Death Not to be Feared; Two Sons of Joseph
On January 19, 2019, Frank Bruno will present, “Death Not to be Feared,” and Dave Harris will present the sermon, titled, “Two Sons of Joseph.”
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.
“Giving Thanks Always for All Things to God the Father”
by Paul Niehoff (Australia)
The heading of this Editorial is taken from Ephesians 5:20, being a part of the list of instructions the apostle Paul is giving the Ephesian brethren concerning how they should live Christian lives.
In some countries, including the United States and Canada, there is a specified day for observing Thanksgiving. While this is right and good to keep, God wants us to be thankful always, for our whole life, and when we understand it fully, even carrying over into our eternal life.
In God’s Word, the first mention of the term “thanksgiving” is in Leviticus 7, verses 11 to 15. A peace offering could be offered for thanksgiving. Verse 12 tells us: “If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, unleavened cakes mixed with oil….” It will be noticed that thanksgiving was a sacrifice to God.
In this case, the person giving the peace offering as a thanksgiving, was coming before God with a reason to be thankful. It could be an event or situation in their life that they were thankful for—probably, after some kind of blessing they had received. It was the person’s choice of whether and when to give it. This sacrifice of thanksgiving was to be given at the person’s own free will (compare Leviticus 22:29).
There are a multitude of examples in the Bible of people giving thanks. And usually giving thanks was accompanied with praising God.
King David had many reasons to thank and praise God: for deliverance from his enemies, for God’s great works and for His mercy. One interesting occurrence of thanking God was for providing great physical blessings to the people of Israel when they gave in preparation for the building of God’s temple (see 1 Chronicles 29:13-14).
King David knew that giving thanks and praising God was so important that he arranged groups of Levites to thank and praise God every morning and every evening as a formal ceremony (compare 1 Chronicles 23:30).
Solomon, David’s son, also arranged musicians and singers to praise and thank God at the dedication of the temple (2 Chronicles 5:13).
Later, at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Levites again sang praises and gave thanks to God when the foundation of the house of God was laid (Ezra 3:11). They also gave thanks when the walls of the city were dedicated (Nehemiah 12:27).
Daniel thanked and praised God for giving him wisdom and the revelation of the king’s dream, thus saving Daniel, his three friends and many others from death (Daniel 2:23).
Jesus Christ, in a number of occasions, gave thanks before providing food for His disciples and many others (Matthew 15:36). He also thanked the Father for hearing Him at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:41). What may be surprising is that He thanked His Father for hiding understanding from the wise, but revealing it to babes (Luke 10:21).
The apostle Paul was another person who often mentioned that he was thankful. In many of his epistles, he thanked God for the members in various Church congregations and prayed for them continually. This is mentioned in nine of his epistles.
He thanked the Father and Christ for putting him into the ministry (1 Timothy 1:12), and for giving the victory and repentance to the members. He was also thankful that some members had risked their lives for him (Romans 16:3-4).
He mentioned many times that we are to be thankful in all things—even in persecutions. But he also gave a warning that in the last times, men would be unthankful, among many other negative characteristics (2 Timothy 3:1-2).
Christ Himself remarked on this when He healed ten lepers. Only one, a foreigner, returned to thank Him for such a remarkable healing (Luke 17:15-18).
When we look at the characteristics of the Church of the Laodiceans, we see that they think they are rich and wealthy and have need of nothing (Revelation 3:17). A person with this attitude is very unlikely to be thankful to God for what they have.
There are many more examples that could be mentioned, but this gives us a summary of many of the things we should be thankful for, and warnings of being unthankful.
When we think of the opening Scripture in Ephesians 5:20, we see that we are commanded to give thanks for all things—both the good things and things we may consider not so good. But Paul reminds us that all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28). This shows that even things that we may consider not so good are for our benefit in God’s overall scheme of things. So, it is profitable to find something good in every situation and thank God for it.
Again, let’s look at the example of Daniel. When his life was threatened if he prayed to any god or man except the king, he prayed and gave thanks before his God three times, as his custom was (Daniel 6:10). It was more important for Daniel to pray to God and thank Him than to be concerned about his own life.
To be thankful requires humility and overcoming lust and greed. It entails appreciation for what we have rather than lusting after what we do not have. God knows that our human nature is filled with vanity, selfishness, lust and greed; and of itself, it is not thankful. Thankfulness gets our mind off ourselves and acknowledges God’s hand in our lives. We acknowledge that we did not achieve anything by ourselves.
