March 16, 2018
Firewall; God or Man?
On March 17, 2018, Kalon Mitchell will present the sermonette, titled, “Firewall,” and Mike Link will present the sermon, titled, “God or Man?”
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.
by Rene Messier (Canada)
As we approach Passover, we are admonished by God to examine ourselves in order to partake of the Passover in a worthy manner, lest we fall under condemnation:
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27).
This self-examination is required since we have a tendency to get so involved in our work, marriages and other activities that we generally don’t take the time to see how we are doing spiritually and we at times let things slip.
Since the Days of Unleavened Bread picture putting sin out of our lives for seven days, it shows that completely putting sin out is not an easy task which can be accomplished in one day; rather, we have to really work at it.
Examining oneself requires that we honestly evaluate how we are doing spiritually. Have we made headway in being more like Christ and walking in His footsteps? Are we closer to God than last year? Have we overcome rather than succumbed to sin? Have we replaced bad habits with good habits? Have we replaced sin with righteousness?
It’s easy to let things slip a bit, humanly speaking, in letting down in prayer, study, meditation and fasting which are the tools for maintaining a good relationship with God—all of which is needed so that we can grow spiritually stronger.
Satan, the accuser of the brethren, is always looking for opportunities to trip us up and get us to sin. A little bit of compromise is like a little leaven (sin) which leavens the whole lump.
Satan is compared to a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). A lion does not attack a healthy animal knowing it reduces his chance of success. He looks for a weak, wounded or young animal, since they cannot escape so easily.
If we are strong spiritually and close to God, Satan will leave us alone, but we have to resist him as admonished by James:
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
We are in a better position to accomplish this if we are drawing closer to God and not relying on our own strength. It’s a spiritual battle we are fighting, and we must be spiritually armed and ready.
Let’s ensure we are doing a thorough self-examination and making the effort to put sin out of our lives in order to partake of this Passover in a worthy manner.
We begin with the surprising firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by President Trump, and note that Gina Haspel, Mr. Trump’s newly named director for the CIA, faces a possible arrest warrant in Germany; report on the growing tensions between Britain and Russia following Russia’s suspected involvement in an assassination attempt in Salisbury.
Angela Merkel is elected to fourth term as German chancellor; Putin blames Jews and minorities for U.S. elections meddling, while France refuses to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
We report on growing division between liberal and conservative factions around Pope Francis; note the powerful influence over the EU of Cardinal Reinhard Marx; and conclude with a Canadian judge’s ruling for religious freedom.
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
Trump Fires Tillerson!
The Washington Post reported on March 13:
“President Trump said Tuesday he has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and plans to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him as the nation’s top diplomat, orchestrating a major change to his national security team amid delicate outreach that includes possible talks with North Korea.
“Trump and Tillerson have had a fraught relationship for many months. Trump told reporters Tuesday that he ultimately decided to fire the secretary because they disagreed over strategy in key areas of foreign policy, such as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the approach to North Korea and the overall tone of U.S. diplomacy…
“Trump selected CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to succeed Pompeo as the agency’s director. She would become the first woman to run the spy agency. Both Haspel and Pompeo would need to be confirmed by the Senate at a time when the closely divided chamber has stalled on confirming dozens of Trump nominees.
“Haspel, in particular, could come under added scrutiny over her past role running one of the CIA ‘black site’ prisons where detainees were subjected to waterboarding and other interrogation methods widely denounced as torture.
“The announcement of Tillerson’s departure sent shock waves across the globe. Many U.S. diplomats and foreign leaders reacted with disbelief because they assumed Tillerson had finally begun to settle into his job after rumors of his ouster had swirled for months — even taking on a nickname, Rexit.”
Arrest Warrant for Trump’s New CIA Director?
MSN wrote on March 13:
“Federal prosecutors in Munich are currently reviewing a request to issue an arrest warrant for Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump‘s recently named director of the Central Intelligence Agency (‘CIA’).
“Haspel currently serves as the deputy director for the CIA and her nomination to head the agency must be approved by the U.S. Senate. Prior to her appointment as CIA deputy director, Haspel controversially ran a secret CIA prison in Thailand used to house, question, and allegedly torture detainees during the second Bush administration’s War on Terror.
