The Seven Seals of Revelation Have Been Opened!

The Seven Seals of Revelation Have Been Opened!

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God meant for this mysterious book to be understood! Here is how.
From the January 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

The Book of Revelation was given as a mysterious, closed and sealed book. It was sealed with seven seals. It is similar to the book of Daniel, which God told Daniel was sealed until the time of the end.

But if God wanted to hide this knowledge completely, He never would have revealed it in the first place. He meant for those seals to be opened. In fact, God intended this important prophetic book to be understoodin our time today!

The question is, when would those seals be opened, and what would the book reveal?

Revelation tells us that Jesus Christ would be able to open those seals. “And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David,hath prevailedto open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (Revelation 5:4-5).

Christ is the one who can show us all this revelation that has been sealed. He alone can do so. But what does it mean that He “prevailed to open the book”? It shows that loosing these mighty seals was not a simple matter. In order to reveal this prophecy, Christ had a titanic battle with Satan the devil, and He won. He qualified to replace Satan on his throne, and now He—and only He—is qualified to open those seals.

Christ has loosed those seals—but He didn’t do so in the book of Revelation itself.

I want to show you something Christ said that most people do not understand. We will look at one chapter of the Bible to see how that chapter aloneunseals those seven seals.

Jesus delivered a pivotal prophecy—one of the longest single prophecies in the Bible and the most important prophecy Christ revealed when He was on this Earth. He spoke this prophecy after He had prevailed in that battle with Satan and qualified to reveal it. It is called the Olivet prophecy. It is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. I will just focus on the account in Matthew 24, and show how it looses the seals on the prophecies of Revelation. All prophecy, in a sense, revolves around Matthew 24.

In this chapter, Christ prophesied about a volcanic eruption of crises on Earth that has never been experienced—and about the birth of a new age that will come from it. Jesus Christ has prevailed and has revealed this, and we are now seeing these prophecies being fulfilled.

The seven seals form the story flow of the book of Revelation. Here is the overview: The first seal reveals false prophets; the second, war; the third, famine; the fourth, pestilence; the fifth, tribulation; the sixth, heavenly signs; and the seventh, seven trumpets.

If you understand those seals, they lead you step by step to the return of Jesus Christ: He returns at the last of those seven final trumpet blasts. So the Second Coming concludes those seven seals.

That makes this prophecy—even though it has a lot of bad news—the most exciting, wonderful news imaginable!

The First Seal

The first seal Christ opens reveals the first horseman of the apocalypse. The first four seals reveal a total of four horsemen.

“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (Revelation 6:1-2).

Christians usually assume this horseman is Jesus Christ because Christ also comes on a white horse. But Christ comes with a sword, not with a bow (Revelation 19:11-15). And when you see what this white horseman actually does, you realize that even though he looks like Christ, it isn’t Christ at all! This is a false Christ who has deceived the world—the Christian world and the non-religious—about the prophecies of Revelation!

Christ unseals and explains this to us in Matthew 24. “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world [or age]?” (verse 3). If you read through the chapter, you see that the main sign is the gospel being preached around the world (verse 14). Christ was saying that His true gospel message would not be preached—but then, right before the end, it would be. That commission being completed would mark the world’s entering into the very last end.

That was the main sign Christ gave, but there are others here. The very first thing Christ said was this: “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (verses 4-5).

Here, then, is the meaning of the first seal in Revelation, the first horseman of the apocalypse. This is what Christ revealed: It is the white horseman of religious deception. This horseman proclaims a lying message about Christ. This false religion proclaims that Christ was the Messiah, but it is deceiving people about what He said!

This horseman comes first because he causes the most suffering by far. He is a false teacher of Christ’s message, one who “went forth conquering, and to conquer.” This deceitful ministry conquers by deceiving, and it has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9). This is the deadliest of all the horsemen.

Second, Third and Fourth Seals

Here is what Revelation says about the second seal: “And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword” (Revelation 6:4). The second seal reveals the horseman of war.

What did Christ say about this in the Olivet prophecy? “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6). There will be all kinds of wars from the first coming of Christ to the Second Coming—but those right at the very end before His Second Coming will be about 100 times worse than any ever on this planet! That is what Christ is telling us.

This is the same period that the Prophet Daniel called “the time of the end”—or as the Moffatt Bible translates it, “the crisis at the close.” It is the worst crisis ever on this Earth! We ought to take note because it is already beginning to unfold before our eyes. Look at all the countries that have nuclear bombs and are ready to detonate them. Once you start a nuclear war, you can’t really stop it.

The third seal is described in verses 5-6: “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” Seal number three reveals the horseman of famine.

“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell,” or the grave, “followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (verse 7). The fourth of these seven seals is the horseman of death.

Christ’s prophecy in Matthew 24 goes on to explain these next two seals. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:7). There are the third and fourth seals: famine and pestilence, and all the death that will result worldwide.

“All these are the beginning of sorrows,” Christ warned (verse 8).

These are the conditions and events Jesus Christ said to look for right before His return!

The Fifth Seal

Verses 9-11 of Revelation 6 describe the next of these seven seals. This passage begins, “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them, that were slain for the word of God …” (Revelation 6:9). This is discussing God’s own people—people who knew God and the true gospel—being killed.

Notice how Christ describes this same prophetic event in Matthew 24:9: “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.” Christ aimed this directly at “you”—His own disciples. This is a world-shaking event!

This seal is describing the Great Tribulation, a 2½-year period of Satan’s great wrath (Revelation 12:12). This isn’t the time of the wrath of God—that one-year “Day of the Lord” comes right after the Tribulation, making a total of 3½ years of unprecedented suffering before Jesus Christ returns (Revelation 11:2-3; 13:5; Daniel 12:7).

