|Live Services||Endless Encouragement;Who are the Gentiles?|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||How can we know that Christ’s return is near? (Part 3)|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
Endless Encouragement;Who are the Gentiles?
On December 15, 2018, Eric Rank will present the sermonette, titled, “Endless Encouragement” and Dave Harris will present the sermon, titled, “Who are the Gentiles?”
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 Kalon Mitchell
December 5, 2018, was declared a national day of mourning for the United States of America, because former President George H. W. Bush had died the previous day. Many governmental agencies were shut down in response to this day of mourning for a past president.
When I heard about this, there were a couple of observations that ran through my mind. The first was that, while yes, banks were closed, the stock market was closed and post offices were closed, there didn’t seem to be an outpouring of sorrow. No one was of a sad countenance. Life kept going on. Most people went to their jobs and lived their lives. Secondly, I wondered what it would be like if this day of mourning was actually in response to people’s realization that they have been living the wrong way of life and they were ready to turn to God.
In reading through the Bible, we find many stories about how people were living the wrong way of life and had issues and problems that came to a head. Then, they would call out and ask God for help and He would save them. Many times, the Israelites had to face serious problems and captivity in order to repent and return to God. The city of Nineveh, while not an Israelite city, was warned about the captivity and destruction that WOULD come upon them unless they repented. They did, and the city was spared at that time.
The problem is that very often, humans have to learn the hard way. God doesn’t desire people to die. In Ezekiel 18:21-32; 33:11-20, God keeps asking why people would not turn from sin and live. The whole reason God has given man about 6,000 years to try living his own way is to recognize how bad a job he has done. And indeed, we are coming up to the times when issues and problems are becoming more and more prevalent. We are destroying the earth we live on, and we are in the process of destroying all life. In fact, Christ warns in Matthew 24:21-22 that if God were not to cut short the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, no flesh would survive. We would wipe each other out. That’s how far man would take it. When we review the history of the past two world wars and the atrocities and the inhuman treatment, it is not hard to imagine that man would be willing to do much worse, especially under the inspiration of the god of this world, Satan the Devil.
As Christians, we also have the duty to sigh and cry about the atrocities that we see (Ezekiel 9:4), as well as continue our warning cry to the nations, as we are told to do by God (Ezekiel 33:1-10). Unfortunately, many refuse to hear the warning. They claim to know God and yet their hearts are not in line with God’s ways (Ezekiel 33:30-33). The warning to mourn and to turn to God is plainly there. Will we be the ones who are willing to do so? Or will we have to go through the Great Tribulation?
Our choice is of the utmost importance at this moment in time. James 4:8-10 tells us: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
Yes, we should be weeping. We should be, individually and collectively, appalled, disgusted, shocked and grieved in the depths of our hearts over our sins, just as the people were in Acts 2:37: “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart…”
We are not only addressing the prideful, lying, stealing, and lusting sins but also sins of the tongue, sins of anxiousness, sins of bitterness, sins of partiality, sins of complacency, sins of jealousy, sins of impatience, sins of arrogance, sins of hate, sins of backbiting and sins of cowardliness, and the list could go on and on. We should grieve over all of them because every sin separates us from God.
The time for mourning and returning to God is NOW! In Matthew 5, the beatitudes show that the actions of those who want to be known by God are in line with turning to Him. They are doing what is required of them. One of these actions is mourning, while being mindful of sin in our lives and actively turning from it. True Godly sorrow and repentance produce the change that is needed. 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 says: “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”
Again, the choice is ours. What will our choice be?
We begin with the election of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as the new leader of Germany’s biggest but strongly divided party, the CDU, thereby replacing Angela Merkel who will remain German Chancellor for the time being.
We continue with the ongoing Brexit chaos and the postponement of a vote in the British Parliament to approve Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU, which was almost certain to fail; as well as further unsuccessful attempts by May to re-negotiate her deal with the EU and her survival of a No-Confidence vote, within her own party, by a slim margin.
We speak on the willful ignorance of many in light of a coming World War; increasing arms sales and the power of the euro; the violent demonstrations in Paris over tax and other issues; a terrorist attack in France; and the collapse of the Belgium government over immigration issues. We also point out ongoing frictions between the EU and the USA.
In this context, please view our new StandingWatch program, “USA and EU on Collision Course.”
We address further controversial developments regarding Donald Trump and strong criticism from unsuspected sources; and we address anti-Semitism in Europe; the dead Israeli-Palestinian “peace” treaty; and the ongoing desire and preparation to build a Third Temple in Jerusalem.
We conclude with Josef Stalin’s belief that Adolf Hitler survived World War II; radioactive wolves in Chernobyl; ridiculous reactions of a school principal and parents to a teacher telling students the truth about the fairy tale of Santa Claus; as well as the desire of many Jews to keep Christmas.
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
Kramp-Karrenbauer Succeeds Merkel as CDU Chair
Handelsblatt Global wrote on December 7:
“Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer…, former state premier of Saarland, won the historic race to succeed Angela Merkel as leader of the Christian Democratic Union… with a majority of 51.75 percent in the second round of voting, beating Friedrich Merz…
“[Chancellor Angela Merkel] decided to give up the party’s leadership after the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, suffered painful electoral losses in two German states. Her withdrawal, following the rise of the Alternative for Germany, an anti-immigrant party, marked a decline of her political powers…
“Kramp-Karrenbauer is now the person most likely to become the next chancellor of Europe’s largest economy when Merkel resigns in 2021 – or earlier if she is forced out of office by internal political strife or should her coalition with the Social Democrats collapse. Kramp-Karrenbauer… could set different accents than Merkel in dealing with Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, immigration and indebted euro-zone countries…
“The new party leader… is expected to broadly continue the chancellor’s policies and style, although she has been tougher on immigration than Merkel. AKK, for instance, proposed expelling refugees from the EU if they sexually harass women and wants to confine immigrants in closed centers if their asylum application has been rejected…”
The Washington Post wrote on December 7:
“Kramp-Karrenbauer won Friday’s vote in the second round of balloting, eking out a bare majority in a closely divided party… Germany is likely — though not certain — to have a second female chancellor.”
Newsmax wrote on December 7:
“Sometimes dubbed ‘mini Merkel,’ Kramp-Karrenbauer… told Reuters last week that Europe and the United States should consider blockading Russian ships over the Ukraine crisis… Last month, Kramp-Karrenbauer told a business conference: ‘With every wish to take Europe forward with a German-French nucleus, the proposals must always fit with German interests.’”
The Guardian wrote on December 7:
“Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer [is] a staunchly Catholic conservative career politician… [The 56-year-old lawyer is] a self-professed strict Catholic… While she generally supported Merkel’s open-door policy towards migrants, she has admitted that grave mistakes have been made…
“[She] has spoken out in favour of a ban on doctors who carry out abortions being able to advertise their services… and is also openly sceptical about the ‘marriage for all’ law campaigned for by her opponent, Jens Spahn, who is married to his male partner.”
