December 20, 2019
Are You Blessed by God? / A Light that Convicts
On December 21, 2019, Dave Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “Are You Blessed by God?” and Robb Harris will present the sermon, titled, “A Light that Convicts.”
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 Robb Harris
A rescue worker recently died while trying to find a lost hiker. As reported by CNN, “A volunteer rescue worker died Saturday while searching for a hiker on Mount Baldy in California, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said. Timothy Staples of the West Valley Search and Rescue team, (a ‘dedicated volunteer’ for nine years), was among those looking for Sreenivas ‘Sree’ Mokkapati, a 52-year-old reported missing December 8 while hiking to the Mount Baldy summit. The West Valley Search and Rescue team said on Facebook that Staples died after a horrible fall.”
Volunteering your time and putting yourself in dangerous situations to help others, especially those in dire or deadly predicaments, is a truly noble action. The Bible speaks to the selflessness of this act, “‘Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends’” (John 15:13).
This desire to help others while putting oneself at risk quite often leads to accidental death as well. Of those killed in the 911 attacks, 343 firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers died rushing towards the burning towers with the intent of rescuing others.
One publication states, “In certain situations, the data show, more people are killed trying to rescue others than are killed in the initial accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently examined reports for fatal, confined-space accidents and found that when multiple deaths occurred, the majority of the victims were rescuers. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health previously reported that rescuers account for more than 60 percent of confined-space fatalities (slate.com).”
While many have selflessly given their lives to help those in dire need, what about those who place themselves in danger by their own choice or ignorance? The desire to climb Mount Everest has become a worldwide endeavor since Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. Since then, “Some 290 people have died climbing Everest in more than a century of attempts, according to the Himalayan Database, an archive that tracks expeditions in the Nepalese Himalayas going back to 1905. About a third, 94, have been Sherpas (npr.org).”
While many might argue that Sherpa deaths are part of the job they have chosen to take part in, it still doesn’t excuse so many deaths merely for man’s folly in desiring to conquer a mountain.
When we seek to conquer and overcome our own mountain of human carnality, are we being conscientious in how we attain that goal? Spiritual recklessness can cause our own defeat and quite possibly that of those around us. Christ warns of this mindset and the dangers it poses, “‘But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea’”(Mark 9:42).
There is no place in God’s Family for those that lead believers astray. Those words are terrifying in implication and will be the ruin of many who have walked this earth lead by deceit. But the warning given by Christ should not dissuade us from trying to do good. We must continually lead by example and be lights to those in darkness. Christ didn’t call us IN perfection, He called us TO perfection. Paul, with all of his troubles, understood this quite well. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
The willingness to give our lives for Truth is the hallmark of what it means to be a Christian. Let us be sure to save and not destroy that Truth or those whom God calls into it.
by Norbert Link
While this world keeps Christmas, it seems to be oblivious to what has occured in 2019 and what will happen in 2020. In this regard, please view our new StandingWatch program, titled, “What’s Ahead for 2020?”
In this section, we report on the continuing frictions between the EU and Britain regarding Brexit and its aftermath; the interesting fall and potential rise of Austria’s right-wing politician Heinz-Christian Strache; the latest developments in the impeachment circus; the somewhat meaningless US sanctions on companies and governments working on the German-Russian pipeline; and the contemplated astronomical and unprecedented US $1.4 trillion spending package to prevent a government shutdown before midnight on Friday.
We report on the desire of bringing animal sacrifices in a newly-constructed temple on the Temple Mount; Donald Trump’s proposed “Deal of the Century” peace plan for the Middle East which would be doomed to fail; and the ongoing escalation between Turkey and Israel.
We point out sober warnings regarding a coming nuclear World War; Russia’s appalling persecution of the Jehovah’s Witnesses; and the drive in especially left-liberal states in the USA to abolish religious exemptions to vaccination requirements. We also speak on the dangerous implications of the radical LGBTQ agenda.
We conclude with articles reporting on attempts to blaspheme Christ; the custom of liberal Jews to bring Christmas trees into their homes; and the Catholic Church’s ambiguous decision to abolish the “pontifical secret” in child abuse cases.
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
EU Concerned after Brexit
AFP wrote on December 13:
“European leaders warned Friday that Britain could become a formidable rival, just hours after a big victory by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s conservatives all but sealed the UK’s Brexit divorce.
“Led by France and Germany, EU member states said they would pursue a swift trade deal with a tight deadline of end [of] 2020, but insisted that any new arrangement must uphold European values and norms… Angela Merkel warned that Britain would be an economic ‘competitor at our door’ after it leaves the EU and French President Emmanuel Macron saw a threat that London would become an ‘unfair competitor’…
“Brussels is also worried about the breakneck speed with which Johnson would like to strike a trade deal with Europe, as well as any British effort to undermine the unity among the remaining 27 members.”
Express wrote on December 13 that Macron was threatening Johnson, stating: “The French President said his country will now be the only nuclear power and the remaining member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) left in the EU.”
The relationship between the EU and Britain will deteriorate drastically.
No Further Brexit Transition Period Extension beyond End of December 2020
The Sun wrote on December 16:
“BORIS Johnson will make it illegal to extend the Brexit transition period beyond the end of next year as he fired the opening salvo to the crucial trade talks with the EU. The PM will include the provision in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) when he brings it back to the Commons for the crucial vote on Friday. The PM will use his new 80-seat majority to enshrine in law that any extension will be outlawed…
“The WAB will finally implement Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal so Britain leaves the EU on January 31, triggering an 11-month ‘implementation period’ whereby EU rules will still apply here but the UK will have no role in making decisions…”
The EU has sharply criticized this move. The implementation period will prove to be thorny and difficult. If no agreement is reached, a “hard Brexit” will still occur.
