January 10, 2020
The Keystone of the Kingdom / The Work We Do
On January 11, 2020, Frank Bruno will present the sermonette, titled, “The Keystone of the Kingdom,” and Dave Harris will present the sermon, titled, “The Work We Do.”
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.
Trust and Faith
by Rene Messier (Canada)
Having been anxiously waiting to go with my wife on a boat cruise out of California’s San Pedro Bay, I was somewhat shocked and dismayed to receive an email from Air Canada on Saturday, after the Sabbath, stating that our flight on Sunday morning, December 1, to the Los Angeles Airport had been delayed to 11:00AM. We were originally supposed to leave at 5:40 AM and arrive at LAX at 12:25 PM. The new arrival time of 4:28 PM via Salt Lake City was almost two hours after the ship would leave for our Mexico Cruise.
The worst part was that I had taken out any cancellation insurance for the flight or cruise and I was told now that the cruise line would not refund a “no show.” Trying to sort this out on a Saturday evening when the Travel Agency was closed and the offices of the cruise lines were also closed was frustrating. So, there was nothing I could do that evening. Taking the flight at 11:00 AM on December 1 would accomplish nothing, so we did not even leave the house.
I was distraught as to why God would allow this to happen. He knew we were looking forward to getting away from the cold for a week. He knew about our plans and our anticipation in regard to this trip. On Sunday, I called the credit card company with whom I had booked my flight, using points and cash to buy the tickets, and explained the situation to them. It took some time on the phone, but eventually, they said I would get a refund and my points would be put back on my card, but it would take four to six weeks.
That made me feel a bit better, but what about the price for the cruise?
I went to Penticton, about twenty minutes south of where I live, and talked to the travel agent through whom I booked the cruise. She reiterated the cruise line policy, which I already knew by now, and said she would phone them and get back to me, so I went home. About half an hour later, I got a call from her telling me she tried but the cruise line said, no refund.
Not wanting to give up on this, I called the cruise line myself. After explaining my situation, the agent told me the policy of no refund for no shows. Then I started to tell her that they were a million dollar company, and I was a senior citizen with limited income, and that they had my money and I had nothing in return and that their public customer relations were not very high on the scale. She put me through to the supervisor, and I told him my story, and after some thought, he relented and said I could apply my fare to the next cruise which was on January 5, as the cruises prior to that date were sold out. I had to pay a bit more since that cruise was more costly, due to seasonal prices.I was very happy about that, but why did all of this have to happen?
A few days later, I got an email from Mrs. Johanna Link, asking me if the ship we were supposed to go on was the one in the news she had listened to. She wrote: “I am just watching the news and they said that the cruise ship Norwegian Joy had to come back today because people got sick on board. This is the ship you were supposed to go on, isn’t it?” She also sent a link of an article in regard to the ship, and this is what the CNN article said:
“Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics treated 10 people aboard the Norwegian Joy cruise ship for minor medical complaints after the ship docked early Sunday, the LAFD said. It’s the second time in a week passengers were treated for illness after returning from a trip aboard the vessel. The patients, on a Mexican Riviera cruise, had minor medical complaints and none were transported to hospitals, the LAFD said about Sunday’s incident. It was not immediately clear what caused their illness.
“Initially, the LAFD was expecting to treat 20 patients ‘reporting unspecified illness’ as the cruise ship began to dock, it said. The ship is capable of carrying more than 3,600 guests, according to Norwegian Cruise Line. ‘During Norwegian Joy’s Mexican Riviera sailing, a few guests on board experienced a stomach-related illness,’ the cruise line said in a statement. ‘To mitigate any impact of this rare occurrence, we implemented stringent sanitation procedures. As always, we will continue to monitor this situation.’
“Norwegian Joy experienced a similar incident last week when, the LAFD said, six passengers arriving to Los Angeles from a Panama Canal voyage were treated for flu-like symptoms. Those passengers, who arrived in the Port of Los Angeles on November 24, were diagnosed with norovirus, Los Angeles Port Police Lt. Rosario Ferrara told CNN. They were among 127 passengers and six crew members who reported being ill while aboard the ship, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The ill passengers were mostly suffering from diarrhea, the CDC said.”
So then it dawned on me that God was protecting us. As painful as the experience was, He was looking out after two of His begotten children. I had to apologize to God for questioning why this had been happening to us. I should have put my faith and trust in God a bit more. This was a good lesson as Christ tells us that He would never leave or abandon us. He kept His word; I just did not see or understand it at the time. But now I know that the cruise line is aware of the potential problems with sickness, and I know that nothing similar will happen on our cruise on January 5. The lessons have been learned.
by Norbert Link
In the last Update, dated January 3, prior to America’s assassination of Iran’s mass murderer Gen. Qassem Soleimani, we spoke on “the turmoil in Iraq which might become one of President Trump’s biggest foreign policy crises.” We quoted from an article which had stated: “If Trump strikes back hard against Iran, he may get a new Middle East war he never wanted. If he does nothing, he may show… weakness he has long derided… But there’s another possibility that cannot be entirely dismissed… what if Trump made a flip decision and totally withdrew American forces from Iraq?… Trump has long wanted out of Iraq and believes the American presence in Iraq is an unmitigated disaster that was the worst mistake in U.S. history…” We added our comments, as follows: “The further development of this dangerous crisis will be interesting to watch. Ultimately, the USA will withdraw completely, and the ensuing power vacuum will be filled. Players who are not suspected by many, will finally step in to do just that.”
Now, the situation in the Middle East has become more volatile. Iran’s retaliatory missile attacks at U.S. military targets in Iraq and America’s response did not really defuse the situation either.