Why were these saints killed during the Tribulation? Several times in Scripture God promises to protect His people during that period (e.g. Revelation 12:6). Why didn’t these saints receive God’s protection?

Other scriptures reveal the answer. The last era of God’s Church before Christ returns is described in Revelation 3:14-22. Christ chastens it for being lukewarm and spiritually wretched. The large majority of God’s people today have fallen into that condition. That is a shameful truth. These people who have known God but turned away are not going to be protected by Him! God will allow them to experience the nightmares of the Tribulation because they were lukewarm and not excited about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to stop all these crises forever! God says that this is what it will take for them to turn back to Him so that He can get them into the Kingdom of God, into His Family. You can read more about this in our free book Malachi’s Message.

Those lukewarm saints are going to be killed during the Great Tribulation. But those who have known God and clung to Him—the very elect—will be protected.

“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (verses 10-11). The Greek word translated many means that most of God’s own people will be deceived! That is what Christ prophesied—and that is exactly what has happened in this end time. Ninety-five percent of God’s Church has been deceived. That proves we have to work very hard not to be deceived. We can be deceived so easily.

“And because iniquity [lawlessness] shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (verse 12). This “love” is the agape love of God, which comes from His Holy Spirit (e.g. Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22). Only the people of God, who possess the Holy Spirit, have that love, and here Christ prophesied that this love would “wax cold” in many of these people! They had it but they are losing it. Why? Because of lawlessness. This is still in that fifth seal, the Great Tribulation.

The Main Sign

Now we come to the main sign Christ gave of His Second Coming. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (verse 14). The true gospel, which has not been preached, will finally be preached, Christ said; then comes “the end.”

This prophecy has been fulfilled! Do you know that the true gospel of God, after being suppressed for centuries, was in fact preached around the world for a witness to all nations? Do you know who did that job? These questions are also answered in Malachi’s Message.

But which “end” comes after that commission is finished? It is different from the “end of the world” in verse 3, from the Greek synteleia. This is the Greek word telos. Thayer’s Lexicon explains that the context has to tell you what “end” it is. This is speaking of the endof the gospel being preached around the worldafter which we will enter into the time when all of these terrible events of Matthew 24 will unfold. This is the “last end” spoken of in Daniel 8:19.

Christ has unsealed this for us. We should understand it!

What did He say would happen next? “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” (Matthew 24:15). What is this? Luke 21:20 describes this “abomination” as “Jerusalem compassed with armies.” Other prophecies show that these armies belong to a reconstituted Holy Roman Empire in Europe! They also reveal that this “abomination that maketh desolate” (Daniel 12:11) will rise up just before the modern-day nations of Israel—which include the United States and Britain—collapse!

That might have seemed far off when Herbert W. Armstrong first prophesied about Matthew 24, but now we can see it happening!

The verses that follow are about the faithful people of God fleeing destruction—fleeing to a place of protection that God will provide. This is more proof that God will in fact protect some.

And here is what He will protect them from: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).

This is Christ’s prophecy of horrors unprecedented in human history—besieging the world right at the end. He said that unless He intervened, mankind would wipe itself completely off the face of the Earth!

After World War i, Winston Churchill said, “Mankind has never been in this position before. … Without having improved appreciably in virtue or enjoying wiser guidance, it has got into its hands for the first time the tools by which it can unfailingly accomplish its own extermination.”

Since that time, we have developed chemical and biological weapons. We can exterminate ourselves many times over! The number one problem we face is human extermination! That has never been possible in history until very recent times.

We are now in exactly the position Jesus Christ prophesied about in Revelation and Matthew 24! This is the crisis at the close! More people should see that. More ministers should be talking about that. There is no excuse: There are prophecies throughout the Bible that tell us that—over a hundred of them!

The end of all things is “at the doors” (verses 32-33).

In verse 41 we again see God’s Church divided between those who cling to Him and do His work, and those who are lukewarm. Both churches are in the field, working away, but only one of them is going to be taken and protected—and the other is going to be left. Ninety-five percent of God’s people are not going to be protected. But because they don’t look to Christ’s prophecies, they won’t realize it. All these horrors are going to spring on them like a steel trap!

In Luke 21:34-36, Jesus warned that you had better watch for these prophecies. Watch world news, but also watch your own spiritual life so you don’t fail to see what is happening.

The Sixth and Seventh Seals

The sixth seal reveals mighty heavenly signs: “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind” (Revelation 6:12-13). These signs are an indication of the fearsome things about to come next.

Christ explains this sixth seal in Matthew 24:29: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days [which was the fifth seal] shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” Those are the same heavenly signs. You can also read them prophesied in Joel 2:31: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.” This confirms that these signs mark the end of the Tribulation—the 2½ years of Satan’s wrath—and signal the beginning of the Day of the Lord—the year of God’s wrath.

These are world-shaking events. And just as Jesus’s other prophecies have come to pass, so too will these!

Revelation 6:17 introduces the seventh seal: “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” That seventh seal is spoken of in Revelation 8 and 9. It consists of those seven trumpets.

Here is where Christ explained the seventh seal: “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31). That seventh seal includes seven trumpet plagues that God pours out on mankind.

There are only a handful of scriptures about the Great Tribulation in Matthew 24 and Revelation, but there are over 30 about the Day of the Lord, which is the day of God’s wrath on this Earth. Joel says the Day of the Lord is at hand, as destruction from the Almighty. God is sick of mankind’s sin and lawlessness, which plunges us into the greatest crisis ever. The world has never seen anything like the wrath of God that it is about to see!

Yet sadly, throughout these plagues, mankind will refuse to repent.