Johnson’s Connection to Israel
Breaking Israel News wrote on December 16:
“Boris Johnson’s connection to Israel may have been the secret weapon that helped him win a landslide victory in last week’s British election and his first official act reflects that: a powerful anti-Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement law… the new law would ban public agencies from working with those who boycott Israel in any way…
“Johnson refers to himself as a ‘passionate Zionist’ who ‘loves the great country’ of Israel… He has openly criticized the United Nations Human Rights Council for their obsession with Israel’s so-called human rights violations.”
Both the USA under Trump and Great Britain under Johnson are the only real allies of Israel under Netanyahu. Some in the media have described Johnson’s victory as “divinely inspired.” The friendship between Trump, Johnson and Netanyahu is remarkable. Please watch the following new StandingWatch program: “Johnson’s Brexit; Trump’s Impeachment; Netanyahu’s New Elections.”
The Fall (and Rise?) of Austria’s Heinz-Christian Strache
Der Spiegel wrote on December 13:
“[Austria’s former Vice Chancellor] Heinz-Christian Strache… is alleged to have accepted bags full of cash from Eastern Europe in exchange for political favors… For instance, fearing that the European Union would abolish paper money, the FPÖ boss invested heavily in gold, preferring bullion coins minted with the design of the Vienna Philharmonic…
“Strache is also said to have put in place an emergency fallback plan in case, for example, NATO were to invade Austria. The FPÖ leader would then have been whisked away with party officials and their families to the Defereggental valley in East Tyrol, to ‘their fortress.’ There, in August, investigators had uncovered stockpiles of gold at the Pension Enzian guesthouse. Beyond that, confidants affirm that Strache had hoarded canisters of gasoline in his office and had occasionally carried around ‘pieces of metal in his underwear’ that were ‘supposed to have healing powers.’”
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 14:
“The far-right Freedom Party has removed former party leader Heinz-Christian Strache from its ranks…
“In recent weeks, 50-year-old Strache… said he will not withdraw from political life. ‘The enormous encouragement I’ve received from the public in the last weeks and months has allowed me to reconsider a political comeback in 2020,’ he said in a video message… This week, three Strache allies broke away from the party to found a new political group called the Alliance for Austria (DAÖ). Their goal is to run in Austria’s 2020 elections with Strache as their main candidate.”
As we stated in the past, we have not heard yet the last word of Strache.
The Battle of the Bulge and a United Europe
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 16:
“German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday urged Europe to stand up against nationalism at an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. ‘A united and peaceful Europe — that is the lesson we Europeans have learned from unbridled nationalism and racism, from the war of annihilation,’ said Steinmeier…
“The commemoration event took place in the small Belgian town of Bastogne, where Allied soldiers managed to repel the last major German offensive of World War II. More than 19,000 US troops were killed in what is considered one of the bloodiest battles in US history…
“The Battle of the Bulge is considered a turning point in the war, effectively paving the way for Allied forces to break through German defenses in western Europe. Less than six months after the battle, Nazi Germany surrendered…”
Unfortunately, the prophesied united Europe will be anything else but peaceful.
Pelosi Too Afraid!
The Associated Press wrote on December 19:
“The top Senate Republican is denouncing the ‘unfair’ House impeachment of President Donald Trump and reassuring Trump and his supporters that ‘moments like this are why the United States Senate exists.’ Sen. Mitch McConnell, in remarks prepared for a Thursday floor speech, accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of being afraid to send ‘their shoddy work product to the Senate’ after she threw uncertainty into the impeachment process by refusing to say when she would send two impeachment articles to the Senate for a trial...
“Until the articles [abuse of power and obstruction of Congress] are submitted, the Senate cannot hold the trial [that is nearly certain to acquit the president, according to Newsmax and Bloomberg]… there is no Constitutional requirement on Pelosi to send them swiftly — or at all.”
The New York Times wrote on December 19:
“… the third-ranking House Democrat [James E. Clyburn of South Carolina], raised the possibility that the chamber could permanently withhold the articles from the Senate if it did not get assurances of a fair trial.”
Mitch McConnell even “threatened to cancel Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate if ‘scared’ Nancy Pelosi refuses to send him the formal articles of impeachment” (Daily Mail, December 19). On the other hand, President Trump demanded a trial in the Senate.
The Democrats have signed their death warrant. They might not only have guaranteed that Trump will be re-elected but they might also have managed to lose the House in the next election. Republicans are now unified as never before, while the Nation is deeply and incurably divided. Now, the House Democrats under Pelosi are trying to find a way out of their self-inflicted mortal wound, and delaying a Senate trial indefinitely might be their rationale for mitigating some damage.
That new “tactic” won’t work. To suggest that the trial in the Senate might be unfair is the epitome of hypocrisy given the fact that the Democratic procedure under Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler in the House was completely dictatorial, biased and utterly unfair.
Not Yet “Impeached”?
Newsmax and Bloomberg News wrote on December 19:
“Lawyers… are exploring whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to temporarily withhold articles of impeachment from the Senate could mean that the president hasn’t actually been impeached. The legal argument… is that if Trump has been officially impeached, the U.S. Senate should already have jurisdiction. Backers of the theory would argue that the clause of the U.S. Constitution that gives the Senate ‘the sole Power to try all Impeachments’ indicates that the impeachment is not formalized until the House reported the charges to the upper chamber.”