BBC wrote on December 7:
“AKK… lives in her hometown of Püttlingen with her husband of 34 years, Helmut Karrenbauer, who quit his job as a mining engineer to take care of their [by now grown] three sons while she pursued her political career… While she supported Ms Merkel’s refugee policy and has a liberal position on women’s rights and a minimum wage, she has also expressed more conservative views.
“As a practising Catholic… she has expressed concerns about giving same-sex couples full adoption rights. She is also in favour of reinstating year-long military or social service and has questioned the right of ethnic Turks to hold dual German and Turkish citizenship. Turks are Germany’s largest immigrant community.”
After the victory, AKK was busy trying to solidify her deeply divided party. Based on her nomination, one of her critics, conservative 33-year-old Paul Ziemiak was elected as General Secretary, who will be taking care of the day-to-day affairs of the party. However, he only got 62.8 % of the votes. AKK had the post before becoming new chairman of the party. She had been nominated by Merkel and had received a record of 98.9% of the votes.
The party also elected a new Board. Ursula von der Leyen (Defense Minister) became one of the five Vice-Chairmen with only 57.5% of the votes. One of AKK’s two challengers, Jens Spahn, was elected as Chairman of the CDU Presidency (“Präsidium”) with 89.1 % of the votes. At this point, it is unclear in what way, or if at all, AKK’s other challenger, Friedrich Merz, will continue in a leading function within the CDU.
AKK’s First Mistake?
The Associated Press wrote on December 8:
“[New General Secretary Paul] Ziemiak is further to the right than Kramp-Karrenbauer, is considered a friend of Spahn and comes from the same region as Merz… Setting out her pitch on Friday, [Kramp-Karrenbauer] called for ‘a strong Europe that completes Schengen,’ Europe’s border-free travel area, and advocated for a European army… Kramp-Karrenbauer is promising to give her party the first say in discussing policies, rather than digesting decisions already made by the government. It’s unclear how much friction that could cause with Merkel.”
Bild Online wrote on December 9:
“If the CDU remains as unpopular as it is today, then the chapter AKK could soon be history. AKK’s first mistake was to nominate Ziemiak as General Secretary. He almost was not voted in… The idea backfired to unify the party by nominating Ziemiak … Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder labeled the election of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer ‘a mistake.’ He would have liked to see businessman Friedrich Merz as leader of the CDU.”
AKK Guilty of Collusion?
Politico wrote on December 9:
“After capturing the leadership of Germany’s Christian Democrats on Friday, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer declared the party could not remain a house divided. Within hours, she stood accused of turning the party into a House of Cards.
“Supporters of Friedrich Merz, the conservative corporate lawyer Kramp-Karrenbauer edged out for the CDU chairmanship in the Friday vote, accused her of cutting a secret deal with the leader of the party’s youth wing, Paul Ziemiak, promising him a top party position in exchange for the votes she needed to win the run-off. Though Kramp-Karrenbauer denied the suggestions of collusion, the suspicions persisted in the Merz camp, frustrating the new leader’s efforts to project harmony as the CDU’s two-day congress drew to a close.
“Some disgruntled conservatives on Saturday even threatened to form their own party… A breakaway from the party ‘is not something one should wish for, but it also can’t be ruled out,’ Alexander Mitsch, the leader of a CDU faction known as the Werte Union, or Values Union, told Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, a regional newspaper…
“Whether there was a deal or not, Ziemiak would make sense for the position… he’s a young conservative face in a party dominated by men over 70. And as the son of Polish refugees who fled Poland when he was just three, Ziemiak injects more diversity into the party’s leadership. ‘I want to have someone at my side who sends a signal that a new generation is engaged,’ Kramp-Karrenbauer told convention delegates on Saturday. But many didn’t buy it and quietly accused Ziemiak of sacrificing their cause for his own career ambitions…”
Brexit Chaos… Now What?
Before Theresa May postponed the vote of Parliament on Tuesday (see articles below), strong statements regarding the Brexit deal were made on both sides… all of which could now be in question.
The Guardian wrote on December 8:
“On signing an agreement with the British prime minister last month, Juncker described the draft withdrawal treaty and accompanying political declaration on the future relationship as ‘the deal – the only deal possible’. May has also said there is no scope for any further negotiation in Brussels if her deal is rejected when it comes to a vote in the Commons on Tuesday, and that the consequence of it being rejected would be ‘no deal or no Brexit’. The chancellor, Philip Hammond, described those who believed there could be a renegotiation as ‘delusional’…
“There is a reluctance [of EU members] to open up the political declaration on the future relationship, given the difficulties the EU had in finding agreement on the terms set out in the 26-page document. The November Brexit summit was just hours from being cancelled after Spain insisted on assurances about the fate of Gibraltar at the last minute. Further talks on that document could see it unravel as the EU’s member states seek to pursue their own interests.
“There is also almost a consensus in Brussels that the withdrawal agreement, containing the most contentious part of the deal, the so-called backstop for avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland through keeping the UK in a customs union indefinitely, cannot be touched.”
Theresa May Admits Humiliating Defeat—Brexit Vote Postponed after Broken Promises
The Guardian wrote on December 10:
“Theresa May has postponed the final vote on her Brexit deal after a last-minute conference call with cabinet ministers, a clear admission by the prime minister that she does not believe she can get the unpopular EU withdrawal agreement through the Commons. The drastic move, as May faced defeat by up to 100 of her own MPs, is a humiliation for the prime minister, whose aides and cabinet ministers had emphatically denied there was any prospect of pulling the vote, even as late as Monday morning. Advisers, ministers and loyalist MPs had been urging May to delay Tuesday’s vote in order to seek new assurances from Brussels and avoid the chaos of a parliamentary defeat.
“… The vote could take place next week or even be delayed until early January, although this would allow less time for the ensuing Brexit legislation to be passed through parliament before 29 March. The ultimate deadline for the vote is 21 January. News of the delay caused the pound to tumble to its lowest level in 18 months.”
The Independent wrote on December 10:
“David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB Online Trading, said… ‘The negative reaction in the markets is more likely due to what it means for her position rather than the failure to win the vote… as it now seems increasingly likely that a long-touted leadership challenge will ensue… The frontrunners to replace May as PM such as Boris and Rees-Mogg are much more likely to push for a hard Brexit and this would no doubt be negative for the pound…’”
Express wrote on December 10:
“Time is running out for Mrs May… after the European Court of Justice ruled the UK could unilaterally revoke Article 50 to halt Brexit – without agreement from any other EU member state… But Mrs May’s spokeswoman said the ECJ ruling did not change the government’s ‘firm’ policy on Article 50… The future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain…”
Deutsche Welle added on December 10:
“May said… that the so-called backstop for keeping an open border between Northern Ireland, a British territory, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state, needed to be resolved… There were also reports that May… would go back to Brussels to secure ‘legally-binding assurance’ the UK would not be trapped in the Irish backstop element of the deal indefinitely. The provision… would keep Britain under EU customs rules until superseded by new trade arrangements.”