How does all this end? At the last trumpet, Jesus Christ Himself is going to return to this Earth! “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord …” (Revelation 11:15). Jesus Christ is about to take over this world in crisis, rule it with a rod of iron and bring peace, joy, happiness and success to everybody on Earth. That is the kind of prosperity mankind really wants, but has never been able to achieve.

If you are willing to look into God’s Word with an open mind, you will see that all Christ talked about 2,000 years ago is coming to pass—the bad news and the good!

The Isaiah 9:10 Warning

The Isaiah 9:10 Warning

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A best seller suddenly declares the warning that we have been proclaiming for over 70 years!

“A messianic rabbi from New Jersey is stunning audiences nationwide by revealing the striking parallels between the fall of ancient Israel and what he suggests are God’s early judgments of America.

“Jonathan Cahn of the Jerusalem Center-Beth Israel Congregation in Wayne, N.J., says an otherwise obscure passage in the book of Isaiah [Isaiah 9:10] is since Sept. 11, 2001, being uncannily reenacted in the U.S. just the way it originally played out in the time of the great prophet of Israel leading to the nation’s captivity and dispersions” (advertisement, Washington Times, November 29).

Yet, despite the current rush of interest in Cahn’s book, for 70 long years the remnant of the Church actually established by Jesus Christ—the Church that truly strives to adhere to all His original instructions as given to it during His earthly ministry—has cried aloud warning the Anglo-Saxon nations in particular that they are reaping the results of their rebellion against the Most High God, and few, it seems, have truly listened.

In his booklet Isaiah’s End Time Vision, last published in 2011, Gerald Flurry observes of Isaiah 9:8:

God will correct the people of Israel very harshly. For over 70 years God has warned them, first through Mr. Armstrong and now through the pcg [Philadelphia Church of God]. Remember, this book was written for the end time. “The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel” (Isaiah 9:8). God sent His “word” (or “message”; see the American Standard translation) into Jacob, which is the patriarch Israel’s name before he became converted. God’s message also “lighted upon Israel.” The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary explains the expression “lighted upon Israel” this way: “fallen from heaven by divine revelation (Daniel 4:31).” This is a coded message to the nations of Jacob (which are unconverted, as Jacob was) and to spiritual Israel (God’s Church) in this end time.

Then the author asks the question:

Who is delivering this message? That is a question you and I must answer from our Bibles. If we can’t, God says we are “blind.” God will send the Germans (descendants of ancient Assyria) to correct the unconverted nations of Israel. But He always sends a warning message to Israel before its captivity. We can’t afford to be casual about such a thunderous warning. It is interesting that God precedes the warning message with glorious news about His government, which Israel and God’s lukewarm Church reject.

Then, specifically quoting Isaiah 9:10, Gerald Flurry declares (emphasis added):

“The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars” (Isaiah 9:10). Israel is collapsing, but people still try to solve their problems themselves instead of turning to God.”For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts” (verse 13). God is smiting the people of Israel. But they still won’t repent, so the smiting must continue. Ancient Israel experienced this collapse, but this was only a type of what is to happen in this end time.”For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke. Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother. …” (verses 18-20).

What few understand is that the Anglo-Saxon and Judaic nations of today are actually the modern counterparts of the ancient Israel and Judah of yesteryear! (Read our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy for proof of this great reality.)

Fewer still understand the great hope that is bound up in God’s current-day curses upon the Anglo-Saxons.

The Times advertisement goes on to ask:

Does a relatively obscure verse of Scripture hold the secret to the pain and suffering America has been experiencing in increasing doses since 9/11? Are America’s key leaders unknowingly fulfilling a prophetic destiny of national judgment by uttering words from the Bible they don’t comprehend? Is the United States following in the footsteps of ancient Israel with a spirit of defiance against God, leading to increasingly severe judgments? Is America in danger of impending judgment? And is this judgment revealed in an ancient mystery that foretells current events down to the exact dates?

For decades two voices have cried out declaring the answers to those questions direct from your Bible—the late Herbert Armstrong over the course of his long ministry last century, and latterly over the past 22 years, our own editor in chief, Gerald Flurry.

A check of the Trumpet archives will reveal literally hundreds of inspired articles connecting current world events with the fulfillment of Bible prophecy for our time.

But those articles don’t just concentrate on the curses prophesied to befall our nations. They portray a vivid vision of the great hope that lies beyond them. It’s a vision that is literally out of this world, for it is one that will be imposed on humankind by their Maker Himself, once humankind have paid just retribution for their sins, and are ripe for repentance from their innate rebellion against God!

Best sellers are here today and gone tomorrow, to be then replaced by the latest literary flavor of the month. But the Word of God lives forever! The prophecies of God cannot be broken! They will be fulfilled in every finite detail! (2 Peter 1:19; John 10:35).

Get your own copy of Isaiah’s End-Time Vision and study every word, then follow the daily fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies through the current events of the day. That’s the sure way to be prepared for the inevitable repetition of the outcome of the curses once perpetrated on ancient Israel, which are in process of being repeated in modern Israel today—only with greater intensity!

Yet, more than that, Isaiah’s prophetic vision for our time will give you tremendous hope for the future—more, far more, than any best seller can do for its own brief and fashionable moment in time.

The Heart to Obey

The Heart to Obey

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Had Saul obeyed, what a difference it would have made.
From the January 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

When the people of ancient Israel demanded a human king to rule over them like other nations, God gave them Saul—a man the people desired. He was a wealthy, good-looking, powerful man from the tribe of Benjamin. When he began his reign, he was actually a humble servant who was deeply submissive to God’s authority.