US Senate Sanctions Russian-German Pipeline
Deutsche Welle reported on December 17:
“US lawmakers on Tuesday approved sanctions on companies and governments working on the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will link Germany with Russian gas.
Companies providing services such as pipe laying are being targeted, as Washington tries [to] halt the completion of the $10.5 billion (€9.6 billion) pipeline, which would transport gas under the Baltic Sea. The sanctions, which overwhelmingly passed in the House last week, are expected to be signed into force as part of a defense spending bill by US President Donald Trump later this week.
“The Trump administration would then have 60 days to identify companies and individuals providing services on the pipeline. The sanctions would revoke US visas and block property of these individuals. Those targeted by the sanctions would then have 30 days to wind down their operations. Switzerland-based Allseas, which has been hired by Russia’s Gazprom to build the offshore section, is one company that could be targeted by the sanctions.
“US officials believe the pipeline will increase Europe’s reliance on Russian energy, put billions of dollars in Moscow’s coffers, and increase Russian President Putin’s influence.
However, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has urged the US not to meddle in European energy policy. Speaking on German television last week, Maas criticized the House decision to move ahead on Nord Stream 2 sanctions. ‘We think this is unacceptable, because it is ultimately a move to influence autonomous decisions that are made in Europe.’ ‘European energy policy is decided in Europe, not in the US,’ Maas later tweeted.
“The German-Russian Chamber of Commerce said last week that the pipeline is essential for European energy security and called for retaliatory sanctions on the US. German Bundestag member Andreas Nick told DW that sanctions over the Nord Stream 2 would unite Germany behind the project. ‘It’s an issue of national sovereignty, and it is potentially a liability for trans-Atlantic relations,’ said Nick.”
CNBC added on December 18 that the defense bill approved by the Senate includes US sanctions regarding the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, but that “the sanctions might not have much effect given that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is almost complete.”
US House Approves $1.4 Trillion Spending Package
The Week wrote on December 18:
“The House approved a $1.4 trillion spending package Tuesday that would fund the federal government through Oct. 1, 2020. The Senate needs to pass [after some further compromise, the Senate passed the bill on Thursday] and President Trump sign the legislation before midnight Friday to prevent a government shutdown…”
The Associated Press added on December 17:
“The Democratic-controlled House [handed] President Donald Trump a victory on his U.S.-Mexico border fence… The hard-fought legislation also funds a record Pentagon budget… A tax on medical devices and health insurance plans would also be repealed permanently. Tuesday’s tax breaks [would] repeal the three so-called ‘Obamacare’ taxes…
“The increase in the tobacco purchasing age to 21 also applies to e-cigarettes and vaping devices… but anti-smoking activists said the provision didn’t go far enough because it failed to ban flavored vaping products popular with teenagers…
“The outcome in the latest chapter in the longstanding battle over Trump’s border wall awards Trump with $1.4 billion for new barriers — equal to last year’s appropriation — while preserving Trump’s ability to use his budget powers to tap other accounts for several times that amount. That’s a blow for liberal opponents of the wall…”
Trump emerges successfully… but the unprecedented amount of the spending package is astronomical.
Animal Sacrifices and the Third Temple
The Jerusalem Post wrote on December 12:
“‘Our ascent to the Temple Mount makes known God’s name in the World,’ said [Rabbi Eliyahu] Weber, who is styled the dean of the Temple Mount Yeshiva. Weber goes up to the Mount practically every day to recite the morning service with a minyan, and says he has done so for many months. ‘The essence of our presence on the Temple Mount shows that this place belongs to the Jewish people,’ said Weber… The final goal, however, is to rebuild the Temple. ‘The ultimate goal is to be able to offer sacrifices in the Temple,’ Weber says simply…
“There is religious controversy regarding Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, let alone when it comes to work aimed at rebuilding the Temple. The influential Torah scholar Maimonides taught that the Temple would be built by Messiah. Other scholars believe that the Temple will descend from the heavens in the messianic era while the modern right-wing flank has called for Jews to build the Temple now and usher in the Messiah…”
There is no biblical evidence that the temple would descend from heaven. After the third resurrection, the heavenly Jerusalem will descend from the third heaven, but there will be no temple in it. The Bible teaches that the Jews will build the third temple prior to the return of Christ, and that this will apparently become the millennial temple as described in the book of Ezekiel.
Trump’s Plan for Israel
The Jerusalem Post wrote on December 17:
“Jerusalem will remain united under mostly Israeli control with some responsibilities shared with a Palestinian state including the West Bank and Gaza, according to a purported draft copy of US President Donald Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ peace plan for the Middle East published by the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen TV channel on Monday. The unconfirmed reported draft details the timetable and methods of the plan.