Newsmax wrote on December 10:
“With her position at home in open jeopardy… [the] vote postponement marks what many lawmakers cast as the collapse of May’s two-year attempt to forge a compromise under which the United Kingdom would exit the EU while staying largely within its economic orbit…
“May indicated she was seeking further assurances from the EU on the working of the backstop… May said that other EU leaders were open to a discussion about the backstop, though Germany’s foreign minister said he could not see what could be changed in the 585-page deal…
“May said the result of the 2016 referendum, in which… 52 percent… backed Brexit while… 48 percent… backed staying in the EU, should be honored. The United Kingdom will leave as planned on March 29, she said.”
Brexit will happen… in one way or another.
UK PM Theresa May Ends Tour without EU Brexit Concessions
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 11:
“British Prime Minister Theresa May met with four EU leaders… to seek ‘reassurances’ on a draft Brexit deal…
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European Union leaders told British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday that there would be no changes to the draft Brexit deal. The British prime minister went into a whistle-stop tour of the Netherlands, Germany and Brussels seeking ‘reassurances’ that the deal’s ‘backstop’ for keeping an open border in Ireland was temporary. But Merkel, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, EU Council President Donald Tusk and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told May in separate meetings that while they were open to semantic clarifications, they would not renegotiate any aspect of the deal.”
The EUObserver added on December 12:
“The EU is not preparing a legal document on the backstop, as requested by British prime minister Theresa May… EU diplomats… said that there has been not enough time, and it was unnecessary, to come up with a legally-binding text that could clarify positions on the so-called backstop on the Irish border…”
Theresa May Stumbles Through No-Confidence Vote
The Sun wrote on December 12:
“Theresa May will limp on in Number 10 after winning the confidence vote despite a THIRD of her own MPs wanting to sack her. The PM won the support of 200 Tory MPs, enough to stay in post, but with 117 MPs calling for her to go her time in charge seems to be running out… Less than two-thirds of MPs – 63 per cent – voted to keep Mrs May in power, fewer than expected by many observers. The uncomfortably close result suggests it will be extremely tricky for her to get any Brexit deal signed off.
“… she may end up quitting despite her win, if she concludes the margin of victory is embarrassingly slim. The fact that 117 MPs defied her could be a signal that she has lost her authority and has no chance of pushing a Brexit deal through the Commons… In 1990, Margaret Thatcher won a narrow majority of MPs on a leadership ballot but resigned shortly afterwards.”
Deal NOT Open to EU Negotiations
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 13:
“Embattled UK Prime Minister Theresa May… has been roundly criticized on both sides of the English Channel for postponing a vote on her plan in parliament on Tuesday in the face of certain defeat. She is now hoping to convince European politicians to make changes to the current rules on Brexit… the prospect of May getting what she wants seems very unlikely.
“French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking Thursday morning, was quick to point out that the ball was in May’s court. ‘We can have a political discussion tonight but the legal framework and the agreement that were negotiated are not supposed to change,’ the French leader said… ‘We cannot reopen the legal agreement, we can’t renegotiate what was negotiated for several months…’
“Any changes will likely be cosmetic in nature and fail to affect the substance of the legally binding, 585-page withdrawal agreement, despite May’s avowed aim of attaining ‘legal and political assurances’ that will satisfy her critics at home…
“Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte… said, ‘Today is about de-mystifying this whole Northern Ireland backstop. Nobody in the EU wants to use it. But we need to have it…’ Rutte’s sentiments were echoed by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, ‘There is no way we are opening the agreement but we can try to agree on a clarification.’”
Express wrote on December 13:
“Theresa May was dealt a blow by European Union leaders as they refused to offer Britain ‘any further assurances’ that the backstop will not be triggered. EU bosses pulled original plans to ‘further examine’ potential guarantees that they could offer the Prime Minister in order to help her controversial Brexit deal through the House of Commons. Mrs May pleaded with her European counterparts to work with her to find a way to ease the concerns of rebellious MPs who believe Brussels could use the Irish backstop to permanently lock Britain into a customs union…
“But her efforts fell on deaf ears… In post-summit conclusions, the EU removed plans to ‘stand ready to examine whether any further assurance can be provided’… European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made clear that there would be no further renegotiations…
“European Council President Donald Tusk said: ‘… After discussing the Prime Minister’s intervention among the 27 leaders… [the] Union stands by this agreement and intends to proceed with its ratification. It is not open for renegotiation.'”
UK Largest Arms Producer in Western Europe
The EUObserver wrote on December 10:
“Sales of arms and military services by the world’s 100 largest producers totalled €348bn in 2017, 2.5 percent up from 2016… Accounting for 57 percent of sales, US companies remained the world’s largest arms producers, followed by Russia with 9.5 percent. Western European companies accounted for 23.8 percent, with UK the region’s largest producer.”
Shameful for the USA and the UK.
Ignorance in Light of Looming War
The Independent wrote on December 12:
“The international security landscape is the most uncertain politically and strategically in living memory… where threats to ‘our nation are diversifying, proliferating and intensifying very rapidly’, the head of Britain’s military has warned. The ‘constant confrontation’ across the world is ‘reminiscent of the first decade of the 20th century’ of the great power competition that ended with the conflagration of the First World War, General Sir Nick Carter said in his annual lecture.
“He claimed that hostile states such as Russia and China – and Iran’s ‘flexing of muscle’ – challenged our security, stability and prosperity. But there were also the added dangers of terrorist groups such as Isis, and the ‘bellicose nature of populism and nationalism’ that seek to exploit mass migration, which many see as an existential threat to Europe…
“He pointed to a worrying lack of knowledge or interest among the public about how current geopolitical issues have evolved. ‘Of course, people don’t really study history any longer,’ he said, pointing to a recent survey of 2,000 people about the First World War. ‘Fifty per cent thought Winston Churchill was the prime minister at the time, and 10 per cent thought it was Margaret Thatcher; 20 per cent thought we were fighting the French; 6 per cent thought it was President Kennedy’s assassination that triggered the war. And when asked what the bloodiest battle of the war was, 16 per cent voted for Pearl Harbour, 8 per cent for Independence Day, 7 per cent for Hastings and 5 per cent for Helm’s Deep… who thought it was a battle in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.’”
The seed of this contemptable willful ignorance of historical events will reap a terrible harvest.
The Power of the Euro
The EU Reporter wrote on December 7:
“President Juncker highlighted the strategic importance of the euro and the need to ensure that the single currency can play its full role on the international scene…
“Euro and Social Dialogue Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said: ‘The euro is a young but successful currency. The time has come for the euro to develop further its global role. The euro should reflect the euro area’s political, economic and financial weight and support a balanced, rules-based international political and economic order…’
“Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said: ‘The EU is the world’s largest energy importer with an average import bill of €300 billion, with an open and competitive internal market. Strengthening the international role of the euro in the field of energy investment and trade will help reduce the risk of supply disruptions and promote the autonomy of European businesses…’
“Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said: ‘A wider use of the euro in the global economy yields important potential for better protecting European citizens and companies against external shocks and making the international finance and monetary system more resilient… it is also an important project to underpin our European autonomy in a globalized world.’…
“The Commission also calls on member states to promote the wider use of the euro in strategic sectors. In spite of their position as large buyers as well as major producers, European businesses still trade in US dollar in key strategic markets, often even between themselves. This exposes businesses to currency risks and political risks, such as unilateral decisions that directly affect dollar denominated transactions…
“The euro is today the second most important international currency. Some 340 million European citizens use euro banknotes and coins every day across the eurozone’s 19 member states. Around 60 countries in the world use, will use or link their currency to the euro. It is a widely accepted currency for international payments, and a significant share of international reserves of foreign central banks and debt issuance on international markets are in euro.
