News Letter 5847-053
27th day of the 12th month 5847 years after the creation of Adam
The 12th Month in the Second year of the third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences
March 21, 2012
Shalom Brethren I am sending this News letter out early so that the Newer Brethren can be aware of what is going and when. This will be the last News Letter for this current year.
This week we received a tweet from Nehemiah Gordon that the Barley was found to be aviv. They did have to look to find some.
This now means that the New Moon coming this weekend will be what determines the 1st day of this first month of Aviv of this New Year. This is now the 5848th year since the creation of Adam.
For those who are still learning about the Barley and why we need to have it to begin the year, understand that the wave offering on the Morrow after the Sabbath during the days of Unleavened Bread needs to have ripe barley in order to fulfill this command found in Lev 23:10-14.You can read this article at http://www.karaite-korner.org/abib.shtml to learn more.
We also have this article to help you understand why we use the first crescent of the sighted moon to begin the month. http://www.karaite-korner.org/new_moon.shtml
And these two as well:
Last week I was duped into forwarding an article that was not issued by the Johns Hopkin Institute. I want to make my apologies for that. Here is what I was shown afterwards at http://www.snopes.com/medical/disease/cancerupdate.asp Thank you to those who brought this to my attention.
We wait for the Moon to be sighted from Jerusalem which is Yehovah’s headquarters on earth; and for two witnesses to see it. It is possible that the moon will be seen on Friday evening. So we will wait for word as to whether or not it has been seen.
But you and your family can go out Friday evening and begin to look for it immediately after sunset. It will be just above where the sun goes down and it will be below Jupiter and Venus which will be just starting to shine as the moon sets. Venus will be above Jupiter.
Last weekend I also received the following report from Nehemiah Gordon in Israel.
Karaite Korner Newsletter #547
Surprise Leap Year?
The Aviv Search this Thursday and Friday (March 22-23) looks like it is going to be a hair-raising cliffhanger. I was assuming it would be easy to find Aviv barley during this year’s search. Last year was a Hebrew leap year and it is extremely rare to have two of these in a row. However, this past winter has been very wet and cold on Israeli standards and this may be causing the barley to ripen later. A preliminary exam of the barley two weeks ago showed it was very young in its maturation cycle meaning a second leap year is looking more and more possible. We won’t know for sure until we examine the barley later this week at the end of the Twelfth Biblical month. If we don’t find Aviv barley it will mean that the Feast of Unleavened Bread won’t begin until sunset May 6 (instead of sunset April 6). This year’s search has been made more difficult by Arab terrorists indiscriminately firing rockets at Israeli civilian targets. One of the areas know from past experience to ripen earliest is “Kassam Alley,” the strip of land surrounding the Palestinian-occupied Gaza Strip. Please pray we have a safe Aviv Search. To help support our efforts please make your tax-deductible donation to Makor Hebrew Foundation, POB 535579, Grand Prairie TX 75053 or at: http://MakorHebrew.org/donations.shtml
To find out more about the Aviv please see:
For a list of potential feast dates please see:
IN the news this past month has been the relationship between the US and Israel. President Obama has claimed to be a friend of Israel in public but then behind the scenes he has not been so friendly or helpful.
Here are a couple of reports to bare in mind as we draw closer to the upcoming war with the Muslim nations.
YNet News reported:
White House tells Sunday Times Obama pressed Netanyahu to postpone Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities until after November, adding president ‘might visit Israel in summer’
Israel will only strike Iranian nuclear facilities in September or after the United States presidential elections in November, a White House official told the British Sunday Times newspaper after a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama last week.
According to the report, Obama has taken Israel’s warnings about a possible strike in Iran very seriously. The Washington source added that the president “might visit in the summer to reassure the Israelis that the US commitment to defend Israel is unshakable and thus thwart a possible autumn attack.”
Obama insisted that any attack on Iran should be postponed until after the US presidential elections in November, possibly even until next spring. The source revealed that Netanyahu consented to delaying a strike, but wished to know until when. “The question is how much time,” he reportedly said.
The White House source added that Netanyahu presented a number of demands Iran must fulfill in order to avoid an Israeli attack, including transferring 150 kilograms (330 pounds) of enriched uranium to a third party, stopping the enrichment process at the Fordow site near Qom and ceasing any further enrichment beyond the 3.5% required for power generation.
President Obama spoke at the AIPAC and repeatedly said to Israel that the USA had Israel’s back.
We can read about how in truth the President has not had Israel’s back since he came to office.
Why Israel Still Can’t Trust That Obama Has Its Back
I then would like to urge you all to listen to Prime Minister Netanyahu in his speech at these same AIPAC meetings.
Netanyahu’s speech on March 5, 2012.
If you have heard the presentation I teach you about the oil situation and how it is going to be the thing that ignites this coming war in which Israel is going to be invaded by the King of the North; then listen to what Prime Minister Netanyahu has to say about the Suez being cut off.
This is also so you know what is going on in the world right now. How close we are to things going ballistic.
The Prophecies of Abraham have been showing us that things are about to happen. 2012 matches up to the year 586 BC in which Judah fell to the Babylonians.
2013 matches up to the time in Abraham’s life cycle when The Kings of the North invaded Sodom and Gomorrah. Jerusalem is known in prophecy as Sodom and Gomorrah. 2013 is also the point which many believe to be the beginning of the last 3 ½ years of tribulation; A deception by Satan but a reality that most of the Christians and Messianics believe none the same.
We are near to something huge.
Also in the news this week has been more about Sudan. http://barenakedislam.com/2012/03/18/no-matter-what-you-think-of-george-clooney-unlike-barack-obama-he-is-trying-to-help-the-mainly-black-christian-people-of-sudan/
One of the things that I have been teaching is that 1996, the first year of this the last Jubilee cycle, was also the year that the covenant was to be made between the Beast Power and the many other nations as we are told in Daniel.
Dan 9:27 “And he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week.
The Word for week is;
H7620 ????? ???? ?????? sha?bu?a? sha?bu?a? shebu??a?h shaw-boo’-ah, shaw-boo’-ah, sheb-oo-aw’
Properly passive participle of H7650 as a denominative of H7651; literally sevened, that is, a week (specifically of years): – seven, week.
This is the last Shabua. A shabua is a 49 year Jubilee cycle and this is the last 49 year period which began in 1996 and goes to 2044 the 49th year in this Jubilee cycle. 2045 is the beginning of the 7th millennium.
In Daniel we are told of this covenant. But for years I have not been able to learn what this covenant is. That was until this past Shabbat when Lora Skeahan found it and shared it with us. I thank her for her diligent research and hard work to learn this and share it with us.
Here is the synopsis of what this covenant says which 179 of our nations have already signed and agreed to and are already implementing. What began as suggestions and was voluntary is now becoming law and is punishable by those who wrote it upon those who do not agree to it. North America has signed away it’s liberty and freedom and no one even knows it.