“The parts that were released by the TV channel, which is based in Lebanon and affiliated with Hezbollah, discuss a trilateral peace agreement between the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Israel in which a ‘new Palestinian state’ would be established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, excluding the settlement blocs which would remain as a part of Israel… Jerusalem will not be split up in the agreement, but instead will be ‘shared’ between Israel and the Palestinian state, with the Arab population of the city becoming residents of the Palestinian state…
“The United States will provide 20% of the funds in the agreement, while the EU will provide 10% and the Gulf nations will provide 70%. The contribution provided by the Gulf nations will be split between them according to their oil producing capabilities. According to the draft, an agreement will be signed between Israel and the new Palestinian state, with Israel providing protection to the state from ‘external aggression,’ while the Palestinians pay for it…
“Upon the signing of the agreement, Hamas will hand over its weapons and armaments to Egypt, and members of Hamas will receive monthly salaries from Arab nations… The Jordan Valley would remain under Israeli control…
“If Hamas and the PLO reject the deal, the United States will end all financial support they provide to the Palestinians and will try to prevent other countries from providing support to the Palestinians… In any military confrontation between Israel and Hamas, the US will support Israel in order to harm the leaders of Hamas and [PLO] as the US won’t accept a situation in which dozens of people control the fate of millions. If Israel rejects the deal, the US will end economic support to the state…
“A letter published in The Guardian by former EU officials, including six prime ministers and 25 foreign ministers, called for postponing the ‘Deal of the Century’ because it is unfair to the Palestinians. In the letter, which was sent to the European Union and EU governments, the former leaders argue that Europe must stand by the two-state solution and condemn the Trump administration’s policy, which they claim is unilaterally in favor of Israel.”
If the report on the contemplated “Deal of the Century” is accurate, then there is no chance that that deal would be accepted by the involved parties. It would constitute another total waste of time and energy.
What Trump Did for Israel
JTA wrote on December 12:
“He has been willing to take action on issues pertaining to Israel and the broader Jewish community that past presidents had shied away from, creating a fervent right-wing Jewish fan base… Trump has forcefully condemned anti-Semitism…
“Here’s a list of his most momentous moves in relation to the Jewish state: Recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Sent a fierce Israel defender, Nikki Haley, to the United Nations, where she used her office to bash the institution for anti-Israel bias. Slashed U.S. funding for the Palestinians. Pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu despises.
“Those all add up to arguably… the most pro-Israel and most controversial Middle East policy agenda ever.
“There’s one area of disagreement between Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu:… In September 2019, Trump abandoned the U.S.’ Kurdish allies [in Syria], leaving room for Turkey and the Assad regime to cement their influence on the region. Other Israeli politicians… said that the United States abandoning a trusted Middle Eastern ally was not a good precedent for the U.S.-Israel relationship… in September of 2019 [Trump also said] he was considering a U.S.-Israel defense pact.”
The now very friendly relationship between the USA and Israel is remarkable, in that prophetic events can and will take place soon, which would otherwise be impossible to occur.
Turkey and Israel on Brink
Express wrote on December 18:
“According to an investigation by The Daily Telegraph the Palestinian group [Hamas] is using Turkey as a safe harbour to plot suicide bombings and assassinations in Israel. The report also claims that Hamas maintains close ties to Turkey’s intelligence agencies, while its top leaders and activists travel freely to the country, with some now living in Istanbul. Hamas is a militant group who are opposed to Israel’s existence within any borders…
“The organisation is considered a terrorist group by the EU and US, while its armed wing has been designated a terror group by the UK… in a sign of the close relations between the Turkish state and Hamas, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met the group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh last weekend. After the meeting, Mr Erdogan re-iterated his support for Hamas, telling reporters: ‘We will keep on supporting our brothers in Palestine.’”
The report by the Daily Telegraph rings true. Turkey will continue to behave antagonistically towards Israel.
Dangers of an “Accidental” War
Daily Star wrote on December 18:
“Gerasimov, the chief [of] Vladimir Putin’s general staff, has said he believes the West are preparing for a ‘large-scale military conflict’… saying that the West has assigned ‘adversary status’ to Russia… NATO and Russia both have shipped tonnes of military hardware to the frontier in eastern Europe… General Gerasimov warned this could accidentally spiral into conflict between Russia and NATO – World War 3…
“General Gerasimov said both Moscow and the West must reduce the risk of clashes. It comes after a string of military incidents between the two sides, with warships and warplanes often ‘buzzing’ each other in eastern Europe…
“Meanwhile, US Major General Barre Seguin… confirmed the US is to send 20,000 troops to Europe next April and May in its biggest military exercises on European soil since the Cold War… to mass around 37,000 troops along the eastern flank…”
According to the Bible, a nuclear war will ensue between a united Europe and a Far Eastern power bloc under Russian and Chinese leadership.
Russia’s Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 13:
“One man became the second Jehovah’s Witness to receive a six year prison sentence in Russia in the last two months. Moscow has outlawed the fringe Christian group [in 2017], saying they are dangerous extremists… The government has been trying to crack down on the US-based Christian sect, which has been completely outlawed in Russia… ‘The current state of religious freedom in Russia is reminiscent of Soviet times,’ said Jehovah’s Witness spokesman Jarrod Lopes in New York…
“Both the government and the Russian Orthodox Church have said that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who believe in predestination as well as several other fringe Christian doctrines, are a threat to the country’s institutions. However… even President Vladimir Putin has called into question the need to target the group. Still, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said there were no immediate plans to change the law.”
When being confronted, Putin, the proverbial chameleon, will say whatever may be convenient at the time. The persecution of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia is appalling and signals further coming persecution of any religious minority group which is not part of the Russian Orthodox Church.
End of Religious Exemptions for Vaccines even in isolated Private Schools
WKSG news reported on November 7, 2019:
“A state appeals court in Seneca County has upheld New York’s elimination of religious exemptions to vaccine requirements… This is the first school year in which a medical exemption form signed by a doctor is the only way around vaccination requirements for students enrolled in public, private or parochial schools in New York.