By God’s power, Saul became a different man—he became a man of God! After his anointing, God gave him “another heart” (1 Samuel 10:9)—His heart! God gave Saul His Holy Spirit so that the new king could develop a heart after His own heart. King Saul, in other words, became converted to God’s way of life.

Israel was fragmented, weak and oppressed, and had been for about four centuries. Early in Saul’s kingship, the nation faced an imminent attack from Nahash and the Ammonites. Saul courageously rallied the Israelites to fight for God (1 Samuel 11). He inspired the nation to look to him and the Prophet Samuel, and he credited God for the subsequent victory.

But Saul began to make a grave mistake. He didn’t remain humble and submissive before God. He began to rely more on his own army than on God (1 Samuel 13:1-2). His faith started to weaken; the other heart he had at the start of his conversion started to disappear.

Despite that initial awe-inspiring victory against the Ammonites, two years later, we find the Israelite soldiers scattering before the Philistines. The Philistines were a formidable foe. The Bible says they advanced against Israel with 30,000 chariots (verse 5). But that factor was nowhere near as important as the way King Saul confronted this threat compared to that of the Ammonites.

As the Philistines approached, Saul grew impatient. Samuel was supposed to arrive and officiate sacrifices to God on behalf of the nation. Samuel had told Saul he would arrive on the seventh day. Amazingly, the Philistine army, its soldiers and chariots arrayed for battle, remained still, encamped directly across from the Israelite soldiers. Neither army made the first move—for seven days. But as the seventh day wore on, Saul could wait no longer and decided to take matters into his own hands. He offered the sacrifices in place of the prophet.

Saul should have known he had no right to take charge of Samuel’s duties. He made a snap judgment. He saw it as an emergency. God, however, saw it as rank rebellion. In one hasty moment of panicked reasoning, Saul usurped the authority of God.

He should have waited. Sometimes the best decision we can make—the biggest step forward we can take—is to wait patiently on God and His government to solve the problem.

Just after Saul finished sacrificing, Samuel arrived. When Samuel confronted Saul about his grave mistake, the king justified his actions by blaming the people, the Philistines and even Samuel, rather than simply confessing his sin and repenting toward God (verses 11-12).

“And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever” (verse 13).

What an incredible verse. Had Saul obeyed, God would have established his kingdom—Saul’s kingdom—forever!

God had placed Saul at the top of His chosen nation and given him His Holy Spirit. He gave him a prophet to look to for spiritual guidance. He gave him everything he needed to go the right way. But when Saul refused to obey God’s commands and then tried to justify his rebellion, Samuel knew this would be the end of Saul.

What a sad and tragic demise.

Early on in his conversion, Saul showed signs of being totally committed to God’s way of life. But in just a couple years, he became a big man in his own eyes, vain and self-righteous. When his mistakes were pointed out, he tried to justify his actions by blaming others. But his actions showed he was unwilling to wait on God. He stopped going to God for wisdom and discernment and instead made hasty, snap judgments. He was still zealous. He even made sacrifices to God. But it was all Saul’s effort, with no submission to God’s will.

Notice what Samuel said to Saul: “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). To obey God is better than sacrifice. What good is it if we sacrifice everything—but do it according to our own will and not God’s? First and foremost, God desires obedience from all of us.

When Saul heard that he had been rejected from being king, he seemed repentant at first (verses 24-25). But the rest of his story proves that he wasn’t willing to make the necessary changes that he needed to in order to develop that “other heart”—a heart like God’s. 1 Samuel 15 shows another stark example of Saul disobeying God, sounding contrite, but never actually repenting. Because Saul rebelled, God cut off his kingdom soon after he died.

God raised up another man who would develop a heart like His own (Acts 13:22)—one who would turn out to also make mistakes, but who would turn to Him in repentance and faith—one in whom God would establish an everlasting kingdom.

Do You Know Who God Is?

Do You Know Who God Is?

The Philadelphia Trumpet, in conjunction with the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, presents this brief excursion into the fascinating study of the Bible. Simply turn to and read in your Bible each verse given in answer to the questions. You will be amazed at the new understanding gained from this short study!
From the January 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

Educator Herbert W. Armstrong was traveling in India years ago when he noticed cows and oxen wandering through Delhi’s streets. Mr. Armstrong asked his driver, “Don’t these cattle stray quite a distance from home?”

“Oh, yes.”

“But, when they wander all over the streets so far away, how do their owners find them, to drive them back home for the night?”

The driver smiled. “The owners don’t. But the cattle and the oxen know their owners and where they live. They find their own way home in the evening.”

God Not Known Today

Mr. Armstrong said that incident illustrated Isaiah 1:2-4: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.” Even cattle know their master, yet humans don’t!

These words were originally directed to ancient Israel, a nation to which God had revealed Himself by many infallible proofs and miracles. But the Israelites rebelled against Him and forgot who and what He is. How much less do the nations today know about who and what God is!

Israel’s descendants do not know who God is. Modern science does not know whether God even exists—much less who and what He is. Higher education does not know or teach the amazing truth about God’s identity. Instead, it has universally accepted the fable of evolution, the atheist’s attempt to explain the existence of a creation without the preexistence of a Creator. Thousands of years after Isaiah wrote those words, we still don’t know our Master!

A World in Religious Confusion

It seems utterly unbelievable, but even religion does not know who or what God is! That’s one reason why there are so many wildly different, conflicting versions.

You live in a world of religious confusion! Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, the Baha’i Faith, Confucianism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Shintoism, Taoism—the world is full of conflicting ideas about spiritual truth. The Christian religion, with its thousands of denominations and sects, has the largest in number of adherents, but it is filled with various contradictory ideas about God. Not even traditional Christianity really knows who and what God is!

