|Live Services||Ready For What’s Coming? / Suffer for Salvation|
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Ready For What’s Coming? / Suffer for Salvation
On January 16, 2021, split sermons will be presented by Kalon Mitchell and Michael Link. Their titles are, “Ready For What’s Coming?” and “Suffer for Salvation,” respectively.
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 Eric Rank
Over the past week, we saw the President of the United States of America banned from social media platforms for posting comments interpreted as inciting violence. While no violence or incitation of it is justifiable, the social media giant Twitter chose to interpret seemingly innocuous statements by President Trump as glorifying violence. In his final incriminating tweet, President Trump expressed his intention to not attend the inauguration of Joe Biden. How such a statement glorifies violence is beyond me. Yet, Twitter found a way to interpret this statement as a call to violence in support of his own election, therefore providing them with a justification to finally shut down his account permanently.
What I find most disturbing is how this example demonstrates the power wielded by the tech giants to squash voices that express ideas opposing the narrative set forth by mainstream media. In recent history, especially over the past year, we’ve seen several examples of objective and factual statements being subjectively judged as a “threat” because they spread information that conflicts with the mainstream agenda of those in power. When a message by someone contradicts that which serves their interests, those who are in power take away the privilege of expressing those ideas and beliefs. More and more, we see that only the popular ideas and beliefs in the world may be expressed freely. Any voice that contradicts is threatened to be silenced, discredited, ridiculed, denounced, belittled, and otherwise rejected. Their terms are to conform or be canceled.
For Christians, what we saw happen to the President of the United States should be a wakeup call. But not in the way that our political positions are threatened – because we do not involve ourselves in the politics of this world. Rather, what we are witnessing is the power of the few determining what beliefs are acceptable to express. And that is a threat to true Christianity.
The Christian beliefs that we hold, which are founded in the Truth of God’s Word, will conflict more and more with the world we live in. If we express those truths out loud, do we really think that we will easily be heard? Do we really think that the platforms that provide a means of sharing ideas will tolerate God’s Truth? If we as a Church preach the gospel, as Christ commissioned us to do, the world will hate us for it! Jesus Christ states this clearly (compare John 15:18, John 17:14, Matthew 24:9). What we see now are the possible examples of how this hatred of God’s Truth will manifest. The prince of the power of the air, Satan (compare Ephesians 2:2), will do whatever he can to prevent the Truth from even being expressed, because it contradicts with his agenda to lead man to destruction.
Sadly, this world has chosen to exchange the plain truth of God for lies (compare Romans 1:24-25). Until Jesus Christ returns, lies will prevail in this world with growing intensity. Our job is to never fall prey to those lies. To protect ourselves, we need to love the Truth and never shrink away from upholding it. “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11). There is nothing that we can do to control the world we live in, but we can defend ourselves against its deceptive effects. If we continue to hold fast to God’s Truth with our whole heart, we will prevail against all other powers that threaten to extinguish it.
We begin with news of the impeachment of President Trump; point to warnings about widespread armed protests during Joe Biden’s inauguration.
We present several articles about the power of Big Tech and the growing alarm by world leaders and many others about the loss of free speech.
We report on Pope Francis changing church law to allow women to have more participation in Catholic Church functions; we report on the growing movement for Catholic and Lutheran reconciliation.
We conclude with reports about Brexit and the frightening specter of widespread food shortages in the UK.
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
Congress Votes to Impeach President Trump… Again!
apnews.com wrote on January 13:
“President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House for a historic second time Wednesday, charged with ‘incitement of insurrection’ over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol in a swift and stunning collapse of his final days in office.
“With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump. The proceedings moved at lightning speed, with lawmakers voting just one week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, egged on by the president’s calls for them to ‘fight like hell’ against the election results…
“The soonest Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is next Tuesday, the day before Trump is already set to leave the White House, McConnell’s office said. The legislation is also intended to prevent Trump from ever running again.”
Just how “quietly” President Trump will leave the public stage remains to be seen…
Questions Surrounding Trump Impeachment
Fox News reported on January 13:
“The House of Representatives voted 232-197 Wednesday to impeach President Trump for alleged ‘incitement of insurrection’ in connection with the mob chaos at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Whether or not the impeachment results in a conviction, it marks a historic moment in that no prior U.S. president has been impeached twice. But it also raises questions about whether a trial can even be held once the president leaves office. The earliest the Senate could receive the article of impeachment would be Jan. 19, a day before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, according to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. A trial could go on for weeks, if it takes place at all…
“J. Michael Luttig, a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit from 1991 to 2006, argued in a Washington Post op-ed Tuesday that a Senate trial after Trump has left office would be unconstitutional. But other experts disagree and Senate leaders in both parties appear ready to move forward. McConnell sent memos to his colleagues explaining how the chamber might proceed after receiving articles of impeachment from the House, and his Democratic counterpart from New York, Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, vowed that a trial would be held…
“Seeking Trump’s removal from office after Biden’s inauguration appears to be a moot point. But a conviction would allow senators to then vote to bar the outgoing president from running for office again in 2024 and curtail his post-presidential benefits.