The demands for withdrawal of American troops in the Middle East become louder, while the position of Europeans is, for the most part, pathetic; this is especially true for France and Germany. Without knowing this, their prophetic role and that of some Muslim countries come more and more into focus. It appears, again, that the only true alliance is being formed between the USA, the UK and Israel.
Russia’s connection with Iran and the hysterical opposition of American Democrats to Soleimani’s assassination are not without suspicion; and concerns of the re-institution of the draft by thousands of young Americans caused the website of Selective Services to crash.
We also report on a split within the Methodist Church over homosexuality and same-sex marriages; governmental orders in Canada to conduct euthanasia; and Australia’s ongoing horrible deadly wildfires. We conclude with yet another reminder of just how persistent the focus for a third Temple is in the State of Israel.
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
A More Dangerous World: US Killing Triggers Global Alarm
The Associated Press wrote on January 3:
“Global powers warned Friday that the American airstrike responsible for killing Iran’s top general [“the single most powerful operative in the Middle East” who was regarded as a “national hero” in Iran] made the world more dangerous and that escalation could set the entire Mideast aflame… The deaths of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and several associates drew immediate cries for revenge from Tehran…
“Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that a ‘harsh retaliation is waiting’ for the U.S. He moved quickly to appoint Soleimani’s deputy, Maj. Gen. Esmail Ghaani, as the new commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, which undertakes the country’s foreign campaigns, including in Syria and Yemen…
“German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas [said], ‘A further escalation that sets the whole region on fire needs to be prevented.’ Maas also noted that the assault ‘followed a series of dangerous Iranian provocations.’…
“The White House sought to justify the killings with a tweet alleging that Soleimani ‘was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.’…
“Italy… warned that increased tensions ‘risk being fertile terrain for terrorism and violent extremism.’ But right-wing Italian opposition leader Matteo Salvini praised Trump for eliminating ‘one of the most dangerous and pitiless men in the world, an Islamic terrorist, an enemy of the West, of Israel, of rights and of freedoms.’
“Trump also won the support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‘for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively.’…”
Especially Germany’s rather weak and indecisive position of so-called “de-escalation” has been described as satisfying nobody, while France has been reported as being apparently willing to team up with Russia and China against the USA.
“Trump Has Freed the World of a Monster!”
Bild Online published the following commentary on January 3:
“The Iranian terror sponsor Qassem Soleimani stood for a world that no peaceful human being could want – a world in which one could be blown up by a bomb at any time if one is at the wrong place at the wrong time. A world in which entire cities are wiped out – like Aleppo. In which bloodthirsty militia go from door to door and execute civilians. In which the kindergartens in Germany could burn up in fireballs at any time because its children are Jewish. In which Israel is under threat of extinction every day.
“Soleimani, the world’s most repelling and bloodthirsty terrorist, who brought suffering and harm over humanity on the mullahs’ behalf, was an enemy of our civilization. He represented the unbearable thought that murderers will live more safely and be more untouchable the more people they kill (with the support of the state).
“His violent and overdue end will not stop global terrorism, but the image of his burnt-out car still sends out a powerful message. US President Donald Trump has made it clear that the worst figures in the world, however big-mouthed and ruthless they may be, cannot hide from America’s strength.
“They may torment, torture, harass, and terrorize those who are weaker and in despair, but they cannot do anything against the most powerful democracy in the world. At most, they can hide in holes and hope that they won’t be found.
“And when they claim that they are not afraid of death, these butchers are lying – they are cowards who love the sweet, corrupt life.
“President Trump has freed the world of a monster whose aim in life was an atomic cloud over Tel Aviv. Trump has acted in self-defense – the self-defense of the US and all peace-loving people.”
The views in this hard-hitting editorial are not shared by many German politicians and the overwhelmingly left-liberal mass media.
The Unpredictable President
Bloomberg wrote on January 4:
“Three years into Donald Trump’s presidency, U.S. allies and adversaries thought they had him figured out as a leader prone to bellicose talk who rarely delivered on his boldest military threats. That all changed Thursday with Trump’s decision to kill a key Iranian commander in the biggest foreign policy gamble of his time in office… Trump caught Tehran — and the rest of the world — by surprise, restoring a sense of unpredictability that could play to his advantage as world leaders are left wondering what his endgame is in the Middle East and beyond…
“The drone strike shatters an assumption… that Trump would do his utmost to avoid war during an election year… That’s gone now, probably permanently…
“Trump’s willingness to risk an escalation in an already volatile region gives him some leverage against U.S. foes even as it raises the risk of miscalculation… Leaders like North Korea’s Kim and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad will have to proceed cautiously before crossing a U.S. ‘red line,’ and Iran will struggle to come up with a suitable response that won’t further destabilize its already embattled regime…”
Trump has proven that he is willing to go to war. This will be important to remember when the relationship between the USA and Europe will continue to deteriorate.
Situation Is Escalating
NBC wrote on January 5:
“President Donald Trump on Saturday warned Iran that if it retaliates… it will face U.S. attacks on 52 targets, a number he said was symbolic. The president tweeted that the number of targets matched the number of hostages held by Iran in 1979, when 52 American diplomats and citizens were held for 444 days…
“Trump’s tweet was vaguely worded, but… appears to suggest the targeting of cultural heritage sites [which the UN states is prohibited by international law and which some declare as being a war crime. Trump had tweeted: “We have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD”]…
“Trump added in further tweets that… ‘The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment. We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!…’
“Huge crowds had gathered in Baghdad Saturday [to mourn the death of Soleimani] as well as the Iraqi militants killed in the strike on the Baghdad airport…
“Iran’s state television announced that the country was ending its commitment to limit enrichment of uranium…”
Trump responded to a threat by one of Iran’s high-ranking officials who had stated: “The Strait of Hormuz is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there… vital American targets in the region have been identified by Iran… Some 35 US targets in the region, as well as Tel Aviv [another source adds Haifa], are within our reach.”