“Public support for the euro has been consistently high in the EU, especially in the countries already using the euro. Europeans identify the euro as one of the main symbols of the European Union. It has brought visible and very practical benefits to European households, businesses and governments alike…”
While some of the statements above are written from an extreme pro-euro perspective and rather doubtful as to their accuracy, we have been saying time and again, even when many others disagreed with us: The Euro is here to stay.
Paris on Lockdown–Ongoing Violent Demonstrations in France
The Huffington Post and The Associated Press wrote on December 8:
“French riot police fired tear gas and water cannon in Paris on Saturday, trying to stop thousands of yellow-vested protesters from converging on the presidential palace to express their anger at high taxes and French President Emmanuel Macron. Security officials imposed a lockdown on parts of central Paris… Blue armored vehicles rumbled across cobblestone streets from the Arc de Triomphe across toward eastern Paris… A ring of steel surrounded the Elysee Palace itself, as police stationed trucks and reinforced steel barriers in streets throughout the entire neighborhood…
“Prized Paris monuments and normally bustling shopping meccas were locked down Saturday at the height of the holiday shopping season. The Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum were among the many tourist attractions that closed for the day… Subway stations in the center of town were shut down.
“The yellow vest movement… started as a protest against higher taxes for diesel and gas, but quickly expanded to encompass wide frustration at stagnant incomes, the rising cost of living and other grievances. Macron on Wednesday agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike… but that hasn’t defused the anger. After two weekends of violence in Paris that made the authorities look powerless, police went into overdrive Saturday to keep a lid on unrest. Police frisked people or searched bags throughout central Paris, and confiscated gas masks and protective goggles from AP journalists…
“Macron’s government had warned that the yellow vest protests had created a ‘monster’ and that Saturday’s protests would be hijacked by radicalized and rebellious crowds… National police estimated the number of protesters in Paris on Saturday at 8,000, among 31,000 protesters nationwide. They appeared to be outnumbered by police, with 8,000 officers deployed in the capital alone and 89,000 fanned out around the country.
“The yellow vests include people with views that range from the far right to the far left. The group has no leaders but is united in its feeling that Macron and his government are out of touch with the concerns of ordinary French families… Four people have been killed in accidents since the unrest began Nov. 17. Christmas markets, national soccer matches and countless other events have been canceled due to the protests.
“Protesters also blocked roads, roundabouts and tollbooths elsewhere in France. Offshoot movements have emerged elsewhere, and yellow-vest protests were held Saturday in Belgium and the Netherlands. U.S. President Donald Trump sought to fuel the anger in France, seizing the moment to criticize the Paris climate accord, which he is abandoning. ‘People do not want to pay large sums of money … in order to maybe protect the environment,’ he tweeted.”
Macron’s Concessions—Not Enough!
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 11:
“After listening to their president speak for 13 minutes, a sober reality started to spread among the many ‘yellow vest’ demonstrators protesting across France. ‘That’s not enough,’ they confidently announced…
“The government has now said it plans to raise the monthly minimum wage by €100 starting January 1. France’s current guaranteed net monthly minimum wage of €1,185 is already the highest in the OECD… It remains to be seen, however, if the increased payment, which will not benefit all minimum-wage workers, will be enough to mollify the angry yellow vests for long. First reactions to Macron’s plan do not suggest they will…
“Fears that the liberal-socialist president’s demise could open the floodgates for extremists has been long voiced by French publicists…”
Terrorist Attack in France
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 11:
“A gunman opened fire near a Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg, killing at least four [subsequently changed to “three”] people and injuring 11 others… Several of those wounded have critical injuries… Officers were searching for the shooter, who was known to France’s internal security services as a suspected risk… French prosecutors said they had opened a terrorism probe into the shooting.
“The European Parliament was on lockdown, conservative MEP Siegfried Muresan said. Hundreds of MEPs and officials were in the building attending a plenary session when the shooting started… Police in the neighboring German state of Baden-Württemberg wrote on Twitter that they had reinforced border controls at the crossing into Strasbourg. Strasbourg’s Christmas market is a popular tourist destination, drawing millions of visitors every year.
“Multiple terrorist attacks have shaken France in recent years. Since 2015, more than 200 people have been killed in attacks inspired or commissioned by the Islamist terrorist group ‘Islamic State.’”
The Guardian wrote on December 13:
“French police have killed the suspected gunman who shot and stabbed people at Strasbourg’s Christmas market… He was well known to police as a criminal and had been convicted 27 times, mostly for theft and violence, in France, Germany and Switzerland… Witnesses said the man shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he shot into the crowds and slashed at passersby with a knife…
“According to the Reuters news agency, the Islamic State terrorist group claimed shortly after Chekatt was killed that he was one of its followers…”
Belgium Government Collapses over UN Immigration Pact
Breitbart wrote on December 10:
“The Belgian government has split apart after Prime Minister Charles Michel ignored the objections of his ruling coalition’s biggest party and insisted he would sign the UN migration pact. The Flemish nationalist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) party quit the government following crisis talks over the weekend, prompting Michel to announce he would travel to Marrakesh to sign the controversial compact representing a minority government.
“The patriotic party had previously produced a list of 30 objections to signing the so-called Global Compact on Safe and Orderly Migration including a lack of differentiation between illegal and legal flows, and questions over whether the agreement, which declares mass immigration to be ‘inevitable, desirable and necessary’, could have a chilling effect on objective journalism.
“Vice Prime Minister Alexander De Croo rebuffed the N-VA… asserting that ministers will continue to have ‘firm but humane’ migration policies because ‘no one in this government wants to pursue open [borders]’…”
The EUObserver wrote on December 11:
“The world’s first-ever global pact on how to deal with migration was adopted on Monday by 164 countries at a conference in Marrakesh, Morocco. Seven EU countries, Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Latvia and Slovakia did not sign the UN pact, while German chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed it, saying that it was high time the international community came to a more realistic understanding over global migration.”