“Other officials have been impeached after leaving office in the past – but none were presidents. The Senate voted to dismiss some of those cases on the basis that the subjects were no longer holding their positions. However, in an 1876 case, former Secretary of War William Belknap resigned just before his impeachment. The Senate held a trial and acquitted him anyway.
“There’s also a question over who would represent the president’s defense and whether taxpayers would foot the bill for Trump’s legal fees – which remains unclear. Last time, he was represented by both White House lawyers and private attorneys. At least two of the latter were paid for by the Republican National Committee, according to campaign finance records.
“Even if the Senate moves forward with a trial, it could face legal and constitutional hurdles. George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley argued Wednesday that Trump would have standing to challenge an impeachment trial in court if it began after he exits the office. As a result, the trial could be over before it starts…”
Now, evidence is mounting that the attack on the Capitol was prepared BEFORE Trump gave his speech. If so, then Trump’s speech could not possibly have incited violence. Legal scholars have pointed out anyhow that his speech was protected by the Constitution. The indictment through out-of-control Democrats and ten political House Republicans must be explained, according to some observers, as an act of revenge with the attempt to get rid of Trump for good.
In the meantime, the war of the mass media, being in cahoots with Big Tech, against Trump and his supporters continues. CNN’s Tapper stated that the “GOP needs exorcism to ‘get this demon out.” CNN’s Don Lemon stated that “if you voted for Trump, you are on ‘the Klan,’ ‘Nazis’ Side.” And the LA Times called for “De-Trumpification.’” Tucker Carlson warned of the future where Trump voters are ‘redefined as Domestic Terrorists.’”
Armed Protests in all 50 State Capitals?
Foxnews.com reported on January 11:
“An internal FBI memo is warning of plans for armed protests in all 50 state capital cities ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration, Fox News has learned.
“A federal law enforcement source told Fox News that an internal bureau memo is warning that the protests could be staged before, on, and after Inauguration Day.”
Preparing for the Worst
Political.com wrote on January 13:
“National Guard units are being told to prepare for the possibility that improvised explosive devices will be used by individuals plotting to attack the Capitol in the days surrounding the Inauguration, according to two Guardsmen briefed this week.
“The briefings indicate that Washington, D.C.-area law enforcement believe the IEDs planted last week at the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee headquarters were not an isolated incident. The individual who planted those bombs has yet to be apprehended, and FBI agents have been going door to door in D.C. this week asking residents for any photos or video they might have that could help identify the suspect, two of the residents told POLITICO.
“In addition to the IED threat, the Guardsmen are being briefed that protesters could be heavily armed. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy has authorized the National Guardsmen protecting the Capitol, previously only carrying protective gear, to carry lethal weapons including M-9 handguns. A ‘significant majority’ of soldiers are also carrying M-4 rifles, one of the Guardsmen said…
“Up to 20,000 Guardsmen could be stationed around D.C. in the coming days, at the request of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and other civil authorities. On Tuesday night, hundreds of armed Guardsmen deployed to the Capitol ahead of lawmakers beginning a second round of impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.”
Trump Warns Big Tech
Breitbart wrote on January 12:
“President Donald Trump warned Tuesday that the efforts by Big Tech companies to deplatform him and his supporters was a ‘big mistake’ that would only anger more Americans. ‘I think that big tech is doing a horrible thing for our country and to our country, and I believe it’s going to be a catastrophic mistake for them,’ Trump said… Trump said that he had warned about the massive power and influence wielded by Big Tech throughout his presidency, adding that the decision they were making would reverberate around the world. ‘They’re dividing, and divisive, and they’re showing something that I’ve been predicting for a long time,’ he said…
“Facebook and Twitter permanently banned the president’s social media accounts. Google, Apple, and Amazon acted simultaneously to ban Parler, a Twitter competitor, from all of their platforms and web hosting services… ‘I’ve never seen such anger as I see right now, and that’s a terrible thing and you have to always avoid violence’ [Trump said].
“Trump also challenged assertions that his rally speech in front of the White House last week inspired the mob violence that took place on Capitol Hill… He compared his own rhetoric to Democrat political leaders talking about and failing to condemn the violence during the Black Lives Matter riots during the summer…”
YouTube Suspends Trump Channel
CNN reported on January 13:
“YouTube is suspending President Donald Trump’s channel for at least one week, and potentially longer, after his channel earned a strike under the platform’s policies, the company said Tuesday evening.
“A recent video on Trump’s channel had incited violence, YouTube told CNN Business. That video has now been removed.
“YouTube declined to share details of the video that earned Trump the strike, but said that after the one-week timeout, it will revisit the decision. YouTube also removed content from the White House’s channel for violating policy, the company told CNN Business, but the channel itself has not been suspended or been given a strike — just a warning.
“Until now, YouTube had been the only remaining major social media platform not to have suspended Trump in some fashion. Facebook has suspended Trump’s account ‘indefinitely,’ while Twitter has banned Trump completely.