The Associated Press reported on January 5: “President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that Iranian cultural sites were fair game for the U.S. military… ‘They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way,’ Trump said.”
Trump later said that he would abide by the law, implying that he would not want to attack Iran’s cultural sites, but he made these comments “regrettably.” Trump’s original comments on that issue of “cultural” or, by extension, “religious” sites can also have prophetic ramifications when considering that the demolition or transfer of the al Aqsa mosque and/or the Dome of the Rock seem to be a necessity for the building of the prophesied Third Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, prior to Christ’s return.
The Daily Mail reported on January 5 that “Iran has since placed an $80million bounty on Trump’s head and threatened to attack the White House in response to the president’s warning that any strike on American interests in the region will bring massive retaliation.”
Meanwhile, the US announced that they will deploy 3,500 additional troops to the Middle East.
Not surprisingly, most US Democrats with their eyes on the elections in 2020, and maybe because of other reasons (see article below), were unified in their disagreement with Trump’s actions, thereby arguably playing right into the hands of Iran and Iraq and other nations hostile towards the USA. The argument by Democrats that Congress would have had to authorize the strike sounds good to the anti-Trump mass media, but would be false if, as the Trump administration claims, the strike was launched in self-defense.
NPR added on January 9:
“The House of Representatives approved a resolution that would force President Trump to seek consent from Congress [ruled by Democrats] before taking new military action against Iran…
“The nonbinding war powers resolution was approved in a mostly party-line vote… The Senate could consider a similar measure — but one that has the force of law — as early as next week, but it is unclear if it has enough votes to clear the chamber.
“Trump administration officials maintain the president already has the authority to take action against Iran under a 2002 war authorization passed by Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.”
Iran’s Connection with America’s Democrats
Breaking Israel News reported on January 7:
“Donald Trump’s elimination of [Soleimani], the most powerful military leader in Iran, generated a surprising level of opposition among the Democrats who feared an escalation of the confrontation with Iran. But it could be that another reason lies behind the Democrats’ support of Iran.
“The partisan support for Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, is so incongruous that former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley commented on it in a recent Fox News interview. ‘You don’t see anyone standing up for Iran,’ Haley said. ‘You’re not hearing any of the Gulf members, you’re not hearing China, you’re not hearing Russia. The only ones mourning the loss of Soleimani are our Democrat leadership and Democrat Presidential candidates.’…
“… the Obama administration was connected to Iran through a network of personal relationships. John Kerry, former President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State and the chief U.S. negotiator for the [Iran deal], seemed especially dedicated to the deal. Soon after Trump withdrew from the agreement, Kerry conducted secret meetings with Iranian officials, advising them on how to save the agreement. The meetings were unprecedented for a former White House official and some questioned whether Kerry was in violation of the Logan Act.
“Kerry’s Iranian connection took on a personal angle when his daughter, Dr. Vanessa Bradford Kerry, married Dr. Brian Vala Nahed in 2009. Nahed, a physician, is of Iranian descent but was born and raised in the U.S… Valerie Jarrett, [Obama’s] senior adviser, was born in Iran to U.S parents and was fluent in Persian… Lisa Page… has an Iranian mother… Hassan Ghashghavi, the deputy foreign minister of Iran, had threatened to expose Western diplomats who had accepted bribes to push through… the Iran nuclear deal. Ghasghavi was the senior adviser to Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Ansari Zarif during the [deal] negotiations.”
Mere coincidence… such as Hunter Biden receiving huge amounts of money for a high position in an Ukrainian company for which he was clearly not qualified?
Could the Strike on an Iranian General Trigger a Draft?
Stamford Advocate and the Washington Post wrote on January 4:
“The impact of President Donald Trump’s decision to order a strike against Soleimani has yet to be seen… Google searches for terms such as ‘conscription’, ‘Selective Service’ and ‘Iran’ spiked… as youthful social media users… dealt with this collective political anxiety the best way they knew how: by spinning out endless memes about getting drafted in a hypothetical, but seemingly imminent, World War III.
“On Friday, the website for the Selective Service, a federal agency tasked with maintaining a database of adult men who could be called upon should a crisis require a draft, experienced technical difficulties as people flooded the site.
“The draft was suspended in 1973 because of intense public and political opposition to the Vietnam War, and Congress and the president would have to pass legislation to bring it back, should an emergency call for it. [The United States instituted the draft during the Civil War, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War].
“But America still keeps a database of all young men who could be called upon should the draft ever return. Every year, millions of young, adult men [residing in the USA, between ages 18 and 25] are required by law to register with the Selective Service… The mandate applies whether you’re a U.S. citizen, immigrant, or undocumented immigrant. Women are not currently required to register, and signing up for the Selective Service does not enlist a person in the military. Failure to register for the Selective Service could lead to criminal penalties, and an inability to qualify for federal student loans and federal jobs.”
It is absolutely certain that the draft will be instituted in the future.