So, we should always remember that what we have; what we are; and especially the understanding of God’s plan for our eternal life are all blessings from God, directly or indirectly. Accordingly, we should give God thanks always for all things.
by Norbert Link
In this issue, we begin with reports about a possible attempt to delay the Brexit—the UK’s departure from the EU—on March 29 and address Theresa May’s expected humiliating defeat in the British Parliament and the “end” of the British Empire; speak on the historic French-German treaty of collaboration; and address the formation of a European army (see in this regard our new prophecy program, titled “Europe’s Army–Comments on News and Prophecy (January 12, 2019)”.
We continue with a deeply troublesome decision by the European Court of Human Rights, upholding Germany’s unconstitutional ban on homeschooling with most ridiculous arguments. This is just a continuation of ongoing European persecution of Jews and Christian minorities, as our most recent StandingWatch program discusses, titled, “Governmental Attacks on Jews and Christians in Europe”
We point out new threats of potential sanctions by the USA against German companies in context with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline; the fear that America has forsaken Europe and will forsake and thereby destroy NATO; address the ongoing historic shutdown in the USA, presenting a unique situation in Western democracies under an arguably outdated US Constitution; and discuss legal and practical issues pertaining to a declaration by the President of a “national emergency.”
We conclude with reports on the beginning of the withdrawal of American troops from Syria and President Trump’s warning, directed at both Turkey and the Kurds, as well as a deadly attack of “defeated” Isis on American troops in Syria.
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
The Guardian wrote on January 13:
“The EU is preparing to delay Brexit until at least July after concluding that Theresa May is doomed to fail in getting her deal through parliament… The country’s 29 March deadline for exiting the EU is now regarded by Brussels as highly unlikely to be met… A ‘technical’ extension until July is a probable first step to give May extra time to revise and ratify the current deal…
“Senior EU sources said that a further, lengthier extension could be offered at a later date… although the upcoming May elections for the European parliament would create complications… The first session of the parliament is in July. You would need UK MEPs there if the country is still a member state…”
Der Spiegel Online commented that it would be impossible to delay the exit until July, due to the EU parliamentary elections in May. In any event, if there were such a delay, it would only postpone the inevitable.
May Defeated in Parliament
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 15:
“The UK parliament on Tuesday voted to reject an agreement on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, in the biggest ever defeat of a modern government in the House of Commons. It was a major blow to Prime Minister Theresa May and her Brexit plans.
“Lawmakers in the parliament’s lower House of Commons voted by 432 to 202 to reject the withdrawal agreement. The loss by 230 votes far exceeds the previous record for a defeat which was held by the Labour government of Ramsay Macdonald, crushed by 166 votes in 1924…
“The European Union will intensify its preparations for a scenario in which Britain leaves the bloc without a withdrawal agreement, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Tuesday. ‘The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening’s vote,’ Juncker said…”
Newsmax added on January 15:
“British lawmakers… [were] triggering political chaos… the United Kingdom is now ensnared in the deepest political crisis in half a century…
“The humiliating loss, the first British parliamentary defeat of a treaty since 1864, appeared to catastrophically undermine May’s two-year strategy of forging an amicable divorce with close ties to the EU after the March 29 exit… Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said there would be no further renegotiation…”
The End of the British Empire
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 16:
“Britain needs a new prime minister, but opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn is plagued by the lack of unity within the Labour Party. And so far, there has been no one else in sight to take on the role… there’s no guarantee of a good outcome. But this shows Brexit’s unprecedented destructive power: It is not tearing apart the European Union as expected, but, rather, it is tearing Britain apart. Brexit will likely prove the country’s greatest disaster.”
The Week wrote on January 15:
“The drama of Brexit has both revealed and deepened cleavages between the nations that make up the United Kingdom…”
Bild Online wrote on January 16:
“It’s over… How can the island leave the European Union (EU) without sinking itself?…
“In the course of the negotiations with the very united EU (from Hungary to Germany and Italy), the British Prime Minister… was toppled by the expectations that she herself had fueled for far too long… The 48 percent of Brits who do NOT want Brexit have no audible political voice in parliament or among the parties. That’s why re-elections also wouldn’t help…
“It is sad to witness the tarnishing of the future of the proud United Kingdom… Of course, one can stop the clock and continue to negotiate. But what will talking achieve…?”
“Zombie May Shambles On”–Theresa May Barely Survives No-Confidence Vote
Breitbart wrote on January 16:
“Theresa May’s government has survived a vote of no confidence by 325 votes to 306… The Prime Minister would not have survived without the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The Brexit-supporting party has provided her minority government with its parliamentary majority through a confidence and supply arrangement, but helped the Opposition… hand the Withdrawal Agreement she negotiated with the EU a stunning defeat, believing some of its provisions would have undermined Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom.