New Treaty In the Making
Covenant on Environment and Development
(from eco-logic January/February, 1998)
Few people in America have seen Agenda 21. Even fewer have read it. It is a 288-page document, consisting of 40 chapters replete with “recommendations” that affect virtually every aspect of human life. Taken together, the recommendations, when fully implemented, constitute what is called “sustainable development.” Agenda 21 is the Action Plan adopted at UNCED — the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development — in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The United States was one of 179 nations that signed the document. It is a “soft-law document,” meaning that it is not legally binding, and therefore, Congress has no reason to review or approve its content. Nevertheless, the recommendations contained in Agenda 21 are being implemented through two separate, but coordinated, initiatives: the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD), and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). Implementation is occurring through the promulgation of rules by federal agencies, and through the development of plans for “sustainable communities” at the local level. Recommendations from Agenda 21 are being implemented without the benefit of public debate by elected officials. Though many communities do not recognize it as such, a well-coordinated national effort is underway to transform America to conform to the principles set forth in Agenda 21.
Although Agenda 21 is a soft-law document, it was, from the start, intended to be the precursor of an all-encompassing UN Treaty. The most recent iteration of that treaty has now been obtained and reviewed. It is called, in its present form, “Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development.” It is organized into 11 parts, containing a total of 72 Articles. It will convert the “soft-law” recommendations of Agenda 21, into legally binding “hard” international law.
Before examining the document itself, it is helpful to realize that the procedure for making international law has evolved since 1948 and is now recognized by the international community as the norm. The introduction to the Draft Covenant says:
“The progression of legal principles from recommendatory `soft’ to legally clear `hard’ is well known in international law. For example, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a `soft law’ instrument, was the precursor to the two 1966 UN Covenants on Human Rights.”
Similarly, the Vienna Convention on Ozone Depleting Substances was adopted and ratified as a treaty which required only that nations “monitor” substances thought to be ozone-depleting. The Conference of the Parties, then adopted the Montreal Protocol which made the treaty legally binding. The same process is being used to convert the “voluntary” Framework Convention on Climate Change into a legally binding “hard law” document through the Kyoto Protocol. The Covenant on Environment and Development is following the same path.
The first call for an international treaty on environment and development came from the 1983 World Commission on Environment and Development, also known as the “Brundtland Commission.” Their final report, published in 1987, entitled Our Common Future, recommended that the United Nations prepare
“a new and legally-binding universal Convention [which] should consolidate existing and establish new legal principles, and set out the associated rights and responsibilities of States individually and collectively for securing environmental protection and sustainable development to the year 2000 and beyond.”
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assembled a working group under its Commission on Environmental Law (CEL), under the chairmanship of Dr. Wolfgang E. Burhenne, in November,1989. They produced a draft text containing 88 provisions. A second meeting of the IUCN group met in March 1991, under the chairmanship of Dr. Parvez Hassan. The Draft Covenant was translated into six official languages recognized by the UN and provided to PrepComm Working Group III, then preparing for UNCED in Rio. The evolving Covenant then became the basis for the development of Agenda 21.
From the start, Agenda 21 was intended to be a “soft law” document. Therefore, its ideas are presented in the form of recommendations with do discussion at all of compliance and enforcement. The Draft Covenant, however, does address those issues. A third meeting of the IUCN group was held shortly after UNCED to incorporate ideas presented in Rio into the Covenant. Two more meetings occurred, in April and September 1993. Both the Chairs of the IUCN’s Ethics Commission and the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission were invited to participate. The drafting committee met again in April, and September, 1994. While the IUCN is clearly the driving force behind the document, other organizations that participated in the development of the Covenant included the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL); and the United Nations Environmental Programme’s Environmental Law and Institutions Programme Activity Center (UNEP/ELIPAC).
The current Draft Covenant was completed March, 1995, in Bonn, Germany.
Like all recent UN Treaties, the language is somewhat vague and seeks to establish principles which may be interpreted in the future by the treaty’s Conference of the Parties. Part I, Article 1 sets forth the Covenant’s objective:
“The objective of this Covenant is to achieve environmental conservation and sustainable development by establishing integrated rights and obligations.”
The casual reader might miss the import of this Article: “…by establishing integrated rights and obligations.” This Article clearly illustrates the difference between the UN’s concept of governance and America’s concept of governance. America recognizes that humans have certain “inalienable” rights, among which is the right to create a government controlled by the people who are governed through representatives who are elected by the people who are governed. Inalienable rights are limited; obligations are accepted in America only with the consent of the people who are governed. The People who are governed retain the right to cast off any limitation on their rights or any obligation they may have previously accepted, simply by electing a new batch of representatives.
The Covenant, on the other hand, assumes that “rights” are granted by government, and that people to whom rights are granted “owe” certain obligations to government as may be prescribed by government. This concept of governance is the prevailing view held by most of the world. The American view is beyond the comprehension of most of the world’s peoples. Even in nations that are described as “social democracies,” it is assumed that government is the source of human rights. This is an exceedingly important principle of governance that America has failed to advance in the international community. In fact, the UN’s concept of governance is eroding the traditional American view of governance every time America embraces a UN treaty. The President’s Council on Sustainable Development, too, is operating on the UN principle, by-passing Congress and other elected officials, as it implements the recommendations of Agenda 21.
Part II of the Covenant includes Articles 2 through 10 which set forth the primary principles on which the Covenant is based. Most of the principles are at odds with traditional American values. For example, Article 2 declares that:
“Nature as a whole warrants respect; every form of life is unique and is to be safeguarded independent of its value to humanity.”
This principle replaces the anthropocentric world view with a biocentric world view. Historically, Americans have believed that human life is the supreme value aside from the creator of all life; that human beings are at the top of the food chain. Americans have believed that human beings are creation’s crowning jewel, that, ultimately, all species (natural resources) are available for human use. The biocentric world view holds that humans have no value greater than any other species and that all species — including humans — have equal rights. This biocentric view has been officially adopted by the U.S. Department of Interior, which, in its Ecosystem Management Policy, states that “in all ecosystem management activity, human beings shall be considered as a biological resource.”
The “Precautionary Principle” is codified in Article 7. The same idea is expressed in Principle 15 of Agenda 21. It is the idea that policy action should not wait on scientific justification if “government” decides that a “threat” to the environment exists. Article 8 (Principle 3 in Agenda 21) declares that the “right” to development is accompanied by the “obligation” to meet environmental and “equity” needs — as determined by non-elected government policy makers. Article 10 writes into international law “The elimination of unsustainable patterns of production and consumption…” again, as determined by non-elected government policy makers. Maurice Strong, Secretary-General of UNCED, and now, Executive Coordinator of UN Reform, declared in Rio that single family homes, air conditioning, and automobiles — are not sustainable.
Part III sets forth the general obligations. Article 11 declares that “States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to utilize their resources….” This article clearly establishes the United Nations Charter and the “principles of international law” as superior to national sovereignty. Moreover, the Article also sets forth specific “obligations” which include the obligation to “protect and preserve the environment.”