“Haspel’s tenure as ‘Chief of Base’ at the prison–and what she did while serving in that role–is the subject of the arrest warrant request.”
Russia Denies Role in Poisoning
The Los Angeles Times wrote on March 13:
“Russia on Tuesday dismissed accusations of any involvement in the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter as ‘nonsense,’ saying it will only cooperate with a British investigation if it receives samples of the nerve agent believed to have been used.
“Police, meanwhile, said the investigation of who poisoned Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, will last many weeks and that they are not ready to identify any people of interest in the inquiry. The father and daughter remain in critical condition in a Salisbury hospital.
“British Prime Minister Theresa May said Russia’s involvement is ‘highly likely,’ and she gave the country a deadline of midnight Tuesday to explain its actions in the case. She is reviewing a range of economic and diplomatic measures in retaliation for the assault with what she identified as the military-grade nerve agent Novichok.
“U.S. and European officials were quick to offer words of support for Britain, which will need the backing of its allies if any new sanctions are to have any impact.”
Russia Refuses to Respond
yahoo reported on March 13:
“Britain braced for a showdown with Russia on Wednesday after a midnight deadline set by Prime Minister Theresa May expired without an explanation from Moscow about how a Soviet-era nerve toxin was used to strike down a former Russian double agent.
“The United States, European Union and NATO supported Britain after May said it was ‘highly likely’ that Russia was behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter with Novichok, a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military.
“Russia, which denied any involvement, said it was not responding to May’s ultimatum until it received samples of the nerve agent, effectively challenging Britain to show what sanctions it would impose against Russian interests.
“‘Moscow will not respond to London’s ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance,’ Russia’s embassy in London said. ‘Any threat to take punitive measures against Russia will meet with a response.’
“Britain could call on Western allies for a coordinated response, freeze the assets of Russian business leaders and officials, limit their access to London’s financial center, expel diplomats and even launch targeted cyber attacks.”
Vladimir Putin continues to push at the West, and up to this point—with impunity!
The Washington Post reported on March 14:
“British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday ordered the immediate expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats believed to be involved in espionage, in the first reprisals against Moscow for a chemical attack on a former double agent.
“May, speaking to Parliament, said the response would include a halt to high-level meetings between British and Russian officials and the cancellation of a planned visit to Britain by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“She also said the royal family and government ministers would boycott this summer’s World Cup soccer tournament in Russia. More countermeasures — some clandestine — are under consideration.
“The prime minister repeated the conclusion of British investigators that Russia had either deployed or lost control of a dangerous nerve agent used in the attack targeting former spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33.
“May said Russia’s dismissive response to her demand for an explanation has ‘demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events.’
“‘Instead, they have treated the use of a military-grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance,’ she told lawmakers.
“The British leader gave no further details on the Russian diplomats ordered out of the country but said they were deemed ‘undeclared intelligence officers.’ She called it the largest expulsion of Russian diplomats from Britain since Cold War-era retributions in the 1980s.”
Britain has been pre-occupied with Brexit, and it seems that Europe is only offering tepid support for any strong response to Russia. After all, Russia’s oil and gas supplies are crucial for the EU. Britain may have to look very hard for meaningful help in penalizing Russia.
Four More Years for Angela Merkel!
dw wrote on March 14:
“Merkel’s election by Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, ends 171 days of waiting after Germany’s national popular election on September 24, 2017. Merkel was elected by deputies from her own conservative CDU-CSU and her junior coalition partners, the Social Democratic Party (SPD)…
“Merkel’s first attempt to form a coalition, with the center-right Free Democrats and the Greens, failed. But she succeeded in doing a deal with the Social Democrats after weeks of late-night negotiation and over the opposition of many regional SPD leaders and one-third of the party rank and file.
“The 63-year-old Merkel will now begin her fourth term as German chancellor and her third as the leader of a grand coalition.”
Mrs. Merkel’s challenge remains—to bring unity to a Germany that grows increasingly polarized.
Putin Suggests that Jews and Minorities be Blamed…
UPI wrote on March 12:
“Russian President Vladimir Putin is facing criticism over comments suggesting Jews and other minorities may have been responsible for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“During an interview with Megyn Kelly on U.S. television, Putin said he “couldn’t care less” about accusations of Russian interference in the election and 13 Russian nationals who were charged by U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller last month.