Britain Must Support the USA
The Daily Star wrote on January 5:
“Admiral Lord West – formerly the most senior officer in the Royal Navy – said it would be ‘very difficult’ for Britain to stay out of a fresh conflict in the Middle East. The Royal Navy hero said Britain and the US are ‘joined at the hip’ militarily [in] the region – and are also perceived as being absolutely interlinked by Iran. He explained Iran views the US as the ‘Great Satan’ and the UK as the ‘Little Satan’… He added: ‘It is highly dangerous…’”
The Sun wrote on January 5:
“A CRISIS bigger than Brexit. It seems hard to imagine. But that is exactly how one Cabinet minister characterised the rapidly-escalating emergency in the Middle East. Iran’s violent reaction to the assassination of its murderous military chief General Qasem Soleimani could easily present the West with its most dangerous threat since the last Gulf War.
“So as the first rockets are fired in revenge after President Trump’s drone strike, it is vital that Britain gets its response right. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already criticised European countries for not being helpful — that includes the UK. [In a Fox interview, he stated that European allies were not as helpful as he wished them to be, and then he singled out the Brits, the French and the Germans.]
“We must not lose sight of the fact that, as well as having 900 troops in Iraq and Syria, we have regularly been the target of Iranian aggression.
“In July, British oil tanker the Stena Impero was seized by the Revolutionary Guards. There was the 2017 cyber attack when Iran hacked MPs’ emails, and human rights abuses such as the jailing of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on trumped-up spy charges…
“It was bad enough that Trump told his oldest ally nothing of the US strike in advance. But since then the Government has shown signs of struggling to catch up. This is a major early test for Boris Johnson. He must step in quickly and make a strong stand against an Iranian regime which has regularly threatened Britain.”
As it was expected, Johnson pledged his full support to Trump, against the opposition of Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, who had allegedly received 10.000 pounds from an Iranian TV channel.
Washington vs. Europe
Politico wrote on January 4:
“The assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani is a turning point for relations between the United States and Iran. It also pulls U.S. allies in Europe deeper into uncharted waters, and threatens to leave European forces on the ground caught in the crossfire of escalation between Tehran and Washington… For European capitals, this means their worst predictions… are becoming reality…
“Ironically, despite the rivalry with Iran, Arab Gulf countries can be useful partners for Europe in finding an off-ramp through diplomacy. Iran’s Arab neighbours have become increasingly worried that they are exposed to heavy costs for any military escalation between the U.S. and Iran. Europe should step up cooperation with the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and Iraq to jointly prevent escalation.”
Some of that “collaboration” will take place… but not for peaceful purposes.
Iraqi Parliament wants US and other foreign Troops Out of the Country
Deutsche Welle reported on January 5:
“The Iraqi parliament voted on Sunday to remove US troops from Iraq. In an extraordinary session, lawmakers voted for a resolution to ask the government to end an agreement with Washington to station 5,200 troops in Iraq…
“Caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi… said that if US troops remain then they will be considered an occupying force. The resolution will also apply to other countries’ armies. The German government said later on Sunday that their military presence in Iran would ‘only remain if the Iraqi government want that.’
“The resolution is nonbinding, but it is likely to be heeded by the government as Abdul-Mahdi supports the measures.”
Trump warned that he would levy punishing sanctions if it expelled American troops.
CNBC quoted President Trump on January 5 as saying the following:
“‘If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever… It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame. We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,’ Trump said.”
As we pointed out in our prior Update, the USA will ultimately leave Iraq. Prophetically, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries, such as Turkey and Jordan, as well as Saudi-Arabia, will then align with Europe against the USA and Israel.
New Chaos and Fiasco in Iraq… USA Withdrawing from Iraq… just an Honest Mistake???
Axios wrote on January 6:
“With multiple media outlets reporting on a letter appearing to reveal U.S. plans to withdraw from Iraq, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters Monday afternoon that no such decision has been made…
“AFP and Reuters set off a frenzy by publishing a letter from Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William Seely informing the Iraqi military that the coalition to fight ISIS would be ‘repositioning forces’ and preparing to move ‘out of Iraq’ in the coming days and weeks out of respect for Iraqi sovereignty. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley told reporters that the letter was simply a draft and was not meant to be released… ‘[It was] poorly worded, implies withdrawal, that is not what’s happening,’ Milley said.”
Drafting such a letter does not simply occur without any underlying discussion. It’s not being concocted out of the blue by one over-zealous soldier. Israel fears that if the USA withdraws from Iraq, then there WILL BE war between Israel and Iran.
US Must Remove Forces from Entire Middle East
The Times of Israel wrote on January 6:
“A top commander of Iran’s missile array said Monday that even killing US President Donald Trump would not be satisfactory retribution…
“Rather, only the complete removal of US forces from the entire Middle East would suffice, said… [the] commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, who is in charge of missiles that can hit US bases across the region…
“[He] said that revenge required more than ‘just four missiles, targeting a US base, or even killing Trump.’”
These statements can be viewed as typical Iranian hyperbole, but they reflect nevertheless the desire of most countries in the Middle East to see America leaving. See the next articles.
Iran’s Retaliation and further Threats
Newsmax wrote on January 8:
“Iran said it launched more than [a] dozen missiles against U.S. targets on Wednesday in retaliation for the killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike last week. ‘Military action like this is not sufficient. What is important is ending the corrupting presence of America in the region,’ Khamenei said in a televised speech, describing the missile strikes as a ‘slap on the face’ for Washington.
“‘This region will not accept the presence of America,’ he said, renewing Tehran’s long-standing demand for Washington to withdraw its forces.”
JTA wrote on January 7:
“Iran fired ballistic missiles at U.S. military targets in Iraq in retaliation for the killing last week of a top general and warned that if the United States escalates, Iran’s next targets would be U.S. allies, including Israel.