“‘After careful review, and in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to the Donald J. Trump channel and issued a strike for violating our policies for inciting violence,’ a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement. ‘As a result, in accordance with our long-standing strikes system, the channel is now prevented from uploading new videos or livestreams for a minimum of seven days—which may be extended.’”
New York City Dumps Trump Organization
CNN wrote on January 13:
“New York City is terminating its business relationships with the Trump Organization in response to last week’s attack on the US Capitol.
“On the day President Donald Trump faces a second impeachment for his role inciting the rioters who ransacked the Capitol, officials in New York City announced plans to immediately end the Trump Organization’s contracts to operate the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, the Central Park Carousel and the nearby Wollman and Lasker ice skating rinks.
“‘The attacks on our Capitol killed a police officer, left four rioters dead, exposed lawmakers to Covid-19 and threatened the constitutional transfer of power,’ the city said in a statement issued Wednesday morning. ‘They were a national abomination. We’re reviewing whether legal grounds exist in light of these new circumstances to terminate concessions with the Trump Organization.’
“‘Inciting an insurrection against the US government clearly constitutes criminal activity,’ New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told MSNBC on Wednesday. ‘The City of New York will no longer have anything to do with the Trump Organization.’”
The World Against America’s Big Tech
Breitbart wrote on January 11:
“An international outcry over tech censorship is underway, as political leaders from Mexico to Europe voice their alarm at the unchecked power of Big Tech, following the purge of President Donald Trump by the Big Tech Masters of the Universe…
“German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose pro-migration, anti-hate speech policies have little in common with President Trump or his movement, has nonetheless expressed concern at Silicon Valley’s unchecked power. ‘The chancellor sees the complete closing down of the account of an elected president as problematic,’ said Steffen Seibert, chief spokesman of the German chancellor, at a recent press conference in Berlin…. The finance minister of France, Bruno Le Maire, condemned what he called a ‘digital oligarchy,’ calling it ‘one of the threats’ to democracy. ‘There needs to be public regulation of big online platforms,’ said Le Maire…
“The French and German leaders join president Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, an avowed socialist, who was the first world leader to condemn Facebook and Twitter for banning president Trump. ‘I don’t like anybody being censored or taking away from the right to post a message on Twitter or Face(book). I don’t agree with that, I don’t accept that,’ said López Obrador. The Mexican president said tech companies were behaving like an ‘inquisition’ to ‘manage public opinion.’ ‘This is really serious’ he added…
“The Prime Minister of Britain, Boris Johnson, was reportedly alarmed at Silicon Valley censorship even before Trump was permanently removed from Twitter and other platforms. In November… the Prime Minister was considering new laws against tech censorship following Twitter’s censoring of President Trump during the U.S. presidential election. ‘Boris did not like what he saw in the US election and has asked for more time to consider how to avoid the same thing happening to him in future,’ said the government source, discussing a planned internet regulation bill…
“Manfred Weber, leader of the largest party group in the European Parliament, said ‘we cannot leave it to American Big Tech to decide how we can or cannot discuss online,’ labeling it a threat to the ‘consensus building’ that is ‘crucial in free and democratic societies.’…
“Poland, run by a populist-nationalist government, has long taken the issue of tech censorship seriously. The Polish government is in the process of passing a law that would fine tech companies millions of euros for censoring content that is legal in Poland. The law would also create a new Court for the Protection of Freedom of Speech in Poland, where citizens of the country will be able to escalate complaints of tech censorship… The government of Hungary, a resolute enemy of the international cultural left, began an investigation into tech censorship in Europe in 2019… In the same year, Hungary also fined Facebook for claiming its services are ‘free.’
“In the Pacific, leaders of the center-right government of Australia including the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, and the Treasurer, Josh Fryndenburg, also voiced their opposition to the bans of Trump from social media…
“In Russia, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was the victim of attempted assassination by poisoning last year, said Silicon Valley’s actions bear the hallmarks of authoritarianism. ‘Of course, Twitter is a private company, but we have seen many examples in Russian and China of such private companies becoming the state’s best friends and the enablers when it comes to censorship,’ said Navalny…
“Jonas Gahr Støre, leader of the left-wing Labour party in Norway and a favorite to become the next Prime Minister of the country, also criticized the censorship. While condemning President Trump for ‘hate,’ the left-wing party leader said that big tech censorship threatened political freedom around the world….”
washingtonexaminer.com wrote on January 11:
“French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has joined international leaders in condemning social media’s censorship of conservative voices.
“Le Maire, who said he was ‘shocked’ by the decisions of Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and other Silicon Valley companies to ban President Trump in the wake of Wednesday’s siege of Capitol Hill, called Big Tech ‘one of the threats’ to democracy. He called for government regulation of the corporations to stave off a ‘digital oligarchy.’
“‘This should be decided by citizens, not by a CEO,’ he said. ‘There needs to be public regulation of big online platforms.’
“Le Maire’s comments come as the technology companies are facing international scrutiny in light of their handling of the recent political unrest. Most notably, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the bans represented a ‘problematic’ breach of the ‘fundamental right to free speech.’”