“‘I couldn’t care less because they do not represent the government, I could not care less. They do not represent the interests of the Russian state,’ Putin said.
“‘Maybe they’re not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked,” Putin said when questioned about who meddled in the election. “Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.’”
France Won’t Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital
breakingisraelnews reported on March 9:
“French President Emmanuel Macron told an audience on Wednesday that he would fight anti-Semitism online and in the streets of France in order to protect the country’s Jews.
“‘There are hatreds that are rising again; there are the worst kinds of crimes,’ Macron said at the annual dinner of the extensive Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France, or CRIF, Jewish umbrella organization.
“‘We have understood, with horror, that anti-Semitism is still alive. And on this issue our response must be unforgiving,’ said Macron. ‘France would not be itself if Jewish citizens had to leave because they were afraid.’
“Official figures show that anti-Semitic crimes increased 26 percent last year in France, with a 22 percent increase in vandalism to Jewish synagogues and cemeteries.
“Though CRIF leader Francis Kalifat encouraged Macron to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as has U.S. President Donald Trump and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, Macron called the move an ‘error.’
“France, he said, ‘would lose this status of honest broker, which is the only useful one for the region,’ if it were to recognize the Jewish claim on the city.”
President Trump has indicated that the U.S. Embassy would move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in March of this year. This would mark the seventieth anniversary of the Jews’ declaration of the State of Israel (March 14, 1948). Along with France, most of the rest of the world is refusing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Many of Israel’s neighbors constantly threaten a war of total annihilation, and the Bible clearly reveals that war is coming!
Pope Francis—Too Liberal?
CNN wrote on March 3:
“In the beginning, there were signs and wonder.
“Signs that Jorge Bergoglio would be different, which led 1.2 billion Catholics to wonder: What kind of Pope would this obscure archbishop from Argentina turn out to be?…
“… Five years later, Pope Francis is firmly among the most liberal, global and politically relevant Holy Fathers in modern history.
“And for some Catholics, that’s become a problem…
“’I now understand how liberals in the church felt under the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict,’ says Benjamin Harnwell, director of the Institute for Human Dignity, a religious right-wing think tank. ‘I never got it before. I thought they were just dissenters, but they really didn’t feel as if they were truly part of the church, and that the Vatican didn’t involve or want them. Well, the pendulum has swung the other way.’
“As Harnwell strolls his new headquarters — an ancient monastery in the hills outside Rome that holds magnificent paintings of Christian persecution and the bones of St. Boniface — he explains his belief that The Vatican is a house divided.
“There are those like Pope Francis, who believe the church should be more like a field hospital, attending to the wounded — regardless of faith or denomination — while creating a more Christ-like society on earth.
“And then there is his camp, which sees the Catholic Church as a supernatural organization, here to enforce the strict rules of heavenly entry.”
Cardinal Marx—A Power Broker to the EU
Politico reported on March 12:
“With allies in Brussels and the Vatican, Cardinal Reinhard Marx has shaped the European debate.
“The German cardinal is the archbishop of one of the Continent’s richest dioceses, and he has spent the last six years serving as the head of the Roman Catholic Church’s most important presence in Brussels. Like Cardinal Richelieu, the 17th-century cleric who served as chief minister to King Louis XIII, Marx has close relations with the highest secular powers in Europe: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker…
“As head of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, an advocacy organization consisting of representatives of the Catholic Church from the 28 members of the European Union, Marx has waded into the European debate, in public and behind closed doors…
“Marx belongs to the Catholic Church’s more liberal wing (he was made cardinal by the conservative Pope Benedict in 2010, but his views are clearly closer to those of Pope Francis). As president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences (known in Brussels as COMECE, an abbreviation of its French name), he has often found himself facing off on issues of theology or public policy against colleagues from more conservative Eastern European countries.
