|Live Services||Know Your Enemy|
|Editorial||War or Peace — Which?|
|Q&A||Q: Do the laws concerning bodily discharges in Leviticus Chapter 15 apply today?|
Know Your Enemy
Rene Messier of Canada and Brian Gale from the UK will be giving split sermons this Sabbath. The title of Rene Messier’s message is, “Know Your Enemy.” Brian Gale will address the current crisis with Iraq from his European perspective.
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”
War or Peace — Which?
by Norbert Link
How accustomed have we become to war? Would we agree with most people that our wars — although perhaps undesirable — are nevertheless necessities? Do we believe that our wars will solve at least some of our problems, and that they will bring lasting peace? Are we prepared to accept the death of thousands of innocent people in the course of man’s wars, thinking that these “casualties” are necessary by-products for the ultimate goal of peace?
The Bible tells us that Satan has deceived this whole world (Revelation 12:9). It is Satan, the author of war, who has caused man to think that destruction can produce construction — that war can result in peace.
Man wants peace. But, man does not know how to achieve it. Paul tells us in Romans 3:11-17: “There is none who understands… Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.” Peter was willing to kill with the sword to defend Jesus. His Master had to tell him: “‘Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.'” (Matthew 26:52). This same message is repeated in Revelation 13:10: “…he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword.” When James and John, the “sons of thunder,” were prepared to call fire from heaven to devour the Samaritans, Christ rebuked them with these words, “‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.'” (Luke 9:55-56).
6000 years of human history of pain and misery have proven that our wars do not bring peace, but that they only result in more wars. Just looking at the last century, we know that there would not have been a second world war without the first. And as prophecy reveals to us, there will be in the near future a third world war — the deadliest of them all — caused to a large extent by the last two wars. Indeed, wars only breed more wars.
God has given His people understanding — including the understanding that the way of peace is not found through the wars of men. God will send Jesus Christ back to this earth to end all wars (Psalm 46:9). In His government, and under His rulership, man will not learn to fight in war anymore (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3). Christ is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and we are told that of the increase of His peace, there will be no end (Isaiah 9:7; compare Psalm 72:7).
Christ has commissioned His Church to proclaim His way of peace to all nations (Ephesians 6:15; Acts 10:36). This means, we must live this way ourselves. As His true disciples, we will not participate in any war fought by men — and we will not even advocate any such wars. We will not allow ourselves to become deceived again, thinking that any human war is justified — rather, we will counsel peace (Compare Proverbs 12:20: “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy”). We will do today what Jesus Christ will do when He rules on the earth: We will “speak peace to the nations” (Zechariah 9:10).
God’s way of peace and Satan’s way of war are total opposites. A true Christian will not practice or endorse anything that will bring destruction and pain for others — and war brings destruction and pain for others, as we all should know. Our conscience objects to human warfare — that is, why we are called “conscientious objectors.” Notice Christ’s commission to His end-time Church: “Behold, on the mountains The feet of him who brings good tidings, Who proclaims peace!” (Nahum 1:15; compare Romans 10:15).
Christ has enabled us to proclaim peace to others, since Christ has given us His peace to dwell in us (John 14:27; compare Colossians 3:15). Christ guides our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:79) — far away from the destructive road of war. We are called to “follow peace with all men” (Hebrews 12:14, Authorized Version), knowing that peace will be given to us if we are peacemakers (James 3:18; compare Matthew 5:9). If we ourselves “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11), if we make every effort, “as much as depends” on us, to “live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18), then we can be used by Christ as His ambassadors of peace. We are to represent His government, His kingdom, His rulership — and as such, we cannot be participating, neither in word nor in deed, in this world’s ways of war.
We are to live and proclaim a way of give. The wars of this world are the result of the way of get. James 4:1-2 tells us, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?… You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”
Why does man go to war against his neighbor? Because he wants what his neighbor has, or he wants to make sure that his neighbor does not get what he has. At the same time, he does not ask God for help, and even if he asks, he does not live the way God wants him to. God promises us in Proverbs 16:7: “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
A very powerful practical example of this promise can be seen in 2 Kings 6:8-23. Warring Syrians — enemies of the nation of Israel — sent an army to the land of Israel to capture the prophet Elisha. “So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, and said, ‘Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.'” (Verse 18). God answered Elisha’s prayer. Elisha led the blind soldiers to Samaria where God removed their blindness. The king of Israel asked, “Shall I kill them?” Elisha answered, “‘You shall not kill them… Set food and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.’ Then he prepared a great feast for them; and after they ate and drank, he sent them away and they went to their master. So the bands of Syrian raiders came no more into the land of Israel.” (Verses 22-23).
This is God’s way of love and peace in action. When our enemy is hungry and thirsty, we give him to eat and to drink, thereby heaping “coals of fire on his head” (Proverbs 25:22; Romans 12:20). The carnal mind says, This does not work. One cannot rule a country with the Sermon on the Mount. And so, man has never really tried out this way of life. Rather, man has chosen Satan’s way of war, destruction and death — and as a consequence, man is now facing the distinct possibility of eradicating all human life from the face of this earth.