“Mrs May adopted a magnanimous stance after the vote confirmed her position, offering to hold talks with the leaders of rival parties on how to take the Brexit negotiations forward the same night. How fruitful these can be remains in doubt, however…”
Euractiv wrote on January 10:
“With their signature in 1963, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and French President Charles de Gaulles laid the ground for the beginning of an unexpected friendship. The document, with just under six pages, did not define any political goals but was rather a blueprint for what became later the Franco-German engine on the European level.
“The extension to the Élysée Treaty approved by the German and French cabinets will be signed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in the German border city of Aachen on 22 January – an ancient symbol of European concord… German government spokesman Steffen Seibert, called the decision ‘an issue of historical importance’…
“The document… stipulates that a priority of German-French diplomacy will be for Germany to be accepted as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.”
The treaty will also include a cooperation agreement in the area of defense… or collaboration of their militaries.
Breitbart wrote on January 10:
“There is profound significance to having chosen Aachen… the ancient Roman spa city… [that] was also the residence and burial place of the early medieval ruler Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor dubbed the ‘Father of Europe’ for having united the western part of the continent by the 9th century.”
We are witnessing Europe’s LAST revival of the ancient HOLY Roman Empire.
Europe Is Forming an Army
On January 10, Handelsblatt published this opinion piece by German Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen:
“Europe’s army is already taking shape. Reforms in recent past months and years have brought our armed forces closer together. We’re working quickly…
“Among European nations, Germany and France are the driving forces in defense. But the German army’s close cooperation with other European partners, especially with Dutch forces, has also proven effective in many missions, and illustrates how to do integration properly.
“Now 25 countries have joined forces in a security initiative we call Pesco. And not because we’re following requirements from Brussels, but voluntarily, because we see the obvious benefits, and because it’s in Europe’s security interests.
“We’re moving even further ahead with our close partner France. The draft of ‘the new Elysèe Treaty’, agreed by the cabinet yesterday, shows that in future we want to address our security challenges together… Let’s note also that France and Germany, rivals and arch-enemies until 70 years ago, have now pledged mutual assistance and every conceivable kind of help to each other, in case of an armed attack on the territory on the partner country…
“I have therefore proposed forming a special committee at the European level, composed of members of national parliaments, which is to be informed early on about crisis scenarios as they take shape. That could speed up decision-making processes at the national level, as well as strengthen support for any military action… Europe must be able to defend itself.”
Breitbart wrote on January 12:
“On Friday, the bloc’s top military official Claudio Graziano said he had been working with other EU army chiefs to thrash out what can be done to enhance the bloc’s capabilities, saying there is ‘a lot of expectation’ about what the EU can undertake.”
German Ban on Homeschooling Upheld by European Court of “Human Rights”
CNA wrote on January 11:
“Two homeschooling German parents who said their parental rights were violated by the enforcement of compulsory school attendance laws did not prevail in the European Court of Human Rights, which unanimously rejected their claims Thursday…
“In August 2013, a group of at least 20 police officers and social workers raided the… home and took away their four children… they were eventually returned to their parents…
“In its Jan. 10 decision, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights said that compulsory school attendance to ‘prevent social isolation’ and to ensure their integration in society are relevant justifications to intervene against parental authority. German officials were reasonable to assume that parents had ‘endangered their children by not sending them to school,’ the court said…
“The court acknowledged that the parents later submitted learning assessments showing that the children had ‘sufficient knowledge, social skills and a loving relationship with their parents’…
“Homeschooling has been illegal in Germany since 1918, though in recent years the policy has raised questions and concerns with human rights groups who say it is an infringement on the right to family life…
“Several German families who wish to homeschool, many of them Christian, have sought refuge in the United States to ensure their ability to educate their children at home. Others have moved to countries like France or Austria, which have less strict laws [at this point].
“In 2014, Germany’s Constitutional Court ruled that restrictions on homeschooling were justified on the grounds that the government has a compelling interest in preventing the formation of religious or ideological parallel societies. The court also argued that requiring children to attend school provides them the benefit of interacting with other children who might think differently.
“In 2006, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that there is no right to homeschool.”
This practice in Germany and other European countries and the decision by the European Court of Human Rights place an undue burden on religious parents—Jews and Christians alike—who are opposed to the German and Europe school courses on sex education and unbiblical religious activities. Homeschooling should be a decision which should be made by the parents—not by the government. However one may look at homeschooling, a ban on homeschooling clearly violates the parents’ right of free exercise of religion and other constitutional guarantees and should have been deemed to be illegal by the courts.