So much of the cause for this confusion is simply that human beings try to figure out and reason for themselves what God’s nature is like. But the way to learn the truth about God is to consult the source of revelation that God Himself provided us! With an open Bible and an open mind, you can prove God’s identity.

Let’s look into the Scriptures and begin to examine this question, then, of who and what God is.

God in Prehistory

Where in the Bible is the earliest account of God’s existence? You might think, In the very first verse, Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.”

But that’s actually not the earliest mention.

1. Where, in chronological order, is the earliest revelation of who and what God is? John 1:1-3.

This verse talks about a time before heaven and Earth, before the material universe. The Greek word translated into English as “Word” in John 1:1 is Logos. It means word, revelatory thought, spokesman, or one who speaks. It is the name there used for an individual Personage.

2. What did the Word become? Verse 14. Is He the only begotten Son of God the Father? Same verse. Did He live on Earth? Same verse, and also Matthew 1:23.

The Word is a Personage who was made flesh and blood over 2,000 years ago. He became the human Jesus Christ! He was begotten by God (who then became His Father) and was born of the virgin Mary as a human being.

Jesus’s begettal by God the Father was unique in the history of the world. Mary, His mother, was the only virgin who has ever conceived a child whose father was God! In this sense, Jesus is the “only begotten” Son of the Father.

But at the prehistoric time described in John 1:1-3, the Word was not yet the Son of God, and God was not yet His Father. There existed only two Personages. One was God. And with God was another Personage who was also God. How could the Word be with God and also be God?

There might be a man named John. And John might be with the man named Smith, and John might also be Smith because John is the son of Smith, and Smith is the family name. Yet they are two separate persons. The only point of difference in that analogy is that the Word, at the time of John 1:1, was not the Son of God yet. But He was with God, and He also was God. It was He who was later begotten and born as Jesus Christ.

Both members of the God Family have existed eternally (Psalm 90:2; Hebrews 1:8, 10-12; 1 Timothy 1:17). It is impossible for our finite human minds to understand how these two immortal supreme beings could have always existed, but neither can we really understand what electricity is. Yet we know electricity exists and is very real.

3. Exactly why did the Word—the second member of the God Family—become a flesh-and-blood human being? John 3:16; Romans 5:6-10; Hebrews 2:9-10.

Jesus was both human and divine. God was His Father, and the virgin Mary was His mother. He was both the “Son of God” and the “Son of man.” As the Creator of the universe and mankind (John 1:3; Ephesians 3:9), His life was worth more than all other human lives combined, and as a human, He could die. This great God sacrificed Himself for the sins of all mankind so that others could come to know who God is, receive His Spirit, and ultimately be born into His Family (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:11).

What Does God Look Like?

1. What physical creation did God make whose image and likeness was patterned after Himself? Genesis 1:26. Can we therefore conclude that both members of the God Family look like a man? Same verse.

We know what form and shape a man has. Since Adam was created in the “image” of God, after His “likeness,” God therefore has the form and shape of a man. In various parts of the Bible, it is revealed that God has a face, eyes, a nose, a mouth, ears, hair, arms and legs, hands and fingers, feet and toes. God has a mind. In all those respects, you are very much like God!

2. The Word became flesh and blood and lived on Earth. Did Jesus have a special appearance, or did He look like any other average man in His community? Matthew 26:47-49.

The multitude that came looking for Jesus had to have Him specially pointed out. He had no particularly distinguishing features.

3. Whom did Jesus tell Philip that the Father in heaven looked like? John 14:9.

4. Even though God the Father looks like a man, what is He composed of? John 4:24. Is He therefore invisible to human eyes? 1 Timothy 1:17.

5. Are the Father and Christ’s appearances described as glorious? John 17:5. What does Jesus, after His resurrection and restoration to former glory, now look like? Revelation 1:13-18.

If we could see both God the Father and Christ the Son as they appear today in their glorified state in heaven, their faces, though formed and shaped like human faces, would be as bright as the sunin fullstrength! Their eyes would be like flames of fire, their feet like burnished brass and their hair as white as snow!

God does reveal Himself to us in the Bible, if we will just understand it.

America’s New Religion: None

America’s New Religion: None

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Why is religion losing its grip?
From the January 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

More and more Americans, especially young Americans, have developed a deep aversion to institutionalized religion. One fifth of the U.S. public and one third of adults under 30 no longer claim a religious affiliation.

America’s traditional religious landscape has rapidly changed in the last five years. For the first time in its history, America no longer has a Protestant majority. In 2007, 53 percent of the U.S. population reported themselves as Protestant; now that number is 48 percent, according to an October 2012 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

This is a huge change. America was founded by devoted Protestants. Most American presidents have been Protestant—only one has been Catholic. Today, there are no Protestants on the Supreme Court. And for the first time, there were no Protestant nominees on the Republican presidential ticket.

Among the reasons suggested for this dramatic shift is the growth in nondenominational Christian groups that cannot be categorized as Protestant and the sharp spike—20 percent of American adults—in those who say they have no religion. This number has risen rapidly from 15 percent just five years ago. These are the highest percentages of non-affiliated respondents ever in Pew Research Center polling. These Americans are not called Catholic, Jewish, or Protestant—they call themselves Nones.

Why is religion losing its grip on Americans? How is religion failing us?

Dubious History With Religion

One of the truly great things about America has been the constitutional protection of religious freedom. The First and Fourteenth Amendments guarantee individuals the right to believe and worship as they choose without fear of persecution or threat of civil discrimination. The roots of religious freedom in the U. S. Constitution formed early in American history with the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620. They came to America to escape persecution by the Church of England. Over the ensuing centuries, many from different religious traditions such as the Jews, Puritans and Quakers have done the same.