“The case in Seneca County focused on an Amish family represented by Long Island attorney Jason Mermigis… All 24 of the students at the private school are unvaccinated, the complaint said. Forcing the children to be vaccinated would be a ‘betrayal of faith in God’ for their father, Jonas Stoltzfus, Mermigis wrote…
“Under the rules barring religious exemptions to vaccines, schools can be fined up to $2,000 per day for each student who is out of compliance… Mermigis said the family lives in a secluded community, and they would not put anyone else at risk by being unvaccinated…”
The Associated Press added on December 16:
“New Jersey’s Assembly on Monday passed a measure to eliminate religious exemptions for vaccines for [public and private school children as well as for child care centers].… but the Democrat-controlled state Senate postponed a vote because there weren’t enough yes votes…
“If approved, the bill would go to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk. His office declined to say what he would do with the bill. New Jersey would join a handful of states, including New York and California, in doing away with the religious exemption, if the bill becomes law… Forty-five states and the District of Columbia allow for religious exemptions to immunizations…”
It is no surprise that left-wing liberal states like California and New York would eradicate religious exemptions. The paranoia regarding this whole matter is breathtaking.
Axios wrote on December 16:
“The industry is changing fast. PBS is planning to increase its LGBTQ programming on broadcast and digital next year… NPR was recently applauded for embracing a plurality of diverse voices on its air. Disney hosted its first ‘Magical Pride’ celebration at one of its theme parks in Paris earlier this year. Highlights, a children’s magazine, made headlines two years ago when it featured an illustration of a same-sex couple in an issue for the first time.
“The bottom line: 61% of Americans support same-sex marriage, up from 31% in 2004…”
The sign of the times and the beginning of sorrows… Walt Disney would turn in his grave if he could and if he knew…
Criminalizing Conversion Therapy for Minors in Germany
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 18:
“Germany moved one step closer to banning ‘conversion therapy’ targeting transgender and gay people after its Cabinet approved a draft bill… The bill will next be presented to Germany’s lower house, Health Minister Jens Spahn told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland news group (RND). If the bill passes both houses of parliament, advertising or offering conversion therapy will be banned and infringements will carry fines of up to €30,000 ($33,000). After the proposed ban, only adults who freely seek out the… ‘therapy’ will be legally permitted to undergo it… The bill passed by the Cabinet was amended to include banning the practice for 16- to 18-year-olds…
“A previous draft of the bill would have allowed the practice on 16- to 18-year-olds if the practitioner could prove the patient understood its implications and risks. Under the bill, parents or caregivers would also be punished for making a 16- to 18-year-old undergo the therapy…”
It should come as no surprise that Jens Spahn is openly gay. Germany, as usual, finds itself in the forefront of promoting highly controversial matters. As we reported in the last Update, Germany is also largely to be blamed for the abominable sex education classes in Europe, including the directive to familiarize children with homosexuality. Note the next article as an opposite example.
EU Attacks Poland over Stance on Family
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 18:
“The European Parliament adopted a resolution… condemning so-called ‘LGBTI-free’ zones in Poland…
“Neither same-sex marriage nor civil unions are allowed in Poland…”
The resolution reads, in part, as follows:
“In a resolution adopted by 463 votes in favour, 107 against and 105 abstentions on Wednesday, MEPs express their deep concern at the growing number of attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in the EU by states, state officials, national and local governments as well as politicians. Recent examples include homophobic statements during a referendum campaign in Romania and hate speech targeting LGBTI people in the context of elections in Estonia, Spain, the UK, Hungary and Poland…
“MEPs notably condemn the areas ‘free from LGBTI ideology’’ established since the beginning of 2019, by dozens of municipalities, counties and regions in the southeast of Poland. These local governments have issued non-binding resolutions pledging to refrain from taking any action to encourage tolerance of LGBTI people and saying they would not provide financial assistance to NGOs working to promote equal rights. The European Parliament urges Polish authorities to condemn these acts and to revoke all resolutions attacking LGBTI rights…”
“Parliament also deplores the attacks carried out against LGBTI people by some member states’ public authorities, targeted at educational institutions and schools. MEPs recall that schools should be places that reinforce and protect the fundamental rights of all children…”
Instead, children are being encouraged in school to engage in homosexual conduct, labeling it as normal. It is troublesome to see how it is tried to enforce the gay agenda on others. In addition, Deutsche Welle reported on December 17 that in the British Parliament, “the number of out gay, lesbian and bisexual MPs [is] more than [in] any other parliament in the world.”
Blaspheming Jesus Christ
Breaking Israel News wrote on December 12:
“… get ready for what’s become a new vulgar Christmas tradition; propagating the delusional denial that Jesus was a Jew. The denial of Jesus’ Jewishness gets ‘better’ by making up the claim not only that Jesus was a Palestinian Arab, but that he was the first Palestinian…
“It’s well documented that Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, and that he was born in Bethlehem, the land designated for Judah’s decedents. That’s why the area around Bethlehem is known as the Judean Mountains today, as it was called Judea then. Why, if Jesus was born in Judea, were his parents visiting from Nazareth in the Galilee where Jesus spent most of his life. This is documented in the New Testament (Luke 2:1-7) that Joseph and Mary returned from Nazareth to Judea during Sukkot (Tabernacles) to participate in a Roman census…
“At a news conference at the United Nations in 1983, (PLO leader Yasser) Arafat called Jesus ‘the first Palestinian fedayeen [militiaman] who carried his sword.’ When Arafat triumphantly took control of Bethlehem in December 1995, he told a throng gathered in Manger Square that he was there to liberate ‘the birthplace of our Lord the Messiah… the city of the Palestinian Jesus!’ During a visit to the Vatican a few years later, Arafat even greeted Pope John Paul II as ‘the successor of Peter, the first Palestinian pope.’…
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, describes Jesus as ‘a Palestinian messenger of love, justice and peace.’ Palestinian Authority leader Saeb Erekat has referred to Jesus as the ‘first Palestinian shahid (martyr)’… What’s next, that the last supper was not a Passover Seder but a Ramadan break-fast?