God’s disciples and children MUST be different. We have a unique opportunity today to preach peace to the world — by our words and by our deeds. Perhaps some might listen and try it out in their lives. What a surprise they will experience when they find out that God’s Way of Life DOES work!
This Week in the News
AMERICA AND EUROPE — A GREAT DIVIDE
MSNBC News published this week on its Webpage an article from Newsweek, titled, “A Great Divide.” The article stated, “Europe and America are largely split over whether a war to change the regime in Iraq is now justified. But the divisions go much deeper than that – to differing perceptions of history and politics, power and God.”
It is interesting how the author, Christopher Dickey, recognizes the ever-increasing divide between the two power blocs. He asks, “How did the magnificent alliance between democratic Europe and the United States… reach this sorry state of affairs?” He continues, “In some eyes, the problem today is not what France, or the Europeans, have forgotten; it’s what they remember… Europe’s critical experiences of faith and history, God and War, are not the same as America’s… [A] basic source of resentment against the United States is a kind of strategic envy. American military power is simply overwhelming…”
The article continues, “Americans are religious in ways that many Europeans find almost incomprehensible… Why? Because in America religious faith is increasingly tied to freedom of choice. Europeans grow up in their Roman Catholic or Protestant cultures… To most Americans it seems natural enough that President Bush, a born-again Christian, would incorporate religious references into his speeches. His Manichaean descriptions of good versus evil, with us or against us, are rooted in his reading of the Bible and strike many in the U.S.A. as strong, righteous and decisive. But all this sounds to Europeans very much like the kind of theology – or ideology – that led them to slaughter each other for centuries.”
On Sunday, February 16, 2003, the San Diego Union Tribute published commentaries from Henry Kissinger and John Keegan. Mr. Kissinger, former secretary of state and presidential advisor, stated that the “Atlantic Alliance is in its greatest crisis.” Mr. Keegan, a military historian and defense editor of “London Daily Telegraph,” felt that “‘Old Europe’ may push America too far.”
At the same time, massive anti-war demonstrations of millions of participants took place this week all over the world, including in London, Berlin, Paris, Madrid and Rome, as well as several cities in the United States. Der Spiegel asked, “What now, Mr. President?” The magazine continued, “Suddenly, those who are against war with Iraq are not isolated anymore, but the world power – the United States – is. The appearance of Blix before the Security Council has made true the worst fears of the U.S. military… It was exactly the situation in which President Bush never wanted to be… Suddenly, the entire world is against… Washington…”
And so it seems. The AP reported Wednesday that the Vatican warned again against unilateral action against Iraq. This was perceived to be a veiled message to the United States. USA Today ran an article, titled, “U.S. struggles for support on Iraq.” It continued, “The overwhelming opposition to the Bush’s administration’s policies on Iraq… set back plans for the introduction of a new resolution Wednesday… Over nearly four hours Tuesday, a parade of ambassadors spoke out during an open debate in the Security Council in favor of disarming Iraq through continued weapon inspections, not war. Only Australia and Japan supported Washington and London in seeking a quick new Security Council resolution… Representatives of the Non-Alignment Movement, the Arab League, the European Union and other Asian, African and Latin American nations staunchly spoke out against the idea.”
All of this prompted Secretary of State Colin Powell to say on Wednesday on French radio that countries like France that oppose swift military action against Iraq are afraid of upholding their responsibility to disarm Baghdad by force, according to an article published by the AP, widening the rift between the Bush administration and the French government.
Manfred Guttamacher of the Potsdam University in Germany was interviewed by CNN. He stated, “We are on the brink of a fundamental rift between the United States and Europe which goes much deeper than the rifts that came up in the course of anti-American sentiments in the 60’s or the early 80’s.”
How deep the rift already is can also be seen by the fact that most Germans – as well as most British – say that President Bush is a greater threat to world peace than Saddam Hussein. CNN.com published an article on February 14, stating, “Anti-Americanism in Europe deepens,” voicing the opinion that a “new generation of U.S.-haters” is “being created” in Europe.
Der Spiegel Online ran an article Wednesday, titled, “Americans come from Mars, Europeans from Venus.” It continued, “European and American NATO-partners are alienated as never before.”
On Monday, the 15 European states agreed on a unified position. Both France and Germany acquiesced to a statement that war against Iraq as a last resort is no longer rejected. Although some feel that this statement constitutes a defeat especially for Germany, the German tabloid “Bild” commented: “It was important for the European Union to find a compromise. They can now demonstrate to the United States that they are unified. A decision regarding peace or war stays within the United Nations.”
Some observers concluded that Germany’s modified stance constitutes a victory for Joschka Fischer in an internal power struggle between Chancellor Schroeder and the Foreign Minister. Nevertheless, both politicians declared afterwards that Germany would under no circumstances actively participate in a war against Iraq. Germany was also successful, according to AP, to block a European “declaration from warning Saddam Hussein that ‘time is running out’ – a phrase favored by Britain, as well as the United States.”