Article 12 describes the obligations of individuals: “All persons have a duty to protect and preserve the environment.” Article 13 requires “Parties shall pursue sustainable development policies aimed at the eradication of poverty…[and] the conservation of biological diversity.”
Part IV (Articles 16 through 22) says States “shall restrict human activities which modify, or are likely to modify…” stratospheric ozone, global climate, the soil, water, natural systems, biological diversity, and cultural and natural heritage. Part V, in three Articles, deals with measures to prevent environmental harm, pollution, waste generation, and the introduction of “alien” organisms.
Part VI deals with global issues. Article 27 focuses on “demographic” policies. Each state Party is required to “provide to their populations full information on the options concerning family planning.” Article 28 requires “strategies to reduce or eliminate unsustainable patterns of consumption.” Article 29 requires the eradication of poverty and “food security.” Article 30 requires pricing of raw materials and commodities to “reflect the full direct and indirect social and environmental costs of their extraction, production, transport, marketing, and disposal.”
Responsibility and Liability
The Covenant is quite comprehensive. It writes into “hard” international law virtually all of the recommendations of Agenda 21, and many new ideas. Part IX deals with “Responsibility and Liability.” The following articles speak for themselves.
Article 47 – State Responsibility
“Each State Party is responsible under international law for the breach of its obligations under this Covenant or of other rules of international law concerning the environment.”
Article 48 – State Liability
“Each State Party is liable for significant harm to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, as well as for injury to persons resulting therefrom, caused by acts or omissions of its organs or by activities under its jurisdiction or control.”
Article 49 – Cessation, Restitution and Compensation
“Each State Party shall cease activities causing significant harm to the environment…. Where that is not possible, the State Party of the origin of the harm shall provide compensation or other remedy for the harm.”
Article 50 – Consequences of Failure to Prevent Harm
“Each State Party may be held responsible for significant harm to the environment resulting from its failure to carry out the obligations of prevention contained in this Covenant, in respect to its activities or those of its nationals.”
Article 52 – Civil Remedies
“Parties shall ensure the availability of effective civil remedies that provide for cessation of harmful activities as well as for compensation to victims of environmental harm irrespective of the nationality or the domicile of the victims.”
Article 53 – Recourse under Domestic Law and Non-Discrimination
“Each State Party of origin shall ensure that any person in another State Party who is adversely affected by transboundary environmental harm has the right of access to administrative and judicial procedures equal to that afforded nationals or residents of the State Party of origin in cases of domestic environmental harm.”
Article 54 – Sovereign Immunity
“Parties may not claim sovereign immunity in respect of proceedings instituted under this Covenant.”
Article 55 – Beyond National Jurisdiction
“The provisions of Articles 47 to 54 may be invoked by any affected person for harm to the environment of areas beyond national jurisdiction.”
Disputes arising from the Covenant are to be settled either by an arbitral tribunal, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. As has become the custom of UN Treaties, Article 69 provides that “No reservations may be made to this Covenant.”
This is the UN Treaty that will move the world into the clutches of global governance. All the other “soft law” documents and specific purpose treaties are simply steps toward global governance. The Covenant on Environment and Development clearly identifies the destination to which all the other documents are leading. Our State Department is fully aware of this Covenant, and the other activities of the IUCN which has developed this Covenant. In fact, the U.S. State Department contributes more than $1 million per year to the IUCN, a non-governmental organization (NGO), that coordinates the activity of more than 700 other NGOs toward the development and implementation of global governance.
It is not yet known when the UN intends to roll-out this Covenant for public consideration. The Millennium celebration planned for the year 2000, during which the first meeting of the new “Assembly of the People” will meet, could be the occasion. The Assembly of the People will consist of selected representatives from NGOs that are “accredited” by the United Nations. Global governance is not an event that will occur on a day certain in the future. It is a process that has been underway for several years and will become a fact before most Americans realize that it is a threat.
In the above document we just read the following line;
Nevertheless, the recommendations contained in Agenda 21 are being implemented through two separate, but coordinated, initiatives: the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD), and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).
You can look up what the ICLEI is doing in your respective state at the following link in the USA. http://www.icleiusa.org/main-page/about-iclei/members/member-list
If you are in Canada here is the link for your communities that have signed up with the beast power; http://www.iclei.org/index.php?id=611
And here is the link to the international community that are joining this union where they give up their freedoms to this group in the European Union who are turning this voluntary laws or soft laws into hard laws with penalties and the loss of freedoms; http://www.iclei.org/
And here is some more for you to read about this invasive law that your country has now signed up for.
And as you read consider this scripture about the Beasts of Daniels prophecy.
Dan 7:7 “After this I looked in the night visions and saw a fourth beast, fearsome and burly, exceedingly strong. And it had great iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and trampled down the rest with its feet. And it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
Here is one of the steps that was taken in Rio in 1992 that then led to the one passed in 1996. http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/index.shtml
In revelation is a strange scripture that I want you to read especially after reading this Agenda 21 treaty. It is telling us that even in war they will be concerned with the trees as they kill each other.
Rev 9:1 And the fifth messenger sounded, and I saw a star from the heaven which had fallen to the earth. And the key to the pit of the deep was given to it.
Rev 9:2 And he opened the pit of the deep, and smoke went up out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. And the sun was darkened, also the air, because of the smoke of the pit.
Rev 9:3 And out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth, and authority was given to them as the scorpions of the earth possess authority.
Rev 9:4 And it was said to them that they shall not harm the grass of the earth, or any green matter, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of Elohim upon their foreheads.
Rev 9:5 And it was given to them that they should not kill them, but to torture them for five months. And their torture was like the torture of a scorpion when it stings a man.
Even in all of this coming mayhem the armies of Satan are told to protect the grass and all trees and anything green. This has been so strange to me to read until now when I see this agenda 21. It is becoming clearer each day.
In order to protect the environment these laws will be enforced on those nations who break them. And even in the time of war the armies are going to have to abide by this same safe the trees campaign.
Brethren you have now read the covenant that is made with many for this the last Shabua which began in 1996. It was signed in Germany and is to protect the environment at all cost, even if that cost is war. What was a soft law is now becoming a hard and fast law and more are coming as more time passes.
See again this other article about this Agenda 21. http://www.crossroad.to/text/articles/la21_198.html
The U.N. Plan for Your “Sustainable” Community
By Berit Kjos – 1998
Note: This global contract binds all nations to the collective vision of “sustainable development.” They must commit to pursue the three E’s of “sustainability”: Environment, Economy and Equity referring to the UN blueprint for environmental regulations, economic manipulation, and social equity. (See also Habitat 2)
The Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide — a UN manual for global transformation (which I brought home from the 1996 UN Conference on Human Settlements in Istanbul) was prepared by The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). Community leaders around the world are now called to implement a new “Communitarian” system of governance which overrides our constitutional rights and freedoms.