“Claiming Jesus was a Palestinian goes hand in hand with what I term Temple Denial Syndrome: the Palestinian Arab absurdity that there was never a Temple on the temple Mount. Despite historical and biblical reality, and despite that in 1925 the Islamic Wakf documented that their mosques do in fact sit in the site of Solomon’s Temple, that’s what they want you to believe.
“Only after the Bar Kochba rebellion, in the year 132, did Rome rename Israel as Palestina in order to underscore that Judea had been sacked, purging Jewish connection to the Land… Further documenting this, ancient Roman coins have been found with the phrase ‘Judea Capta,’ Judea is Captured. Not ‘Palestine is captured.’ There was no Palestine, ergo Jesus is not, was not and could not have been a Palestinian. ‘Palestine’ didn’t even exist when he lived… [it is] certain is that he was a Jew, something the Romans underscored when they crucified him, mockingly calling him King of the Jews.”
Jesus was clearly a Jew (Hebrews 7:14; John 4:22). Making matters worse, a new Brazilian “comedy” on Netflix portrays Jesus as gay. Also, the first and the second temples clearly stood on the Temple Mount. Ideas to the contrary are unbiblical and without any shred of evidence whatsoever.
Liberal Jews and Christmas Trees
Brandeis Now wrote on December 16:
“Louis Brandeis was well known for becoming the first Jewish person appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. So it may seem surprising that he celebrated the winter holidays with a Christmas tree in his home… Christmas trees were common in the homes of secular American Jews at the time. What’s happened since then is more complex. ‘In the late 19th century, there were quite a few liberal Jews – especially those from central European backgrounds – who had Christmas trees in their homes and saw them as secular symbols of the season,’ University Professor Jonathan Sarna told BrandeisNOW… ‘Christmas isn’t even mentioned in the New Testament – trees were not necessarily ubiquitous at Christmas – so some Jews felt the trees were a symbol that could be shared by people of all faiths,’ said Sarna…
“‘The rise of the state of Israel, which saw itself as the heir to the Maccabees, led to a strengthening of Hanukkah as a holiday versus Christmas,’ Sarna said… Hanukkah, whose origin dates back to the Maccabean Wars of 160-167 CE, isn’t considered a Jewish high holiday and [barely] appears in the Talmud. But its celebration became more widespread thanks to its proximity on the calendar to Christmas.
“Jews gave gifts of money when they celebrated Hanukkah in the 19th century – a tradition that continues today with gelt. But receiving presents became more mainstream at Hanukkah after Christmas became a national holiday in 1870… ‘When Christmas became a national holiday, Jewish children felt discriminated against,’ Sarna said. ‘Christian children received gifts and Jewish children felt left out. Parents took note, and there is no doubt the tradition of Hanukkah gifts, apart from gelt, was influenced by the surrounding culture of gift-giving at Christmas.’
“In the last 40 years, Sarna says two specific groups have brought back the tradition of bringing Christmas trees into the home: Russian-speaking Jews and inter-married couples. Christmas was banned as a religious holiday in the Soviet Union, but the tree remained a symbol of the new year. As such, Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants continue to see the tree as a secular symbol of winter. Sarna said intermarried couples, where one partner is Christian, might have a Christmas tree as a matter of compromise… ‘Lots of intermarried Jews find their non-Jewish spouses miss the Christmas tree and feel they can have a menorah and a tree as multiple symbols of the season,’ Sarna said…”
Liberal “secular” Jews engage in all kinds of additional “observances” which are clearly connected to pagan-filled “Christianity.”
Pontifical Secret Abolished
The Associated Press reported on December 17:
“Pope Francis abolished the ‘pontifical secret’ used in clergy sexual abuse cases Tuesday, responding to mounting criticism that the high degree of confidentiality has been used to protect pedophiles, silence victims and prevent police from investigating crimes… In a new law, Francis decreed that information in abuse cases must be protected by church leaders to ensure its ‘security, integrity and confidentiality.’ But he said ‘pontifical secret,’ the highest form of confidentiality in the church, no longer applies to abuse-related accusations, trials and decisions under the Catholic Church’s canon law.
“The Vatican’s leading sex crimes investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, said the reform was an ‘epochal decision’ that will facilitate coordination with civil law enforcement and open up lines of communication with victims…
“Francis also raised from 14 to 18 the cutoff age below which the Vatican considers pornographic images to be child pornography – a response to the Vatican’s increasing awareness of the prolific spread of online child porn that has frequently implicated even high-ranking churchmen…
“Pope Benedict XVI, when he was a cardinal, had persuaded the pope to decree in 2001 that these cases must be dealt with under ‘pontifical secret.’… The Vatican had long insisted that such confidentiality was necessary to protect the privacy of the victim, the reputation of the accused and the integrity of the canonical process…
“According to the new instruction… the Vatican still doesn’t mandate reporting the crimes to police, saying religious superiors are obliged to do so where civil reporting laws require it…”
The practical application of the change is still pretty much unclear and undefined.