“‘Iran is warning that if there is retaliation for the two waves of attacks they launched, their third wave will destroy Dubai and Haifa,’ Ali Arouzi, NBC’s Tehran correspondent, reported on Twitter, where he was relaying official comments from Iran’s state media. The U.S. Sixth Fleet often docks in Haifa.
“The warning came after Iranian missiles hit two U.S. bases in Iraq on Tuesday… Tensions have escalated over the last year between the United States and Iran… Late last year, an Iranian proxy killed an American contractor, leading President Donald Trump to approve the assassination last week of Qassem Soleimani…
“Arouzi and others on Twitter quoted Iranian media as saying that Iran would not continue its attacks if there were no further U.S. retaliation.”
Trump’s Response to Iran
Newsmax reported on January 8:
“President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Iran appears to be ‘standing down’ and said no Americans or Iraqis were harmed in Iran’s Tuesday ballistic missile strike on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops…
“Trump announced that the U.S. will immediately place new sanctions on Iran ‘until Iran changes its behavior.’ Trump reiterated his position that ‘Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon’…”
Iran’s assertion that many American troops died in the missile strikes seems to be without foundation. The implication that the USA would not retaliate militarily at this point was the reaction European allies and many Democrats hoped for, but the announcement of further economic sanctions, instead of lifting existing ones, caused more concerns for a further escalation.
Deadly Crash of Airplane in Iran—Shot Down?
The Sun wrote on January 8:
“IRAN has refused to hand over the black box of a plane that crashed killing 176 people to international investigators. The Kiev-bound Ukraine International Airlines jet came down shortly after taking off from Tehran Airport this morning, killing everyone on board. The tragedy came just hours after Tehran fired at least 15 ballistic missiles at two US bases in Iraq, sparking fears it could have been shot down by mistake by jittery Iranian air defences. And chilling images show pieces of the aircraft’s fuselage peppered with shrapnel holes – which some experts say points to a ‘shootdown’ event…
“Iranian media said the Boeing 737 came down after ‘technical problems’ and quoted an aviation chief who said no emergency had been declared. Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran’s Road and Transportation authority, claimed one of its engines caught fire, causing the pilot to lose control. But the aircraft was new in 2016 and was last checked just two days ago, the Ukrainian foreign ministry said.
“… Ukraine’s Tehran embassy… abruptly removed a line from its statement excluding a terrorist attack or missile strike… Aviation expert Julian Bray told Sun Online: ‘This is catastrophic and not the type of crash that comes from an engine failing…’
“The plane crash comes just days after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appeared to hint he was threatening another Lockerbie bombing. And it bears chilling similarities to the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane by Russian-backed separatists over Ukraine, after it was mistaken for an incoming missile. The US Navy also killed 290 people in a similar incident after mistakenly shooting down an Iranian passenger jet in 1988.
“A number of airlines have now suspended flights over Iranian and Iraqi airspace.”
This would indeed be a strange coincidence if the two events were unrelated. Iran’s refusal to turn over the black box is further cause for concern.
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 9:
“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference later Thursday that his government had intelligence from ‘multiple’ sources that showed an Iranian missile shot down the jet… Trudeau’s comments were echoed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said that there is ‘a body of information’ that the plane was brought down by an Iranian missile.”
Both added that they believed it was unintentional. Donald Trump also stated that he believed that Iran was responsible for the crash, which Iran, of course, denied.
The Russian-Iranian Connection
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 6:
“Russian President Vladimir Putin’s festive season is spoiled beyond repair. First, US Congress imposed sanctions on companies building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the Kremlin’s key European energy project. Then Israel, Cyprus and Greece — all of which enjoy cordial relations with Moscow — dealt it another blow by announcing the construction of a gas pipeline to Europe that could undermine Nord Stream’s profitability. And only three days before Russian Orthodox Christmas, the Americans hit Moscow’s Iranian ally hard by killing General… Soleimani…
“Putin knew Soleimani very well: He played a key role in creating the Russian-Iranian alliance that saved Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria from what seemed in 2015 an imminent demise… despite the harsh statements by the Russian foreign ministry and the anti-American and pro-Iranian hysteria in state-controlled media, behind the scenes the Kremlin must hope that Tehran will limit its response to the Baghdad killing.
“If the Iranians choose confrontation, President Putin will have two choices — either to stand by his Iranian allies through thick and thin or quietly exit the stage leaving Tehran to fend for itself.
“The first option means risking direct military confrontation with the United States, almost certainly more (and more severe) sanctions from US Congress, devastating painfully built relations with the Saudis and the Israelis. Moreover, all this will be in vain — Iran stands no chance of winning in such a conflagration.
“The second option for Putin is looking from the sidelines as his Iranian allies get smashed militarily and economically. But what’s worse is that it may also mean regime change in Tehran — governments that lose wars usually do not win any popularity. The late General Soleimani’s security service and police colleagues already killed dozens if not hundreds of anti-regime demonstrators in recent months…
“In such a case Russia will not only lose a key ally in propping up Assad in Syria, but also become much less important to Israel… and the Saudis… It will also embolden Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who already seems to be falling out with Russia over Libya…”
These are interesting potential developments. Especially Turkey and Saudi Arabia will ultimately be on Europe’s side.
