August 2017           "A Journal of Biblical Understanding"           Volume 14           

(Daniel 4:25)
" ... and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will."


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WHERE WAS GOD?

The shootings at the Living Church of God in Brookfield, Wisconsin were the most horrific things that have happened to the Church of God in quite a number of centuries! Seven members dead and four wounded. What a waste and what a tragedy!

However, this was a meeting of a church who claims to have the "full truth" and it's members keep God's Sabbath and Holy Days as well as His Ten Commandments.

Scripture tells us this:
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Mat 18:20)

There were over 60 of God's people gathered there at the hotel in Wisconsin.

Where was He? Was He NOT there? Was He there and didn't DO anything to stop the carnage or change the mind of the long time church member who did the killings?

NBC5.com (an internet news service) stated this in a report, "Don Free's niece, Angel Varichak, was one of the wounded. Free said she was expected to survive. "I wanted to know where was God when this happened," Free told the Chicago Sun-Times. "He was supposed to be everywhere. He could have at least been there."

(Editors comment: I don't believe Mr. Free was a member of God's Church, but was familiar with it since his niece was apparently a member.)

Is that the way YOU feel? Have most of us silently wondered about things like this?

At the very beginning God made a Covenant with the Children of Israel (all 12 tribes). He said:

"And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.
And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD." (Exodus 19:7-8)

In return for this obedience God told them He would bless them tremendously. However, the people could not OR WOULD NOT obey God! God then caused them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years and almost all of them DIED in the wilderness, not being able to cross over into the Promised Land!

That crossing over into the Promised Land is a type of our 'crossing over' into the Kingdom of God which He has promised to us IF WE OBEY HIM!!

Our lives NOW are as if we are wandering in the wilderness of sin, trying to obey God's commandments, statutes and laws.

There are some who will become martyrs during the wanderings in this world, and will join the martyrs of old who are SYMBOLICALLY crying out from beneath the altar (Rev. 6:9-11) and asking God how long it will be until He sets everything right.

Do you think those who were killed and wounded in Brookfield, Wis. were worse sinners than any one else in the church? I hope you don't think that!!

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Rom. 3:23)

Any sin that is committed brings the penalty of death upon that sinner. Only through the magnificent mercy which God sheds upon His people through His marvelous Grace, will anyone be saved AT THE RETURN OF JESUS THE CHRIST!!

We are now enjoying the GRACE of God and forgiveness of our PAST sins because we have accepted that sacrifice which Jesus made for us. The sins that we commit now will only be forgiven as we repent of them and turn to God even more fully through our Advocate, Jesus the Christ. We can do this because God has given us His Holy Spirit and we can do more than the Old Testament brethren were able to do. Notice however that WE MUST BE DOERS OF THE WORD!!

"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." (James 1:22)

Yes, we can DECEIVE OURSELVES by doing NOTHING!!

Brethren, ours is NOT a DO NOTHING life. WE MUST live our lives as examples to others of God's Way of Life. We MUST OBEY God's Commandments, Statutes, and Laws! Our lives MUST show God's Spirit residing in us!!

Heraldo Reviera likened the brethren in Brookfield, Wis. with those who were killed in Waco, TX some years ago, a cult living for the 'end time' and stocking weapons and food to 'tide them through'!

Certainly that should NOT be our mind-set! Do you believe you are going to be 'whisked' off to some special place where God will then cover you with His Protection? Do you not realize that God can protect you anywhere?

Then why didn't He protect those brethren in Brookfield, Wis.? One reason is because He is giving us ALL freedom to do as we choose!

God's 'little flock' (Luke 12:32) must be "as wise as serpents and harmless as doves" (Mat. 10:16) and there will still be these happenings to TRY US to see whether or not we are "IN THE FAITH!"

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:" (1Pet. 4:12)

When the great tribulation comes upon God's nation of Israel (all of Israel. Not just the Jews), some (even in God's Church) will be 'made white' through the test and trial of that tribulation. Some will become martyrs for God as He works out His plan to SAVE society from itself.

