The Former Prophets
Chapter 1: The History That Is Prophecy
How often have we heard that “history repeats itself”? It does—time and time again.
The Old Testament is divided into three main sections: the law, the prophets and the psalms, or writings (e.g. Luke 24:44). The prophets include what are classified as the “major” and “minor” prophets. There also are the “former prophets,” comprised of the biblical books of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings. These were originally just two books: Joshua-Judges and the Book of Kings. They are all tied together; you need to understand them individually and as one prophetic unit.
These books record a broad sweep of history of the nation of Israel—from the time the Israelites entered the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua until the two parts of the divided kingdom, Israel and Judah, were conquered and taken into captivity. There is a special message in all the former prophets. They are mostly about history, but they are called former prophets for a reason. The word former simply means that they are the earlier prophets. These books were written by prophets and are filled with end-time prophecy.
The message in Joshua and Judges is unique: If nations would follow Joshua’s way, then things would go well for them. The nations would have to look to Moses and the law of God. If, on the other hand, our modern nations of Israel chose to live as Israel did during the time of the judges—when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”—then there would be disaster! The books of Joshua and Judges contain prophecy of how we shall succeed or fail.
The books of Kings and Samuel teach us how to be kings and priests. If people today followed these books, our nations would not be in the terrible condition they are today. These books record how to succeed or fail as God’s nation. They are a strong witness that if a nation goes the same way as ancient Israel, everything will fall apart.
How much more do all these books apply to God’s Church!
For all the years I was in the Worldwide Church of God, even at Ambassador College, I heard only one message about the former prophets, and it was given by Dr. Herman Hoeh. I thought it was fascinating. I wanted to hear more about the subject but never did.
The former prophets contain critical prophetic understanding for God’s Church today. They teach us how and why 95 percent of God’s people have rejected God in this Laodicean or lukewarm era. These books also prepare us to help Christ lay a solid spiritual foundation when He ushers in the wonderful World Tomorrow.
Traditional Christianity, and even many of God’s lukewarm people, say that the former prophets contain only history. Basically they are saying that these books are of limited value for us today. Such reasoning is ignorant and spiritually dangerous. Describing the former prophets as mere history damages people’s faith.
There is a lot more to these books than just history. The former prophets contain many vital spiritual lessons for us today that we need to understand. These books teach us about leadership. They teach us how to build faith. They give instruction especially pertinent to the ministry.
Many authorities call history our most effective teacher. There is a lot of truth to that statement. Napoleon Bonaparte said that if you want to be a great general, you must study the great generals of the past. That is good advice for us spiritually as well. Bible history is the greatest history of all because it’s God’s history. We have to learn about these spiritual warriors of the past. We need to learn about Joshua and Samuel, and about David—who has the greatest, longest biography in the Bible. We should understand why Saul failed even though he had such a great opportunity. We need to know about Elijah and Elisha.
What were these powerful leaders all about? We must learn from our own history! It really is prophetic history and even more, as we will see.
The former prophets contain a lot of direct prophecies—pivotal prophecies that are especially for this end time. We will show you very direct prophecies for today from these books.
The former prophets also give us indirect prophecies. Of course these books record history, but it is history that, in most cases, also becomes prophecy. For example, it shows how the state of religion in ancient Israel revealed the state of the nation. So if we have the same or similar religious problems today, this is an indirect prophecy of what is happening in the end-time nations of Israel, which are primarily America and Britain. (If you have not proved this important truth, study our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.) These books show that if we live the same lifestyles our forefathers did, we will attain virtually the same results—good or bad. History becomes prophecy. Not all prophecy is history, but a lot of history becomes prophecy. History prophesies the fate of nations—whether they will thrive or collapse!
This is “a law of history.” (See the appendix for a deeper understanding of this essential subject.) It’s not about luck or happenstance. It is a law of history. If we break that law, the law breaks us!
As long as we reject our history, we will never accept Bible prophecy. That means God must punish us as never before. The instrument God will use is rising quickly in Europe (Isaiah 10:5-7).
British and American leaders have been utterly contemptuous of World War ii history that cost 50 million lives! Our nations will pay dearly for such dangerous contempt of history. But an even worse problem is that our religious leaders have forgotten our spiritual history. They don’t even know that America, Britain and the Jews in the Middle East are all a part of biblical Israel. The Israelites were the only people who ever had a history with God!
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Israel’s history was recorded for our instruction. The lessons of the former prophets were written for you and me! There is no excuse for people to call them just history.
Primarily for Us
Some commentaries describe the former prophets as descending partly from oral tradition. This damages people’s faith! Oral tradition could be almost anything. In fact, the Catholic Church says tradition eclipses the Bible in authority. That is human reasoning run amok. Even in God’s Church today, we don’t rely on oral tradition: If I am going to talk about Herbert W. Armstrong, the founder of our mother-church, something he said or a doctrine he proved, I always look back at the record to see what he said. I don’t rely on my memory. We quote his writings and the scriptures he used.
In this end time, 95 percent of God’s people have gone astray because they failed to follow Mr. Armstrong’s example as he followed Christ. They forgot their own recent history of success. Now they are scattered and ineffective. God is not leading them to do His Work. (For more information, request a free copy of Malachi’s Message.)
Ephesians 3:5 says God reveals truth only to His prophets and apostles. Ephesians 2:20 says that this is all “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” God revealed prophecy only to prophets in the Old Testament. Prophets certainly wrote the books of the former prophets. The writing prophets usually were the most outstanding in the work they did for God. Much of the content in these books is about prophets, and it was all written by prophets. So they are all prophetic history.
Ambassador College instructors thought that Isaiah probably orchestrated the epic production of these books of the Bible. But I think the actual orchestrator was Jeremiah—though there were several writers involved. The most important thing is that these authors were inspired by God.
In Luke 24:25, Christ spoke these strong words of condemnation: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” Do you believe all that the prophets have spoken? Christ called these people fools for failing to do so.
What prophets was Christ talking about? Verse 27 says, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” He went all the way back to the Pentateuch and then the former prophets. Christ was very condemning of those people for not understanding what was in these books, including the former prophets. So we had better learn everything we can about these books and everything in the Bible that God leads us to understand. We don’t want Christ calling us fools. God wants us to be Bible-educated people.
The former prophets are mostly prophetic. They contain spiritual history that is primarily for us today. God inspired these books mainly for our day—just before Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. The more I study into it, the more I believe these books are specifically for the Philadelphia Church of God (pcg)! Otherwise, why didn’t we understand it more when Mr. Armstrong was alive? We understood parts of it, but we need to understand it a lot better. God is adding more to our knowledge all the time.
We will never understand the lessons God wants to teach us if we don’t study the former prophets. But few people heed God’s warnings. And we are going to pay the ultimate price if we don’t learn these God-inspired lessons!
Former Prophets Source Material
God ensured the material in the former prophets was recorded and preserved mainly so that we could understand it in the last era of God’s Church—the era that leads directly into the coming of the Messiah. It simply wasn’t understood to this degree in the Philadelphia era. We are beginning to see more and more why it is mainly for us. We must proclaim the prophecy today. We must also get prepared to teach the former prophets to the entire world.
It took a lot of intensive study by the writers to collect this invaluable instruction for our education! In discussing the book of Kings, the Cambridge Bible explains: “The compiler specifies three sources from which his narrative is drawn: 1) The Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41) as the authority for Solomon’s reign. 2) The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, which is mentioned 15 times …. 3) The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel, quoted 17 times” in Kings. The writers and compilers of the former prophets had many written sources—not just oral tradition. They had to deeply study the prophetic books and the history of the prophets in order to put it all together in the manner God wanted.
We can learn more about these three sources by comparing the history in the former prophets with what is recorded in the book of Chronicles. For example, this is what the Cambridge Bible notes about the first of them, The Book of the Acts of Solomon: “The chronicler [the compiler of Chronicles] adheres so closely to the language of Kings throughout the history of Solomon that a comparison at once convinces us that he drew his narrative from the same documents as the earlier compiler,” referring to The Book of the Acts of Solomon. But he actually lists his sources in 2 Chronicles 9:29: “Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat?”
In other words, this book about Solomon consisted of the writings of these three prophets: Nathan, Ahijah and Iddo. Here is how the Cambridge Bible explains it: “‘The Book of the Acts of Solomon’ comprised three works written by prophets contemporary with Solomon and which embracing the whole period of his reign were naturally soon gathered into one treatise and called by one collective name.” The sources used by the compiler of the former prophets included the Book of the Acts of Solomon—which relied on source material written by prophets who were right there with Solomon! God-inspired men gathered all this material together to make a bigger book. Then that was used in composing the former prophets.
This process was much more thorough than mere oral tradition. This history was recorded in much the same way we write history today—with one big difference: It was inspired by God!
The second of these three sources, The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, has a similar story. The material it covers included the reign of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:29). Yet the source material for that history cited in 2 Chronicles 12:15 includes “the book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer.” So Iddo the seer contributed to that volume as well. Do you know anything about Iddo? You should—he was one of the sources of the former prophets! (The word seer was replaced by the word prophet.)