“Land…cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes. Public control of land use is therefore indispensable….” (Item #10 in the UN agenda at the 1976 Habitat 1. American delegates supported this policy)
These three updates illustrate United Nations’ “progress” toward implementation of its Marxist agenda:
1. The United Nations bans opposition to its Global Tax Design. “When United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced his plan ‘to fundamentally transform the global economy — based on low-carbon, clean energy resources,’ few realized he was calling for a new global tax to be designed without public scrutiny…. The UN’s one nation, one vote system has been used since its founding to render the U.S. impotent, regardless of the fact that we are its major financial donor. ….Banning the press and global tax opponents from its July 13-14 tax design meeting in Tokyo, Japan, for example, is anathema to a democratic process, but the UN is not a democracy. Rather, its unelected bureaucrats use a ‘collaborative decision-making process’ to reach ‘consensus’ with no debate or expressed opposition…..
“The purpose of the Fund is to enable the UN to implement its global blueprint for sustainable development called Agenda 21. This green agenda is the new Marxism that requires government ensured economic equity…. In the U.S., federal and state legislatures were bypassed when then-President Clinton signed an executive order to create the President’s Council on Sustainable Development to implement Agenda 21. Federal grants continue to flow to local governments to carry out the UN’s green agenda across America.
“Granting the UN the right to tax would be like giving it a blank check for future use. Taxpayers can be assured of perpetual demand because it has no idea what it will cost to ‘go green.’ Two years ago, it estimated the cost at $600 billion annually for the next decade, but today its estimate is at least $1.9 trillion annually for the next 40 years or $76 trillion” [By Cathie Adams, Eagle Forum International Issues Chairman]
2. The New ‘White House Rural Council’ = UN’s Agenda 21? “On June 9, 2011, President Obama signed his 86th Executive Order….E.O 13575 is designed to begin taking control over almost all aspects of the lives of 16% of the American people. [Ponder the new policies:]
Section 1. Policy. Sixteen percent of the American population lives in rural counties. Strong, sustainable rural communities are essential to winning the future and ensuring American competitiveness in the years ahead…. The Federal Government has an important role to play in order to expand access to the capital necessary for economic growth, promote innovation, improve access to health care and education, and expand outdoor recreational activities on public lands.’
“Warning bells should have been sounding all across rural America when the phrase ‘sustainable rural communities’ came up. As we know from researching the UN plan for Sustainable Development known as Agenda 21, these are code words for the true fundamental transformation America.” But how will burdened farmers and other tax-payers pay the extra costs — especially in light of our government’s massive debt?”
3. Democrats Bury ‘Community Transformation’ Plans in Health Care Bill. [11-6-09]: “In the bill, the Affordable Health Choices Act, community transformation plans would be carried out using federal money and be overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC would distribute the money as well as coordinate the various state, local, and ‘community’ entities responsible for carrying out the plans.
“…both state and local governments are eligible for the grants, as are ‘national networks of community-based organizations’…. The transformation plans must include ‘activities’ for all ages, beginning in public schools, which focus on eating healthy food, adequate amounts of physical activity….’Every time our friends on the other side start talking about community organizations, we usually think ACORN…”
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“…current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class – involving high meat intake use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work-place air-conditioning, and suburban housing – are not sustainable. A shift is necessary. which will require a vast strengthening of the multilateral system, including the United Nations…”  Maurice Strong , opening speech at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development
Agenda 21, the UN blueprint for global transformation, sounds good to many well meaning people. Drafted for the purpose of creating “sustainable societies”, it has been welcomed by nations around the world. Political, cultural, and media leaders have embraced its alluring visions of social justice and a healthy planet. They hide the lies behind its doomsday scenarios and fraudulent science. Relatively few consider the contrary facts and colossal costs.
After all, what could be wrong with preserving resources for the next generation? Why not limit consumption and reduce energy use? Why not abolish poverty and establish a global welfare system to train parents, monitor intolerance, and meet all our needs? Why not save the planet by trading cars for bikes, an open market for “self-sustaining communities,” and single dwellings for dense “human settlements” (located on transit lines) where everyone would dialogue, share common ground, and be equal?
The answer is simple. Marxist economics has never worked. Socialism produces poverty, not prosperity. Collectivism creates oppression, not freedom. Trusting environmental “scientists” who depend on government funding and must produce politically useful “information” will lead to economic and social disaster. 3
Even so, local and national leaders around the world are following the UN blueprint for global management and “sustainable communities,” and President Clinton is leading the way. A letter I received from The President’s Council on Sustainable Development states that –
“In April 1997, President Clinton asked the council to advise him on: next steps in building a new environmental management system for the 21st century… and policies that foster U.S. leadership on sustainable development internationally. The council was also charged to ensure that social equity issues are fully integrated…” (Emphasis added)
Many of our representatives are backing his plan. In a 1997 letter congratulating the Local Agenda 21 Advisory Board in Santa Cruz for completing their Action Plan, Congressman Sam Farr wrote,
“The Local Agenda 21 Action Plan not only has local significance, it also will have regional and national impacts. As you know, the President’s Council on Sustainable Development is beginning Phase III of its work with an emphasis on sustainable communities.”4 (emphasis added)
This agenda may already be driving your community “development”, so be alert to the clues. Notice buzzwords such as “visioning,” “partners,” and “stakeholders.” Know how to resist the consensus process. Ask questions, but don’t always trust the answers. Remember, political activists, like self-proclaimed education “change agents”, have put expediency above integrity. As North Carolina school superintendent Jim Causby said at a 1994 international model school conference, “We have actually been given a course in how not to tell the truth. You’ve had that course in public relations where you learn to put the best spin on things.”5
To recognize and resist this unconstitutional shadow government of laws and regulations being imposed on our nation without congressional approval, take a closer look at its history and nature.
This global contract binds governments around the world to the UN plan for changing the ways we live, eat, learn, and communicate – all under the noble banner of saving the earth. Its regulations would severely limit water, electricity, and transportation – even deny human access to our most treasured wilderness areas. If implemented, it would manage and monitor all lands and people. No one would be free from the watchful eye of the new global tracking and information system
This agenda for the 21st Century was signed by 179 nations at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Among other things, it called for a Global Biodiversity Assessment of the state of the planet. Prepared by the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), this GBA armed UN leaders with the “information” and “science” they needed to validate their global management system. Its doomsday predictions were designed to excuse radical population reduction, oppressive lifestyle regulations, and a coercive return to earth-centered religions as the basis for environmental values and self-sustaining human settlements.
The GBA concluded on page 763 that “the root causes of the loss of biodiversity are embedded in the way societies use resources.” The main culprit? Judeo-Christian values. Chapter 12.2.3 states that-
“This world view is characteristic of large scale societies, heavily dependent on resources brought from considerable distances. It is a world view that is characterized by the denial of sacred attributes in nature, a characteristic that became firmly established about 2000 years ago with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious traditions.
“Eastern cultures with religious traditions such as Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism did not depart as drastically from the perspective of humans as members of a community of beings including other living and non-living elements.”6
Maurice Strong, who led the Rio conference, seems to agree. His ranch in Colorado is a gathering place for Buddhist, Bahai, Native American, and other earth-centered religions. Yet, while spearheading the restructuring of the United Nations (see ” World Heritage Protection?”), he also helped design the blueprint for the transformation of our communities. And in his introduction to The Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide, he called local leaders around the world to “undertake a consultative process with their populations and achieve a consensus on ‘Local Agenda 21’ for their communities.”