AfD Proposes DEXIT
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 13:
“The AfD blasted the ‘privileged’ members of the European Parliament while campaigning to join that very body… The final version of the manifesto passed on Sunday evening retained the threat of a ‘Dexit,’ [Germany’s departure from the EU] but jettisoned any concrete timeframe…
“The AfD was founded in 2013 as a euroskeptic party intent on having Germany leave the euro currency. But it has since been taken over by anti-immigrant and Islamophobic members and has risen in popularity to become the largest opposition party in the Bundestag… Their manifesto also opposes the EU having a joint defense and foreign policy.
With that stance, the AfD will have no future and unless it changes its position again, like the proverbial chameleon, it has signed its own death certificate, as the Bible clearly shows that Germany will not leave the EU and that there will be a European army.
US Ambassador to Germany Threatens German Companies
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 13:
“The US ambassador to Berlin, Richard Grenell, has sent threatening letters to German companies working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline…
“German companies building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Germany and Russia received letters from US Ambassador Richard Grenell warning them of ‘a significant risk of sanctions’ if they did not pull out of the project, Germany’s mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag has reported. The large pipeline is set to deliver gas from northwestern Russia to northern Germany under the Baltic Sea and effectively double the amount of gas Germany imports from the country.
“The US opposes the project over fears that the gas link would tighten Russia’s control of Europe’s energy supply and diminish the importance of gas transit countries such as Ukraine. US companies are also keen to sell gas obtained by fracking to many European countries…
“Grenell’s latest move remains highly unusual and is likely to prompt fresh tensions between Washington and Berlin…”
AFP added on January 13:
“German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas… weighed in on the transatlantic row last week, saying ‘European energy policy should be decided in Europe, not in the United States.’”
Did Trump Forsake Europe?
BBC News wrote on January 14:
“For generations, American presidents have saved some of their warmest words for their European colleagues.
“They came to the Berlin Wall and spoke of freedom – and, after it fell, they spoke of a new era of co-operation with a rebuilt Europe. But in the era of Donald Trump, leaders across the continent now know that those days have gone.
“John F Kennedy’s ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ declaration, Ronald Reagan’s 1987 message to Moscow: ‘Mr Gorbachev tear down this wall,’ George HW Bush’s promises of collaboration after the Cold War and Barack Obama’s warm words about binding ties across the Atlantic are all now distant memories.
“With every visit to Europe and every White House tweet about the cost of Nato or EU tariffs, this president makes it clear that he believes Europe is more often an impediment than an ally.
“None of his predecessors would have dreamed of calling the EU a ‘foe’, as President Trump did in a recent interview about trade…
“With Europe embroiled in its Brexit difficulties, which leave so many questions unanswered, its leaders also find themselves scrambling to work out what it might mean if these old ties with the United States continue to unravel.”
Trump Rebuked by European Parliament and US Congressional Democrats
Deutsche Welle reported on January 17:
“The Trump administration’s recent downgrading of the EU ambassador’s status without prior notice… has led to parliamentary action on both sides of the Atlantic. In a strongly worded letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 27 congressional Democrats denounced the diplomatic downgrade. ‘Disturbingly, this step, which appears to have taken place late last year, occurred without congressional consultation or apparent notification to the European Union,’ the lawmakers wrote in a letter published this week… Both the substance of this decision and the undiplomatic way in which it was carried out needlessly denigrate trans-Atlantic relations.’…
“US lawmakers demand answers by January 30 to four specific questions about the downgrade, among them why the decision was made, why Congress was not informed, and how it was reviewed and approved within the Trump administration. ‘We ought to support and strengthen our allies, not turn them into foes,’ the letter concludes. ‘Insulting them for no apparent reason does not typically encourage them to take a warmer view of the United States.’
“The missive echoes the sentiment expressed in a letter by members of the European Parliament. Addressed to members of the US Congress and published one day after the downgrade became public, the letter by the European Parliament’s 58-member Delegation for Relations With the United States slammed the White House’s ‘increasingly harmful approach’ to trans-Atlantic relations and urged Congress to help ‘strengthen and not undermine each other’.
“The MEPs criticized the demotion of the EU’s ambassador to the United States, David O’Sullivan, saying neither the ambassador nor the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, had been ‘formally notified of this change’ in advance. ‘This is no way to treat partners,’ they wrote.”
The New York Times wrote on January 14:
“Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States… several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization… Mr. Trump told his top national security officials that he did not see the point of the military alliance, which he presented as a drain on the United States…
‘American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat…
“Russia’s meddling in American elections and its efforts to prevent former satellite states from joining the alliance have aimed to weaken what it views as an enemy next door, the American officials said. With a weakened NATO, they said, Mr. Putin would have more freedom to behave as he wishes, setting up Russia as a counterweight to Europe and the United States…
“Mr. Trump’s skepticism of NATO appears to be a core belief…
“Allies feeling threatened by Russia already have extreme doubts about whether Mr. Trump would order troops to come to their aid…”
Especially now, in light of President Trump’s announcements regarding the withdrawal of American troops from Syria (note the articles below). President Trump responded to the article by saying that the US is “100% in support of NATO”… a dubious claim in light of recent developments.