Later, God-inspired men combined those two books about the history of the kings of Judah with others, including some about the history of Israel’s kings (e.g. 1 Kings 14:19). “Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel” (2 Chronicles 20:34). Here the book is listed as the kings of Israel, but later it was changed to the kings of Israel and Judah. And still more details of the history were taken from the writings of Isaiah and other prophets of God.
These men kept building their history because of how important it is! Clearly this history was extremely critical and meaningful to the righteous scholars of ancient Israel! If only modern Israel valued it so highly!
History Recorded by Prophets
King David created offices to ensure all this invaluable history was recorded and preserved. “Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer” (1 Chronicles 29:29). The men who wrote the former prophets and Chronicles were highly educated. They knew their Bibles and God’s history and prophecy. These prophets all recorded that history of David. They kept the flame of David’s throne shining brightly for any followers of God!
In David’s administration, the prophets were the historians. Very few, if any, Bible scholars will accept that. One says that the prophets and the priests wrote the history. That is false! Where in the Old Testament do you read about a priest writing a book of the Bible or compiling it or canonizing it? It was done by prophets! Of course the priests had an important job, but they weren’t prophets! Prophets and apostles—that is where the revelation was for ancient Israel and is for spiritual Israel (or the true Church) today! (Ephesians 2:20; 3:5). Of course, God used some priests, like Ezekiel and Ezra, as prophets. Yet they say, Well, don’t give all the credit to the prophets. In 2 Kings 22:4 and 14, you can see the high priest, Hilkiah, having to go to a well-educated prophetess to interpret something for them. God had to reveal it. All truth is revealed—that is the way it has always been. Priests have a role, but it isn’t that of a prophet.
Education was of great importance in these former prophets. Samuel, Elijah and Elisha were educated! Their schools were small because most of the nation wasn’t following the godly education, but that history—and even their regard for godly education—was recorded for us today.
I believe Jeremiah tied the former prophets all together. But we are not looking for Jeremiah in these books. We are looking for God all the way through. God put that history together! Yet people in the world give it names like “Hebrew history.” Even that can be watering down the truth of God. It isn’t history of the Hebrews—it’s the history of God and of what He is doing on Earth! That history was arranged and inspired by God Himself!
God is trying to educate us to teach the whole world and to work at headquarters with Jesus Christ for all eternity. That is why we were chosen to do this Work! That is a towering responsibility—one we must be educated to fulfill.
“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name” (Malachi 3:16). Even this will be somewhat of a history book that God has for those who remembered what God taught them.
We are here to do a Work today and to be prepared to do a far bigger Work. We have to qualify to sit on David’s throne with Christ! And what wonderful material God gives to help us in these books that show how to become kings for God. We have to keep getting more deeply into the Scriptures and into the mind of God to better understand what He is teaching us in the former prophets. He really does want us to become educated kings and priests!
Chapter 2: Joshua: Conquering the Promised Land
The first book of the former prophets is Joshua. Why was this book written? It shows that God’s plan continued after Moses.
Moses died just before Israel entered the Promised Land. Joshua led them to their final destination. The Promised Land is a type of the Kingdom of God. But there is one big difference today. All the adults in ancient Israel who died in the wilderness because of their rebellion will be resurrected in the White Throne Judgment. They will, at that time, have their first opportunity for salvation. God’s very elect today are about to enter the Kingdom of God—but if we die in the spiritual wilderness, we shall lose our eternal lives. This is our only chance to be saved.
Joshua was one of the few Israelites who was converted. He ascended the mountain range of Sinai at the first giving of the tables of the law (Exodus 24:13). He was with Moses quite a lot. The book of Joshua—and the other former prophets—is directly tied to the Pentateuch. All the Scriptures came from one mind—the mind of God!
Joshua was a courageous warrior. He was Israel’s first soldier. In Exodus 17, he was on the front line in the war against Amalek. In Numbers 13, he was one of the 12 spies who scouted out the Promised Land. He was accustomed to risking his life in service to God. You don’t hear much about Joshua when times were easier—you only hear about him when there was an emergency!
Courage seemed to be his major strength. Joshua was a warrior! He had proven himself before he went into the Promised Land. But God also told him at that time, Don’t be afraid! Stand up and be courageous! Wherever you go, I am with you (Joshua 1:5, 7-9). God wanted him to build more courage because there were far bigger battles ahead.
The book of Joshua isn’t just a biography, or a record of history, or merely a historical link to the Pentateuch. It applies directly to God’s people today. It has powerful lessons to teach us about attaining God’s Kingdom. That is how some of the prophecy comes into play. We have the same faith-filled responsibility that Joshua had. Joshua had to fight his way into the Promised Land! We will have to fight our way into the Kingdom of God! God’s ministers must fight to fulfill their responsibilities toward the people they serve. It is the same thing that Christ said was His “meat”: to do the will of God and to finish His Work (John 4:34).
The example of Moses and Joshua is a striking parallel to what has and is happening in God’s Church today. Joshua learned the government God taught through Moses and never compromised with it. The very elect today follow his example and submit to the government God taught through Herbert W. Armstrong. Those who follow Joshua’s example are true Philadelphians who are not ashamed to place the proper emphasis on Mr. Armstrong’s position.
Joshua’s book shows why he won battle after battle going into the Promised Land—how he was able to defeat 31 kings and finish his job. Above all, it shows how he exalted God.
This is the only way for us to reach the Promised Land, God’s Kingdom! Those who fail will die forever in the spiritual wilderness, or the lake of fire. The stakes are forever today. These prophetic books reveal how to be God’s greatest success story forever—or the most towering failures forever! We can’t escape that powerful truth. Our calling is about living forever—or dying forever.
Joshua Distinguished Himself
When God commanded Moses to choose representatives of each tribe to spy out the Promised Land, Moses chose Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim (Numbers 13:1-8). He was very impressed with this young man. The account of what happened when Joshua did this job shows you why.
All the other spies showed cowardice and faithlessness. Only Joshua and Caleb demonstrated courage and faith!
The Israelites murmured and said they wanted to return to Egypt! “Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes” (Numbers 14:5-6). Joshua was really moved! He was watching his boss and learning, imitating him and doing what God wanted.
Joshua’s attitude through this whole event was one of faith in God, positivity and courage (verses 7-9). That is exactly the attitude we need in order to face our problems and conquer!
How did the Israelites respond to Joshua? By threatening to stone him to death! (verse 10). Joshua was learning the hard way just how hardheaded Israel was.
As a result of what happened here, God decreed that all Israel would die before entering the Promised Land (verses 22-23). But He made two exceptions: Joshua and Caleb.
Notice what God said about Caleb specifically: “he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully” (verse 24). These men were willing to do whatever God asked of them, and eager to do God’s Work! That is the spirit God is trying to build in us! We should approach our part in God’s Work with joy!
Joshua really distinguished himself. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient” (Numbers 27:18-20).
God knew Joshua would cause Israel to be obedient. Does God know that you will cause those you have an influence on to be obedient? Are you the kind of person He can put someplace, and know you will cause people to be more obedient to God? That is what He is looking for in us.
In Numbers 32:11, God gave this judgment: “Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me.” Remember, we too are in a land today and enjoying such prosperity because of the obedience of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
“Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the Lord” (verse 12). That is the kind of leader God wants: Somebody who will wholly follow Him! Not follow Him 60 percent, or even 90 percent—but 100 percent! That is what God demands of His elite leaders. That is what we must do if we are going to be able to lead in the headquarters of God’s temple in the World Tomorrow.
When men like this are chosen, they cause good things to happen. God said in Deuteronomy 1:35 that none of the men in that generation would see the Promised Land—“But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it” (verse 38). Put Joshua in charge, and he will cause good things to happen in Israel. God wants us to do that as well: cause positive things to happen, and cause successes in our lives and the lives of those we lead.
Joshua Exalted Moses
Joshua truly loved God. He also had a deep love for Moses and for Moses’s office. That means he loved God’s government. This quality is rare even in the Bible!
In Exodus 33:9-11, God spoke to Moses in the tabernacle; afterward, Moses went back into the camp, “but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.” Joshua stayed behind to look after the treasures of God. He guarded what was God’s, and he did it God’s way. You see that dedication time and again in these examples.
Numbers 11 records an interesting episode. Moses gathered 70 elders and set them around the tabernacle; God gave them His Spirit, and they prophesied. God was giving Moses additional help! Two of the men even prophesied in the camp of Israel. Joshua was upset by this: “And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them” (verse 28). You can see that Joshua was very helpful to Moses; he loved that man, and he knew God was using him. Sometimes he was a little overzealous. Here he thought those other men were violating God’s government. In this case he was wrong, but I believe he had the right attitude. I think God loved it even though it was a bit misguided.
“And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” (verse 29). Moses knew Joshua really loved him and was trying to protect him, but he tried to get Joshua to understand that sometimes these things are ok. Joshua didn’t argue. He just did what Moses said.
Joshua was “Moses’ minister” (Joshua 1:1). When Joshua took over, power transferred from one-man rule under Moses to one-man rule under Joshua.
God told Joshua, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (verse 5). That is the authority God gives His leader. The man must have God behind him.
“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest” (verse 7). At times it takes great courage to stand up and do what God commands and to fight the battle that God gives us to fight. But this is a promise from God: If you follow what Moses taught and don’t turn right or left, you will prosper.