Achieving that consensus meant painting scary scenarios of a hurting, dying planet that frighten children, anger youth, and persuade adults to submit to the unthinkable regulations. (See “Saving the Earth”) It means blaming climate change on human activities and ignoring the natural factors that have – throughout time – brought cyclical changes in climate, storm patterns, wildlife migration, and ozone thinning (there has never been a “hole”).
Triennial Torah Cycle
We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah reading
Lev 21-22 Ezek 17-19 James 2:14-3:18
Laws for the Priests and Fitness for Service (Leviticus 21-22)
Because God is holy, His priests, who serve Him and represent Him to His people, must also be holy.
God is eternal and wholly separate from sin. Human death is the product of sin. So, God’s priests must be separate from defilement through death. To accomplish this, the priests were forbidden to become defiled with the death of any person who was not a direct and close family member. Proper mourning was appropriate, and hence mourning for a father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter was permitted. But otherwise, the priest had to be kept far from the defilement of the dead. For the high priest, even defilement for parents was not permitted, nor outward signs of mourning allowed.
Again, tonsures (area shaving of the head), certain beard trimming and body piercing for the priests are prohibited. Such practices were pagan in origin and God wanted His priesthood to be distinctively non-pagan.
Priestly marriages were also subject to stipulations not bound upon the average Israelite. In the case of the high priest, it very clearly states that he could marry only an Israelite virgin. Moreover, the priests of God had to be physically unblemished to perform certain rites. A blemished or deformed priest could not enter within the Holy Place, nor could he officiate at the altar. He could, however, engage in the other duties of the priesthood and partake of the offerings. The spiritual parallels with Jesus Christ, our High Priest, should be obvious.
Not only did the priests’ conduct and station in life have to be holy before a holy God, but even their momentary circumstances had to be holy. To officiate at the altar, a priest had to have no ritual defilement upon him. If defiled by disease, bodily discharge, a dead body, a discharge of semen (which may have symbolized the unfruitful going forth of life), an unclean animal, an unclean person, or by any other means, the priest could not officiate until he was ritually cleansed. Ritual uncleanness was representative of sin. And the holy God cannot be defiled by sin—so everything connected with approach to Him must be without its stain.
Furthermore, if defiled, the priest could not partake of the holy offerings. The priests received portions of certain offerings, which they and their immediate families could eat. But those who partook of the offerings had to also be ritually pure. Thus, as we can see, those who serve God and benefit from His service, must all be clean.
The concluding portions of this section deal with sacrificial fitness. The animals sacrificed to God were symbolic of Christ in different ways. Christ was morally and spiritually perfect and unblemished. Thus, the animals that typified Him had to be physically perfect and unblemished. A sacrifice or offering made with a defective animal was rejected, and an insult to the perfect God. Carnal man would prefer to give God the defects and keep the good for himself. But this God will not allow. Moreover, it was required that sacrifices be from the worshiper’s own goods—not from a foreigner’s goods. Every sacrifice must “cost” the one sacrificing. Finally notice, once again, that the chapter closes with an emphasis on holiness.
Parable of the Eagles and God’s Judgment on Oath Breaking (Ezekiel 17)
Chapter 17 is a message concerning Jewish royalty and the world powers of Ezekiel’s time. It is first presented as a riddle or parable of two great eagles, a cedar tree and a vine (verses 1-10). The exiles with Ezekiel are evidently given some time to make sense of it, but they are unable to (compare verses 11-12). So God directs His prophet to make the meaning plain (verses 11-21). Jesus would later use this type of teaching technique.
The first eagle (verse 3) represented Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar (verse 12). The eagle was used to symbolize both the tool God used to punish as well as the speed at which the punishment was carried out (compare Deuteronomy 28:49; Isaiah 46:11; Hosea 8:1). The large, powerful wings enabled the eagle to fly long distances and symbolized the extent of the territory under the eagle’s power. “Full plumage” (verse 3, NIV) represented a populous empire. “Various colors” revealed the empire to be composed of different peoples from various nations.
“Lebanon” denoted the entire area at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea (the Levant), the region of Israel and Syria. As God had told Israel in Joshua 1:4, “From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory” (see also 2 Kings 14:9). Jerusalem was the chief city of this region. Moreover, as noted in the Bible Reading Program comments on Jeremiah 22, another passage in which Jerusalem is referred to as Lebanon, the Phoenician area of Tyre and Sidon commonly referred to as Lebanon was the source of the cedar wood used in the construction of the royal buildings of Jerusalem in the time of David and Solomon. Thus the cedar of Lebanon in Ezekiel 16:3 symbolized Judah and the Davidic royal family. The cedar’s “highest branch” (verse 3) and “topmost shoot” (verse 4, NIV), which the eagle broke off and carried away, were the king who was removed from the throne and his princes (verse 12). They were taken to a “city of merchants” in a “land of trade.” Even without the explicit interpretation, this was clearly Babylon, as the previous chapter of Ezekiel referred to “the land of the trader, Chaldea” (16:29).
The riddle should not have been hard to unravel so far. This had already happened in 597 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar deported King Jehoiachin or Jeconiah to Babylon along with most of the nobility. Indeed, this is when Ezekiel himself and the exiles among whom he lived went into captivity. Continuing the parable, Nebuchadnezzar then “took also of the seed of the land” (17:5, KJV) a particular seed and planted “it” in a fertile field, setting it up as a willow tree. (The New King James interpolation of “some of the seed of the land” is evidently incorrect.) The seed here was a reference to “a member of the royal family” (verse 13, NIV) who replaced the topmost shoot. The fertile field was simply the Promised Land. God had earlier described it as “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs” (Deuteronomy 8:7).
The new king was set up as a “willow by abundant water” (Ezekiel 17:5, NIV), illustrating his prosperous life as king but also his total dependence on Babylon for his rule, just as a willow is dependent on water. This too had already happened when Jeconiah was removed. Nebuchadnezzar set up Jeconiah’s uncle, Josiah’s third son Mattaniah now renamed Zedekiah, as ruler over Judah. The “spreading vine of low stature,” with its branches turned toward the Babylonian eagle and its roots firmly planted under it in the soil of the Promised Land, pictured Zedekiah and the people of Judah under him continuing to flourish—but only as a subject vassal kingdom under Babylon.
Another great eagle enters the scene in verse 7, which, as God explains, represented Egypt and its pharaoh (compare verse 15). Egypt was also a populous empire of “full plumage” (NIV). The roots and branches of the vine now stretch toward this eagle, seeking to be watered by it instead of Babylon, symbolizing the entire nation reaching out to Egypt for help to gain independence from Babylon. God explains, “But he [Zedekiah] rebelled against him [Nebuchadnezzar] by sending his ambassadors to Egypt, that they might give him horses and many people” (verse 15). Yet, as God proclaims, this effort would fail.