Coming… Further Conflicts between EU and USA
Politico wrote on December 11:
“The EU is regulation-obsessed, ‘out of touch,’ and stalling trade negotiations with Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the EU said Monday. And Trump is going to put a stop to it, the ambassador, Gordon Sondland, warned. ‘…we now have to recognize that the relationship and all of the goodwill that has been built up since the Marshall Plan doesn’t seem to count when it comes to getting a little consideration,’ Sondland said…
“Washington and Brussels have been engaged in high-stakes trade talks… Sondland’s remarks made clear that Washington is now fed up with what it views as egregious delaying tactics by Brussels… ‘There are a multitude of tools available to the president and to the U.S. trade representative beyond just tariffs on cars to make it more difficult for Europe to sell its products to America and I think all of those tools are on the table…,’ Sondland warned. Trump wants to ‘fundamentally fix the imbalance…’
“Sondland said that while he remains on good personal terms with EU officials, he finds the bloc to be utterly obstructionist… ‘we don’t ever beg. That’s not our style. But we do what we need to do in order to fix a problem. And if it can’t be done in a voluntary and cooperative fashion, it’ll have to be done in other ways’…
“Apart from trade, Sondland also criticized the EU for obstructing U.S. policy on numerous other fronts, including by ‘clinging’ to the Iran nuclear accord, which Trump has abandoned, and by some EU countries continuing to support the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany…
“The ambassador also accused EU members of NATO of resisting Trump’s push for increased military spending on the alliance, while being willing to raise spending on the EU’s own security and defense projects…
“Sondland also criticized the EU for taking a protectionist approach to military procurement, putting U.S. manufacturers at an unfair disadvantage… In the end, Sondland said, European leaders were failing to capitalize on the opportunity to work with Trump.”
Trump Not Cleared of Wrongdoing
The Independent wrote on December 7:
“Donald Trump has wrongly claimed that prosecutors have cleared him of wrongdoing in legal documents that accuse two of his former associates of repeatedly lying about Russia. In fact New York prosecutors alleged that Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal lawyer, had acted at his direction in organising hush money payments to two women who claimed they had had affairs with the billionaire…
“A day that began with the president launching an angry Twitter rant about special prosecutor Robert Mueller – a suggestion he knew bad news was coming – ended with prosecutors asking for ‘substantial’ jail time for Cohen, and saying Mr Trump’s one-time campaign manager Paul Manafort had lied not just about interactions with Russians, but over his continued contact with the White House six months after turning himself into the FBI.
“… the filing by prosecutors in relation to Cohen’s financial crimes claimed he had broken the law at the direction of Mr Trump. ‘With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election. Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments,’ said the filing. ‘In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1 [Mr Trump].’”
Newsmax and Bloomberg wrote on December 10:
“President Donald Trump further distanced himself from Michael Cohen, placing responsibility for any crimes stemming from hush money paid to women during the 2016 campaign on his former personal lawyer… Cohen pleaded guilty in New York in August, saying that ‘Individual-1’ (widely identified as Trump) schemed to silence two women about affairs with the Republican candidate before the 2016 election. Cohen acknowledged that such payments amounted to illegal campaign donations — and said he arranged for them at Trump’s behest.”
After Trump denied any knowledge of payments to women by Cohen, published audio recordings of a conversation between Trump and Cohen revealed that Trump asked Cohen to pay one of the women to stay quiet. Obviously, Cohen would not have paid the two women such substantial amounts of money out of his own pocket and without Trump’s knowledge or consent. The real issue is, however, whether this constituted an illegal act on Trump’s part. In any event, it should not cause Trump any legal worries as he will not be impeached and forced out of office. Rather, he has to fulfill his providential role. The next articles will not change this conclusion.
Newsmax wrote on December 13:
“President Donald Trump in August 2015 was in the room when former lawyer Michael Cohen and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker discussed ways Pecker’s outlet could help change the narrative concerning negative coverage of Trump’s relationships with women, American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, admitted Thursday in a nonprosecution agreement with federal prosecutors. NBC News also said AMI admitted to helping facilitate a hush payment to one of the women who claimed she had an affair with Trump ahead of the election, former Playboy model Karen McDougal…
“The agreement does not detail the meeting, but the fact Trump was there squarely places the president, ‘in the middle of a conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud,’ said NBC News analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney Daniel Goldman. Cohen on Wednesday was sentenced to three years in prison during a sentencing hearing in which he claimed he acted out of ‘blind loyalty’ to Trump. He had previously pled guilty to campaign finance violations and lying to Congress.”
Fox News Channel Host Tucker Carlson Rips Trump
MSNBC wrote on December 7:
“Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson set straight any misinformation concerning his views on President Trump: ‘I don’t think he’s capable,’ he said during an interview on Tuesday. Urs Gehriger, an editor at ‘Die Weltwoche,’ Switzerland’s leading German-language opinion weekly, noted that Carlson’s new book, ‘Ship of Fools,’ is silent on Trump but comments on his critics. And so, Gehriger jump-started the conversation by asking what Carlson thought of Trump’s first two years in office.
“Carlson said he cannot stand Trump’s self-aggrandizement and boasting. Then, when asked whether Trump has kept his promises, the usually quick-witted and long-winded Carlson had just one word: ‘No.’…
“Although it has a variety of voices, Fox News Channel has become the outlet often aligned with the current administration, at least in prime time. Hosts such as Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro have taken near-unequivocal positions in support of Trump… ‘His chief promises were that he would build the wall, defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare, and he hasn’t done any of those things,’ Carlson said, adding that those goals were probably lost causes.
“Trump, he said, doesn’t understand the system, and his own agencies don’t support him. ‘He knows very little about the legislative process, hasn’t learned anything, hasn’t surrounded himself with people that can get it done, hasn’t done all the things you need to do, so it’s mostly his fault that he hasn’t achieved those things,’ he added. ‘The elite in our country is physically separated in a way that’s very unhealthy for a democracy,’ he said. Rural America is ‘really falling apart,’ he said, adding that ‘if you’re running the country, you should have a sense of that.’
“Gehriger said Carlson sounded like a ‘renegade.’ ‘He was so tough’ on Trump, he told The Post. ‘He was nobody’s cheerleader. For a person who is so successful on Fox News, I didn’t expect him to be so outspoken.’”
Some moderators, critical of Trump, have left Fox News, including Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren. Bill O’Reilly was also not totally supportive of Trump, but he was asked to leave for personal problems. And then there are other Fox News moderators working at Fox News who don’t hide their criticism, including Shepard Smith and Neil Cavuto. But as the article points out, Sean Hannity and Judge Jeanine Pirro, as well as Laura Ingraham, belong to those who support Trump, for better or worse, virtually 100%.
Spielberg Warns of New Genocide
JTA wrote on December 6:
“Steven Spielberg, the Oscar-winning director of the Holocaust film ‘Schindler’s List,’ has a warning: The possibility of hate leading to genocide is as possible today as it was during the Holocaust.
“Spielberg in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt specifically identified the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue building in Pittsburgh as a signal of the rise in hateful ideologies. ‘When collective hate organizes and gets industrialized, then genocide follows,’ Spielberg said… ‘We have to take it more seriously today than I think we have had to take it in a generation.’”
EU to Combat Anti-Semitism Following Sebastian Kurz’s Initiative
Jewish News Syndicate wrote on December 6:
“Several Jewish groups praised the Council of the European Union for its unanimous adoption of a statement on combating anti-Semitism across the continent. The measure, which was the first time the council’s 28-member states have passed a resolution countering anti-Semitism, calls on its member states to ‘to adopt and implement a holistic strategy to prevent and fight all forms of anti-Semitism.’