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (verse 8). This isn’t just saying how to have prosperity and good success. God is also saying, It’s not enough just to know the Bible, to have certain scriptures written on your wall or in your wallet. You won’t get what I’m trying to teach unless you meditate on these things and work to understand them deeply! Deuteronomy 17:18-20 say the same thing: A fine set of rules is not going to get us through to our ultimate spiritual destination.
Joshua spoke a lot about Moses, and he hammered home what that great prophet had received from God. From the beginning of his rule, this was Joshua’s message: “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land” (Joshua 1:13).
The Bible speaks of two Joshuas in the end time—one is lawful and one is unlawful (explained in my Zechariah booklet—all of our literature is free). We need to compare the unlawful Joshua who worked with an end-time type of Zerubbabel, to the Joshua who worked with Moses. The unlawful end-time Joshua failed utterly in following the example of the Joshua under Moses (Zechariah 3:1). How different the modern history of the Church would have been if the leaders in the Worldwide Church of God had followed the ancient Joshua’s example of what to do when a great man of God dies! This is a strong warning to all of God’s people in this end time.
Over and over, this Joshua of old told Israel to remember and exalt what God had revealed through Moses—and he and the nation prospered as a result. The modern Joshua, spoken of by Zechariah, rebelled against doing that with God’s man in the end time. This led to his downfall.
“[T]he Lord commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua …” (Joshua 4:10). Joshua didn’t decide on his own to do that; God commanded him to do it, and Joshua obediently did so! We are commanded today to teach according to all that God taught through Mr. Armstrong. We are the only Church that does so. “There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel …” (Joshua 8:35). Joshua didn’t even reject one word that God taught through Moses. He taught the people that every inspired word of Moses had to be kept! He taught them to remember Moses! God had revealed to Joshua the importance of Moses’s position in Israel. He also prophesied a great warning to anyone who would dare reject even one word of God’s message through His messenger.
When God sends a man to deliver a message, it is extremely dangerous to reject even one word!
In our day, God revealed to the Church the importance of Mr. Armstrong’s office. (Our Haggai booklet proves that statement. Request your free copy.) If God places emphasis on a man’s position, then we must be careful to do the same. As Joshua always pointed the people to Moses, so we must point the people to Mr. Armstrong! If we are truly following the Bible, then we will be placing the proper emphasis on Mr. Armstrong’s writings and work.
“As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses” (Joshua 11:15). Moses followed God’s commands and passed them on to Joshua. And Joshua did everything that God had commanded Moses! Everything!
Right to the end of his life, this was still Joshua’s message: “But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you …. Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left” (Joshua 22:5; 23:6). Joshua was not trying to promote himself. He loved Moses, he loved God, he loved God’s government, and he kept teaching it over and over to Israel, many years after Moses was dead!
Remember, this is part of the former prophets. It is prophecy for us! This is a lesson that God’s ministers and God’s people must learn: that the only one who needs to be exalted is God! Do we love God and His government the way Joshua did? Anyone who does is guaranteed to have a great future!
God really wants us to know about this loyal, faithful man who was so consistent in emphasizing what He revealed through Moses. And God’s faithful Philadelphians follow this marvelous example. We are going to keep exalting God by honoring His end-time servant and the government He taught us through that man!
The Ark of the Covenant
In Joshua 3:7, God promised Joshua, “This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.” God is with His leader, and He does exalt him: first Moses, now Joshua. God never rules by a scholarly committee. He rules through an office that He establishes. And He magnifies a man by installing him into that office (Joshua 4:14).
How did God exalt Joshua? By using a wonderful miracle that centered on the ark of the covenant.
The former prophets mention this ark time and time again. Gold covered the lid on the ark, which is a type of God’s throne (e.g. 2 Samuel 6:2). It was a symbol of God’s throne and of God’s presence in the nation. The way the Israelites used that ark was critical to God.
God’s true Church today possesses the ark of the covenant spiritually. God ruled ancient Israel, and He rules the Church today from that throne. God’s presence is in His Church.
Anciently the ark contained a golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod and the tables of the Ten Commandments (Hebrews 9:4). These physical items have deep spiritual significance. The same contents exist within the spiritual ark today.
First, you have God’s Ten Commandments, or His law. God’s law is our constitution. Ancient Israel obeyed the letter of God’s law. Spiritual Israel, the Church, keeps the spirit of the law today. We talk about the Ten Commandments a lot, but we are not just ruled by the Ten Commandments—we are ruled by God. We must always give God His proper place and priority. God rules us by the law, which is the foundation of the Pentateuch and the whole Bible.
Then, in order to implement that law, you must have God’s government (symbolized by Aaron’s rod, spoken of in Numbers 17). There was one man, Moses, who governed Israel in the wilderness—under God. When Moses died, he was replaced by Joshua—one man—who enforced the law for God. “On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life” (Joshua 4:14). They went from one-man rule to one-man rule. That is always the way God works.
When you have God’s law and government, then God will feed you manna, or spiritual food, today (John 6:49-51). Only the Church that has God’s law and government is fed God’s revealed manna, or truth. God reveals it only to “babes,” those submissive to His government (Matthew 11:25). God will not use anyone to do His Work until they learn this lesson! Any other approach leads to spiritual starvation! God cuts off the spiritual manna. All the Laodicean groups have rejected God’s government. That is why God only reveals His secrets to His Philadelphia Church today (Amos 3:7). The revelation we receive shows that God is feeding us with spiritual food, which is further proof that God is ruling this Church.
Joshua’s instruction to the Israelites was, “When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it” (Joshua 3:3). When the Israelites were to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land, God commanded that the priests lead the entourage with the ark. Joshua was a military man, but he didn’t position the military out in front; he placed the priests, and the ark of God, at the head of the entourage so everyone would know it was God leading them!
The ark is where God’s rule is—that is why Joshua told Israel to “go after it”! He wasn’t trying to get the people to follow him. He intensely taught them to follow God.
We must “go after” God—never men! But you and I are responsible to prove which man is pointing us to God.
God was able to unify Israel around Joshua and the priests. They were all one. God’s government rules God’s true Church today. God is going to use these people to help Him enforce His law in the World Tomorrow (Revelation 2:26-27). The world will be led and fed spiritually by the omnipotent God. That is what the ark of the covenant is all about. The book of Joshua contains prophecy of this wonderful future.
Put God First
In Joshua’s day, God used the ark in a dramatic way not only to magnify Joshua’s office, but also to teach a profound lesson for us in this end time.
“And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (Joshua 3:5). Joshua loved working for God. He knew that when you truly serve God, God works wonderful miracles for you. Joshua called Him “the living God [who] is among you” (verse 10). As a result of this approach, Joshua and the nation enjoyed wonder after wonder!
When the priests set foot in the Jordan, the waters miraculously stopped flowing through and built up in a great heap to the north! God stopped the waters so Israel could walk across! The priests then carried the ark right out into the middle of the dried-up riverbed where everybody could see that symbol of God, and they remained there as all the people crossed over.
That was just one of the many miracles God performed. It was always that way when the Israelites were submissive to God’s government.
Those who personally witnessed this miracle were mostly carnal-minded. God didn’t perform it primarily for their benefit—but for His Spirit-begotten people today!
Consider the lesson: If you follow this example and put God first in your life, you can expect a lot of miracles—even more so today than in the past! “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). God performs great miracles for His people if we submit to Him. Look at the power available to those who obey God. All we have to do is keep God’s law and government; then He feeds us spiritually and leads us into the Kingdom.
Still, men want to decide for themselves which government to obey. That means we receive none of God’s wonderful blessings. Instead, we are cursed.
We must rely on the God of miracles to accomplish this Work! We have to make sure we are putting Him out in the front where everybody can see Him. Joshua showed us how to follow the ark today. He was careful to get the ark out in front to ensure the people could see who was doing all this! It was all about God. We must always be exalting God. That takes a lot of effort on our part, emphasizing the ark and all that it contains.
Joshua was told to command the priests what to do with the ark (e.g. Joshua 4:15-18). That is government through one man to ensure that the people focus on God. Joshua had priests and Levites to direct people to the ark, or God. The priests with the ark led the way. It was a physical reminder that God was leading them. Joshua and the ministers always made certain that God was the real leader of Israel.
Today we have ministers to perform the same function. The priests with the spiritual ark today also lead God’s people. Though they may not have stature with men, God uses them to do His Work. Mr. Armstrong always had his ministers direct the people to God.
The former prophets record examples of when the Israelites didn’t get it right with the ark, when they failed to put God first and to follow His way. That was a fatal mistake! They lost battles and suffered terrible calamities. In this end time, we have experienced the Laodicean rebellion in the Church of God, which can be attributed to the fact that God’s people didn’t hold the Head, Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:19). (If you are unfamiliar with this history, request free copies of our books Malachi’s Message and Raising the Ruins.)
To avoid these traps, we absolutely must put God in the spotlight! He must be center stage! That is what makes everything really click. Only God can lead this Work, and we have to make sure He is doing it.
The Twelve Stones
While the river was dry, the Israelites, according to God’s command, took 12 stones from the center of the Jordan and brought them over to the other side. With these stones, they made a memorial of this spectacular event (Joshua 4:1-8). God wants His people to remember the miracles He performs for us!