However, over the centuries, America was transformed from a mere safe haven from persecution to the world’s religious marketplace. Our land is filled with a multitude of Christian churches both denominational and home-grown nondenominational. Buddhist and Hindu temples along with other similar centers of American-improvised communal societies dot the landscape. The number of Islamic mosques is growing on American soil. Also, it is American religious freedom that has allowed the work of the Philadelphia Church of God to grow and prosper.

The American ideal of religious freedom has an incredibly positive value—but at the same time, the seeds of religious deceit, division and rebellion lie hidden within this constitutionally mandated freedom.

Americans, for various reasons, regularly exercise their right to shop around for another religion more to their liking, or some just invent a new one. Unfortunately, religious freedom does not prevent religious failure. Some bad American religion has seriously hurt people.

Although America has always been viewed as a deeply religious nation, as the decades have passed, interest and participation in religion has waxed and waned. Like a wild roller-coaster ride, American religion has reached glorious heights and shameful dips. Americans are proven to be fickle in their relationship with God.

For example, in the early 20th century, the flapper generation led by young women rebelled against traditional rules, roles and conventions established for generations. Traditional religious values topped the list. Young women drank, smoked, danced and attended sex parties. Because of the senseless slaughter of World War i trench warfare, young men developed a spirit of “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.” This was a time of great social change in America and the Western world. Many historians view the period around World War i as one of sharp moral decline. An American obsession with sex and pornography took root. Interest in science pushed religion off center stage. The theory of evolution rocked American religion to its core.

However, several decades later, we saw a renewed interest in religion. Robert D. Putnam in his book American Grace states, “Virtually all experts agree, however, that the period from the late 1940s to the early 1960s was one of exceptional religious observance in America.” He goes on to show that this upsurge was “heavily concentrated among 20-somethings.” It was basically the young gis who had experienced the horrors of World War ii that led America back to the pews. Interestingly enough, these young gis were the children of the flapper generation. It was in the 1950s that “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” was declared by Congress to be the national motto.

The Turbulent ’60s

In the 1960s, however, nearly all American institutions were brought into question and shaken to their foundations. The sons and daughters of the pious gis came of age and turned the world upside down. Exploding on the scene was the youth-inspired counterculture that embraced liberal views on premarital sex and the use of drugs. Rock ‘n’ roll music advanced the movement that soon engulfed the entire globe. The underlying theme of the ’60s counterculture movement was, “Question authority.”

While it has taken books to cover the details of this social upheaval, it is safe to say that there was a rapid decline in confidence in all institutions. Religious institutions did not escape. Religion’s roller-coaster ride was about to take its scariest plunge.

Liberal clerics—Catholic, Jewish and mainstream Protestant—joined and supported the counterculture movement. By the mid-’60s, radical theologians even declared that God was dead. Liberal views on Bible authority, God, sin, premarital sex and marriage took root in many mainstream Protestant churches and have remained firmly planted there to this day. The Catholic Church was radically changed by the innovations instituted by Vatican ii. Putnam tells us, “In pop culture, this was the Age of Aquarius and Jesus freaks, Scientology and Jesus Christ Superstar, Zen Buddhism and est [Erhard Seminars Training], Transcendental Meditation and the Unification Church (or ‘Moonies’).”

As the youth of the ’60s sought new spiritual awakenings, religious observance fell into rapid decline. Catholic, Protestant and Jewish lambs left the pews for greener pastures. It was also at this time that secularism sank its roots deeper into the American soil.

The shock of the ’60s—especially the acceptance of liberal views on premarital sex—led to a conservative backlash against the sweeping tide of liberalism. Many Americans of all ages and different religious traditions were appalled by the “new morality,” which was essentially immorality. A return to conservative religious tradition was the natural result.

In the ’70s and ’80s, America’s well-entrenched freedom to choose one’s religion helped many disenchanted Americans of different faiths to begin sitting in the pews of evangelical churches. Why? During the ’60s social turmoil, evangelical churches had held fast to their non-liberal values, which included a strong stance that marriage and family were sacred and premarital sex was sin. Those deeply wounded by liberalism’s immorality found comfort within their ranks.

Rise of the Religious Right

This led to a climbing comeback for religion in America. The late ’70s and early ’80s saw the rapid growth of evangelical megachurches, many of which still exist today. Religious observance—church attendance, daily prayer and Bible study and reading—began to rise rapidly. Christian-oriented books and magazines flooded the publishing industry. Religious programming filled radio and television airwaves. In addition, this period saw the development of a partnership between religious and political conservatives that became known as the Religious Right. The Religious Right, also called the Christian Right, has been associated with several institutions such as the Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.

Beginning in the late ’70s, conservative Christian clerics urged members to involve themselves in the political process in response to the rising tide of liberalism that began in the ’60s. They believed that a strong and organized voice in politics could prevent more social disintegration. Socially conservative candidates were promoted, financially supported and backed up by the voting power of conservative Christians. The Religious Right became identified with the Republican Party, and flexed it muscle during the 1980 presidential election, ensuring that Ronald Reagan became president.

Initially this partnership was seen as a good thing. However, by the 1990s many other Americans grew skeptical of the relationship between politics and religion. As Putnam states it, “The terms ‘Religious Right’ and ‘Christian Right’ were becoming pejoratives in most Americans’ view, representing a noxious mixture of religion and political ideology.” Gallup polling in the mid-’80s showed that most Americans opposed the idea of religious groups campaigning against specific candidates. However, most agreed that religious leaders should speak out on the moral implications of public issues—something that has always been an honored tradition in American history.