The church is right now in the season where we are to EXAMINE ourselves to see IF we are IN THE FAITH. The New Testament Passover season is for that purpose and for us to once again renew that COVENANT we made with God at our conversion!

"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2Co 13:5)

Where was God during those tragic shootings? He was there IN SPIRIT!! He was there in the minds of all those people who had to suffer that tragedy, agonizing over loved ones and friends who were shot down by someone they had known and loved.

Why did He not stop it? Only God knows at this point, but we will know in the future. Some have stated that God's Church is sinning so badly that God didn't protect them. I don't believe that for one minute!

Some have stated that God's Church "have rejected His true name, thumbed our noses to His laws, keeping the ones that are convenient, chalking the rest up to legalism and we have abandoned the widows and orphans."

This idea stems from the beliefs that God MUST be called by His TRUE NAME (they say it is a Hebrew name, but God is NOT a Hebrew, is He?). One person goes on to say, "We have broken His Sabbaths by buying provisions (food) on them to fit our convenience never stopping to think about the spiritual principle behind actually preparing for His Sabbath."

Some, like these people, are so SELF righteous they can't see the forest for the trees. Some set themselves OVER everyone else as spiritual icons believing they are closer to God for their strictness (just like the Pharisees), and become, in their own eyes, extra special to God even though He says He is "not a respecter of persons."

It is hightime those of us in God's Church realize that Satan can even DECEIVE those of us in God's Church. God is testing us to see whether or not we will follow His ways or Satan's ways!

We ALL need to be on our knees with our nose in God's Word examining ourselves whether or not we are "in the faith", and all the things that phrase encompasses, especially as The Passover approaches!

One asked, "Is it a wakeup call to the church?" The answer is yes, just as all the other tragic events are a wake up call to this WHOLE EARTH. God's Church is IN this world and we are AFFECTED by the things that happen in this world and to this society!

There are even some in God's Church who are deceived about God's Truth. Rev. 12:9 tells us that "Satan deceiveth the WHOLE world!" And although we are not OF this world, we are IN this world and can be affected by it and by Satan's deception!.

Too many of God's people don't do their own study of God's Word. They prefer to go to church each week and let their pastor tell them how to believe. That, of course, is the Laodicean attitude extant in some people in every Church of God. Please read Revelation chapter 2 and 3 for more on this. And please realize as you read this that the THEORY of "eras" of God's Church has not been proven! It is a concept of some who have developed that theory even though scripture says NOTHING about ERAS of God's Church.

When a person let's someone else tell them what to believe, they will NEVER know it when they are preached falsehoods. As the book of Thessalonians tells us, we all need to "prove all things, hold fast that which is good!! (1 Thes. 5:21) We can only do that if we read and study FOR OURSELVES!!

Why did Terry Ratzmann do it? Everyone said he was a kind and gentle man, sharing with the brethren and others. And just as anyone does, he had personal problems which he was having to go through. Some evidently very heavy for him.

Did a "root of bitterness" spring up in him? (Heb. 12:14-15) Did he allow Satan or one of his demons to come in and 'live' in him? Certainly it wasn't his normal way of life as many stated to the media! Was it something he heard in a sermon, or several sermons, that he didn't or couldn't agree with and it finally pushed him over the edge? (This is the thinking of the police investigating these shootings. See below.)

Only he and God knows, and he killed himself. I am thankful that something made him stop before he emptied that OTHER bullet clip he was carrying into more of the brethren!!

Certainly something happened to cause him to go off the deep end and begin to kill his brethren but we will never know what it was in this life.

AND SOMETHING DID CAUSE HIM TO STOP!!!

Of course, the police authorities say, "We believe that the motive has something to do with the church and the church services more so than another possible motive", Capt. Phil Horter of the Brookfield, Wis., Police Department said at a news conference. We're looking at the church totally, whether it's members of the church, members of the hierarchy of the church, or sermons of the church," he added.

Quoted from a media release: "The Living Church of God, an offshoot of a sect seen by some as a cult, the Worldwide Church of God, is a group that advocates literal adherence to the Bible, observes a Saturday Sabbath, rejects the Holy Trinity, and frequently focuses on a coming apocalypse."