The Length of a Sermon
The Associated Press wrote on December 15:
“According to Pew… Catholic sermons [are] the shortest, at a median of just 14 minutes, compared with 25 minutes for sermons in mainline Protestant congregations and 39 minutes in evangelical Protestant congregations. Historically black Protestant churches had by far the longest sermons, at a median of 54 minutes.
“Pew said sermons at the black churches lasted longer than mainline Protestant sermons even though, on average, they had roughly the same number of words. A possible explanation, Pew said, is that the preachers at black churches allow more time during their sermons for musical interludes, responses from worshippers in the pews and dramatic pauses in their oratory.”
Following the well-considered example of the Worldwide Church of God under Herbert W. Armstrong, sermons in the Church of the Eternal God last, on an average, from 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. (A sermon is not being interrupted by responses from worshippers.) In addition, sermonettes of approximately 10 to 15 minutes in length are given in a Church service. A “sermon” in the Catholic Church would qualify, just based on length, as a sermonette in the Church of the Eternal God.
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.
Can a person keep both the Sabbath and Sunday?
That is an interesting question. Yes, a person can keep both the Sabbath and Sunday, but is it right in God’s eyes? That is the more important question to ask, and we hope to prove that the Sabbath is the only day in the week that God honors our worship of Him! (We are not addressing here in detail God’s annual Holy Days which also must be observed today, and which can fall on any day of the week).
This question follows on some remarks made by an internet contributor who proves that Wednesday is the day of Christ’s crucifixion and not Friday. Most of his article seems to be in line with the Church of God’s historical teaching of a Wednesday crucifixion. However, there are some remarks towards the end of the article which we will quote in their entirety:
“More important is the corollary, that this removes any basis for honoring Sunday. The sabbath is and has always been the 7th day. However, anyone can worship on Sunday and God our Father accepts them without reservation. Even the Roman Catholic church has written extensively that they created Sunday as the day of worship and that there is no scriptural basis for it, it is by tradition only. Their writings point out that since protestant churches follow their traditional teachings of honoring Sunday, then protestants are acknowledging that the Roman Catholic church has precedence and authority over them. There is no reason to honor Sunday, since Yeshua rose as the sabbath was ending, on the 7th day. The only point it brings up is the commandment, remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. That’s why I bring up the sabbath and Sunday point.
“Don’t run to your pastor to prove the Wednesday crucifixion and the resurrection late on the sabbath. The fourth commandment is not church law, it is an individual’s requirement. A person can keep the sabbath day and go to church on Sunday. After all, keeping the sabbath means to refrain from normal work, don’t shop, spend time with your family, and spend time with God. What this knowledge will do is allow you to know the truth and answer non-christians who often see the error propagated by the institutional church. Knowing the truth should also motivate you to keep the sabbath day. Revelation 12:17 speaks highly of believers in the end-times, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus.”
There is some excellent writing to prove that Wednesday was the day that Jesus Christ was crucified but those two paragraphs are a mish-mash of truth and error that could be confusing to someone new to the Truth, or even to others. A “Church of God” member some years ago said that “she went to the local Sunday-keeping church in case there was someone there who was being called.” What a travesty of understanding that is, but there were so many theories and changes that were articulated and instituted during and after the apostasy in the mid-1990s that many did genuinely became confused. Such was this case.
It is not the purpose of this Q&A to have to prove that the weekly Sabbath and annual Holy Days are the days that are God’s (Leviticus 23:2); the Church of God has much information on this, which has been produced over many years. The question is whether a person can keep both the Sabbath and Sunday. Here are just a few reasons why the answer is a resounding NO!
In our Update #292, dated 4th May 2007, the question was asked: “I have heard it taught that the ancient house of Israel engaged in Sunday worship. Is this correct, as I cannot find this stated anywhere in the Bible?” Part of the answer given was as follows:
“Even though the Bible nowhere states explicitly that the ancient house of Israel kept Sunday, it is very clear from the implicit record that they did. It is also clear that God punished them severely for this practice. We know that they abandoned the weekly Sabbath–the seventh day of the week (from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset). This was one reason why they went into slavery. We also know that they were guilty of idolatry, e.g., Baal worship. And historical records prove that Baal–the sun god–was worshipped on his day, Sunday, the first day of the week. In fact, Baal, the pagan sun god, was worshipped under many different names throughout man’s history.
“… in 2 Kings 17:16-17, we find this revealing statement: ‘So they left ALL the commandments of the LORD their God [including the Sabbath commandment and the injunction against committing idolatry], made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshipped all the host of heaven, AND SERVED BAAL. And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD…’
“The fact that they turned to Baal worship is proof in itself that they began to observe his day–the first day of the week, i.e., Sunday. Some 200 years later, God rebuked the house of Israel through the prophet Hosea, comparing it with a fallen or unfaithful woman: ‘“I will punish her For the DAYS of the Baals to which she burned incense… But Me she forgot,” says the LORD’ (Hosea 2:13)…
“Returning to King Jeroboam, note what else is revealed about him in 2 Kings 17:21-23: ‘Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD, and made them commit a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the LORD removed Israel out of His sight… So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria…’
“It appears, therefore, that Jeroboam’s GREAT sin, as well as ALL THE SINS which he did and which were adopted by the house of Israel, included the abolishment of the Sabbath and the adoption of Sunday worship. The Bible says that they continued with that practice, until God punished them severely by carrying them away–into Assyrian slavery (compare Ezekiel 20:12-13, 18-20, 23-24).”