Brexit on January 31
Axios wrote on January 9:
“The U.K.’s House of Commons voted 330-231 in favor of the European Union withdrawal agreement negotiated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson… The bill must still be passed by the House of Lords, but the Commons’ approval essentially ensures that Brexit will happen on Jan. 31. The passage of the bill after three years of deadlock is a result of the landslide victory Johnson’s Conservative Party won in last month’s snap election…
“Following its official Jan. 31 exit, the U.K. will remain aligned with EU rules and regulations for an 11-month transition period, during which the two sides will seek to negotiate a full free trade agreement. Those types of international treaties typically take years to negotiate, but Johnson has ruled out extending the transition period past the end of 2020 — prompting fears of a ‘clean break’ that could cause significant damage to the British economy…”
Stock Market Slides
The Jerusalem Post wrote on January 3:
“European shares slipped from near record highs on Friday… with a surge in oil prices hammering airline stocks…
“‘We are only into the third day of the new year, and a big fat dollop of geopolitical uncertainty has landed on investors’ desks already this morning,’ said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA…”
The Times of Israel wrote on January 6:
“World shares fell Monday as financial markets were rattled by escalating tensions in the Middle East… After a brief respite thanks to a preliminary agreement between Washington and Beijing that staved off a further escalation of trade tensions, world markets have been hit by a fresh onslaught of worries.”
This is just the beginning in the first week of 2020. The world economy is at the brink of a major global crash.
Terror Attack against USA in Kenya
ABC News wrote on January 5:
“One U.S. service member and two American Department of Defense contractors were killed in a terror attack on a military base in Kenya that houses some U.S. military personnel. The Somali terror group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack…
“Last week, al-Shabab carried out a car bomb attack in the heart of Mogadishu that killed at least 80 civilians. ‘Al-Shabab is a brutal terrorist organization,’ U.S Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler [said] in a statement. ‘It is an Al-Qaeda affiliate seeking to establish a self-governed Islamic territory in East Africa, to remove Western influence and ideals from the region, and to further its jihadist agenda. U.S. presence in Africa is critically important to counter-terrorism efforts.’
“About 500 U.S. troops are stationed inside Somalia assisting and advising that country’s military in its fight against the terror group.”
No connection has been pointed out between the terror attack in Somalia and the most recent events pertaining to Iran, but it shows that the USA is being surrounded by enemies.
Split in Methodist Church over Same-Sex Marriage
MSN wrote on January 3:
“Leaders of the church announced Friday they had agreed to spin off a ‘traditionalist Methodist’ denomination, which would continue to oppose same-sex marriage and to refuse ordination to LGBT clergy, while allowing the remaining portion of the United Methodist Church to permit same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy for the first time in its history…
“Many mainline denominations, including the Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ and others, already perform same-sex marriages and appoint gay clergy. But the United Methodist Church, the nation’s largest mainline denomination and the third-largest denomination of any faith in America, has fought bitterly over the issue, to the point that leaders have feared a schism over the issue for years.”
God and His values don’t change, but humans seem to always do. This is especially tragic when these humans claim to speak on behalf of God.
Government-Ordered Euthanasia in Canada
Life Site News wrote on January 6:
“The British Columbia government is ordering a palliative care hospice to allow its patients to be killed onsite through ‘medically-assisted death,’ or euthanasia, by February 3…
“It’s the latest development in the society’s long-running battle to prevent the lethal injection of patients onsite at the 10-bed Irene Thomas Hospice it runs in a suburb of Delta, a city south of Vancouver… New Democratic Party (NDP) Health Minister Adrian Dix has already broadly hinted that the government will pull the non-profit society’s public funding…
“The FHA [Frazer Health Authority] issued its euthanasia policy in September 2016, three months after Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government legalized the practice in Canada at the bidding of the Supreme Court, which in February 2015 struck down the law prohibiting euthanasia as unconstitutional.”
Euthanasia was one of the practices for which Nazi Germany was strongly condemned.
Deadly Earthquakes in Puerto Rico
CNN wrote on January 8:
“A 6.4 magnitude earthquake that killed one person in Puerto Rico on Tuesday is one of hundreds of tremors that have rattled the island for more than a week. And experts say the shaking is not over yet. The latest earthquake struck during the predawn hours, flattening homes, knocking out power in some areas and jolting awake terrified residents. Just a day earlier, a magnitude 5.8 quake hit off the island’s southwestern coast…
“Puerto Rico sits on an unusual spot, which makes it vulnerable to earthquakes…”
Australia’s Wildfires Might Have Killed a Billion Animals… so far…
The Sun wrote on January 5:
“HEARTBREAKING footage shows the charred remains of dead koalas and kangaroos – as experts fear the devastating Australian wildfires have killed a BILLION animals [some estimate the number as 500 Million] [including mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs and insects]… It comes as 24 people were killed and 200,000 homes were destroyed in the horrifying bushfires.
“Sydney was declared the hottest place on earth yesterday with temperatures rocketing to nearly 50C as fires continued to rip through the area…
“The destructive wildfires are thought to have killed off a third of Australia’s Koala population whose numbers are already dangerously low. Around 8,000 of the furry creatures are believed to have perished [The Guardian estimates the number with 25,000 Koalas] whilst there are also huge fears over the western ground parrot, the eastern bristlebird and the Kangaroo Island dunnart.
“The blazes are creating their own storms because of the heat they are generating – with fire tornadoes causing some of the biggest fires to merge…”
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 9:
“Snipers in helicopters took to the skies as part of a bid to curb [kill] ‘extremely large’ herds of camels [up to 10,000] in South Australia. An ongoing drought has driven the animals closer to towns, threatening the water supplies of locals… Camels are not native to Australia and have no natural predators. They were first brought to the continent in the mid-1800s to aid in exploration. Australia is now believed to have the largest wild camel population in the world, with officials estimating that up to 1 million camels are currently roaming the country’s inland deserts.”