“COMECE includes members representing each of the EU28 (a single bishop represents Denmark, Sweden and Finland, while the U.K. has two: one for England and Wales, and one from Scotland). They meet regularly in Brussels to discuss EU policies that might affect them or their parishioners — making the organization a sort of religious parallel to the European Council. And it reflects many of its secular counterpart’s regional divides — especially when it comes to traditionally sensitive issues like abortion and homosexuality…
“Part of Marx’s power lies in his closeness to the Vatican, and in particular to Francis, who in 2013 asked him to serve as a counselor in a new structure outside the Roman Curia.
“Last fall, Marx helped organize a conference in Rome on ‘Re-Thinking Europe,’ which was attended by former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and Sylvie Goulard, a confidant of French President Emmanuel Macron who is now deputy governor of the Bank of France…
“The diocese he oversees is one of the richest in the world. Thanks to the Kirchensteuer, a tax that registered Catholics have to pay every year in Germany, “it collects more than €5 billion a year, more than five times, for example, what is collected by the Italian Church,” according to the Vaticanista Sandro Magister.
“‘It has a budget higher than many small member states,’ said a Vatican official.”
Court Vindicates Couple for Refusing to Lie About the “Easter Bunny”
nationalpost reported on March 7:
“An Ontario child welfare agency placed promoting belief in the Easter Bunny above preventing possible trauma when it removed two girls from a foster home because the Christian couple refused to lie about the bunny’s existence, an Ontario judge ruled.
“In a stinging indictment of the actions of the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton, a court judgment declared the CAS violated the foster parent’s right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression when the children were taken from their home and their fostering agreement terminated over the Easter Bunny dilemma.
“Derek and Frances Baars, who lived in Hamilton at the time but have since moved to Edmonton, sued the Children’s Aid Society last year, saying a CAS worker insisted they proactively tell two girls in their care, aged three and four, the Easter Bunny was genuine, despite the couple’s belief that all lying is wrong…
“The Baars are Christians and members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America…
“Evidence was clear the Baars sincerely believe it is wrong to lie, including lying to promote belief in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny…”
These Current Events are compiled and commented on. 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 Was it Possible for Noah and His Family to Actually Build the Ark?
In a previous Q&A “How Long Did it Take Noah to Build the Ark?” it was shown, applying several assumptions, that it could not have taken more than 75 years to build the ark – not the 120 years that some have assumed. Nevertheless, that is a considerable amount of time.
In Genesis 6:15, we read about the specific dimensions that God gave to Noah: “And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.” Wikipedia states that “The Near Eastern or Biblical cubit is usually estimated as approximately 457.2 mm (18 in).” Therefore, applying this to the ark, the length would be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.
A newspaper report in July 2016 gave details about a project that had recently completed in the USA. It read: “A $100 million representation of Noah’s Ark opened to ticket holders Thursday in Williamstown, Kentucky, but critics say the religious enterprise shouldn’t have received government tax breaks.
“The massive exhibit, claimed to be the largest timber frame structure in the world, sits on the grounds of a Christian theme park, Ark Encounter, a for-profit enterprise founded by Ken Ham. He said the park is an evangelical tool aimed at teaching creationism, a literal interpretation of the Bible’s Book of Genesis. The ark is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, constructed based on dimensions derived from scripture, Ham said. Its three decks span more than 120,000 square feet. ‘It is much more than you can ever imagine,’ Ham said. ‘When you see the architectural algorithms you need, engineering diagrams … and all the supporters, thousands upon thousands of supporters who financially made this possible … I mean it’s amazing.’”
It can be seen from this report that they have used a cubit slightly larger than 18 inches. It is 510 feet (155 m) long, 85 feet (26 m) wide, and 51 feet (16 m).
The entire ark project took 18 months to complete. To meet the deadline, additional workers and specialists were required and about 1,000 people worked on the project overall, with more than 300 people working on site at one time. If that was the case, how could Noah and his family have built this in 75 years or less, and without all of the modern equipment that man has at his disposal today?
It is important to keep in mind, that however large or difficult an assignment might be, God would not ask anyone to do something that was impossible to do.