“It also expresses E.U. determination to ‘ensure a future for Jewish people to live with the same sense of security and freedom as all other citizens in the European Union,’ while urging E.U. member states that have not yet adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism to endorse it…
“The Jewish groups also praised Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who currently holds the E.U. presidency, for initiating the declaration. ‘We would like to thank Chancellor Kurz, with whom we have worked closely in the last few months, and all the European leaders and officials who assisted with this vital process… One of the most urgent calls for action in the declaration is to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism to assist law-enforcement agencies in their efforts to identify and investigate more efficiently anti-Semitic manifestations in all their forms.’”
Some observers are focusing on figures such as former German Defense Minister [Note for clarification: the following is his entire name] Karl-Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Buhl-Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg, or Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, as potential candidates for the biblically prophesied charismatic political and military leader, called the beast in the book of Revelation. Although we don’t know for sure, we would have to say that at this point, much speaks against this conclusion, including the fact that Kurz initiated an EU declaration against Anti-Semitism. We will discuss in a future Q&A the revealed characteristics of the person who is destined to manifest himself as the beast.
Israeli-Palestinian Peace Deal Dead on Arrival
JTA wrote on December 12:
“Jared Kushner, the presidential son-in-law and adviser, rarely speaks in public. No surprise, then, that a rare appearance on cable news TV was with a friendly network, Fox News, with a friendly interviewer, Sean Hannity.
“Kushner… said little about the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal he hopes to strike, but in reading between the lines, some nuggets emerge: The release of the proposal is not absolutely certain, and statehood for the Palestinians seems for now to be a nonstarter. But Kushner also recognizes that he can’t get much else done in the region without an Israeli-Palestinian deal…
“Pivoting to Middle East peace, Kushner said, ‘We’re focused now on the broader region, which is figuring out how to hopefully bring a deal together between the Israelis and the Palestinians.’ Kushner and his team… have focused for two years on a deal, so this isn’t exactly new…
“Trump may want this deal, but insiders say its prospects of success are virtually nil given the Palestinian Authority’s unwillingness to participate since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital a year ago, and the continued preeminence of the rejectionist Hamas, a terrorist group, in the Gaza Strip. The Trump administration, reportedly at Kushner’s behest, has severed all assistance to the Palestinians as an incentive to get them back to the table. It hasn’t worked…
“Palestinians for decades have said that statehood was a baseline for any deal…”
There will be no meaningful deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
Building the Third Temple
Breaking Israel News wrote on December 5:
“The first Temple Jerusalem Convention took place at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center on Wednesday, aimed toward educating Christians about the relevance of the Jewish Temples to their belief. The focus is not only on the Biblical Temples but also on the future Third Temple written about in prophecies…
“Doron Keidar, one of the organizers and the executive director of Cry for Zion, has high hopes for the event. ‘This is like the first Zionist conference which brought people together to talk about their hopes and dreams for a Jewish state,” Keidar told Breaking Israel News. ‘That led to the establishment of the modern state of Israel. We are bringing people together to talk about the Temple Mount. It is pretty clear what can come from this.’
“Rabbi Tuly Weisz, head of Israel365, addressed the crowd, emphasizing that it was powerfully appropriate for such a gathering to be held during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah… ‘The focal point of the holiday is about the non-Jews preventing the Jews from connecting to the Torah and about the Greeks defiling the temple. It is entirely appropriate to join in with Christians who have come to Israel to honor the Temple, the Torah, and the Jewish people.’…
“The conference focused on a theory that is gaining popularity which claims that the Jewish Temples did not stand on the Temple Mount. According to the theory, both Temples were located further south in an area now recognized by archaeologists as the City of King David. This theory was most recently put forth in a series of books written by Bob Cornuke, a former police investigator with no training in archaeology. Cornuke has also proposed that the Ark of the Covenant was taken out of Solomon’s Temple and has been hidden away in a church in Ethiopia for hundreds of years.
“Several of the speakers addressed this theory. Harry Moskoff, the author of the A.R.K. report, discussed the archaeological proof of the Temples’ location as well as the lack of proof for the theory’s claims.”
Breaking Israel News added on December 11:
“On Monday, the Sanhedrin hosted the dedication of the altar for the Third Temple… Special vessels have also been prepared to be ready at a moment’s notice should the need arise to jumpstart the Temple service. The menorah… is constructed of wood. Though not ideal, it is kosher for use in the Temple and can be carried by one person. The laver is also kosher though it is significantly different than the Sea of Solomon that was used in the Temple to wash the hands and feet of the priests.
“Mario Adolofo Bucaro Flores, the Ambassador of Guatemala was a guest of honor at the ceremony. Also present [was] the Ambassador of Honduras…”
Stalin Believed Hitler Escaped from Germany
Express wrote on December 7:
“Following the end of the war, the US government seriously investigated the possibility the Nazi leader made it out of Germany alive. Declassified FBI files show agents visited South America, after claims the Fuehrer had made it to Argentina in a submarine. The German vessels, described as ‘black boats’, were believed to have transported a number of Nazi officials across the North Atlantic.
“Following the alleged sightings, the possibility that Hitler did not kill himself caused paranoia among many world leaders, who seriously considered the idea. According to official reports, Hitler shot himself on April 30, 1945, as the Red Army closed in on his bunker. However, three months later US president Harry Truman raised his concerns, it was revealed in Amazon Prime’s 2015 ‘Adolf Hitler: Great Escape’ documentary. He asked Joseph Stalin outright whether or not Hitler was dead. The Soviet leader replied with a chilling one word answer: ‘No.’ Later that year, Soviet officer Marshall Gregory Zhukov, whose troops were the ones to occupy Berlin also backed the idea Hitler escaped…
“However, despite the alleged sighting recorded by the CIA and FBI, French-led investigations suggest the Fuhrer did indeed die in his bunker. Using remains of a jaw bone that had been hidden by the Russian secret service since 1945 suggests Hitler did kill himself. In a 2017 paper published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, researchers suggest SS officers were ordered to burn the body before Soviet troops discovered the charred remains.”
There is no doubt that some Nazi leaders escaped from Germany and settled in South American countries. The fear was at the time that Hitler had also escaped and that he would build a new Nazi army in South America and then return to Germany as a conqueror (as Napoleon did when he escaped from Elba and returned to France, regaining the French crown). But even IF Hitler had escaped Germany in 1945, he would be dead by now.
Wolves Living in Chernobyl’s Radioactive Forbidden Zone May Be Spreading Mutant Genes Across Europe
The Sun wrote on December 7:
“The European grey wolf population has boomed at the site since the human population moved out and it became a virtual wildlife preserve… some of the wolves – potentially affected by damaging radiation – have been crossing Ukraine’s borders into Russia and Belarus… The site became off limits to humans after the nuclear power plant disaster on 26 April 1986, due to concerns about the high levels of radiation. Explosions destroyed a reactor at the plant releasing about 400 times more radioactive fallout than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Particles were spread thousands of miles across Europe, dozens of residents were killed and many more exposed to the deadly radiation.