Der Spiegel Online reported on February 19 that Joschka Fischer again strongly criticized the policy of the Bush administration. He asked for a “strategic debate regarding the preventive-war-doctrine of the United States.” Although the U.S. might be strong enough militarily to fight alone against Iraq, they need the UN, and firstly Europe, to build and maintain peace, Fischer said in an interview with the German newspaper, Die Zeit. At the same time, German Minister for the Environment, Juergen Trittin, stated in an interview with the German newspaper, “Die Welt,” that America wants a war against Iraq to secure the oil in the region.
As Der Spiegel Online reported on Wednesday, Russia’s Vladimir Putin criticized the United States’ and Great Britain’s routine air bombings of places in Iraq. He said that these attacks are violations of the UN-resolutions that cannot be justified.
THE EURO ON THE RISE
All of these developments have influenced the value of the European currency – the euro. MSNBC News reported on January 31, that the U.S. dollar is no longer seen as a safe haven, and that the euro has risen more than 20% since it was introduced a year ago, due to “growing fear of war in Iraq.” The article continued, “Analysts say the euro is showing signs of becoming a serious rival to the long-dominant dollar on world markets… International investors are worried that the United States and Britain would be isolated in a war against Iraq and that a conflict could be prolonged and draw in other countries such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. There is also concern that the United States would have to bear most of the cost of a war, which some analysts estimate could be as much as $200 billion.”
IS THE WORLD FACING SELF-DESTRUCFTION?
Another insightful article from the Washington Post was published on February 14 in the San Diego Union-Tribune, titled, “The world is at a major turning point.” In the article, Charles Krauthammer points out, “Anyone with a reasonable education in modern physics, chemistry or biology can brew” weapons of mass destruction. There is no avoiding the danger any longer… We are in a race against time. Once such hostile states establish arsenals, we become self-deterred and they become invulnerable. North Korea may already have crossed that threshold. There is a real question whether we can win the race. Year One of the new era, 2002, passed rather peaceably. Year Two will not: 2003 could be as cataclysmic as 1914 or 1939.”
Then, the following poignant question is asked: “What are the odds that our species will manage to contain this awful knowledge [of weapons of mass destruction] without self-destruction – not for a billion years or a million or even a thousand, but just through the lifetime of our children? Those are the stakes today.”
DROUGHT IN AUSTRALIA AND THE US
At the same time, parts of the world are facing serious food shortages as a consequence of unusual droughts. For instance, ABC News Online reported that Australia will be forced to keep importing a “considerable” amount of grain. The Australian government stated that 2002/2003 is “turning out to be one of the worst years on record for Australian grain producers.” The summer crop for 2003 is estimated to be the smallest in 20 years. In the United States, especially Colorado faces dire consequences of a prolonged “dangerous drought,” according to MSNBC News.
Q: Do the laws concerning bodily discharges in Leviticus Chapter 15 apply today?
If they do, does that mean if we are unclean because of a bodily discharge as described in verses 16-24 that we should not come before God in prayer or for worship during the time which we are unclean? Should we abstain from sexual relations with our marriage partners in order to be clean thus allowing us to keep the Sabbath holy?
A: Most of the laws in Leviticus 15 were clearly only of a ritual nature and are no longer binding for us today. We explain the concept of ritual laws in our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound…” As we point out on page 53 of the booklet, one way to determine whether laws are temporary or permanent, is to look at the “penalty”:
“For instance, the violation of a statute or a particular circumstance could make a person ‘unclean’ for a certain period of time. Following ritual washings, that person could become clean again. Clearly, these kinds of laws are strictly ritualistic in nature, as no violation of a binding law was automatically cured simply by lapse of time and ritual washings.”
Most of the laws in Leviticus 15 provide that the person was only unclean until evening. When the sun set, the person became clean again — after he or she had gone through washing and bathing (note, for example, verses 5- 8, 10-11, 16-19, 21-23, and 27).
In this context, Hebrews 9:9-10 tells us: “It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices were offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience — concerned only with foods and drinks [or food and drink offerings], various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.”
As mentioned, violations of permanent laws were not automatically cured by lapse of time (“when evening comes”) and washings. (This is not to say, however, that we should not, for hygienic purposes, cleanse our bodies, or even things with which our sick bodies came in contact. Further, some of the laws listed in Leviticus 15 have a permanent application. Note, for instance, verse 25: “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, other than at the time of her customary impurity, or if it runs beyond her usual time of impurity, all the days of her unclean discharge shall be as the days of her customary impurity. She shall be unclean.”)
There is never a time when we should not approach God in prayer, or when we should not fellowship with brethren — assuming that we are living close enough to other brethren, and that we do not suffer of a contagious sickness. Further, there is not a Biblically prescribed time for us to abstain from sexual intercourse with our mate, unless during the actual time of a woman’s menstruation (compare Leviticus 18:19; 20:18; Ezekiel 18:6; compare, too, Leviticus 15:25), or when both agree, so that they have time for individual prayer or fasting (compare 1 Corinthians 7:3-5: “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due to her, and likewise also the wife to her husband… Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because your lack of self-control.”). Otherwise, the Bible does not command us today to abstain from sexual relationships with our mates before or on the Sabbath.
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.
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