The view that organized religion should have less influence on government decisions and how people vote has continued to rise. A Gallup poll in 2008 showed that 45 percent of Americans strongly agree that religious leaders should not influence how people vote.

Enter the Nones

As the politicized Religious Right pointed its fingers at American social ills, young Americans began pointing back. Putnam tells us that beginning in the early 1990s, “Young Americans came to view religion, according to one survey, as judgmental, homophobic, hypocritical and too political.” Is there a correlation between these young Americans and the rise of the Nones? Surveys show that during the social and religious turmoil of the ’60s, the number of Nones increased slightly, from 5 to 7 percent, and that number remained static for years. In the 1990s, it spiked sharply at the same time young adult Americans perceived there to be glaring faults in organized religion. Today the number of Nones stands at 20 percent. However, all indications are that number will continue to rise.

Who are the Nones? They represent a typical cross-section of the American population in terms of education, social standing, race and gender. However, men, whites and non-Southerners are more likely to be Nones. These Americans are not necessarily non-believers. In fact, few Nones claim to be agnostic or atheist; most still maintain some belief in God and an afterlife. Many feel that religion is important in their lives.

A 2008 General Social Survey points out that as the numbers of Nones increased, there was also a parallel decline in the number of young evangelicals. This does not mean that the total number of Nones is made up only of former young evangelicals, but that there is a common change happening in American religion. Remember, one third of all adults under 30 claim no religion. So, a large number of the Nones must be young adults from different religious backgrounds.

Surveys show that the majority of Nones come from the center to left of the political spectrum. They tend to be liberal in their views on gender roles, homosexuality and marijuana. “For many, their aversion to religion is rooted in unease with the association between religion and conservative politics,” Putnam postulates. “If religion equals Republican, then they have decided that religion is not for them.”

The Nones’ defection from organized religion appears to be, in part, a backlash to the aggressive political activism of the Religious Right. Surveys show that few Nones refer to themselves as conservative, or being on the right of the political spectrum. However, this is not the entire reason for their growing numbers.

Steeped in Religious Hypocrisy

The Pew Forum asked a large sample of Nones why they rejected religious identification. The Nones said that “they became unaffiliated, at least in part, because they think of religious people as hypocritical, judgmental or insincere. Large numbers also say they became unaffiliated because they think that religious organizations focus too much on rules and not enough on spirituality.” This survey tells us that the Nones are thinking, analyzing people. Their gripe with religion is not unfounded.

Religious failure in leaders has shaken the faith of millions for decades. Shocking, well-publicized scandals have cut across all American faiths. Evangelical leaders who preached fidelity in marriage engaged in extra-marital affairs. Some who taught fervently against homosexuality were practicing homosexuals. Ministers and priests sexually abused children. Popular televangelists bilked millions of dollars from their faithful. Anyone willing to take an honest look at the scandal side of American religion would agree that the Nones have some valid points. Hypocrisy, self-righteous judgment and insincerity have plagued and continue to plague American religious leadership. It only makes sense that truly thinking people would step back and say: “What is going on here?” In fact, it is surprising that more people have not done so. Why haven’t more people questioned American religion?

There appear to be real flaws within the ranks of American believers. Wouldn’t faithful people on top of their spiritual game question why religious leaders are failing? Bad fruits in religious leaders are an indication of flaws in a religious system.

In 2010, 80 percent of Americans said they belonged to a religion, and the same percentage said they were absolutely sure there is a God. However, Gallup polling has regularly surveyed Americans about their belief on Bible inerrancy. Do people who believe in God and are affiliated with a religious tradition believe the Bible to be the literal Word of God? Analyzing Gallup data, Putnam tells us, “[B]elief in the literal truth of Scripture is on the decline in all Christian traditions in America.” In fact, he says that “biblical literalism has steadily slumped for almost half a century.”

This is the reason why religion is losing its grip on Americans—why religion is failing us.

Without the firm belief that the Holy Bible is the sole, literal Word of a living God, there can be no true religious leadership that guides people into a way of life that truly nourishes and satisfies the spirit. Any spiritual-sounding talk not taken from the Bible is mere human fable. The Bible must be the authoritative guide for all religious doctrine and practice. Without the Bible, there is simply no true religion.

No Guiding Authority

America has churches like an ice cream parlor has flavors. The reason there is so much diversity—and frankly, so much religious confusion and contradiction—is that there is so much departure from biblical religion! Having many church choices doesn’t make all of them the right choice! This is where American religious freedom has deceived people the most.

One of the most important doctrines in the Bible is that of church government. The Bible shows that the Church of God began with Moses and the nation of Israel after the Exodus (Acts 7:38). God gave His Church His government (Exodus 18). God maintained authority over His Church by working though one man—Moses. God revealed to Moses what He wanted the people taught. To assist Moses with the administration of church government, God organized a system of helpers for Moses, calling them judges. Authority flowed from God through Moses down through the judges. It is important to realize that Moses and the judges were not voted into office. God chose Moses and, with God’s inspiration, Moses appointed the judges.

Jesus Christ governed the disciples in the same manner when He walked this Earth. And the living Jesus Christ still governs His Church in the same way today (Hebrews 13:8).

Proper church government—with Jesus Christ as the Head and the Bible-sanctioned human organization underneath Him—is what is missing in American religion today. Few religious people living today see the need for it. What religion today claims Jesus Christ as its head?

Herbert W. Armstrong taught members of the Worldwide Church of God, “The Roman Catholic Church does not call Christ the present living Head of their church. That title they give to their pope. So theirs in not the government of God … it is a counterfeit human government swayed by Satan.”