Today, think about the miracle of all the revelation God has given us. So much of that has been written up into books and booklets—and you could say that those are monuments God has established to help us remember those miracles!
When the Laodiceans gave up those booklets, they forgot those monuments and turned away from the great miracles of God. How quickly we forget the miracles if we don’t preserve those monuments!
Joshua then did something very unusual: “And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day” (verse 9).
This was another memorial, in addition to the one they made within the Promised Land from the stones taken from the riverbed. They set this memorial up right in the middle of the Jordan. After this, the priests came up onto the riverbank and the waters began flowing again, covering this memorial (verse 18).
What was the purpose of this second memorial? Surely the Israelites didn’t learn anything from it; they would have forgotten all about it as soon as it disappeared under the waters. They didn’t even take any lasting instruction from the memorial they set up right where they were living!
This too is mainly for us today, who have the Spirit of God and understand God’s Word.
It seems to me this is an obvious lesson in how much depth this history has if you will just dive in!
There is a lot of symbolism here. God clearly performed a miracle by holding back the waters; the ark was a symbol of God being right there. Now there are 12 stones at the bottom of the Jordan River. The water is a type of God’s Holy Spirit. The 12 stones represent the 12 tribes of Israel. Jesus Christ—who was baptized in that same river—was over the 12 apostles who will rule over the 12 tribes (Matthew 19:28). David will rule over all the apostles from the throne that is actually the throne of the Father and the Son (Luke 1:30-33).
If you think on what those 12 stones are all about, they actually contain the key of David vision! (Revelation 3:7).
God continually emphasizes this vision to the Philadelphia Church of God. The Key of David is the name of our television program. This key is central to everything we do!
This is a fascinating picture. To the world, the beauty of what God has done and what He will accomplish with those 12 stones just disappears. People are deceived; they don’t understand, and most of them don’t want to understand.
But if you start diving in, you begin to comprehend a spectacular, miraculous vision! You see evidence of God’s very presence—you see a work of miracles—and you begin to appreciate the wonder of these 12 stones, which opens up a glorious future! It is through Israel that God plans to save the whole world! This is God’s Work! It is God’s master plan!
Joshua even said that this miracle wasn’t just for Israel, but “[T]hat all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty” (Joshua 4:24). God is alive, and He’s going to establish His miraculous rule over the whole world!
So much wonder comes into your mind when you study this example deeply! Do we really get the depth from this mind-staggering vision? It takes us into the depth of the mind of God!
This memorial of the 12 underwater stones is another way God is telling us that this history is for us. The former prophets are specifically for the pcg. That is why God is continually giving us more understanding about these books. There is so much depth here. If you will meditate on these things day and night, it really will amaze you. Every day that you do, it will become more thrilling and wonderful to you.
Leading the World to God
God’s plan for Israel always involved family. “And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over” (Joshua 4:21-23). He wanted Israel to teach their children about their miraculous crossing of the Jordan River. They were instructed to build a monument to this mind-dazzling miracle. Then the parents would explain its meaning to their children and relate it to the Red Sea miracle.
The American and British peoples are greatly cursed today because they fail to teach their children about God’s many miracles. Our educational system and most religions today usually teach the opposite. Our children are taught to look upon these examples as Old Testament fantasy. That is why we don’t experience such miracles today! Even worse, God is cursing our peoples because of their rebellion.
It takes a strong government to assure that God and His awesome power is kept before the people. Throughout most of Israel’s history, they have done just the opposite.
Again, this lesson was not only to be taught to Israel—but “[T]hat all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever” (verse 24). Israel was to teach “all the people of the earth” how mighty God is so they would fear Him! Do the modern peoples of Israel see how mighty and powerful God is? Do they fear God today? Anybody can see they do not!
Joshua knew that God planned for Israel to lead the world to God. This has always been God’s goal. That is spiritual Israel or the Church’s job today.
The Captain of God’s Host
Once the Israelites had entered the Promised Land, God wanted them to begin to conquer it. But before their first conquest—the Canaanite city of Jericho—God impressed a vital truth deeply into Joshua’s mind.
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so” (Joshua 5:13-15).
Joshua removed his shoes very quickly! This was holy ground! Why? Because the living God was standing there! Here was the Captain of the host of God!
Jesus Christ—here manifested as a man—is a military commander. He holds a drawn sword because sometimes He has to slaughter people. This magnificent being was the one leading the Israelites into the Promised Land—it wasn’t Joshua! That same God is leading the pcg into the Kingdom of God today! When we do God’s Work, we are standing on holy ground!
The Lord of hosts appeared right there to Joshua. This tells you a lot about the kind of man Joshua was.
We will have some battles with the Jerichos of the world. Where is the Captain leading us? Where is this great God who had Joshua take off his shoes? We do have a physical leader, but we must make sure we give God the respect He deserves. We always ought to stand on holy ground spiritually. When we do God’s Work, we are on holy ground, and we had better never forget that if we want God to be with us! If He isn’t, we are in trouble. But if you really know and believe that, how can that not fill you with courage?
The Apostle Paul wrote, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:9-10). Christ is the Captain of our salvation! That goes beyond His being the Captain who led Joshua into the Promised Land. This is the Captain who is leading us into salvation—the spiritual Promised Land! It’s not about what happened anciently; it’s about what’s happening right now!
Verse 8 says that God “put all things in subjection under his feet.” Moffatt translates “all things” as “the universe.” This is the universe-ruling, almighty Captain of our salvation!
Joshua really showed respect for this God! He kept Him in the spotlight all the time! He was ready to fight Him, but when he found out who He was, he bowed down before his Captain.
We need to capture that spirit. Today, this Captain is leading us—not just into some physical paradise, but into the universe! And we are going to help Him bring all mankind into ruling and beautifying the universe!
Understanding and applying these God-inspired words will elevate and revolutionize our lives. Digesting these words will cause us to think like God!
The Wars of the Lord
The day after Joshua met his Captain, the Israelites marched to Jericho (Joshua 6). For seven days they just walked around the powerful walled city. The great military leader Joshua had the priests lead this army with the ark of God! On the seventh day, Jericho simply crumbled. It was another spectacular miracle. These Israelites began to really get the message that God was in charge and leading them to be victorious!
This same God is the Head of the pcg and is leading us today. We have to put Him out front and let Him destroy our Jerichos.
Malachi’s Message was new revelation, and it showed where God had begun working when the Worldwide Church of God went off track. When everything was falling apart and seemed so hopeless, that book provided us a lot of hope. It was God’s revelation showing what was happening in the Church and how it would be corrected. That book turned people to God, and still does. All we had to do was follow the ark, or Jesus Christ our Head, and then everything worked out.
While everything is falling apart, our Captain is trying to lead us out into the universe. We don’t need a lot of people to do this Work—we just need God leading us! If Jericho or anything else gets in the way of God’s Work, it will crumble. But we must have real faith and be patient.
The book of Joshua teaches this lesson of faith over and over again.
One source document for the former prophets is found in Numbers 21:14: “the book of the wars of the Lord.” Joshua was a warrior who fought “the wars of the Lord”! He understood, as it says in 2 Chronicles 20:15, that “the battle is not yours, but God’s.” That is how to win battles: Rely on God!
The second battle Israel fought under Joshua was in Ai (Joshua 7). There, they had 36 of their soldiers killed—they lost the battle! This deeply distressed Joshua. It was the first battle he had ever lost. But realize: If you’re going to be a great man like Joshua, you have to learn how to come back from a lost battle now and then! Just because you lose a battle doesn’t mean you’ve lost the war! Our own human nature is very strong. Sometimes we face difficult battles; other times God has to correct us in ways we don’t understand, just like Joshua didn’t understand the correction he received. We have to realize that God is doing it, and that God understands.
Joshua certainly got some very hard correction here. He prostrated himself before God, deeply remorseful. And God answered: Joshua, get up off the ground and get out and find the sin! (verses 10-15). Israel had sinned! One of the Israelites had disobeyed God’s instructions: Achan thought he could overthrow a part of the government of God.
Joshua had no idea what Achan had done, but once he saw that this man was breaking one of God’s commandments and pushing God’s government aside, Joshua had him put to death immediately. God had them make a memorial so all Israel could see it and learn from that terrible sin (inset, “Achor: The Valley of Causing Sorrow,” page 35).
Joshua stood up for God and fought with courage and faith. We must do the same. We have to fight as He directs, but these are the wars of God. We could write a book about the wars of God today! Our court battle for Mystery of the Ages was a war of God. We relied on God, and He delivered us. If God doesn’t fight our wars, we simply will not win.
After Israel’s loss the first time they tried to conquer Ai, look at all they had to do to succeed after they had eliminated the sin and gotten themselves right with God: “And the Lord said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city” (Joshua 8:18). That is all Joshua had to do! That is all we need do to win our battles: Trust God!
In Exodus 23:28-30, God promised to drive out the Canaanites with hornets! He would have done virtually the whole job if Israel had just believed Him! How many battles that we are fighting would God take care of if we would just let Him fight it? How many of them would be far easier than they are?
This lesson is impossible for a carnal mind to understand. It takes a lot of faith to put your life in God’s hands, and most people simply do not have it.