The Jewish ruler was a fool. His throne was safe and he was protected by Babylon. His kingdom would be strengthened and the throne passed to his children if he remained faithful to Babylon. But he would not. The vine, king and nation, would not survive because of his foolish actions. It would be uprooted to wither when touched by the “east wind”—symbolic of destruction from Babylon in the east (verses 8-10).
This mention of Zedekiah’s rebellion was prophetic, as it had not yet happened. Ezekiel 17 falls within chapters 12-19, a section dated to 592-591 B.C. (compare 8:1; 20:1). Yet it was not until 588 B.C., when Pharaoh Hophra came to the throne of Egypt, that Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon. And this rebellion did indeed prove to be the historical impetus for the destruction of Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:20-25:1). In response, Nebuchadnezzar sent an army and laid siege to the city. In the summer of 586, the food supply was gone in Jerusalem. The wall was breached and the city fell to the Babylonians, who destroyed it.
In verses 15-21, God decries Zedekiah’s betrayal of his oath of loyalty to Nebuchadnezzar (see verse 13). Psalm 15:4 gives God’s standard for giving one’s word: “he who swears to his own hurt and does not change”—i.e., does not go back on it. Why should there be different standards for nations or kings? In fact, this wouldn’t even have been to Zedekiah’s hurt. The relationship with Babylon guaranteed peace in the region due to Babylon’s powerful army. The vine was “planted in fertile soil and placed …beside abundant waters.” Zedekiah ought to have realized that his position could not be improved by rebellion. But even if it could, he had sworn his loyalty to Nebuchadnezzar.
This covenant was not an international treaty freely entered into, but one imposed on him by a conquering king. Nevertheless, Zedekiah had publicly agreed to it. Most importantly, the oath was made in God’s name (2 Chronicles 36:13), and God considered it binding. In fact, God considers breaking a vow made in His name to be treason against Him (Ezekiel 17:20). Ezekiel relays God’s message that those who break their oaths and covenants will not be delivered. As a personal judgment against Zedekiah, God says, “Because he had given his hand in pledge and yet did all these things, he shall not escape” (verse 18, NIV). God was true to His own word. As already pictured in Ezekiel 12:12-14, Zedekiah would attempt an escape at the time the walls of Jerusalem fell, but would be caught, blinded and taken captive and his troops killed. And that’s exactly what happened (Jeremiah 52:7-11).
Transplanting of the Davidic Throne (Ezekiel 17)
Continuing the imagery of the parable mentioned earlier in the chapter, the last three verses in Ezekiel 17 relay a remarkable prophecy. It begins with God stating, “I [not Babylon this time but God Himself] will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar…” (verse 22, KJV). The New King James Version says “one of the highest branches,” but that is incorrect. God is taking of, something from, the highest branch. The highest branch is of course the king. And what does God take that is of this king? “A tender one from the topmost of its young twigs” (NRSV). The young twigs of the branch would be the king’s children. A “tender” one would seem to signify a female, especially when we consider that Zedekiah’s sons were all killed. This tender twig is then planted in “a high and prominent mountain.” A mountain often signifies a great nation in Bible prophecy—this one being apparently one of the foremost nations in the world. God then specifies what he means: “On the mountain height [the very top of the nation, the throne] of Israel [not Judah!] I will plant it.”
Most commentators misinterpret the meaning. Some see the prophecy as signifying Jeconiah’s descendant Zerubbabel, who later returned to Judea from the Babylonian exile as a governor. Yet he was only a governor under the Persians, not ruling in majesty as a king over “birds of every sort”—many other peoples. Furthermore, he was not cut out from Judah when the nation and royal family stood as a tall Lebanon cedar, but long after the nation had been carried away into captivity. The planting of the twig in the high mountain of Israel in this interpretation is seen as the return of Zerubbabel to Jerusalem. But Judah was not then or anytime afterward a great nation that came to rule over many other peoples. In fact, the Jewish state remained mostly subjugated to foreign powers and eventually ceased to exist once again. The bringing down of the high, fruitful tree (verse 24) is said to be the fall of Zedekiah while the exaltation of the low, dry tree is claimed to be the restoration of the lineage of Jeconiah. But his lineage was never really restored, as none of his descendants were ever to occupy the throne (Jeremiah 22:30).
Recognizing the problems with Zerubbabel in the interpretation, many commentators see the prophecy as messianic, as the Messiah would come from the line of David. Yet there are problems with this too. When Jesus Christ lived, neither Judah nor its royal family could in any way be symbolized by a tall cedar, as the area was then occupied by the Romans and no Davidic king had ruled there for more than 500 years. And the bringing down of the high tree and exaltation of the low tree does not fit such an analogy. So the explanation is given this way: The cropped off young twig was a member of the Davidic family at the time of Ezekiel from whom Jesus descended, Himself a branch from the replanting in Jerusalem. Often this twig is understood to be the lineage of Jeconiah through Zerubbabel continuing on to Christ. But whereas Jesus’ adoptive father Joseph came from this lineage, He Himself did not physically descend from Jeconiah and this Zerubbabel or else He would not be a legitimate heir to the throne. Jesus, through His mother Mary, sprang from the Davidic line of Nathan, which was nowhere near the “highest branches of the high cedar” at any time. And again, the high and low trees don’t fit.
So what does the prophecy mean? As explained in our online publication The Throne of Britain: Its Biblical Origin and Future, it concerns a transfer of the line of David in the days of Ezekiel and Jeremiah from Judah to Israel. The tender sprig of the highest branch taken by God and planted elsewhere represents one of the daughters of Zedekiah who was under the protection of Jeremiah (compare Jeremiah 43:5-6), God’s instrument used for pulling down the throne and planting it elsewhere (compare Jeremiah 1:10)—moving the Davidic lineage from Judah to the British Isles. (See our online publication just referred to at www.ucg.org/brp/materials/throne/ for a much more thorough and detailed explanation.)
All of northern and western Europe at this time was dominated by the northern tribes of Israel— taken into captivity by the Assyrians years before, but now a large, migratory nation long on the move after the collapse of the Assyrian Empire. Eventually, the leading tribe of Israel, Ephraim, would settle in the British Isles, come under the Davidic throne and expand to become the greatest empire in history, ruling many peoples over a vast portion of the earth (send for or download our free booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy to learn more.)
“And,” God says, “all the trees of the field [other nations of the earth] shall know that I, the LORD, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the LORD, have spoken and have done it” (Ezekiel 17:24). Judah was the “high tree” and Israel the “low tree” from the time the two kingdoms split in the days of Rehoboam, due to David’s throne ruling over Judah and not Israel. Judah had been a “green tree,” fruitful with Davidic royalty, and Israel a “dry tree” throughout that period. God would reverse the positions, resulting in a major mark on world history.