“It now seems that the lack of human interference at the disaster site has allowed the wolves to thrive in the 1,000 sq mile exclusion zone. They began to take over the eerie site in 2016 and the pack’s population is now thought to be seven-times larger than usual… Studies of other animals -mostly smaller ones like birds, rodents, and insects -show that Chernobyl radiation can cause mutations and ill health. And work done in creatures such as barn swallows and voles suggests these mutations may be transferred to the next generation. These also had the potential to spread radioactive contaminants…
“The Chernobyl exclusion zone is also home to other species including moose, horses, bison, boars and red badgers. Last year… radioactive boars were running wild in the Czech Republic after eating mushrooms contaminated after the Chernobyl disaster.”
Teacher Condemned for Telling the Truth about the Santa Claus Fairy Tale!
News 12 New Jersey wrote on November 30:
“A Morris County school district is apologizing for a substitute teacher who told first-grade students that Santa Claus isn’t real… At least one parent told News 12 New Jersey that her 6-year-old daughter… was extremely upset by the ordeal. ‘I was heartbroken. You know, my daughter is the hugest believer in the whole Christmas spirit – Santa, giving,’ says [the mother, and] she assured her daughter that, yes, there is a Santa Claus.
“The Cedar Hill School principal says he has spoken with the teacher about her ‘poor judgment.’”
If the conduct by the PRINCIPAL and the PARENT wasn’t bad enough for apologizing for a teacher telling the TRUTH, the comments received to the article, condemning the TEACHER, show an unbelievable degree of flagrant acceptance of and the PROMOTION of spreading LIES. Here are some samples:
“What an [sic] jerk and probably a [sic] emotional abusing person… Such a teacher should not be allowed to come into contact with kids… How very sad that… someone would rob young children of the chance to have something positive for a change… Young children… are looking foward [sic] to some wonderful volunteer elves on Santa’s employ to make a better Christmas than would otherwise be possible. Shame on the teacher that would rob little children of an importand [sic] part of their childhood!!”
Ashdod’s Christmas Tree
JTA wrote on December 11:
“An Ashdod mall put up a Christmas tree for the first time, and that’s not sitting too well with the northern Israeli city’s haredi Orthodox deputy mayor… He called on the Big Fashion Mall to remove the ‘disgrace.’
“The mall had responded to previous criticism by erecting a giant menorah next to the trimmed tree on Monday, even though Hanukkah was ending… The company told Haaretz that the Christmas decorations are an attempt to bring a ‘European atmosphere.’
“A large population of immigrants from the former Soviet Union live in Ashdod, a port city about a half-hour’s drive from Tel Aviv, and many are believed to celebrate Christmas.”
So, many Jews celebrate Christmas? This does not seem to make any sense, but it does, as the distinctions between Christmas and the way Hanukkah is being celebrated these days by most Jews, have become very blurry.
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 can we know that Christ’s return is near? (Part 3)
In this installment, we will address the end-time manifestation of a powerful religious leader and the tragedy that in light of religious persecution and other reasons, true Christians will fall away from the Truth and return to the world. The prophesied “falling away” from the Truth is to occur, in its fullest and most grievous extent, just prior to and during the Great Tribulation. We will know that Christ’s return is eminent when these and other events happen at approximately the same time.
True Church members will fall away from the Truth because they did not receive the love of the Truth and did not believe the Truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:10, 12). Because of lawlessness, the love within them will grow cold (Matthew 24:12; “love” in Greek is agape, describing the love of God which only true Christians have; compare Romans 5:5). The New International Version says: “They refused to love the truth.”
As a consequence, they will become an easy target for Satan’s ministers (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) who will deceive them through their lying signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 11; Matthew 24:11, 24).
The end-time falling away from the Truth refers to converted Christians. It will reach its climax at the approximate time when the man of sin manifests himself just prior to and during the Great Tribulation, claiming to be God and sitting in the Temple of God. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, Paul writes: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day [of Christ’s return] will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
This “man of sin,” who is also called “the lawless one” in verses 8 and 9, does not only claim to speak with godly authority; he will say that he is God himself (maybe the Messiah). He is identified in the book of Revelation as “the false prophet” (compare, for example, Revelation 16:13; 19:20; see, too, Revelation 13:13-14). He is also identified as the future prince of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:2-5) as well as the end-time representative of the “little horn” in Daniel 7:25 and of the “harlot” in Revelation 17, who rules from a city built on seven “hills” (Revelation 7:9; New English Bible; Revised English Bible; New International Version; New American Bible; Moffat Translation of the Bible; New Jerusalem Bible and Living Bible. Compare also Revelation 17:18).
This religious figure will deceive people through “great signs” (Revelation 13:13; 19:20). We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 that the coming of the lawless one is “according to the working of Satan, with all power, SIGNS and lying wonders.” This false prophet will receive his powers to perform great signs from Satan and his demons (compare Revelation 16:13-14).
Some believe that the man of sin is a reference to the end-time “beast”—a political military leader. This is not the case.
James Hastings, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, under “Antichrist”, says correctly that the “man of sin” in 2 Thessalonians refers to “a false Messiah, a prophet… the opponent of the true Messiah.”
We also read that the returning Christ will consume the man of sin “with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). Therefore, this man of sin will exist at the time of Christ’s return. He will proclaim himself to be God, sitting in the temple of God. It is highly unlikely that Paul was talking about the Church as the spiritual temple of God in this context. There is no biblical evidence that the false prophet will be sitting in God’s true Church—the pillar and ground or foundation of the Truth (1 Timothy 3:15)—which continues to teach and practice the Truth. (We will discuss later that a physical temple will be built in Jerusalem just prior to Christ’s return.)
Some have proposed that the coming end-time falling away refers to traditional Christianity, which will exert a more powerful influence on the world. Even though false Christianity will become more powerful in these last days, Paul’s warning of a future “falling away” refers to true Christians.
The context of these verses addresses a falling away (apostasia in Greek) from the Truth. The apostle Paul is addressing “brethren” (verse 1) about an apostasy especially at the end time, just prior to Christ’s return, when the man of sin is revealed.
An apostasy from the true gospel already began during the lifetime of Paul, when he stated that he marveled that so many in the Church of God had turned to another gospel (Galatians 1:6-7; compare also 2 Corinthians 11:4, saying that they had accepted another Jesus and another spirit).
Even though numerous false doctrines were infiltrating the early church, including “Judaism” with demands of physical circumcision and the observance of superseded ritual laws of the Old Testament, we can safely say that an important personality, the Samaritan sorcerer Simon Magus, had tremendous influence on the introduction of false doctrines, which are still known and taught today in orthodox Christianity.
Simon Magus believed “the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus” (Acts 8:12-13). He was baptized, but never received the Holy Spirit because the apostles refused to lay hands on him, given the fact that he had not repented and had an evil and wicked heart (compare Acts 8:18-24). Simon Magus went to Rome and was given the surname “Peter” as a religious title, meaning “father” or “interpreter.”
