
The Bible shows us, and history confirms, that after the fall of Rome, the ancient Roman Empire (later known as the Holy Roman Empire) would revive numerous times. The last and final revival is happening right now in Europe. Recent news articles, totally oblivious to biblical teaching and prophecy, nevertheless confirm that the concept of the Holy Roman Empire is not dead at all. However, the devastating and terribly destructive consequences of nuclear war, following the last European revival, are mainly overlooked. Do YOU know what is going to happen on the world scene within a very few years from now?
“Was Versteht die Bibel unter ‘Ewigkeit’?” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link.
“God’s Warning for Us,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
The time for inevitable terrible domestic and international disaster for the USA, the great tribulation, and the return of Christ is very near. With this recognition and the realization that God has given the USA the spirit of slumber comes the warning that in the light of personal struggles, the lack of progress in our own lives could have dreadful and eternal consequences for us.
“You Shall (Not) Desire, Part 2,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
As the last sermon showed, we are prohibited to have wrong and evil desires. On the other hand, the Bible COMMANDS us to have right desires. But what exactly is it that we should or even must desire, in order to obtain eternal life in the Kingdom of God?
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, Robb Harris, Michael Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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