In Light of Shutdown… US Constitution Outdated and Near Collapse?
The Week wrote on January 11:
“President Trump’s shutdown will stand alone… as the longest in American history…
“In most modern democracies, this kind of preposterous standoff is simply not possible. In Canada, for instance, failure to pass a budget is an automatic vote of no confidence that triggers new elections… In the meantime, the previous budget is basically rolled forward until the new government can get a chance to pass a fresh budget…
“By contrast, the American Constitution not only allows for this sort of thing, but encourages it… There is no democratic principle on the basis of which it can be resolved…
“Trump… starkly illustrated a weakness inherent to the American system… Every other country with an American-style constitution watched it collapse eventually, most of them over impasses very similar to the one we are experiencing now. It is not at all impossible that we are in the first stages of that same process. The U.S. Constitution was clearly outdated 100 years ago. It might be time to start thinking about how to replace it.”
The shutdown is continuing, with no end in sight. In fact and quite incredibly, the childishly stupid divisions between Trump and the Republicans on the one hand, and the Democrats on the other hand, are even deepening.
President Trump has indicated that he might declare a national emergency if no deal can be reached regarding the building of a wall between Mexico and the USA.US News and World Report wrote on January 8:
“What actually constitutes an emergency… is up for debate and requires the president to use existing law to justify a declaration. Presidents in recent history have exercised their power to declare national emergencies under the National Emergencies Act of 1976 [However, it is up to the President to “define” what constitutes a national emergency.]
“… [Under a national emergency], the President may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens.
“Congress, however, can check the executive branch and overrule the president’s use of the act by passing a joint resolution out of the House and Senate. Like a law, the resolution would require a simple majority in each chamber and require the president’s signature, or require Congress to override his veto” [by 2/3rd vote in both House and Senate].
US Begins Withdrawal from Syria
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 11:
“The United States has started the ‘deliberate withdrawal’ process of its forces from Syria, US military officials confirmed on Friday, but they refused to provide any details on exactly what troops and equipment were being moved… A Defense Department spokesperson later said that while equipment was being moved out of Syria, troops were not withdrawing.
“Separately, the head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights… confirmed that the US had started withdrawing troops from the airfield base near the town of Rmeilan in northeast Syria on Thursday evening. Some 150 soldiers and 10 armored vehicles, along with some trucks and heavy equipment, left the town and crossed the Iraqi border, he said…”
Newsmax wrote on January 13:
“President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday that the United States has begun withdrawing from Syria. ‘Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions,’ Trump wrote. ‘Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds…’
“The president also warned the Kurds not to antagonize Turkey in a continuation of his tweet…
“Strains in relations with Turkey have also increased over American demands that Kurds be protected…”
This will make neither side happy.
ISIS Kills American Troops in Syria
Newsmax wrote on January 16:
“A bomb attack claimed by Islamic State killed U.S. troops in northern Syria Wednesday, weeks after President Donald Trump said [the] group was defeated there and he would pull out all American forces… [Reportedly] four U.S. troops had been killed and three wounded in the blast, which an Islamic State-affiliated site said was the work of a suicide bomber…
“The attack, which took place in the town of Manbij, controlled by rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, appears to be the deadliest on U.S. forces in Syria since they deployed on the ground there in 2015…
“A witness in the city said the attack had targeted a restaurant where U.S. personnel were meeting members of the local militia that Washington backs there. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said 16 people had been killed in all, including two Americans. A militia source in north Syria also said two U.S. troops had been killed.”
Ukraine Could Soon Cease to Be a Country
The Independent wrote on January 16:
“Ukraine could lose its statehood if the former Soviet republic continues to be divided by competing interests, Russia’s top security official has said. Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s security council, accused Ukrainian authorities, including president Petro Poroshenko, of being ‘controlled’ by the US amid simmering tensions between Kiev and Moscow… He continued: ‘The Kiev authorities are doing everything to split Ukraine, implementing the West’s scenario to break Ukraine away from Russia, while ignoring the interests of its own people. As a result, the country has been de facto split.’