It is feared that the fires will continue to burn for months. God has prophesied that the modern descendants of the ancient house of Israel, which include Australia, will have to experience much suffering, including from natural disasters. At the same time, God has promised protection for His people. But it has also been reported that many of the blazes in Australia were ignited by arsonists. In fact, authorities in Australia have arrested close to 200 people for deliberately starting the bushfires. In that light, blaming the fires on global warming or climate change sounds rather silly.
Don’t Forget the Third Temple
Breaking Israel News reported on January 8:
“During a speech at the Kohelet Policy Forum on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, among other things, discussed the importance of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria. Warning about the dangers of Israel’s withdrawal from the region it liberated in the Six-Day-War, Netanyahu stated: ‘If Israel is not present on the hills of Judea and Samaria, Islamists will take over instead.’
“Without skipping a beat, Rabbi Yehuda Glick interrupted him yelling: ‘same with the Temple Mount!’ At that point, the Prime Minister gave Glick an uncomfortable glare and continued with his speech.
“However, Glick’s intention was not to embarrass the Prime Minister but rather to keep the idea of the third Temple alive and in the psyche of the Jewish people as he told Breaking Israel News: ‘You have to keep saying it. If you don’t say it, you’ll forget it.’
“The following speaker was Defense Minister Naftali Bennett who during his speech, began to list important locations throughout Israel which didn’t include the Temple Mount. At a certain point, Glick interrupted him too adding ‘and the Temple Mount!’ This time, Bennett responded to Glick’s comment saying: ‘You’re absolutely right Yehuda, also the Temple Mount.’”
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 God listen to billions of prayers at the same time? (Part 2)
In the first part of this series, we showed from the Bible that God can and does indeed listen to many prayers at the same time, and we showed how this is possible. We explained that God consists of two Persons, the Father and the Son, who are both Spirit Beings, having [spiritual] form and shape; and therefore, God cannot be, as a Person, at different places at the same time. Still, the Bible teaches that God is omnipresent, and we showed that this is true because of the Holy Spirit, emanating from both the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is NOT a Person with form and shape. It can be compared with water or electricity or wind, emanating from a source—God Himself. It is through the Holy Spirit dwelling in each converted Christian that God is omnipresent and that He can listen to multiple prayers at the same time.
If this concept is still too difficult for the human mind to grasp, please consider that God does not listen to billions of prayers at the same time.
We wrote the following in our Q&A, titled, “Does God hear everyone’s prayers?”:
“The astounding truth of the Bible is that generally, He does not hear, nor does He answer the prayers of just anyone. In fact, at this time and throughout human history, only a small proportion of people have had the kind of relationship with God in which their prayers would be heard by Him!… God hears the prayers of those who have access to Him through Jesus Christ!… Jesus taught that not everyone praying was being heard by God! However, for those who have been called and who have established a relationship with God, prayer is the vital communication with God to obtain His guidance—His oversight in our lives!…
“The New Testament emphatically teaches that Satan is the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). The whole world has been deceived by him (Revelation 12:9), and those who are deceived may be even praying to Satan, without knowing it—not to God the Father! Jesus Christ is not serving as their High Priest, nor does God generally hear their prayers…
“God is not now trying to save this world! Rather, He has called some to be a kind of ‘firstfruits’ of His salvation (compare James 1:18)—identified as His ‘elect’ (compare Matthew 24:22, 24, 31). God hears the prayers of His ‘saints’ (compare Revelation 8:3) because of what Jesus Christ accomplished in becoming our Savior.
“The elect have been chosen for salvation at this time, and they have the opportunity for God to hear their prayers. They are those who seek God with a true humility to be obedient to Him. They have gained access to God…
“Consider, also, that God is willing to respond to those who truly turn to Him: ‘But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word’ (Isaiah 66:2).
“Sadly, this does not describe the people of our age—not even the countless millions who profess to be followers of Christ!”
This reduces the number of people who pray to God at the same time and are heard by Him quite drastically to perhaps a few thousand … in any event much less than a million, not to speak of 7.8 billion.
In an additional Q&A, we explained what the Bible means with the statement that God does not hear the prayers of sinners. We wrote:
“In John 9, Christ healed a man on the Sabbath who had been born blind. The Pharisees and the Jews accused Christ of breaking the Sabbath and concluded that He was not from God (verse 16) and a ‘sinner’ (verse 24, in Greek, ‘hamartolos’). In response, the healed man said: ‘Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing’ (verses 31, 33)…
“The Pharisees had made terrible accusations against Jesus. They had accused Him of casting out demons with the help of Beelzebub, the ‘ruler of the demons’—another designation for Satan (Matthew 12:24). Some even claimed that He was possessed by Satan (Mark 3:22). Christ warned them in that context that they were in danger of committing the unpardonable sin, which cannot be forgiven, for they were blaspheming God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in Christ (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-30)… The implication is that Jesus, when He was called a ‘sinner,’ was accused of being a ‘pervert’ and a ‘bastard,’ born of fornication (John 8:41), influenced and possessed by Satan the devil and his demons (John 7:20; 8:48, 52; 10:20). The man who was healed of his blindness responded that Jesus could not have been guilty of such accusations, because if He was such a ‘sinner,’ God would not have heard Him and used Him to heal his eyes.
“The Bible does not teach that God does not hear us when we slip and fall occasionally, committing a sin because of weakness or neglect. All of us sin occasionally (1 John 1:8). We are told that if we sin, we can repent of and confess our sin to God, and ask God for forgiveness, and ‘He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9). This shows that God WILL HEAR us when we pray to Him, even though we have sinned.