Commentary authors often talk about the “tales” of the Old Testament. They don’t really believe the history. Lange’s Commentary says, “The primary stumbling block for most of the critics is, when we reach the bottom, miracles, which are assumed beforehand to be something impossible and incongruous with rational conceptions, whether we find them on Old or New Testament ground” (emphasis added). That is the downfall of a lot of Bible scholars: They can’t believe there is a God who performs miracles for man. They have no faith, and they attribute these miracles to exaggeration.
In God’s Church, however, we routinely depend on His miracles as a way of life! That is why history like Joshua’s victory at Jericho is so valuable to us.
Look at the end result of Joshua’s faith-filled approach: “And the land had rest from war” (Joshua 14:15). God gave them a wonderful period of peace.
Nothing That Breathes
Another lesson from Israel’s wars in conquering the Promised Land is something that many people have a real problem with, if they believe it at all. When Joshua waged war, he annihilated the enemy. As God commanded in Deuteronomy 20:16, “[T]hou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.” That is what Joshua did. In conquering a city, he left nothing behind. This is the biblical record.
Why would God do that? Many people cannot understand it. They simply don’t believe God could be so cruel.
Note this statement from German theologian Johann Gottfried Eichhorn, who has been called “the founder of modern Old Testament criticism”: “How impious is the narrative of the book of Joshua! It makes God not only give away to the Israelites, against all right, the land of Canaan, which the Canaanites as the first occupants most justly held, but also sketch out a horrid plan for its conquest, and directly order the most dreadful bloodshed and the total extinction of the Canaanites. Who can reconcile this with even a partially correct view of the Godhead?”
This German rationalist believed the Canaanites had the right to that land and that no just God would have ever commanded the Israelites to remove them. This man spoke with authority, making this great pronouncement about who properly owned the Promised Land. He knew a lot more than God—or so he thought! How can you reason with a man like that?
Do you believe the history as the Old Testament records it? Do you believe it was orchestrated by the same God who sent His Son to die for the sins of the world? Worldly Christians reject the scriptures from that “Old Testament God.” But the same God rules His people today. It’s the same God who warns the nations of Israel and the world today. But they refuse to heed His warning.
Think for a moment about the people within Islamist culture today. They are raising their children—from the time they are little babies—to hate, even to murder. Those young people constantly hear that message of hatred, and they become more evil as they grow older. They say they want to wipe Israel (biblical Judah) off the face of the Earth! What is the solution to that problem? God has a plan for them. He will resurrect them into a world that has been transformed into a paradise by keeping God’s law of love! He plans to educate them and give them all the love that they never received in this evil world today!
That is also true of the sin-saturated people who lived in the Promised Land at the time of Joshua. They will have their opportunity to learn the truth and become converted. In the short term, however, God punished them for their sins and perversions (e.g. Deuteronomy 9:4-5). He removed them from Canaan because He intended that to be a holy land.
God determined that these sinful people were better off simply to be wiped out. It is like what the Islamists today want to do to Israel, except that this was the God of perfect justice doing so out of love—not some perverse human beings who are motivated by hate.
Those who believe God would never do such a thing are simply exalting their own human reasoning. They may focus on select scriptures that they like, which describe God’s mercy. But the former prophets reveal a God of judgment—sometimes painful judgment. And in a real sense, even the judgment He exacted upon the Canaanites was an act of mercy.
People who hate this history actually hate God and don’t know it. He is a God of judgment. We can’t escape that—and we shouldn’t want to!
God did command Israel to remove those people from the Promised Land because He knew that if they remained, they would draw the Israelites away from God. He knew that Satan would use those people as a weapon to destroy what God was building within Israel—the nation through which He intended eventually to save the world!
Look at what happened as soon as Joshua and the men under him died: Israel compromised, it became weak, and it fell into exactly the problems God warned about. That is what set the stage for the disastrous book of Judges. Later on, this was also where things broke down with King Saul. He was so “righteous” that he didn’t want to kill everyone God commanded him to, so he saved some (1 Samuel 15). He was “more righteous than God.”
If you had long-range vision, you would see what God sees. We see just a little speck of what God sees. He knows what He is doing! He is going to bring the whole world out into the universe to rule it if people will just listen to Him and be taught by Him!
Some of the earlier Bible commentators from the 1800s understood this. Even ministers in the world understood why God did what He did to the Canaanites. They recognized that those people were beyond being helped in this life—they were descending into increasingly terrible sins and demonism, and nobody could reach them. If God wants to wipe them out and resurrect them in a wonderful World Tomorrow, is that OK? Of course it is.
Perhaps by doing so, God prevented them from becoming so horrendously evil that conversion might have become extremely difficult or impossible!
What does this have to do with us today? Probably the biggest problem in God’s Church today revolves around essentially the same issue! God instructs us to cut off contact with those who have turned away from God (Romans 16:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14 and many other verses). The Laodiceans, who have rebelled against God, do not believe these scriptures; they reason that it is more loving and righteous to be friends with such people.
God’s love says to cut them off. If they want to run around in rebellion against God, let them go! If we maintain contact with them, Satan will use them to destroy us! Satan would like them to stick around so they can do their dirty work in the Church of God.
That is what these physical examples are to teach us. We want to help anybody we possibly can—but if they are Laodicean and want to go their own way, we must cut off contact with them. This is a lesson we have to learn! If we don’t keep this in mind, then we will make a lot of mistakes. Now, it is possible to go overboard in the other way—we need always to make sure we are doing it God’s way.
We must keep the big picture in mind. This is all a work of mercy. God is doing this work in such a way that He can save the greatest possible number of people! That is what it is all about!
Joshua’s name was originally Hosea or Hoshea, which means “salvation,” but God changed it to “the salvation of God” (Numbers 13:8, 16). A lot of people criticize what Joshua did, but this is really what this man was about! It’s not about saving people physically—this is about the salvation of mankind spiritually! God did not create man just to be physical and have physical blessings. This is ultimately about spiritual salvation.
Joshua’s Last Sermon
After fighting all of those wars, Israel did enjoy a period of peace. Joshua divided the Promised Land among the tribes of Israel. And just before he died, he gave his last sermons to the Israelites (Joshua 23-24). These chapters show what a great man he was. These men were God’s leaders for a reason! Can we measure up to this greatness?
Look at the statement at the conclusion of this message: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). What a powerful statement from a leader of God! He’s saying, I don’t care if the whole nation turns away—my family is going to obey God! You can see that Joshua ruled his family God’s way. That is what God wants from you as well. But that statement is probably even stronger than you realize. Joshua was also saying: Even if there is any member in my household who won’t go along, this house that I live in is going to obey and serve God! No matter what happens, no person on Earth could cause me to turn away from God! What a leader!
This is the kind of courage God wants from every single one of us! Do you love God that much? Do you have such faith and courage—that if the whole nation turns away, or your whole family, you keep right on going? We need to pray that God will give us such people, no matter how few, who are that eager to do the Work. Mr. Armstrong said he had to learn to give up anything. That is what Joshua had learned as well. And that is what God wants you to learn. If you have that attitude, great things are going to happen in your life! You have a truly magnificent future.
In this last sermon, Joshua took the Israelites all the way back to the beginning of their history, starting with Abraham. He reminded them of their past and how God blessed them and did wonderful things for them when they obeyed Him. Joshua had been right there as a slave in Egypt. He had seen many miracles during his lifetime. He died at 110 years old (verse 29). God really blessed him in many ways.
After Joshua was gone and the elders who were under him had also died, Israel forgot all about that history. The Israelites had marvelous examples in Joshua, Caleb and others—men who were loyal and inspiring and encouraging. But once those men were gone, everything fell apart. The Israelites became plagued by divisions and problems because they wouldn’t hold fast to what Moses and Joshua had taught. In the book of Judges, everybody began doing what was right in his own eyes. That is exactly what is happening to the Israelites today, and our nations are also falling apart!
But when we study this history and see these wonderful examples like Joshua, we can recognize the tremendous value of godly leadership! If we follow these examples, we can have a real, positive, wonderful impact on people!
We are here to learn how to become strong leaders and to build the strongest leadership we possibly can.
God’s ministers and God’s people must strive with all our being to let God lead, guide and help us in fulfilling this monumental calling. As we do, we will be building strong congregations and a strong Work of God. And we will be establishing a strong foundation for our future in the real Promised Land—the wonderful World Tomorrow!
Achor: The Valley of Causing Sorrow
One of the Bible’s most painful stories is recorded in Joshua 7. It is a story that should be taught today to all the world. If we could learn this lesson, it would prevent massive pain.
Achan had committed a frightful sin and caused hideous suffering in Israel; as a result, God had him executed. “And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day” (Joshua 7:26). Because of the bloodcurdling events in this area, God named it the “Valley of Achor.” The word Achor means “causing sorrow” (see Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon).
Joshua erected a “heap of stones” in this huge valley as a memorial for all the Israelites. He wanted this lesson to remain in their memory. As children grew up, they would ask questions about the heap of stones and the valley named “causing sorrow.” Then someone would explain the story in the seventh chapter of Joshua.
Here is the story. “But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel” (Joshua 7:1). “Committed a trespass” is rendered “broke faith” in the Revised Standard Version. That expression is from the Hebrew word maal, which means treachery. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). When we stop walking by faith, we stop walking with God.