Martin Luther saw many problems within the Catholic leadership of his day. He rejected their authority and started his own brand of Catholicism—today called Lutheranism—yet he didn’t truly correct the problem. In fact, Luther promoted the idea that everyone should do what is right in his own eyes. (Read Judges 17:6 to see what God thinks of that.) What was the tragic result? Mr. Armstrong continued, “John and Charles Wesley came along and disagreed with Luther on certain points of doctrine. There was no central authority in the Protestant Church as God’s instrument to define true Bible doctrines. The Wesleys were strong leaders. Hundreds, then thousands, followed them like sheep, and a new denomination appeared. … So in addition to the Lutheran Church following the human Luther, and the Methodists following the Wesleys, the world soon had the Presbyterian and Congregational churches. … [T]hey split and re-split, and today we have hundreds of Protestant denominations.” American religion has repeated this same history since our very beginning. Current trends indicate that American religion will continue to fracture with the result that even more people will become Nones.

You can be different.

Flee Deceit

Jesus Christ warned the original 12 apostles that just prior to His Second Coming, the Earth would be filled with religious deceit. He said, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5). If you are an honest observer of American religion, isn’t that precisely what you see today? There are many voices out there saying, “I represent Jesus Christ—follow me!”

Jesus Christ also taught that His Church would be firmly united. Paul declared, “There is one body … One Lord, one faith …” (Ephesians 4:4-5). Just the opposite exists in American religion. The American Christian world is hopelessly divided over doctrine and matters of faith. Who is right? Jesus Christ promised that His Church would never die out (Matthew 16:18). Jesus Christ’s one true Church is alive and well on the Earth today.

You can find that Church. How? Get to know the Bible well. Use the Bible to measure your doctrinal beliefs and religious observances. If what you believe and do is not supported by the Bible, flee from it! Then, use the Bible as your compass to search out and guide you to Jesus Christ’s Church.

Jesus Christ prophesied that prior to His Second Coming there would be one voice shouting out the truth of God (Matthew 24:14). The Philadelphia Church of God and its publications broadcast that voice. If you would like to know more, request to become a student of the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course. This 36-lesson course will help you gain a full understanding of the Bible and its vital relevance to your life. This course is provided to you free of charge.

Also, request a free copy of Mystery of the Ages. This book will guide you through the Bible, helping you to understand it. It will show you why our world is the way it is today. Most importantly, this book will also tell you about the happy, peaceful and successful world soon to replace this war-torn, tragic world we live in.

America has too much of the wrong religion and not enough of the true. You can help us make up the difference. Don’t become a None.

What No One Would Say About Sandy

What No One Would Say About Sandy

Mario Tama/Getty Images

From the January 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

Meteorologists said there were no known precedents for Hurricane Sandy. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy called it “the most catastrophic event we have faced … in any of our lifetimes.”

America is getting hit by more and more record disasters all the time. Why is that? A lot of people blame global warming. But is it possible that God has something to do with the weather? You need to prove whether or not He has a hand in these disasters.

Why are so many people hostile to that concept? A generation or two ago, people who experienced a monster storm like this would have asked themselves if they needed to get closer to God. Many would have asked, Are we sinning? But today almost nobody is asking those questions. God is not even part of their thinking.

One third of your Bible is prophecy—future news. Ninety percent of prophecy is for today. And those prophecies predict that catastrophes will come on us in this end time. That’s in the Bible for the whole world to read. It’s there for you to prove for yourself.

What does it mean to you that America was struck by an unprecedented storm?

The record-breaking weather disasters hitting America are not coincidences. They are fulfilled prophecies from the Bible. America is facing increasing disasters for a reason. God is unleashing these phenomena to get our attention! He wants to use them to turn sinning people back to Him.

Many people claim to believe in God, but they don’t believe what He says in the Bible. Christ said we need to live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4).

In the aftermath of Sandy, mobs looted businesses, and people walked in and casually robbed stores. People fought over gasoline. Store owners were price-gouging and profiteering off of people with acute needs and nowhere else to go.

What other nation would turn on itself at a time like this? What is wrong with Americans? We are compounding our suffering from great natural disasters by committing crimes against ourselves. But do you know why?

Our politicians speak as though they have the answers to these problems. Leading up to the recent presidential election, we heard endless talk about what a catastrophe for the nation it would be if the other party was elected. After President Obama won the election, Republicans talked a lot about what a great catastrophe that was for the nation—as if a different outcome would have made all the difference.

The truth is, regardless of election outcomes, there already is a great catastrophe in this land, and we must see that or perish!

God promises in His Word that if we respond to Him, individually, He will protect us. But this nation’s problems will never be solved by a political party.

The book of Hosea was written primarily for the end time—the time we live in. In it, God says to His people Israel—which includes the United States, “[Y]e are not my people, and I will not be your God” (Hosea 1:9). Those are strong words from God.

“For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal” (Hosea 2:8). This is another serious charge from our Creator.

Where did all our wealth come from? Did it come from the great capitalist system? Was it our Yankee ingenuity? Positive election outcomes? If you believe that, then you don’t believe your Bible. America’s prosperity came from God. He gave us birthright blessings because of godly men who obeyed Him.

No wonder God gets upset. He gave us all these blessings, and we turn around and worship another god!

God says that, because of that, “will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand.”

Hurricane Sandy was actually another proof among many that God is not happy with how America is behaving. God is full of wrath because of our depravity and sins. We should take this very seriously—even more seriously than a monster storm!

But there is a happy ending. Verse 23 says God will call people His people, and people will finally repent and know their God. These troubles are going to get worse, but they are leading to a beautiful ending: the return of Jesus Christ to this Earth, and a time when everyone will finally know and worship the God who gave them their blessings.