God's Word tells us that persecution WILL come upon all those who truly worship God. I am sure many people will begin to believe, as Job's friends did about Job, that God is punishing some in His church because of their GREAT SINS. They will think that God wouldn't let these horrible trials and troubles come upon someone unless they were GREAT sinners!

Christ had something to say about other happenings that He knew about.

"There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:1-5)

That belief that we are a "cult", like the Jim Jones group or the David Koresh group, is being pushed to the forefront now by the Media, and the police there in Brookfield, Wisconsin are proposing possibilitites that could support that kind of thing, and they are doing it simply because those people who were there in peaceful worship of God were gunned down by one of their own brethren!!

It wasn't, they say, that Terry Ratzmann's job was running out, or that he was depressed. It HAD TO BE SOMETHING HE HEARD IN A SERMON that angered him, they say!

They have assumed all of this because someone from the congregation said that Ratzmann had left in a huff two weeks before and didn't even give the closing prayer he was scheduled to give.

The news media, as they are won't to do, have changed that word 'huff' into 'stormed out' and changed the whole scenario into one where the church preaches hate sermons, or sermons which drive people off the deep end.

We should not be surprised at this!

"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name‘s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Mat. 12:22)
"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name‘s sake." (Mat. 24:9)
"But all these things will they do unto you for my name‘s sake, because they know not him that sent me." (John 15:21)

God WILL allow persecution to come upon His Church just as the did the Church at Jerusalem. Those people then went everywhere preaching God's Word, while the 'ministers' were kept at Jerusalem!!

You might like to read some of our other articles that relate to some of the things I've said here.

"The Human God", "Was Jesus REALLY God?", "What ARE the Works of the Law?"

There are others, of course, and once you begin to study you just might enjoy our web site.

So where was God when this terrible shooting happened?

We need to realize that God gives us total freedom to do whatever we want to do, but He tells us, no He commands us, to OBEY His Word. We are NOT to follow our own ways, but to live HIS WAY. We are NOT to break laws but to KEEP them (as long as that law is not contrary to one of God's laws.)

God tells us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER! And Terry Ratzmann was doing that until something happened in his mind to cause him to go on a killing spree. However, whenever someone talks about demon possession, or gives Satan the blame for this kind of horrific trouble, they are criticized and condemned by many others, but especially the Media.

There are even some who were in God's Church that have condemned that kind of thinking.

But I say to you here and now, what else could it be? One day a man is sweet, loving, caring, sharing, God worshipping, God fearing, and then he becomes a murderous, hatefilled (apparently) human being!!

Remember what happened when Jesus drove out the demons in two people in Gergesenes, and they entered into a herd of swine? The swine ALL charged down to a steep place and jumped into deep water, KILLING THEMSELVES. (Mat 8:28-32)

Perhaps this is similar to what happened to Terry. Perhaps he somehow knew that the only way to stop this slaughter was to kill himself!

I don't know whether I have answered any of your questions about all this, but I tried to give a balanced look at what happened in Brookfield, Wis. on Sabbath, March 12, 2005. It is a day that will stand in infamy in the minds of many, many people.

One thing I DO KNOW, we ALL need to be on our knees, imploring God to protect us during this coming time of trouble and to draw us ever closer to Him and Jesus as we continue to dedicate our lives to Him.

We also need to be THANKFUL that we have enjoyed so much peace in our worship services. Many in the world cannot do that. They have to hide from others, and from governments who would do them HARM if caught worshipping the real God and Jesus the Christ!

We are truly blessed brethren!!

Won't you join me in continuing to ask God to strengthen our brethren who have endured this hideous tragedy, and to ASK FOR PROTECTION from Satan and his demons, as well as from this world we live in? I close each day asking God for protection of me, my family and my brethren around the world.

In Him we should be living, moving, and having our being.

"For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring." (Acts 17:28)

Your friend,

Ken Browder, Editor - The SevenTimes Newsletter - "A Newsletter of Biblical Understanding"
theeditor@7times.org
http://7times.org

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