God was having the Israelites fight for the Promised Land. They always won their battles unless they “broke faith” with God. Achan’s act was a calculated sin that “broke faith.” When this happens, God no longer fights our battles for us. Today, that means we begin to lose our fight with Satan, ourselves and the world. It is no small sin.
Israel was about to fight what seemed to be an easy battle. Scouts thought the city could be taken by just two or three thousand men. But when they attacked, they were driven back by the men of Ai, who killed about 36 Israelite soldiers. When the Israelites heard what had happened, “the hearts of the people melted, and became as water” (Joshua 7:5).
Joshua and the elders were deeply depressed. Joshua lay upon his face before the ark for hours! (verse 6). “And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?” (verses 7-9). Joshua was actually trying to blame God!
Cause and Effect
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff” (Joshua 7:10-11). God spoke with Joshua very directly and bluntly: Get up! Why are you lying on your face? Then He pointed Joshua to the cause of the problem: Israel had sinned!
There is a giant lesson here. When we stop winning our battles, sin is the cause! And even though only one person had done it, there were probably others who knew and who thought it wasn’t their problem. But even if only one person sins, there is sin in the congregation—and it needs to be gotten out! God condemned all of Israel for this because it happened in Israel—this theocracy, ruled by God!
This lesson was for ancient Israel but applies even more today. If you break faith, you will begin to lose your spiritual battles. That is happening to the Laodicean churches right now. There is cause and effect. True education revolves around learning cause and effect!
God tells the Laodiceans, as He told Joshua, Israel has sinned! That is the cause of their problems. Unfortunately, they have not learned the lesson as Joshua did. But they must if they are ever to start winning their battles again.
Joshua 7 is not talking about the sins we all have to battle daily. He is talking about a blatant, calculated turn away from God motivated by lust or some other character flaw. God will deal pretty roughly with us if we’re doing something blatantly like was done here.
“Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you” (verse 12). God makes it clear: Either we get rid of the sin, or He won’t be with us anymore.
Hear and Fear
God instructed Joshua how to discover who was responsible for the problem and what to do about it. It was severe punishment: “And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel” (Joshua 7:15). God was establishing a new nation. He wanted to demonstrate to everyone what makes or breaks nations. He wanted the people to “hear and fear.”
Today, the nations of Israel should punish severely for gross sins like the one Achan committed. But we don’t, and our societies are falling apart! When will we ever learn that breaking God’s commandments destroys nations?
When God was leading the Israelites, they had very little crime.
But of course, the main lesson is spiritual, and it is for God’s Church.
Joshua carried out God’s instructions precisely, and Achan was discovered. He confessed to have coveted and stolen the spoils of Jericho despite God’s explicit command (verses 16-23). He thought it was the “perfect crime”—but God had seen the whole thing! I’m sure his family knew about it as well. “And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones” (verses 24-25).
Coveting is a great sin—it breaks the Tenth Commandment. God had all Israel stone Achan! Everybody had to see the ghastly horror of how God punishes for sin! Then they burned “them.” Joshua apparently had the whole family burned because they knew of the sin and kept quiet. The burning was a type of Gehenna fire, portraying the final death from which there is no resurrection (Revelation 20:14-15).
That is how God deals with carnal nations. You see why people today tend to not like the Old Testament? But do you realize that if God dealt with people that way today, we wouldn’t have all the problems we have? They can say whatever horrible things about God they want, but God knows how to keep carnal men in line! And if evil isn’t stopped, it destroys the nation. Better to destroy a few people than have the whole nation fall!
Of course, God doesn’t deal with His Church the same way, but sin is still far more serious spiritually. If we don’t repent of breaking God’s law, we will burn in Gehenna fire and die for all eternity!
A Memorial of Sin
Look at Joshua 7:26 again. God wants us to make a memorial like this today when we sin. He wants us to do something to etch it into our memory.
The world has paid little attention to God. In fact, this whole world has become a valley of “causing sorrow.” There is cause and effect. This world is about to be blown apart with nuclear bombs! Man’s sins have caused this nightmare. Now man is about to destroy himself. Only God can guide and save us. When man learns this lesson, we can remove the sign “Valley of Achor.”
There is actually hope in the bad news. If man reads the sign carefully, he will see how to get out of this deadly valley.
That will happen. “And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt” (Hosea 2:15). The valley of Achor is to become “a door of hope.” Once we learn how we are causing our sorrows, there is a “door of hope.” This world and the Laodiceans have some painful lessons to learn before that happens.
What wonderful news lies ahead in the World Tomorrow.
“And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me” (Isaiah 65:10). Then Israel will seek God. The valley of Achor will be a valley of peace. May God speed that glorious day!
Chapter 3: Judges: The Bible’s Bloodiest Book
After Joshua and his elders died, Israel moved into a period covered in the book of Judges. While Joshua was alive, people were directed by this one man under God. But once he died, things changed. They began to rebel against God’s government.
There was a change of government under the judges, which God allowed. People now had to voluntarily come to the judges for counsel and direction. There were not even enough judges to go around. And sadly, most of the people did not take advantage of what help they did have.
This new form of government proved to be a catastrophe. Judges is the bloodiest book in the Bible. The Israelites no longer had a Moses or Joshua to point them to the ark. Israel no longer wanted God’s rule. Many judges also went astray. It was just another human government that failed—just as they all do, sooner or later!
Remember, Judges is a book of prophecy.
In this end time, God’s own Church became divided after Herbert W. Armstrong died. Most of God’s people have become lukewarm and have rejected God’s rule. That choice is leading them to the bloodiest events ever in God’s Church. This lukewarm Church is going to experience the bloodiest time ever on Earth: the Great Tribulation.
Fifty percent of the Laodiceans are going to lose their eternal lives (Matthew 25:1-13). They have a very “bloody” future spiritually.
These words ought to strike terror into all of God’s people! But lukewarm people are not listening to God’s Spirit.
The very elect always choose God’s government because they cannot be deceived.
Compromising With the Law
“Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?” (Judges 1:1). In this first verse, you can see the connection to the book of Joshua, which originally was combined with Judges in a single book.
“And the Lord said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand” (verse 2). This book starts out with Judah being strong, on commission from God to drive the Canaanites out of the land. In the first part of the chapter, the people were on the attack, and God was blessing their efforts with victories. But things changed quickly. The nation got away from God’s law and descended into terrible idolatry and other sins.
Judges 1:19 gives the first sign of trouble. It says that Judah “could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” This shows a certain faithlessness. If these soldiers were using the power of God, no weapons of the enemy would have stopped them!
In verse 21, we read, “And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.” That was a serious mistake. The people were compromising in exactly the way Joshua had warned them not to!
When David came along some years later, the Jebusites were still there, creating problems. But David handled the situation very differently (2 Samuel 5).
Judges 1:27 shows that the tribe of Manasseh also left some of the inhabitants rather than driving them out. God told the Israelites to get rid of all the people living in the Promised Land. Verse 28 shows that the Israelites decided to put them to forced labor instead! The rest of the chapter shows others throughout the nation making similar compromises.
It is very difficult for human beings to simply do as God commands. We tend to lack faith; we reason for ourselves how things should be handled. But if God says do it, our job is simply to do it—and do it the way God says do it! How rare such an attitude is on Earth today.
Israel seems to routinely exhibit this weakness of not doing what God says—especially when it comes to driving people out! God commanded that there be one law for everybody (Leviticus 24:22). Any foreigner who chose to live among the Israelites was to keep the same law—and practice the same religion and worship the same God—as the Israelites did. That is the only way a nation can ever work! Yet in the modern nations of Israel, we allow millions and millions of people to come in while still clinging to their own languages, customs, religions and practices. In America—the modern descendants of Manasseh—we host even those who are hostile to the Constitution, the law of the land. Making matters worse, we give them all kinds of welfare benefits despite our already having a gargantuan debt that we cannot pay! But the lawless radical left says it is the only “loving” thing to do. And of course, it has the side benefit of buying these liberals votes and keeping them in power. Those people don’t know God—and they don’t understand the devil! Their way will never work out. This is breaking God’s law—and it is destroying our nations! It always leads to disaster.
Judges 1:29 shows the Ephraimites allowing the Canaanites to live in their land. Modern Ephraim, Britain, does the same thing. Today, Muslims practice sharia law there, in some cases with the blessing of the British government! Those people don’t want British law: They are importing their own Islamic judicial system! There is no way you can live in peace with such individuals for long.
God commanded one law for everyone, both Israelite and stranger. We must learn to think like the God of Israel! Ultimately, everybody is going to become Israel. That is the way salvation works.
God intended His law to preserve the purity of Israel’s religion. This lesson equally applies to God’s Church, or spiritual Israel, today. In the New Testament, the command is the same, on a spiritual level: God tells His people to separate themselves from anyone in the Church who tries to pollute the religion by bringing another doctrine (e.g. Romans 16:17; Galatians 1:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14; 1 Timothy 6:5; 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 3:10-11; 2 John 10-11). God’s true Church keeps this command today.
Some people criticize us for it, reasoning that it is harsh and cruel. But we don’t resort to human reasoning—we simply do what God commands. They believe it is more loving to continue those relationships, but they simply don’t know what God’s love is! “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). We always want to act out of true love—the love of God. He knows what is loving and what is harsh and cruel—and He isn’t harsh and cruel! God is love! Disobeying God’s instruction on this point invites disaster just as surely as it did for the Israelites.