“Mr Patrushev’s comments come amid a crisis between the two countries following Russia’s 2014 invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea, an autonomous region in Ukraine’s southeast with close historical and cultural ties to Russia. The standoff moved a step closer towards open conflict last year when three Ukrainian vessels and 24 Ukrainian sailors were fired at and captured by Russian coast guards in the Black Sea in November. A Moscow court on Wednesday extended the detention of eight of the seamen. Russia insists the men should be put on trial for violating its border. Ukraine calls them prisoners of war who were illegally captured…
“The US has provided more than $1bn to Kiev to help enhance its defensive military capabilities, and last year their militaries co-hosted a major exercise involving US Navy warships and hundreds of sailors and Marines…
“Mr Patrushev said [that] ‘anti-government sentiment in the [western] regions is mounting…”
Is Russia creating a scenario under which it will justify a coming annexation of Ukraine?
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 7)
Revelation 13 describes the ancient Roman Empire and its ten European revivals. It also refers to the person of the end-time military leader, who is called the “beast” as well. (Revelation 13:8; compare also Revelation 16:13; 19:19-20). We already saw that the person, who is also identified as the modern king of Assyria or King Jareb (meaning “the contentious fighter”), is revealed as being of German or Austrian descent.
We also pointed out that the mark of the beast, which will be enforced on people, describes the general acceptance of the worship system of the revived Holy Roman Empire, and that it is clearly associated with the violation of God’s weekly Sabbath and His annual Holy Days and the observance of manmade pagan holidays. The mark of the beast is not a visible sign or a microchip, but it symbolizes allegiance.
In addition, Revelation 13:17 tells us that no one will be able to buy or sell if he does not have the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Verse 18 reveals that the famous “number of the beast” is the “number of a man.” We are told to “calculate” the number, which is 666. King Lateinos was the founder of Rome. In the Greek, every letter has a numerical value. The numerical value for “Lateinos” is 666. Therefore, the beast is identified as the Roman Empire—the number 666 identifying the founder of the Roman Empire—Lateinos.
In the Greek, L stands for 30, A for 1, T for 300, E for 5, I for 10, N for 50, O for 70, and S for 200. These total 666.
Since the designation of the word “beast” can also refer to the end-time representative or ruler of the final revival of that Empire, it is likely that the numerical value of the “name” of that final human leader of the revived Roman Empire will also be 666. The NAME can refer to a literal name, to an adopted name, or to a well-known expression associated with or describing the beast (such as “Heil Hitler” or “Il Duce”). In addition, when people accept his name, they accept what he stands for and what he does.
The number 666 has great meaning in the Bible. In the Greek, this number is written as 600 and 60 and 6. The number 6 is the number of a man who is far from God or alienated from Him. The combination of the number six in 666 stands for total separation from God and the unconditional submission to Satan the Devil. As we will show, most people will be so deceived that they will worship Satan and his human instruments—the beast and the false prophet—while rejecting the true God and His Law.
The sixth commandment forbids murder in all of its different forms (Exodus 20:13), but man, separated from God, thinks that some kinds of murder are permitted, such as killing in war. Those who will worship and follow the beast and the false prophet will be so deceived that they will not only want to fight against other human beings in war (compare Revelation 13:4), but they are even willing to fight the returning Jesus Christ, thinking perhaps that He is an Alien or “the Antichrist” (compare Revelation 19:17-21; Zechariah 14:1-5, 12-15).
Notice that the beast is referred to as a MAN (compare again Revelation 13:18). In other words, the reference is to a male and not to a female. Even though the general term “man” could refer to a human being in general (male or female), this is not the meaning in Revelation 13. We read in Revelation 13:8: “All who dwell on the earth will worship HIM whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
If the reference in Revelation 13:8 were strictly to the Roman Empire, then one would expect a statement to the effect that the people would worship IT—the Empire or the beast power. But in the Greek, it says “him” in verse 8. The Zuercher Bible points out that one would expect the statement that people would worship “IT”—rather than “HIM.” But saying that all the earth will worship HIM indicates that a MALE person is meant.
We will recall that the ancient Roman Empire received a deadly wound which was healed (compare Revelation 13:3). We find an interesting expression in Revelation 13:14 where reference is made to the “beast WHO [not “which”] was wounded by the sword and lived.” This might also indicate the fact that not only the Roman Empire received a deadly wound and was healed, but also, that the end-time human leader (“the beast”) will suffer a political defeat (so that one may think he has no future), but that he then will arise again from the historical abyss, so that many will marvel and follow him (compare again verse 3).
The Elberfelder Bible confirms in two footnotes their understanding that in verses 8 and 14, a MALE person is meant, as the pronoun is masculine (“he”), not feminine (“she”) or neuter (“it”).
The accuracy of these observations is confirmed by the Literal Translation of The Englishman’s Greek New Testament; giving the Greek Text of Stephens 1150. It says “which” in the text in Revelation 13:14, with the footnote: “os—who.” There is a similar footnote to Revelation 13:8.