In his book, Mystery of the Ages, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote on pages 51-53:
“It seems incredible that a being like Satan not only could have deceived the whole world, but also ‘Christianity’—the very religion bearing Christ’s name and supposed to be his true religion. Yet, paradoxically, Satan did! He did it through his great false church, started A.D. 33 by Simon the Sorcerer…
“Simon proclaimed himself a Christian apostle… and called the pagan Babylonian mystery religion ‘Christianity.’ He accepted the doctrine of ‘grace’ for the forgiveness of sin (which the pagan religions had never had), but turned grace into license to disobey God (Jude 4). He aspired to turn his pagan religion, under the name ‘Christianity,’ into a universal religion…”
The Dictionary of Christian Biography, Vol. 4, p. 682, states: “[Simon] came to Rome in the days of Claudius Caesar (45 A.D.), and made such an impression by his magical powers, that he was honored as a god…”
Hasting’s Dictionary of the Apostolic Church, volume 2, page 496, states: “But it need not be supposed that when Simon broke with the Christians he renounced all he had learned. It is more probable that he carried some of the Christian ideas with him, and that he wove these into a system of his own. This system is a mixture of pagan ideas wrapped with Christian names and identities.”
The Dictionary of Religion and Ethics says that Simon was “a false Messiah, who practiced magical arts and subsequently attempted, by the aid and with the sanction of Christianity, to set up a rival universal religion” (Apostolic Christianity, volume 11, page 514).
In Revelation 17, the Apostle John is given a vision of a scarlet beast having seven heads and ten horns. The scarlet beast is ridden by a woman—a harlot. Revelation 17:5 identifies the woman as “mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.”
In biblical terminology, a religious entity is many times depicted as a woman. The true Church of God is identified as a woman (Revelation 12:6, 13–17); a virgin (2 Corinthians 11:2); and the wife of Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:7). Likewise, Christ’s true followers are identified as “virgins” (Matthew 25:1; Revelation 14:4).
However, the woman who sits on the scarlet-colored beast is a FALLEN rich woman who has committed “fornication” with the inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 17:2; compare also verse 4, and Revelation 18:3, 9). She is identified as “the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication” (Revelation 19:2). In biblical terminology, she is a fallen church, pretending to be the true Church of God.
The woman is called, in Revelation 17, verse 5, “Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth.” This fallen church is called the “Mother Church,” which has “daughter churches.”
Lehman Strauss writes in “The Book of the Revelation,” pages 295–301: “The Babylon of the Revelation is an apostate religious system clearly identifiable with all of Christendom, with papal Rome taking the lead in its formation.”
Simon Magus started the fallen church described in Revelation 17. As he was worshipped as a god or God, so the final representative of the harlot—the false prophet—will likewise claim to be God. A falling away from true Christianity did take place in the days of Simon Magus, and thereafter, when many who first believed the Truth of the Bible were swayed into accepting Simon’s counterfeit apostate religion.
More recently, another major falling away did take place at the time when a new administration came to power in the Worldwide Church of God [WCG], after the death of its human leader, Herbert Armstrong, in 1986. Gradually, the Truth was replaced with the false pagan doctrines of “orthodox” Christianity.
Catholic and Protestant churches have rejected, for nearly two millennia, the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days. The Catholic Church claims godly authority and it has admitted that it changed many biblical laws, including the ones regarding God’s holy times—the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days (compare Daniel 7:25).
The Protestant Churches, even though they officially reject the authority of the Catholic Church to change the teachings of the Bible, nevertheless followed the lead of the Catholic Church and adopted Sunday worship, while rejecting the Sabbath.
Today, those who accepted the changes within the [now defunct] WCG have become part of the Babylonian religious system of a counterfeit Christianity [unless they forsook religion altogether], embracing its false doctrines such as Sunday, Christmas and Easter worship; the Trinity; the immortal soul; going to heaven or hell upon death; and many more. At the same time, they have been rejecting the biblical Truth of the Sabbath, the Holy Days, abstaining from unclean meat; the true nature of God; and the potential of man, among many others.
However, the apostasy from the Truth within the Church of God will continue (Luke 8:13; 1 Timothy 4:1) and reach its climax of accepting false teachings and practices, while rejecting the Truth, just prior to Christ’s return.
The commentary of Bengel’s Gnomen states: “Apostasy is a falling away from the faith… Some of those who had received it drew back [and departed] from the living God…”
The coming end-time apostasy does not only refer to a “handful” of people. It is true that the Bible does not use the term “GREAT” or “GREATER” falling away in 2 Thessalonians 2. However, it is also correct that it has been commonly understood that Paul had a GREAT apostasy in mind, which—relatively speaking—will be, in some way, greater than prior apostasies. For instance, the headline of the New King James Bible for 2 Thessalonians 2 reads, “The Great Apostasy.” The Ryrie Study Bible comments about the coming apostasy: “An aggressive and climactic revolt against God.”
The Benson Commentary writes about the coming apostasy: “The article here is emphatical, denoting both that this was to be a great apostasy, the apostasy… and that the Thessalonians had been already apprised [sic] of its coming.”
After all, Paul uses the end-time falling away from the Truth and the manifestation of the man of sin as important and critical visible signs for the arrival of the day of the Lord–the return of Jesus Christ. If he had only a minor event in mind or just a few Christians who were to forsake the Truth, then this would hardly be an obvious and convincing sign for Christ’s return, as Christians have fallen away from the Truth as long as the Church of God has existed.
We must clearly keep in mind two different but separate end-time events, which will happen at approximately the same time: The apostasy or falling away of true Christians and the manifestation of the false prophet representing a false and apostate counterfeit “Christianity.”
The coming of the lawless one and the concept of lawlessness will remain a mystery to the world. God’s people are warned not to be deceived when the lawless one appears so that they don’t fall away from the Truth. The best protection against deception is to stay close to God and His Word and while rejecting the pleasures of unrighteousness, to believe the Truth and receive and hold fast to the love of it (compare again 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
When we see the manifestation of the man of sin and the falling away from the Truth, in combination with other events already discussed and to be discussed later, we know that Christ’s return is near.
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“USA and EU on Collision Course” is the title of the new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Germany has a new leader for Angela Merkel’s party (the CDU). Her course towards Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump will be tougher. She advocates helping Ukraine militarily against Russia, and she wants to reintroduce the draft in Germany. However, most Americans and Brits show a “worrying lack of knowledge or interest” in history and what is happening now, being totally oblivious to the signs of the time. Europe is anxious to replace trade transactions in US dollars with the euro, and Washington’s patience with European “obstructionism” in high-stakes trade negotiations is wearing thin, being willing to do “whatever it takes” to protect American interests. Where will all of this end?
“Was uns der Prophet Samuel lehrt! Teil 2,” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “What the Prophet Samuel Teaches Us! Part 2.”
“By the Power of God,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted. Here is a summary:
The power of God is incredible and yet His Word shows us that we can at this time call upon and partake in some of this power now. Once we are a God being we will have the same power that God and Christ have, but we can use this power in small quantities in accordance with their Will at this present time. But it takes having a close relationship with them to be able to do so.
“A Future Hope,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Michael Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
There are many things that we hope for in this life but what is it that we should hope for in the time ahead? How is our relationship with God and how should we be living our lives at this moment so we can hope for and be part of a much better future?
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
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