In our Update #704, dated 4th September 2015, the question was asked: “How Do You Respond to a Person who Believes that Sunday Should Be Kept?” Part of the answer read as follows:
“Sunday was the Gentile day of worshipping pagan gods—sun gods. The Catholic Church adopted Sunday worship to induce pagans entering their fold. They were also motivated by strong anti-Semitic feelings which explain their hostility towards the ‘Jewish’ Sabbath.
“However, no man and no human organization or institution has the authority to change God’s Law, which would be paramount to claiming that one had the authority to say adultery and murder are no longer a sin, which would be absurd. No one has the authority to change the Ten Commandments, which were written by God in stone to demonstrate their permanency. One may decide not to obey the commandments, but one cannot change or alter them.”
After reading the above comments, why would any Sabbath-keeper want to be involved with worldly mainstream Christianity which is replete with syncretism? God thunders: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, For the Gentiles are dismayed at them” (Jeremiah 10:2). Also, God prohibits us to add something to or delete something from His Word (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6)—in this case, the worship of Him on Sunday which He did NOT command. 2 John 9 reads in the New Revised Standard Version: “Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God.”
In Sunday-keeping churches, they won’t be keeping the true Sabbath, and it is more than likely that they will have a body of beliefs that is in opposition to those taught by the true Church of God, and so why would any member of the Body of Christ want to lend credence, by their attendance, to non-biblical congregations? Such groups would deny or even scoff at the need to keep the weekly and annual Sabbaths as ordained by God as well as many other truths.
We read in Joshua 24:14-15: “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
It appears that after all the miracles that God had performed on behalf of the Israelites, many were still serving foreign gods, but Joshua made it clear that he and his house would serve “the LORD.”
Would we be serving “the LORD” by going to church on Sunday, even if we kept the 7th day Sabbath? Such Sunday worship is not acceptable to God where those involved are taught man-made traditions and have a body of beliefs that have often been adapted from paganism and other sources. Worshipping on the day of the sun, absorbing error into one’s belief system and accepting syncretism practiced by so many churches is not the Way of God.
In our booklet: “Is That In the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation”, chapter 15, “The Mark of the Beast”, we read:
“Revelation 13:16–17 explains that ‘the image’ of the second (religious) beast will cause people to accept ‘a mark’ of the first beast ‘on their right hand’ or ‘on their foreheads.’ Without it, they cannot buy or sell (compare Revelation 14:9).
“This mark of the first beast is clearly associated in Scripture with the violation of God’s Sabbath commandment (compare Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:20; Isaiah 56:2; Isaiah 58:13; Amos 8:5; Exodus 16:23, 26; Exodus 31:15). In the Bible, the ‘right hand’ is associated with work (Psalm 90:17; 137:5). The ‘forehead’ is the seat of thoughts (Ezekiel 3:8; 9:4; Revelation 7:3).
“We are told that the ‘little horn’—a reference to the Roman Catholic Church, as we have seen—would try to ‘change times and law’ (Daniel 7:25)—that is, God’s law regarding holy time. The Roman Church has changed the calendar in Europe, which identifies Sunday as the last day of the week, rather than the 7th-Day Saturday-Sabbath. It commands that Christians are to rest on Sunday, and it did command in the past that they were to work on Saturday. We will experience something similar very soon.
“The ‘image’ will influence the first beast—the final European revival of the ancient Roman Empire—to enjoin people to work on the Sabbath, while prohibiting to work on Sunday. As in the past, it will thereby ‘cause’ the death of true Christians (compare Revelation 13:15).”
We must remember that the beast and the false prophet will enforce Sunday-keeping and false Christianity on the whole world in the near future. The lady who thought that she might be doing a good deed by attending a Sunday-keeping church did not understand what God expects of us, nor, what the future holds for Sabbath keepers. Let us hope that she came to realise her error and that none of us fall into that same trap that she did, at any time in the future.
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
A new Member Letter (December 2019) has been written and mailed to our subscribers—and is available online. In this letter, Evangelist Norbert Link powerfully focuses on the year’s news events which are so clearly a part of end-time prophecies found in the Word of God.
“What’s Ahead for 2020?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
While preparing for Christmas and during all the Christmas celebrations, most people have lost sight for what has happened on the world scene in 2019 and how these events relate to the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. More of the same, and worse, can be expected for 2020.
“Was wird uns 2020 bringen?” is the title of a new AufPostenStehen program, presented by Norbert Link. This covers the same topic as described above.
“Tumult um den Dritten Tempel,” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “Tumult Regarding the Third Temple.”
“Gottes Wahrheit richtig verstehen und interpretieren,” is the title of last Sabbath’s German sermonette, presented by Thilo Hanstein. Title in English: Understand and Interpret God’s Truth Correctly.”
“Voice,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Michael Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
The example of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 teaches us a valuable lesson of how God communicates in various ways to get our attention, powerfully as well as in a more subdued fashion.
“Leave it to God,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Sometimes our life seems to be very complicated and hardly comprehensible, and we might only understand later why certain events occurred the way they did. God’s Ways are not our ways, and He guides our steps in a sometimes surprising and unexpected manner. This sermon shows how much God is concerned about us and that our life is indeed in His hands.
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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