Israelis See Big Tech Duplicity
Israel Today wrote on January 10:
“The decision by tech giants Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Google to silence US President Donald Trump and some of his followers has Israelis agitated… What’s got Israelis all across the political spectrum frustrated is the fact that the Jewish state has for years been pressing Facebook and Twitter to ban incitement to violence against Israel from the likes of Iran, Palestinian terror groups and others. But the response has always been that freedom of speech must be protected.
“During a Knesset hearing in July 2020, a Twitter representative told Israeli lawmakers that tweets by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei calling for the elimination of the ‘Zionist regime’ were legitimate ‘comments on political issues of the day.’
“So why is Trump different? Comparatively speaking, even if Trump’s tweets can be directly linked to the Capitol riots and other acts of violence, he never explicitly called for such, unlike Iran and the Palestinian terror groups. Also by way of comparison, the acts of violence in the US have resulted in far fewer casualties than have the acts of violence against Israel incited by Khamenei, the Muslim Brotherhood and Fatah.
“An Internet survey taken by Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv suggested that most Israelis see Twitter’s move as entirely political. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that cutting off Trump was an unjustified effort to silence a political voice…”
Twitter’s Bizarre Censorship
Israel 365 added on January 10:
“Twitter intensified its bizarre and disjointed program of censorship by taking down a tweet by Iran’s Ayatollah due to its skepticism of the COVID-19 vaccine while continuing to ignore the regime leader’s calls to wipe out Israel. Twitter removed a tweet posted on Friday by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying that anti-COVD vaccines produced in Britain and the US are ‘untrustworthy.’…”
Tucker Carlson Speaks Out
Life Site News wrote on January 9:
“Democrats, social media giants, and CEOs have seized upon Wednesday’s Washington, D.C. protest as a blanket excuse to crack down on the freedoms of anyone who supports President Donald Trump. ‘The Trump protest at the Capitol yesterday is already being used as a pretext for an unprecedented crackdown on civil liberties. Just in the last several hours we have heard people in positions of power and authority demand that those who support Donald Trump should no longer be allowed to publish books or use the internet or fly on airplanes… Driving cars, holding jobs, staying in hotels — those will certainly be next, and we’re barely exaggerating. In fact, we’re predicting it,’ Tucker Carlson said during his show Thursday evening. ‘To justify mind-bending, terrifyingly un-American demands like these, they are as usual relying on lies and hysteria,’ Carlson continued…
“Wednesday’s events are also being used as an excuse to remove posts and videos from major social media platforms. In some cases, there is no apparent reason other than the questioning of the legitimacy of the election, or even the expression of dissatisfaction with the Democratic party. YouTube has just announced that, in response to Wednesday’s events at the Capitol, it will crack down on claims of voter fraud by blocking users from YouTube for a week without a first-strike warning, which was its previous policy… YouTube has already admitted to censoring ‘thousands of videos’ claiming that fraud affected the 2020 election…
“Facebook and Instagram banned Donald Trump from their platforms indefinitely. Twitter announced Friday night it is banning Trump — the leader of the free world — from its platform permanently. The Chinese communist government is still allowed to use Twitter, as is Iran’s ayatollah. Meanwhile, Biden compared U.S. senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to Nazis.”
Glen Beck and Nazi Germany
The Huffington Post wrote on January 13:
“Right-wing talk show host Glenn Beck drew condemnation after he compared social media companies’ crackdown on President Donald Trump to the ghettoization of Jews in Nazi Germany. ‘You can’t have freedom of speech if you can’t … express yourself in a meaningful place,’ Beck said… claiming censorship was ‘absolutely un-American’ whether carried out by people on the left or the right… ‘Well, this is the digital ghetto…’”
Recently, in commenting on current events in the USA, more and more comparisons with Nazis and Nazi Germany have been drawn. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke of the “Reichskristallnacht,” when Jewish stores were destroyed by Nazis, comparing it with the mob invading the Capitol. On the other hand, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro compared the social media ban to the “Kristallnacht.” Politicians call their colleagues Nazis when they don’t agree with their viewpoint. However, all these comparisons are not helpful, when it is not being recognized who the Nazis in Germany were. Nazi is a short form for National Socialism, as it was practiced in Germany under Hitler. Most do not seem to recognize what Hitler stood for.
Ron Paul Takes on Big Tech and US Governments
Ron Paul wrote on January 11 in his weekly column:
“Last week’s massive social media purges – starting with President Trump’s permanent ban from Twitter and other outlets – was shocking and chilling, particularly to those of us who value free expression and the free exchange of ideas. The justifications given for the silencing of wide swaths of public opinion made no sense and the process was anything but transparent. Nowhere in President Trump’s two ‘offending’ Tweets, for example, was a call for violence expressed explicitly or implicitly. It was a classic example of sentence first, verdict later.