“However, Isaiah 59:2-3 tells us that God does not hear us when we live in iniquity and when we are unwilling to repent of it… God says in Isaiah 1:15: ‘Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.’
“God clearly states in Micah 3:4: ‘Then they will cry to the LORD, But He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, Because they have been evil in their deeds.’… David understood that if he ‘had cherished iniquity in [his] heart, the Lord would not have listened’ to his prayers (Psalm 66:18, Revised Standard Version).
“God told Jeremiah that He would not hear those who rebelled against God and who continued to live in rebellion… (Jeremiah 14:11-12)… God will NOT LISTEN to prayers of people who REFUSE to hear His law (Zechariah 7:11-13).
“… if we continue to openly rebel against God; refuse to listen to Him and His Word; refuse to repent of our sins; refuse to keep His law and to be obedient to Him; then God will not listen to our prayers. If we want to remain ‘sinners,’ even though we have been taught the truth—if we choose to continue to follow the dictates and devices of our own evil heart—then we cannot expect to be heard on high.”
This reduces the number of people even more whom God is hearing and listening to at the same time. Even when a person is called to salvation and responds to the call, he or she will not be heard if they depart from the Truth. On the other hand, God may hear the prayers of people who show genuine remorse for their deeds, even though they might not be called to salvation in this day and age. We state in the above-mentioned Q&A on the prayers of sinners:
“God… listened to the prayer of the Ninevites and spared their city (Jonah 3:5-10). Jesus confirmed later that their ‘repentance’ was sufficient for God to relent from the disaster that He had intended to bring upon them (Matthew 12:41)…
“Christ listened to the prayer of a Gentile woman and healed her young daughter, by casting out a demon, when He saw her faith (Mark 7:25-30). In that case, we don’t even know whether she was conscious of, and whether she had repented of her sins, but God honored her faith in Him. God says that until He calls someone to repentance, He overlooks the time of ignorance (Acts 17:30), but even then, He desires that people ‘seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us’ (Acts 17:27).
“Someone who is looking to God and who is trying to do what is right, as much as he or she understands it, might very well be heard by God. Christ healed many people who had faith in Him, even though they did not understand many things about God and His Way of Life. But once God calls us to salvation, He expects of us to respond to His call, repent, get to know Him and His Way better, and to obey Him. We have to forsake the ways of this world and choose to live God’s Way of Life…”
This would especially include those children who are growing up in the Truth with at least one converted parent. We state the following in a Q&A, titled, “Does God hear the prayers of sinners?”:
“Little children are basically unaware of what sin is. But they may have a humble and teachable heart. When they pray to God, He might answer their prayers. Let us realize what Christ said about little children, in Matthew 18:3-4: ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’
“Little children don’t have an agenda. They are quick to forgive. They are open to teaching. Many times, God may respond to their prayers, if they ‘believe’ in God in their limited way, since Christians must become ‘like’ them to be able to enter God’s Kingdom.”
Still, as we can see from the foregoing, the number of prayers which God would hear and listen to at the same time is considerably less than millions or even billions of prayers. We continue in the above-mentioned Q&A on sinners:
“… if we want God to answer our prayers and grant us the petitions of our hearts, we need to obey Him. After all, there is a strong connection between obedience and answered prayers, as we read in 1 John 3:22: ‘And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.’”
It is true, of course, that God watches all of mankind to see whether someone seeks Him (Psalm 11:4; 14:2-3). But He knows that in general, the overwhelming majority do not seek Him in this day and age, and so He does not listen to their prayers either, which for the most part are not even directed towards Him anyway.
There are many Scriptures which, according to some, seem to suggest otherwise; that is, that God hears the prayers of everybody at the same time, as He allegedly searches the hearts of everybody every second. But this is not what the Bible teaches. In our previous Q&A in this series, we quoted several passages to show that God searched David’s heart and that He knows and tests the hearts of man. But this does not necessarily mean that God does so every second of each person’s consciousness. It is most certainly true for those whom God has called for salvation and to whom He has given His Holy Spirit, or with whom His Spirit works, leading them to conversion (Acts 15:8; Romans 8:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 2:23).
But as mentioned, this only applies to a very few today. The Bible does not mean to tell us that God needs to listen to the prayers of billions of people at the same time to determine their thoughts and hearts. After all, they are not judged today; their judgment will still come. Nobody can come to Christ unless the Father draws him (John 6:65; 6:44). God knows that all others are under the rule of Satan and that they, generally speaking, are fulfilling the will of their father, the Devil (John 8:44).
Even though God is most certainly capable of listening to billions of people at the very same time, the Bible does not teach us that He does; nor, that He has to do this. In addition, another astonishing aspect is revealed in the context of this question, which we will discuss in the next installment.
(To be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
A Tech Team meeting was conducted last Sunday morning (January 4, 2020) via SKYPE. Eric Rank led the discussion with a focus on management of several aspects of our website (https://www.eternalgod.org/).
“War der Apostel Petrus der erste Papst?–Teil 3,” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “Was the Apostle Peter the First Pope?–Part 3”
“Das Märchen von Weihnachten,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath in Germany by Mario Danisch is now posted. Title in English: “The Tale about Christmas.”
“Prepared for Evil,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Robb Harris, is now posted.
“The Bad News and the Good News,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Eric Rank, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Our mortal nature is inherently flawed, making it impossible to live a life in perfect obedience to God. That’s the bad news. The good news is that God believes in us anyway. He is there to help us successfully overcome our imperfections so we can enjoy life eternally with Him as members of His Family.
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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