Spiritual Israel, or God’s Church, will always fail without strong leadership from the top! God always chooses a man, as He did with Moses and Joshua, to apply His law.
However, it is common for God’s people to reject God’s government just as ancient Israel did. Only about 5 percent of God’s people remain loyal to Him today! The book of Judges shows us why God’s true Church succeeds or fails in any age.
God needs people who will look in the Bible, understand it the best they can—and just do it! Things always work out beautifully when you do that.
The Character of a Leader
The book of Judges covers over 300 years of history. It was Israel’s “dark ages”—a time of intense suffering and immorality. War was a way of life.
Israel endured much instability as a nation mostly because of its weak leadership. During that awful period, there were a few good judges, like Jephthah and Samson. Some of those leaders weren’t the greatest—certainly compared to Moses, Joshua or David—but they still were great leaders. God raised them up from a seriously corrupted area and used them for His purposes.
Of course, Samson had some problems and really let those overwhelm him. His life shows how one problem can really bring a person down if he doesn’t get it under control and conquer it! We must conquer our problems! Several examples in the former prophets illustrate that point.
The book of Judges, more than any other book in the Bible, graphically illustrates how the character of a leader does affect the people.
The first judge, Othniel, feared God and kept His commandments. Consequently, the “land had rest forty years” (Judges 3:11). As soon as Othniel died, the children of Israel did evil in God’s sight.
Living in sin, the Israelites did not prosper. They were not successful. Conditions got so bad that they finally cried out for God’s help. In His mercy, God raised up Ehud to deliver them from the Moabites. Israel had rest for 80 years. After Ehud died, they again sank into the depths of evil and despair.
Through this period, there are seven repetitions of this miserable cycle: The people fell away from God, they suffered captivity, they cried out to God, and then God delivered them through a judge.
A Mother in Israel
One notable judgeship was that of Deborah (Judges 4). In one sense, this is a bright spot in Judges. But in another sense, it is a terrible tragedy!
Deborah was a prophetess, and the Israelites could see that God was using her and revealing truths to her (verses 4-5). But this exposes so much about the state of Israel at the time: The only reason God was using this great woman was that there were no men strong enough to lead!
God wanted to use Barak to deliver Israel. Deborah gave him God’s instructions on how to do so. But Barak was so weak that he wouldn’t do it unless Deborah went with him and held him by the hand! (verse 8). Deborah chided him for his lack of manliness (verse 9). Israel had 10,000 soldiers, yet here was a woman running everything, and she was apparently the only one capable of doing it!
After God gave Israel the victory in this battle, Deborah and Barak sang a victory song. It is beautiful poetry describing God’s power. But it is also a prophecy about the problems that tend to arise within Israel when it gets away from God.
“I Deborah arose … I arose a mother in Israel,” this great woman sang (Judges 5:7).
“I arose a mother in Israel” is truly a condemning statement! There were no great men trained to be like Joshua.
We see horrifying tragedies today in America and Britain. Shouldn’t these tragedies cause strong men to rise up in wrath and strength? But there is usually silence. The question is why?
When we depart from God, Satan moves in. One thing he is always pushing for is to get women in charge. Isaiah prophesied that this would be the state of affairs in Israel in the end time (Isaiah 3:12). Israel today is very much like it was at the time of Deborah—there are no strong male leaders. That spells disaster for any nation. And to make matters even worse, there is no Deborah to lead any of the nations of Israel! Families reject the rule of God. We may call our marriages a 50-50 rule today, but God says the women rule!
What are the fruits of such a marriage? Such a family produces very weak and effeminate boys! It also causes the girls to become overly aggressive, and the problem is perpetuated. When that happens, then children become oppressors, and it becomes an absolute catastrophe for the nation.
The first five verses of Isaiah 3 prophesy that all the strong leaders are gone because of family breakdown. This is a terribly serious problem. It shows, again, the crises that arise because Israel simply will not do things the way God commands! It is a prophecy of doom.
Our people have destroyed God’s family government; and when you destroy the family, the book of Judges prophesies that you destroy the nation!
Some people will get angry at these words. They need to understand that they are really angry at God!
The state of a physical family reveals where we are spiritually. The husband and wife are to submit to God and each other—but still, the man is to be the head. If a man is not the head, God doesn’t rule the family. And if the woman cannot submit to him, she cannot submit to Christ (Ephesians 5:21-22). The man must love his wife so much that he would die for her—as Christ died for His wife, the Church. That is the kind of family government that builds great nations.
The Cambridge Bible makes this observation: “The Song of Deborah represents the tribes as incapable of a common effort. Judah is not even mentioned, and historians have wondered at the isolation of this tribe, which after Othniel did not produce a single judge.” What happened to Judah? This tribe was so strong under Joshua, but it fell apart after he was gone. According to Lange’s, the Jews even ended up turning Samson over to the Philistines.
God used Gideon in a powerful way (Judges 6-8). This is a particularly interesting story because Gideon was such a coward. God calls the lowly of the world—we are cowards! Yet God really used this man and made him very courageous! That is what God wants to do with all of us.
Gideon assembled an army of 32,000 Israelites to fight the Midianites. God wanted to reduce the size of his army. “And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me” (Judges 7:2). God wanted the nation to give Him credit for the victory. That is important to God. If 30,000 Israelites had won this battle, they would have said, Aren’t we great? We won a mighty victory! But God wants us to know that He is the one responsible for those successes.
The first thing God did was have Gideon tell the army that anyone who was fearful and afraid could simply leave. An astounding 22,000 of the soldiers left! (verse 3). These men were about to go into battle—I’m sure they would have fought to protect Israel—but they weren’t what God was looking for. God said, Because they’re fearful and afraid, send them back. Are you fearful of spiritual warfare? God wants us to have courage in our battles!
Even though the army was now less than a third as large, God had more whittling to do. “And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there …” (verse 4). God is doing the choosing of His spiritual Marines. These men in Gideon’s army were ancient Marines of Israel, chosen for a special offensive warfare. And God is going to choose the ones He wants to do this final work in the Philadelphia Church. Remember, this is prophecy for this end time! You and I are being tested right now. God is learning a lot about all of His people.
God put these soldiers to the test. He had them go to the water to drink, and instructed Gideon to observe how they gathered the water. He separated those who got down on their knees and put their lips to the water from those who scooped the water with their hands and brought it to their mouth. The latter group—the men who remained alert and vigilant even in drinking water—amounted to only 300 men (verses 4-6).
Many of these men, though they were going out to fight, weren’t eager to do battle. They had a case of the “slows,” as Abraham Lincoln said of his people and his generals during the Civil War. If you are not eager to fight, you will lose crucial battles! God is looking for people who are eager to do battle and go on the offensive.
“And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place” (verse 7). These 300 men were not going to wait for the Midianites to come after them, as most of Lincoln’s generals did. God said he would send out this 300 after the Midianites, and they would go on the offensive and destroy them.
Notice, though, that God said, I will save you. God is going to have to save us. There were over 30,000 people who weren’t really eager to do battle. God had already told them He would save them, but they didn’t believe Him. They didn’t feel personally secure about God’s assurances. They were afraid. We can easily become afraid. But God says, I want you to go on the offensive. Don’t worry about what anybody else says—you just go.
Notice what God said to Gideon, commanding those 300: “Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand” (verse 9). These are powerful words! God said, I have already beaten them, just go down and reap the fruits of your victory. But you have to know that God is doing it.
What an honor to be among the 300! What a glorious honor to be in God’s Philadelphia Church today.
The Depths of Depravity
The time line in the book of Judges ends with chapter 16. The remaining chapters tell two accounts that don’t fit with the chronology in the rest of the book—but they well illustrate and summarize just how deeply sinful Israel became during this period.
Chapters 17 and 18 show how common idolatry had become, and how corrupt the priesthood was. A woman had saved a great sum of silver, and her son, Micah, stole it from her. He confessed his crime, and she revealed that she intended to use the money to make an idol to worship. She went ahead and had an idol fashioned, and Micah consented. But he didn’t stop there: He then made an ephod and other priestly implements—and set up one of his own sons as a priest! This was all in complete rebellion against God.
Right in the middle of this account, this important point is made: “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Here is the big problem! This verse encapsulates the real trouble with what was happening in this chapter. It also sums up the big lesson in the book of Judges!
After this, Micah found a Levite and hired him to be his pagan priest. He fooled himself into thinking God was pleased with his actions.
The main lesson here is emphasized: “In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel” (Judges 18:1). Spies from Dan found Micah, and they got caught up in his abominable paganism, along with breaking other commandments of God.
Chapters 19 through 21 have probably the most depraved and tragic story in Judges. It begins by again emphasizing the government problem plaguing the nation: “And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah” (Judges 19:1).
This man and his concubine couldn’t find a place to stay. So an old man invited them into his home. Then a gang of homosexual thugs came and demanded that the old man turn his male guest over to them so they could sexually abuse him! (These are the fruits of upside-down families.) He refused, but the mob finally took the traveling man’s concubine. They abused her until she died.
God made sure this shameful incident was recorded and canonized in the Bible as an indictment of the horrifying state of Israel at that time.