“Many Americans viewed this assault on social media accounts as a liberal or Democrat attack on conservatives and Republicans, but they are missing the point…. This is a wider assault on any opinion that veers from the acceptable parameters of the mainstream elite, which is made up of both Democrats and Republicans. Yes, this is partly an attempt to erase the Trump movement from the pages of history, but it is also an attempt to silence any criticism of the emerging political consensus in the coming Biden era that may come from progressive or antiwar circles…
“Those who continue to argue that the social media companies are purely private ventures acting independent of US government interests are ignoring reality… ‘Big Tech’ long ago partnered with the Obama/Biden/Clinton State Department to lend their tools to US ‘soft power’ goals overseas. Whether it was ongoing regime change attempts against Iran, the 2009 coup in Honduras, the disastrous US-led coup in Ukraine, ‘Arab Spring,’ the destruction of Syria and Libya, and so many more, the big US tech firms were happy to partner up with the State Department and US intelligence to provide the tools to empower those the US wanted to seize power and to silence those out of favor.
“In short, US government elites have been partnering with ‘Big Tech’ overseas for years to decide who has the right to speak and who must be silenced… Even pro-free speech alternative social media outlets are under attack from the Big Tech/government Leviathan…”
Big Tech’s reaction was prompt and swift. Notice the next articles.
Facebook Blocks Ron Paul
Breitbart wrote on January 12:
“Facebook on Monday blocked former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) from managing his own Facebook page… Paul tweeted, ‘With no explanation other than “repeatedly going against our community standards,” Facebook has blocked me from managing my page. Never have we received notice of violating community standards in the past and nowhere is the offending post identified.’… Facebook’s message to Paul did not include any specific information identifying what content was violative of its ‘community standards’ or how. The Facebook employee(s) who decided to restrict Paul’s access to his page was not identified.
“Facebook’s restriction of Paul’s access to its platform is the latest example of a broader pattern of left-wing censorship driven by Big Tech. Kelley Paul, wife of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), highlighted Twitter’s arbitrary application of its own nebulous terms of service on Sunday when she criticized the left-wing digital platform for not removing threats against her husband. ‘Hey @jack, remember how for the last three years you have allowed thousands of hateful tweets celebrating my husband’s assault and encouraging more violence against him? I do,’ wrote Paul’s wife in a tweet.”
On January 12, 2021, JonathanTurley.org wrote the following:
“Paul, a libertarian leader and former presidential candidate, has been an outspoken critic of foreign wars and an advocate for civil liberties for decades… His son is Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeted, ‘Facebook now considers advocating for liberty to be sedition. Where will it end?’
“Even before the riot, Democrats were calling for blacklists and retaliation against anyone deemed to be ‘complicit’ with the Trump Administration. We have been discussing the rising threats against Trump supporters, lawyers, and officials in recent weeks… After the riots, the big tech companies moved to ban and block sites and individuals, including Parler which is the primary alternative to Twitter…
“The riots are being used as a license to roll back on free speech and retaliate against conservatives. In the meantime, the silence of academics and many in the media is deafening. Many of those who have spoken for years about the dark period of McCarthyism and blacklisting are either supporting this censorship or remaining silent in the face of it…
“The move against Paul… shows how raw and comprehensive this crackdown has become. It shows how the threat to free speech has changed. It is like having a state media without state control… The riot was immediately taken as a green light to move against a huge variety of sites and individuals. As we have seen in Europe, such censorship becomes an insatiable appetite for greater and greater speech control… Yet, most law professors and media figures in the United States remain silent.”
Spahn to Be Next German Chancellor?
Reuters reported on January 13:
“German Health Minister Jens Spahn is considering putting himself forward to stand as chancellor for Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc in a September federal election, top-selling Bild daily reported on Friday. Merkel has said she will not run for a fifth term in the election and her Christian Democrats (CDU) are to pick a new leader next week. The winner would be a favourite to stand as chancellor but someone else could stand, not least because the CDU’s Bavarian sister party has to back the candidate.
Citing party sources, Bild said Spahn, who has been in the spotlight during the coronavirus pandemic, had discussed his future role with various influential CDU politicians in the last few weeks. A chairman of a CDU state association told the paper that Spahn was ‘very openly thinking about running and is saying so quite clearly in talks’.
“In addition, a CDU state parliamentary party leader told Bild: ‘Jens Spahn has made it clear to me that he is open to running for chancellor if his poll ratings in March are much better than (Armin) Laschet’s.’ Laschet is one of the candidates vying for the CDU leadership, to be decided at a Jan. 15-16 conference. Spahn, 40, has backed Laschet for that job. He faces long-time Merkel rival Friedrich Merz and foreign policy expert Norbert Roettgen.