In Revelation 13:1-4, 8, 11-12, we are told that it is Satan who will give power to the beast (the system as well as the end-time leader), and that the false prophet, who deceives the nations, causes the nations to worship the beast (Revelation 14:9; compare 20:4). This reminds us of past Greek, Roman and European leaders who were literally worshipped and looked upon as God or a god, and this will also be true for the final military leader. Hitler was perceived by many as a messiah, or the “Messiah,” while Mussolini was worshipped as a god by many Italians.
We read in Daniel 8:23-25 that a fierce king or a king “having fierce features” (verse 23); i.e., Antiochus, would arise with sinister schemes and cunning and deceit; and that he would be broken without human means. The New International Version says: “… a stern-faced king, a master of intrigues.” The Revised Standard Version says: “a king of bold countenance, one who understands riddles.” The Authorized Version says: “… understanding dark sentences.” The Living Bible interprets this as “an angry king… with great shrewdness and intelligence.”
Antiochus was a forerunner of the end-time beast. Antiochus died suddenly of a disease, but since this is a dual prophecy, it also refers to the death of the beast by the hand of Jesus Christ when the beast will be thrown alive into a burning lake of fire (Revelation 19:20). To point out a parallel with the king having fierce features in Daniel 8:23, we read in Deuteronomy 28:50 that the end-time army which will occupy the Middle East is described as a “nation of fierce countenance.”
Daniel 11:21-23 describes Antiochus Epiphanes as having supplanted the ruler and having come into power through intrigue. The end-time beast will act in a similar way. He might also obtain his rule over the ten nations or groups of nations through “intrigue” or “flattery.” In the Living Bible, Daniel 8:25 reads: “He will be a master of deception, defeating many by catching them off guard as they bask in false security.”
The duality of the prophecies in the book of Daniel has been clearly explained by Jesus Christ Himself. We saw already that the beast (also called the King of the North) will invade the Middle East and, together with the false prophet, he will suppress the daily sacrifices and bring about the abomination of desolation. Jesus Christ confirmed that the abomination of desolation, which Antiochus set up in the temple (Daniel 11:31), will be set up again (Matthew 24:15). The abomination of desolation has been understood as describing a devastating army occupying Jerusalem as well as the erection of an idol, a statue or an “image,” an ungodly presence such as the man of sin sitting in the Temple of God, or pagan worship services in the Temple.
The beast will be deeply anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-British. Antiochus, a forerunner of the end-time beast, hated the Jewish religion and tried to ridicule it (by offering swine’s blood on the Jewish altar) and attempted to wipe it out completely. The beast will try to do likewise.
We read in Psalm 83:4-9 about an alliance or a confederacy between Arabic nations and modern Assyria so that “the name of Israel may be remembered no more” (verse 4). The name of Israel would apply to both the modern descendants of the ancient house of Israel (mainly the USA and the UK) as well as the Jewish people. But God will view this as a confederacy against Him (verse 5).
We also read in Luke 21:20-24 that the beast and his armies will attack Jerusalem with wrath against the people of Judah.
Another statement about the King of the North is worthy of consideration. We read that he “does not regard the desire of women” (Daniel 11:37).
The old Luther Bible of 1964 translates that he does not care for the love of or have love toward women (“Frauenliebe”). This could be a reference to other than normal sexual preferences. The commentary of Henry speaks of “unnatural lust” in this context. This might indicate that the beast will be homosexual (compare Romans 1:24-28). If the reference is to the homosexual nature of the end-time beast, we could think, as a forerunner, of Emperor Hadrian who massacred the Jews. He was married, but he was also homosexual. The beast could very well be married and still be homosexual or he might be living in self-imposed celibacy.
The German Schlachter Study Bible says: “Desire of Women could mean that the [beast] is homosexual, but it surely means that he has no normal interest in women such as for example someone who lives in celibacy.”
Daniel 11:36-39 also states: “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain.”
We read earlier that people will worship the beast and the false prophet. In the above-quoted passage in Daniel 11:36-39, we read that the beast will invite such worship. He will exalt himself mightily, above every god (compare Revelation 13:6). At the same time, he will honor with gold, silver, precious stones and pleasant things a god which his fathers did not know (Daniel 11:38), and he will act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god which he will acknowledge and advance its glory (Daniel 11:39). This might be a reference to the false prophet whom his fathers did not know and who will proclaim to be God. The beast will rely on his cooperation and psychological support in war by giving him much fortune, pretending to accept him as a god who will give victory in war—such as the false prophet will influence the masses to worship the beast (Revelation 13:12).