One online commentator has made an assumption that if only Noah and his three sons were available to work, the situation would be as follows: He has worked out the overall volume of the ark, and applied a worst case scenario that 20% of the ark’s volume was worked, lumber that the four men had to gather, transport to the construction site and do the necessary shaping and install. He further states: “An experienced crew of four could have installed, we assume, an average of 15 cubic feet of wood per day. If anything, this estimate seems low, but this is the worst case and it would take sixty-five years under this worst case scenario! A big job, yes, but Noah was a faithful man, and accomplished the task. By applying these calculations, it can be seen that it is entirely possible to complete the task as required.”
Even if more than the four men were needed to do all of the work, maybe the four wives could have helped and Noah could have employed local workers, who may well have been sceptical but who may have taken the opportunity to work and get paid for their work. The Bible simply does not make any reference to whether or not there were others who might have helped or not. It only says that God told Noah to build the ark—but not, that he had to do it alone.
What about the necessary equipment to make such a large boat? We must never forget that Noah was told by God to do this job under His divine direction.
On a website about ancient technology, we find these selected comments:
“(In addition to Egypt,) high levels of manufacturing and building technology are evident in ancient cultures of China, India, South America and many other places. Obviously most has been lost over the years, so we must assume there was even more on offer than we are aware of.
“History demonstrates that technology usually takes a few centuries to mature. For example, the development of the Greek trireme (an ancient Greek or Roman war galley with three banks of oars) in the climate of competing marine empires resulted in the huge ships over 100m long. History also shows technology is easily lost when a civilization changes or crumbles, such as the demise of the huge Chinese junks due to a change of government policy. With this in mind, it should be safe to presume that the pre-flood manufacturing expertise was higher than the best Egyptian culture (which had to regain momentum after the flood). This is quite a high level of technology, in many ways challenging even the much later Greek and Roman civilizations.”
This website also covers timber processing: “Noah, a healthy 500-year-old with an extremely Godly heritage, should be smart and capable. How about a simple, low tech animal powered saw? For working with timber, Noah might have had some sort of milling saw, a variety of smaller hand-saws for detail work, chisels, the axe and/or adze (a tool similar to an axe), and hand drills for dowels and spike/nail pilot holes, metal wedges for splitting timber, and the good old hammer.”
Also covered by this website is a piece about ovens, as follows: “The working of steel implies very high temperatures were achievable. This requires purpose-built furnaces. Firing of pottery is trivial compared to melting or producing steel. Metal spikes may have been used to join structural timbers in certain critical areas of the hull of Noah’s Ark. Steel tools are permitted; Tubal-Cain was doing this long before Noah came on the scene. Bronze or other copper based alloys could be the prominent metal, although the short working life of the ark and pitch coating would make steel acceptable. Heat was probably required for production or preparation of the pitch coating – although a much lower ‘cooking’ temperature.”
In a National Geographic piece, titled, “Unconventional ideas of Egyptian lifting methods”, they state the following: “Rope is valid, like the Egyptian ropes of grasses, papyrus etc. Wooden pulleys are very effective and easily fabricated, no problem for the Egyptians either. Methods of lifting were obviously employed in the raising of 300 tonnes obelisks in Egypt. For example, ‘the Vatican in 1586 moved a 330-ton Egyptian obelisk to St. Peter’s Square. It is known that lifting the stone into vertical position required 74 horses and 900 men using ropes and pulleys.’”
We must also remember that the ancient pyramids in Egypt were built without the aid of all of the modern equipment that enables such wonders to be built today.
Not too long after the flood, we read in Genesis 11:6: “And the LORD said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.’” The indication is that unless they were stopped, mankind would move ahead quickly to do great things, and so God took the appropriate action at that time by confusing the language.
If Noah building the ark is still considered impossible by some, thinking that it didn’t, or couldn’t happen, then the veracity of God’s Word is questioned. As we have said on so many occasions, if one part of the Bible is wrong, then the rest cannot be trusted either! Noah and his family (perhaps with the help of hired workers) did build the ark because God commanded them to do so and we have the biblical record of this.
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“Gottes Gesetz—Segen oder Fluch? (Teil 2),” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: The Law of God–Blessing or Curse? (Parts 2).
Passover will be observed on Thursday evening, after sunset, on March 29, 2018. The Days of Unleavened Bread will be observed beginning March 30th through April 6th.
The 2018 Ministerial Conference will take place in Fort Collins, Colorado. Participants will arrive on April 18th and depart on April 24th.
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
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