“Spahn was a fierce critic of Merkel’s 2015 open-door migrant policy and lost a CDU leadership election in 2018. He won respect for Germany’s handling of the first coronavirus wave but is now facing some criticism for a slow vaccine rollout.”d
Francis Grants More Rights to Women
The Associated Press wrote on January 11:
“Pope Francis changed church law Monday to explicitly allow women to do more things during Mass, granting them access to the most sacred place on the altar, while continuing to affirm that they cannot be priests. Francis amended the law to formalize and institutionalize what is common practice in many parts of the world: Women can be installed as lectors, to read Scripture, and serve on the altar as eucharistic ministers. Previously, such roles were officially reserved to men even though exceptions were made. Francis said he was making the change to increase recognition of the ‘precious contribution’ women make in the church, while emphasizing that all baptized Catholics have a role to play in the church’s mission…
“The change comes as Francis remains under pressure to allow women to be deacons — ministers who perform many of the same functions as priests, such as presiding at weddings, baptisms and funerals. Currently, the ministry is reserved for men… Francis has created a second commission of experts to study whether women could be deacons… Advocates for expanding the diaconate to include women say doing so would give women greater say in the ministry and governance of the church, while also helping address priest shortages in several parts of the world. Opponents say allowing it would become a slippery slope toward ordaining women to the priesthood.”
Francis: Suicidal Denial
AFP wrote on January 9:
“Pope Francis has called opposition to the coronavirus vaccine ‘suicidal denial’ urging people to get the jab and saying he would get vaccinated himself next week. ‘Next week, we will start to do it here (in the Vatican) and I made an appointment, we must do it,’ he told Canale 5 in segments released on Saturday from an interview set to be broadcast the next day. ‘There is a suicidal denial which I cannot explain, but today we have to get vaccinated,’ the pontiff said.”
Life Site News wrote on January 7:
“The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the Lutheran World Foundation (LWF) have released an updated version of their joint document on justification to mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s excommunication from the Catholic Church.
“Bishop Farrell… described it: ‘we do have the same doctrine and it basically says this: “together, we Lutherans and Catholics, confess that by grace alone in faith in Christ’s saving work, and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit who renews our hearts and makes us capable of doing good work.’”
“The new translation and increased ecumenical ties, come as the latest steps in an increasing number of actions undertaken by Pope Francis, in order to align the Catholic Church with the Lutherans. Then in January of 2020, Lutheran Evangelical Reverend Michael Jonas stated that in a private audience, Pope Francis had ‘stressed’ how ‘Catholics and Protestants are very close to one another in what they do in their public worship.’”
“A Week into Brexit, the Pain for UK Businesses Has Arrived”
The New York Times wrote on January 9:
“Britain started 2021 in a new relationship with its biggest trade partner, and it has immediately brought a litany of headaches and lost business. Within a week, implications of the Brexit trade deal with the European Union are being felt by businesses up and down the country as food deliveries are delayed for not having the right customs paperwork, logistics companies halt the shipment of goods, and retailers discover their supply chains might be obsolete…
“[On Monday,] The first day of financial trading under the new agreement meant the stock of European companies could no longer be traded on the London-based platforms they have historically been exchanged on. The trades have migrated to trading platforms in cities including Amsterdam and Paris… [On Tuesday] The British retailer Marks & Spencer had trouble getting its fresh salads and other prepared foods across the English Channel to its stores in France… [On Wednesday] The governor of the Bank of England, Britain’s central bank, told a parliamentary committee that the Brexit deal would cost the British economy about 2 percent of gross domestic product over the next few years. Part of that expense, said Andrew Bailey, the governor, would be caused by additional paperwork for customs declarations and other expenses of trade…
“[On Thursday] Scottish salmon farmers, who take pride in getting their fillets from sea to French markets within 24 hours, reported delays in their sleek process under the new Brexit terms. The deal’s ‘new, complex’ trading rules had caused holdups as seafood companies struggled with the paperwork, the trade group Scotland Food and Drink said. ‘We have warned for months about the lack of preparation time for everyone involved and these problems sadly come as little surprise,’ said the head of the group.
“[On Friday] The large European delivery company DPD, which moved more than one billion parcels around the world in 2019, said it would stop sending packages from Britain to the European Union until at least the middle of next week as it tried to figure out new cross-border systems.
“For many businesses, this is what Brexit has quickly become: a logistical, regulatory and administrative burden for which they were unprepared. It will only add to the malaise in Britain, where the coronavirus pandemic is raging… and the country is under its third national lockdown. And analysts say the economy is heading for a double-dip recession…
“On Friday, DFDS, a large Danish logistics company that runs ferries from the English port of Dover to France, said a ‘high volume’ of trucks were being refused or delayed for not having the correct paperwork… DPD, the parcel delivery company, said it paused service to the European Union after up to 20 percent of parcels it handled had incorrect or incomplete data, and so would need to be returned to the sender…
“Many U.K. businesses — at least 150,000, according to data from Britain’s tax agency — have never traded beyond the European Union, and so have no experience dealing with the customs systems…
“Another new problem faced by large retailers with international locations: ‘Rules-of-origin requirements,’ which determine whether a product leaving Britain is ‘British enough’ to qualify for tariff-free trade with the European Union. International retailers who use sites in Britain as distribution centers are now finding that they can’t automatically re-export their products to their stores in the European Union without facing tariffs — even if the product came from the bloc…
“So far, there are few immediate tangible benefits of Brexit for businesses… it will be hard to realize any substantial short-term gains from Britain’s new trading arrangement with the European Union, especially since the pandemic continues to take a toll on the economy. Last year, the British economy experienced its deepest recession in more than 300 years, and the lockdowns continue as vaccines are slowly rolled out.”