It is also implied that the beast will place much confidence in his own military capabilities. People will follow him and glorify him for his war-making abilities (compare again Revelation 13:4).
The Bible shows that the final resurrection of the Roman Empire and the manifestation of the beast will coincide with the end-time preaching of the gospel.
Habakkuk 1:5-10 reads as follows: “Look among the nations and watch—Be utterly astonished! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you. For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation Which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful… They all come for violence… They gather captives like sand. They scoff at kings…”
Isaiah 23:13 tells us that the ancient Assyrians founded the land of the Chaldeans. It will be the modern Assyrians—mainly the German-speaking peoples—who will lead the final resurrection of the “Holy Roman Empire.” In ancient times, the Chaldeans were Babylon’s religious leaders, astrologers and magicians.
Habakkuk’s prophecy of Babylonian warfare is clearly awaiting an end-time fulfillment.
Paul later quoted these words and applied them as a warning to people who would reject the gospel message. We read in Acts 13:32-41: “And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers… let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man [Jesus Christ] is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. BEWARE therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets COME UPON YOU [quoting Habakkuk 1:5]: ‘Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.’”
God said that His Work, the end-time preaching of the gospel, would be powerful, but short. Romans 9:28 states: “For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a SHORT WORK upon the earth.”
The Bible prophesies that at the time when the powerful preaching of the gospel message is being revived, modern Chaldeans or modern Babylon will rise once again in Europe as the seventh and very SHORT-lived resurrection of the ancient “Holy Roman Empire”—a combination between church and state.
God will use modern Babylon in a literal SWIFT blitzkrieg to punish the modern houses of Israel and Judah for their transgressions (compare also Isaiah 29:13-14, referring indirectly to Habakkuk 1:5). But God will then punish modern Babylon (Habakkuk 2:8)—a system less righteous than modern Israel and Judah (compare Habakkuk 1:12-13).
In this context, we read in Habakkuk 1:11 that after the modern Babylonian/Assyrian leader—the beast—has come to power, his mind will change. This term could be a reference to demonic possession. Barnes’ Notes on the Bible says it could describe the invisible presence of a spirit (compare Job 4:15; the word for “passed” in that passage is the same word as for “change” in Habakkuk). We know, of course, from passages such as Revelation 16:13-14, that the beast (as well as the false prophet) will be demonically possessed, but this passage in Habakkuk seems to indicate that the possession will occur after he has received his authority and power from the ten core nations or groups of nations.
Daniel 8:24 says that: “His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power.” The Living Bible interprets this to mean: “His power shall be mighty, but it will be satanic strength and not his own.”
However, we would not expect that his entire personality and his way of thinking will change in that he will become anti-Semitic or anti-American/British even though he had been pro-Jewish and pro-American/British before. His latent hostile feelings towards Jews, Americans and Brits had been there all along. But when the demonic possession occurs, these feelings will magnify and lead to extremely violent conduct. For instance, Judas Iscariot was always a thief, craving for money; Satan used this problem and influenced and possessed him to betray Christ for money. The point is, Judas was not originally a giving person and only changed into a greedy thief, when Satan possessed him.
When we see the rise of modern Babylon, the preaching of the gospel and the manifestation of the beast with the characteristics and features as described herein, we will know that Christ’s return is imminent.
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
A new Member Letter (January 2019) has been written and mailed to our subscribers. In this letter, Elder Eric Rank points to our need to rely on God in order to face the prophesied events which are coming before Christ’s return.
We are saddened to report that Andrew Burns, a long-time member of the Church of God in the UK, suddenly and unexpectedly died of a heart attack. Andrew had been regularly attending with us at the Feast of Tabernacles in Derbyshire, Wales and in Germany.
“Governmental Attacks on Jews and Christians in Europe,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Anti-Semitism is increasing in Europe, and with it governmental attacks on Jews and minority Christians, including in countries where you might or might not expect it, such as Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Austria and Germany. This program gives you examples of blatant discrimination and persecution which will only get worse in the future.
“Die Bibel beschreibt die Person des Tieres!” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “The Bible Describes the Person of the Beast.”
“Europe’s Army — Comments on News and Prophecy (January 12, 2019),” the message presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
In the past, much was SAID about a European army. NOW, it is being DONE and taking shape. We are presenting little-known developments. But we must be careful that we don’t have the attitude that Christ is delaying His coming.
“Naked or Clothed,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted. Here is a summary:
We are warned not to be spiritually naked. We are told to be clothed with righteousness. What happens when we aren’t? What happens when we find ourselves spiritually naked? The warnings to be clothed are powerful and should inspire each Christian to make the changes necessary to remain clothed and ready for the soon return of Jesus Christ.
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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