Personal Accountability (Ezekiel 18)
Perhaps as we are reading through the prophets and hear all of the judgments against Israel, Judah or surrounding nations, we may be tempted to think of it as only so much history—history that doesn’t really concern us. After all, the judgments are for the evil deeds of people who lived more than 2,500 years ago. The reader might ask, “How can they apply to me?”
In this chapter God clearly lays down the rule of judgment that applies to everyone at all times. This is the principle that He will use with all people in determining their final reward or punishment. It agrees with that very ancient rule God spoke to Cain: “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” (Genesis 4:7).
After hearing the warnings of coming destruction given by God’s prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the Jews apparently began to talk among themselves, essentially saying that God was unfair. They felt that they were going to be punished for the sins of their forefathers. They didn’t see their generation as all that evil when compared to the previous ones. So they resentfully came up with a saying: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, but the children’s teeth are set on edge” (Ezekiel 18:2) or, as the New Living Translation renders it, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, but their children’s mouths pucker at the taste.” As we earlier read, God also used Jeremiah to confute this false proverb (Jeremiah 31:29).
It is obviously illogical that one person would eat something sour but another have the sour taste in his mouth. And by this they meant to symbolize something they considered just as illogical. Their real complaint: It isn’t fair for one generation to be punished for the sins of previous generations! This was the response of the people to the warnings of the prophets—concluding that God was obviously in the wrong, justifying themselves. They were perhaps twisting the meaning of the principle God mentioned in Exodus 20:5—”visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.” God meant that children are negatively affected by their parents’ sins—that sin can have far-reaching consequences, especially when children learn their parents’ ideas and emulate their behavior. He did not mean that even though the children are innocent, they must be punished for their parents’ mistakes.
God tells the people to stop using the proverb and that their reasoning is completely off base (Ezekiel 18:3). He points out up front that He certainly has the right to punish. All people—parents and children—belong to Him (Ezekiel 18:4). He is the Creator of all things. People are accountable to Him, not the other way around. He then explains that every individual is held responsible for his own conduct. “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). “Soul” here simply means a living, physical being or person (compare Genesis 2:7, KJV). (As a side note, this helps to demonstrate that the Bible does not teach the concept of an “immortal soul.” Rather, we see here that a “soul” is simply a person—and is quite mortal.) Conversely, “But if a man is just and does what is lawful and right…he shall surely live” (Ezekiel 18:5, 9).
Personal accountability was clearly established in the law that God had already given. Deuteronomy 24:16 stated, “The fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.” God does not punish the children for the fathers’ sins unless they follow in their sinful ways and “fill up the measure of their father’s guilt,” as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day did (see Matthew 23:32).
In emphasizing the point, the example is given of a righteous father (Ezekiel 18:5-9), an unrighteous son (verses 10-13, 18), and a righteous grandson (verses 14-17). Not only is the point clearly made by using these relationships, but for Ezekiel’s Jewish audience the personal examples of three well-known kings of Judah would probably have come to mind—Hezekiah, Manasseh and Josiah.
In the description of the righteous man and his grandson, it is evident that a just man does what is right. The list of characteristics includes not worshiping idols and not “eat[ing] on the mountains” (verses 6, 11, 15; 22:9)—that is, not partaking at high places, not participating in pagan worship at pagan shrines. The list further includes not defiling another’s wife, not committing robbery and not “approach[ing] a woman during her impurity” (18:6) or, in today’s terms, not having “intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period” (CEV). This last item, also listed as a sin in 22:10, might appear to modern sensibilities to be out of place in a list of moral prohibitions, but it should be remembered that this was included in the Mosaic law’s list of sexual abominations (Leviticus 18:19) and was punishable by death (20:18). (See the Bible Reading Program’s comments on these passages for more on the issue.) The point about not exacting usury or increase—lending money at interest—should be understood as not charging interest when giving personal loans to others in need. (It does not prohibit lending at interest as part of business or banking, as Jesus Christ spoke approvingly of this practice.)
Of course, righteousness is not just following a list of don’ts. It is important to notice in Ezekiel 18 that God points out the positive actions of one who is righteous. Not only does a righteous man obey the Eighth Commandment against stealing, but he is careful to watch out and provide for the needs of others. He practices the give way of life! He takes care of the hungry and covers the cold with a garment. Is this not “true religion” as taught by the writers of the New Testament? A righteous man has internalized God’s commandments and lives them outwardly as well as internally.
The unrighteous son, on the other hand, does not live as God commands. Matthew Henry’s Commentary notes on this passage, “It is…no uncommon case, but a very melancholy one, that the child of a very godly father, notwithstanding all the instructions given him, the good education he has had and the needful rebukes that have been given him, and the restraints he has been laid under, after all the pains taken with him and prayers put up for him, may yet prove notoriously wicked and vile, the grief of his father, the shame of his family.”
Down through history fathers have desired to have their sons follow after them in their offices or accomplishments. But God is clear: A good father does not pile up “merit” for his son. How often in history and modern times have we seen a son promoted to a high position of responsibility under his father or to his father’s office only to find that the son proves to be an evil man who lacks the character necessary for the job? Such was the case with several kings of Judah, most notably Hezekiah’s son Manasseh. He perpetrated all of the evils listed in Ezekiel 17 even though his father was one of Judah’s most righteous kings.
Yet recall that Manasseh eventually came to repent of his evil ways. This principle is also addressed in Ezekiel 17. God shows that He will reward or punish according to the change made in a person’s life—if that change is permanent. If a wicked man repents, turning from his sins, God will not bring punishment on Him (Ezekiel 18:21-22). Repentance means that a person’s entire state of mind has changed from one of disobedience to one of obedience. He now walks a new path that leads in a new direction—and this is reflected in his actions. God desires repentance, not punishment. The point is made that God takes absolutely no pleasure in the death of the wicked. As the Giver of life, He does not want to destroy anyone. He hates sin because of what it does; He does not hate the sinner. We do not truly turn from sin unless we come to hate it too. We must set our affection on that which is lawful and right and agrees with the Word of God. If we do this, God promises to forgive our sins and give us eternal life.
Herein, we see a truly “New Testament” concept in that a repentant person could find forgiveness for wrongdoing and have the opportunity to start over. Of course, we have a much greater understanding of this whole process today. Jesus Christ has been sacrificed and given His life in atonement for the sins of the world. The Old Testament sacrificial system looked forward to this fact. It is through the acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice that our sins are forgiven—yet, still, only if we repentantly determine to live our lives according to God’s commands from now on.
Thankfully, regardless of how evil someone may have been throughout life, if the mind is changed or converted and one begins truly seeking and obeying God, God will forgive and forget his past transgressions. The way of God involves mercy, forgiveness and grace. That’s not to say that this passage buttresses the idea of “a deathbed repentance,” for repentance involves both a change of heart and then the followed appropriate change of action. That takes time.