Food Supplies at Risk
msn.com wrote on January 13:
Two weeks after New Year celebrations from government that marked the end of the Brexit transition period, bosses of the U.K.’s largest supermarkets are warning of “significant disruption” to food supplies in the coming months because of post-Brexit border arrangements on the island of Ireland.
Already, some products are running short in Northern Ireland as shops come up against new post-Brexit rules for importing food products from Great Britain across the Irish Sea. The chief executives of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Iceland, Co-Op and Marks & Spencer have written to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove warning that “urgent intervention” is needed to prevent supermarkets running out of food. They said that if further new certification requirements are introduced in April the system will become “unworkable”.
Since December 31, as part of the Brexit deal, a customs border was imposed in the Irish Sea to allow Northern Ireland to remain a part of the European Union’s (EU’s) single market for goods while the rest of the U.K. left. This means that food products moving from England, Scotland and Wales into Northern Ireland are subject to extra controls and checks at ports.
Acknowledgement and Disclaimer
These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Staff. 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.
Hyperbole in the Bible (Part 2)
In the first part in this series, we discussed and reviewed what hyperbole is and what its uses are in the Bible.
When it comes to Scripture, we have many examples which we will now review.
2 Samuel 1:23:
“Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives, And in their death they were not divided; They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions.”
The National Eagle Centre states that “Eagles can achieve 30 mph using powerful wing-beats and even faster when diving after prey (stoop). Bald eagles can dive at up to 100 mph; golden eagles at up to 150 mph. However, “The fastest recorded human sprinter ever is Usain Bolt. At the World Championship in Berlin in 2009, he hit 27.78 miles per hour between meters 60 and 80 during the 100-meter sprint. Over the full 100 meters, he averaged 23.35 miles per hour, finishing in 9.58 seconds and setting a new world record.”
Obviously, there is no comparison between the speed that a man can run and an eagle can fly. In addition, we read in Proverbs 30:30: “A lion, which is mighty among beasts And does not turn away from any.”
In Matthew Poole’s English Annotations on the Holy Bible, they explain as follows: “Swifter than eagles; expeditious and nimble in pursuing their enemies, and executing their designs; which is a great commendation in a prince and in a soldier. Stronger than lions, in regard of their bodily strength and the courage of their minds.”
Joseph Benson’s Commentary of the Old and New Testaments observes: “According to Agur’s observation, Proverbs 30:30, the lion never betakes himself to flight, but faces his foe to the last. Courage then seems the most remarkable property of the lion. And since David uses the same word here in speaking of Saul and Jonathan which Agur uses in speaking of this property of the lion, he evidently means to celebrate the courage of his heroes rather than their strength; and to say that, in facing the enemy and braving of danger, they were undaunted as lions.”
It is very clear that hyperbole was used in this verse to make or reinforce a point and to catch the reader’s attention.
“Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, ‘The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven; moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.’’’
This was making the point that, in human terms, the walls were very high. In the previous Q&A – “Doesn’t Psalm 139:8 show that we either go to heaven or hell at death?” we answer this question and refer to another Q&A that we have produced showing that the Bible speaks of three heavens. The first two heavens — the physical heavens — can be divided into the earth’s atmosphere and the space beyond our atmosphere — commonly called the universe plus a heaven composed of spirit — the third heaven, where God lives. Therefore, in Deuteronomy 1:28, this could only apply to the first heaven as the other two are way beyond the first heaven and any wall could be fortified only up to a certain level.
In Wikipedia, we read “The world’s tallest artificial structure is the 829.8-metre-tall (2,722 ft) Burj Khalifa in Dubai (of the United Arab Emirates). The building gained the official title of “tallest building in the world” and the tallest self-supported structure at its opening on January 9, 2010.” As modern building techniques have improved exponentially in recent times, even this building in Dubai hardly makes a mark in the first heaven and the “walled cities of the Anakim” would have been substantially smaller than the current tallest structure in the world.
Again, hyperbole is used in this verse to make the point that, except for Caleb and Joshua, the other ten men returned from the land that God had wanted to give Israel and were terrified by the inhabitants and made out that the walled cities were fortified up to heaven to support their case. God was not pleased by their words and actions and they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Hyperbole in this case simply didn’t work!
“Among all this people were seven hundred select men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair’s breadth and not miss.”
Matthew Poole’s Commentary opines as follows:
“Left-handed, Heb. shut up on their right hand, i.e. using their left hand instead of their right.
“Every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss; an hyperbolical expression, signifying that they could do this with great exactness. There are many parallel instances in historians of persons that could throw stones or shoot arrows with great certainty, so as seldom or never to miss; of which see my Latin Synopsis.”
“When my steps were bathed with cream, And the rock poured out rivers of oil for me!”
Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible states:
“…and the rock poured me out rivers of oil; another hyperbolical expression, like that in Deuteronomy 32:13, where honey is said to be sucked out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; as honey may be got out of a rock, because bees may make their nests and hives there, where it is laid up by them; so oil, in like manner, may be had from the flinty rock, olive trees growing on hills, mountains, and rocks, which yield oil in great abundance; near Jerusalem was a mount called Olivet, from thence: the land of Edom, or Idumea, where abounded with cragged mountains and rocks; and there might be in Job’s estate such on which olive trees grew in great plenty, as to produce vast quantities of oil.”
2 Chronicles 1:15:
“Also the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedars as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland.”
Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible – Unabridged
“The king made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plenteous as stones – in addition to the large amount of treasure collected and bequeathed to him by his father David. The great source of Solomon’s immense wealth undoubtedly lay in his trading speculations. For, as a monarch, he possessed advantages and enjoyed facilities for ending into trade, infinitely superior to any of his subjects. His vessels traded to distant shores, and returned laden with the gold and the treasures of every land. The multiplication of gold and silver was prohibited to the theocratic king as well as that of horses (Deuteronomy 17:16-17).”
E.W. Bullinger’s Companion Bible Notes
“as stones . . . as the sycamore trees. Figure of speech Hyperbole.”
“If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
The right eye was generally regarded as the better one, just as the “right hand” is the stronger one for the majority of people. To gouge it out is a graphic hyperbolic equivalent of the apostle Paul’s exhortation to “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (Romans 8:13) or to “mortify (kill) therefore your members …” (Colossians 3:5). Either way, the idea is to refrain from using those faculties or abilities for sin.
This is not meant to be literally applied; it is hyperbole to forcibly make the point that we should do everything possible to make sure we enter the Kingdom of God and such expressive language is used to get our attention!
Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains:
“Pluck it out … – It cannot be supposed that Christ intended this to be taken literally. His design was to teach that the dearest objects, if they cause us to sin, are to be abandoned; that by all sacrifices and self-denials we must overcome the evil propensities of our nature, and resist our wanton imaginations. Some of the fathers, however, took this commandment literally. Our Saviour several times repeated this sentiment.”
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”
The Benson Commentary states that “The word here rendered mote, according to Hesychius, may signify a little splinter of wood. This, and the beam, its opposite, were proverbially used by the Jews to denote, the one, small infirmities, the other, gross, palpable faults.”
The Expositor’s Greek Testament makes these interesting comments: “A beam in the eye is a natural impossibility; cf. the camel and the needle eye. This is a case of tu quoque (a retort accusing an accuser of a similar offense or similar behaviour) or rather of “thou much more”. The faults may be of the same kind: a petty theft, commercial dishonesty on a large scale—“thou that judgest doest the same things” (Romans 2:2); or of a different sort: moral laxity in the publican, pride and inhumanity in the Pharisee who despised him (Luke 18:9-14).— the contrast is not between seeing and failing to see, but between seeing and not choosing to see; ignoring, consciously overlooking. The censorious man is not necessarily ignorant of his own faults, but he does not let his mind rest on them. It is more pleasant to think of other people’s faults.”
The hyperbole used by beam in the eye is, as stated above, a physical impossibility – it can be described as a long, thick piece of wood, metal, or concrete – and very little is able to get in the eye because of its small size. However, by mentioning a beam it brings an extravagant and exaggerated mental vision that can resonate and remain with the reader denoting, in vivid terms, the much greater fault which we overlook in ourselves.
(To be continued)
Lead writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
A Tech Team meeting was conducted on Sunday, January 10, 2021, via SKYPE. Hosted by Eric Rank, we discussed topics covering Internet providers; transmission of Sabbath services; and possible dates for the Ministerial Conference for 2021. In this regard, it appears that we will have to conduct the Conference around the time of Pentecost—due to restrictions in travel and the status of the COVID-19 virus.
“Die Narren und die Toren” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Michael Link. Title in English: “The Fools and the Foolish.”
“Die Frucht Freude,” is the title of last Sabbath’s German sermonette, presented by Christoph Sperzel. Title in English: “The Fruit of Joy.”
“And on His Shoulders,” the split sermon presented last Sabbath by Frank Bruno, is now posted. Here is a summary:
That the world is a troubled place is a vast understatement. The condition of many of our major cities is an indication of the failed leadership by human-kind that is now deaf to the Word of God and His Son. People worry about climate change as being irreversible, but never give a thought to the foundation and future of a nation that at one time espoused obedience to God as a primary tenet. The Bible holds the keys to the future of a government and a kingdom that will never end, and whose goodness will be boundless and endless as well. Together in this split-sermon we will refresh our understanding of the promises that God and His Son, Jesus Christ, have laid out in the scriptures for us to read, comprehend and pray for.
“The Comfort of Backsliding,” the split sermon presented last Sabbath by Robb Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:
We are warned throughout the Bible of the perils of rejecting God and returning to our carnality. This is an attitude that leads to destruction, yet it is an action many who have once professed God follow after. Our hands must stay firmly gripped on that proverbial plow if we have any hope of weathering the end of days.
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
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