But what of the opposite situation, where a person who has been living righteously turns to a life of evil? Will his past make up for his present? Human reasoning concludes that all deeds should be placed in a balance—good on one side, bad on the other. Then, if the good deeds outweigh the bad, you win the prize. We hear this idea even today as people refer to themselves as “pretty much a good person” or say of the deceased at a funeral that “his good outweighed his bad.” God’s perfect judgment, however, requires the right state of mind and behavior be maintained to the end (see Matthew 24:13). This does not mean that a righteous man will never slip up and sin. He will (1 John 1:8). But when he does he repents, relying on God’s promise to forgive the repentant as in Ezekiel 18, and continues to seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
A warning is given to people to not turn from this way of righteousness. God’s words are clear that a person who turns from the truth will die in his sins. The New Testament explains in stark terms that ultimate rejection of God will lead to eternal death. We need to understand that for God’s true servants, this life is a judgment period (1 Peter 4:17). The time of evaluation lasts for the duration of our lives after we come to understand what God has done for us and what He expects of us.
God points out that the only way to be ultimately saved from death is to have a change of heart—a converted one made possible only by a new spirit. The final point of many of Ezekiel’s and Jeremiah’s messages is the necessity for us to have a new spirit and a new heart. Human beings need the Spirit of God working in them to truly have the transformed heart and mind that God requires. (To help you better understand, send for our download our free booklet Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion.)
Lamentation for the Princes of Israel (Ezekiel 19)
Chapter 19 follows right on from chapter 18. God directs His prophet to bewail the uprooting of the nation. “The exiles’ last hope was that Zedekiah could be trusted to throw off the Babylonian yoke. Ezekiel now demolishes that in a funeral dirge chanted over Judah’s leaders” (Bible Reader’s Companion, chaps. 19-21 summary).
That the term “princes of Israel” (verse 1) refers to Judah’s leaders in Ezekiel’s time is apparent from the details given about particular individuals, though it is possible that there are dual references here that could also apply to the end-time fall of Israel and Judah.
In the imagery of the first part of the lament, the “mother” of the people is portrayed as a lioness. Israel as a whole had been pictured as a lioness: “It now must be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘Oh, what God has done!’ Look, a people rises like a lioness, and lifts itself up like a lion; it shall not lie down until it devours the prey, and drinks the blood of the slain” (Numbers 23:23-24; compare Micah 5:8-9). The tribe of Judah had been similarly portrayed in the context of it possessing Israel’s royal lineage: “Judah…your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey…you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion who, shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah…” (Genesis 49:8-10). Jerusalem, the nation’s capital, was referred to as Ariel (“Lion of God”) in Isaiah 29:1.
In verses 3-4 of Ezekiel 19, the lioness (i.e., the nation) sets up one of her cubs as a lion, a national leader. As The Expositor’s Bible Commentary explains: “The first whelp was Jehoahaz (vv. 3-4), who had been placed on the throne by the Judeans following the death of his father, Josiah (2 Kings 23:31). Jehoahaz learned, as a young lion, to tear and devour mankind, doing evil in the sight of the Lord (v. 3; 2 Kings 23:32). Becoming world renowned for the violence in his reign of three months, he was seized in 609 B.C. like a hunted lion and brought bound to Egypt where he ultimately died (v. 4; 2 Kings 23:33-34; 2 Chronicles 36:1-4; Jer 22:10-12)” (note on verses 1-9).
The lioness then sets up a new lion cub. The next king of Judah was Jehoahaz’s brother Jehoiakim. But he was set up as ruler not by Judah itself but by the Egyptian pharaoh. And though Jehoiakim was brought before Nebuchadnezzar in chains as described in verse 9, he was not removed from office or taken from the Holy Land as described here. Rather, “the second whelp was Jehoiakim’s son, Jehoiachin [or Jeconiah, who became king upon his father’s death and not by foreign appointment] (vv. 5-9; cf. 2 Kings 24:8-17; 2 Chronicles 36:8-10); Jehoiakim [a foreign appointment] was bypassed…[Jehoiachin’s] reign was not substantially different from his father’s, for Jehoiachin too learned to devour mankind. Jehoiachin destroyed cities and desolated the land (v. 7). Yet he also did not escape the snare of the ‘lion-hunting’ nations that trapped him in their ‘pit’ and brought him to Nebuchadnezzar in a ‘cage’ in 597 B.C. Later he was released (2 Kings 25:27-30; 2 Chronicles 36:9-11). No longer would he ‘roar’ in Judah” (same note).
For the second part of the lamentation (Ezekiel 19:10-14), the imagery shifts to that of the vine, another symbol of the nation as we’ve seen in chapters 15 and 17.
Where Ezekiel 19:10 says, “Your mother was like a vine in your bloodline,” the word translated as “bloodline” in the New King James Version literally means “blood” (KJV). The exact meaning here is debated. Jamieson, Fausset & Brown’s Commentary prefers the meaning of “‘in the blood of thy grapes,’ i.e., in her full strength, as the red wine is the strength of the grape” (note on verse 10). The Ferrar Fenton Translation says “vigorous vine plant.”
The nation, explains The Expositor’s Bible Commentary in its note on verses 10-14, “had grown large and fruitful during the kingdom period with many branches for ruling scepters (or kings) (vv. 10b-11). Yet this vine was finally plucked up and cast to the ground, where its exposed roots withered under the blasts of the east wind (Babylonia) (cf. 17:6-10, 15). The vine (or nation) was transplanted into a desert place—into captivity (v. 13). The ‘fire’ that ‘spread from one of its main branches’ [NIV throughout quotation] was the destruction that Zedekiah, Judah’s current ruler, had brought on Judah (‘consumed its fruit’) (v. 14a). Judah’s present condition was the responsibility, in part, of Zedekiah. Ezekiel had answered the exiles’ question (in this chapter) by demonstrating the foolishness of trusting in Zedekiah, for he was partially responsible for the imminent judgment. In fact, there was not a ‘strong branch’ in Judah at all—no one ‘fit for a ruler’s scepter’ (v. 14b), not even Zedekiah, who would be deported in 586 B.C. There was no hope! Judgment was coming!”
Does belief alone deliver? No. What use is it for anyone to say he has belief but does not have works? If someone is hungry or without clothing, words alone do not help them. They need literally food and literal clothing to take care of their needs.
Belief is demonstrated to the world by actions, so that they are visible. Belief without works is dead. Abraham was declared right by works. Doing works perfects the belief. A man is declared right by works, and not by belief alone.
In chapter 3, James advises of the great responsibility of being teachers because of the greater expectation and judgment. We are so susceptible to stumbling in our walk by our words. The large and strong horse is bridled and guided by a bit in the mouth. Large waters vessels also are controlled by a small instrument called a rudder. So too the tongue for us is a little member yet boasts greatly.
How a little fire kindles a great forest. (Exodus 35:3)
All things in the earth have been tamed by mankind, but no man is able to tame the tongue. Just as a fountain of water cannot put out both sweet and bitter water, it is wrong to bless God with out mouth and curse out brother. Our brothers are made in the image of God.
If you have bitter jealousy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast against and lie against the truth. This is not heavenly wisdom. It is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For from these come every foul deed.
Wisdom from above is: clean, peaceable, gentle, ready to obey, filled with compassion and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.