To make matters even worse, Judges 20 shows that the nation was so divided that they could not even agree on how to deal with this vile atrocity! A civil war that killed more than 60,000 people followed! A bloody history indeed.
The overarching point of the book of Judges is repeated for emphasis: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). God inspired that statement to be repeated over and over. He concludes the book with it.
This was the kind of “government” Israel descended into after Joshua died. After a certain point, nobody really cared what the leaders were doing. Everyone just did his own thing. Sound familiar?
Remember, this is a book of prophecy. You can find Israel on Earth today by understanding this verse! What nations are passionately into democracy? America, Britain, the Jewish state and most of the democracies in northwestern Europe.
This is exactly the state of affairs in the modern nations of Israel! Everybody wants to do it their own way—whatever is right in their own eyes. That is prophecy for right now in the nations of Israel! People talk so much about freedom—but the freedom they cherish is really just the freedom to wreck their lives! They are plagued by wretched sins; they hate law and government. Who can lead these people into anything constructive or profitable?
This history vividly shows the terrible results of that kind of lawlessness. When God’s government isn’t in place, when His law is being ignored—when everyone is doing whatever is right in his own eyes—you have miserable anarchy.
These modern nations of biblical Israel are about to become the bloodiest nations ever because they reject God’s rule! Everybody today wants to do what is right in his own eyes. The book of Judges prophesies the terrifying outcome of such a democracy!
This is always the fate of Israel without a strong Moses or Joshua to lead the people to God. Satan knows how to exploit the many weaknesses of a democracy to bring it down.
Even though democracy is probably the best government man has created, it is always destined to fail.
Seek God’s Help
There is an important lesson here even within the Church of God. Here was a period in Israel when the people needed to voluntarily go to the judges to get the help they needed—and most of them didn’t do that. They had a lot of freedom, and they allowed that to destroy them.
In God’s Church, the members also have a lot of freedom. God’s ministry is there to help, and God puts most of the responsibility on the members to seek that help when they need it. Those who ask for the help they need tend to be a lot more successful than those who don’t.
I remember when I attended Ambassador College, one instructor said that if we seek help when we need it, our “stock goes up” at the college. I took him up on that offer, and my wife and I counseled with him about a problem we weren’t solving. He helped us a great deal. I got the feeling afterward, though, that my stock hadn’t gone up in his eyes—but I do believe it rose in God’s eyes! I was making mistakes, but I wanted to solve them! And I know God honored that attitude. Thankfully, He is the one in charge of this Church, not any man.
The whole book of Judges illustrates the truth that carnal men will not come to God to get the help they need. That is a huge lesson for us! How carnal are you? How much are you like the people in the time of the judges? Will you go to God’s ministers when you need help? We are carnal too, but God still uses us. This is a fundamental lesson we all need to learn.
The wonderful thing about this prophetic history, though, is to see how God set the course of Israel back on track. The priesthood was degenerate, but God was going to make some changes. The government was in disarray, but God was going to establish a king!
Likewise today, this time of everybody doing his own thing is about to end forever. There is going to be a King. Jesus Christ is going to rule on that throne! We need to see deeply how important it is that we have that King.
It is inspiring to see how God began the process of turning things around anciently. As we will see in the next chapter, it started with one family.
Chapter 4: Hannah: The Origin of Samuel’s Colleges
Israel endured nearly 350 dark years of history under the judges when everybody was doing what was right in his own eyes. That was a disastrous time for Israel—and it is exactly where we are in the United States, Britain and the Jewish nation today. We call it “freedom.” Like their descendants today, the people of Israel were so steeped in sin that they didn’t even reach the logical conclusion: Hey, we’ve had centuries of this misery—maybe we ought to try something different!
But then Samuel came on the scene. This marked a real change in Israel’s history.
The Prophet Samuel established colleges to educate Israel formally in God’s way of life. Many Bible authorities refer to Samuel as the father of prophecy. In many ways he institutionalized prophecy, especially the prophecy about the scepter promise and the throne of David.
Samuel is the next book of the former prophets. 1 and 2 Samuel focus on the scepter promise and David’s throne. That is the throne Christ is going to sit on and that we will share as kings and priests—and this glorious future is recorded in the books of Samuel! These are prophetic books, and they have a lot to teach us today.
Samuel raised up three or four colleges and prepared the way for the great King David. He laid a foundation—a foundation we have been building on ever since. Samuel laid the foundation for Elijah, and Elijah laid it for us. There is a blueprint that will continue on and on.
Tradition says Samuel was just 13 years old when God first appeared to him. That was quite an experience. Samuel had to grow up very fast! I believe Samuel was able to accept that challenge from God because he had probably one of the greatest mothers in the whole Bible. He also had a great father, but it’s his mother who really shines in this example.
We need to recognize that it was her dedication in godly child rearing that really constitutes the foundation of the schools that Samuel established!
Oppression in Israel
In the inspired order of the books of the Bible, Samuel follows immediately after Judges. In the King James Version, the book of Ruth follows Judges, but that obscures the connection between Judges and Samuel. (The book of Ruth occurred during the time of the judges, but that book is not part of the former prophets. It actually belongs in the last of the three divisions of the Old Testament, called the Writings, or the Psalms—the first two are the Law and the Prophets—see Luke 24:44.) Translators came along and, in their vanity and ignorance, decided to reorganize the books of the Bible and confuse everybody, including themselves. Satan is always working to confuse and deceive people.
Events in Judges lead right into those in Samuel. In fact, the first word of the book of Samuel should be “And”—not “Now” as it reads in the King James Version. The word “And” indicates that 1 Samuel was a continuation of those terrible times of the judges. The transition occurred around 1140 b.c.
A man named Elkanah had two wives (1 Samuel 1:1-2). A man with two wives is not a perfect family. Verse 6 calls one of these women the other’s “adversary.” If a husband has two wives, they are almost always adversaries. No matter what people say, that is the truth. But I suppose if you look at it practically, not spiritually, after all the oppression and wars and Israelite men who had been killed, they probably didn’t have many men, and there probably weren’t too many choices for the ladies to even get married. It was a terrible, terrible time, and God let them go through all of that suffering to learn the hard way that their way would not work.
In Galatians 4:22-26, the Apostle Paul reveals that Hagar and Sarah, the two women by which Abraham had children, were a type of the Old Covenant and New Covenant. You could say the same thing applies to Elkanah’s two wives, Peninnah and Hannah: One represented the physical covenant and the other, the spiritual. There is a big difference between these two women! Peninnah doesn’t carry a lot of spiritual significance; she represents the Old Covenant, and that’s not what we’re about today. But Hannah was one tremendous lady with a lot to teach us today!
This is yet another example of how shallow the commentaries are to say that this is only history. Study Hannah’s example, and you clearly see a beautiful New Covenant overview. If you study deeply into the Bible and meditate on it, you comprehend its beauty. But you have to get the whole picture—both history and prophecy!
If you think child rearing isn’t important, consider this example. God really emphasizes this because this is how great nations are made! What makes great nations is strong children—children that you dedicate to God as much as you possibly can!
God prophesied that when Elijah came in the end time, he would turn the hearts of fathers to children and children to fathers—lest He smite His saints with an eternal curse! (Malachi 4:5-6). How important is it that we dedicate ourselves to this responsibility and really teach our children God’s way! Look at the power in that! Look how that builds Israel, and how it saved Israel.
If you’re going to be a good mother or father—or, really, a good anything—you need to have this kind of relationship with God! That makes everything fall into place.
“And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there” (1 Samuel 1:3). Here, just before He raised up Samuel’s colleges, God contrasts two families—that of Eli, the head priest of Israel, and that of Samuel. The priests in Shiloh were committing some terrible acts, and it was a most discouraging time for the Israelites.
An Exceptional Mother
God had shut Hannah’s womb (1 Samuel 1:5). To a woman who passionately desires children, as most women do, that is a real crisis. It certainly was to Hannah, perhaps more than most. But God did it for a purpose. He wanted something really special out of Hannah, so He tried her in a way He knew would trouble her greatly. He was planning to raise up colleges and to revive sin-sick Israel. And He was starting that feat with Hannah!
God was going to use Samuel to revive national Israel. That’s a lot of responsibility. You have to know that God will try and test you before He gives such a job. Today we have to revive spiritual Israel.
Probably any one of us in our human “righteousness” would say, Oh, she wants a child so badly, just give it to her! But God said no. He made her wait until she really went to Him with all her being.
Hannah cried about this trial (verse 7). She went to the tabernacle in Shiloh and prayed there, imploring God to give her a man child! And she made a vow that if He answered her prayer, she would give that child to God “all the days of his life,” and that he would take the Nazarite vow (verses 9-11). She was rather radical in the way she approached this. And when she left, she had faith her prayer was answered (verse 18).
God did answer Hannah’s prayer and gave her a son (verse 19). When the child was born, she called him Samuel, which means heard of God.
This example shows what we can do if we bear down more and take our problems to God. There is no telling what He might do to help us serve Him and His Work. When you see somebody so “fanatical” in her religion (as the world would view it), radically giving herself to God, great things happen. That is also why God performs miracles for His Church today.
Hannah had to be quite a mother because she delivered on her vow. She totally dedicated Samuel to God. She looked diligently after him and was determined that when the time came to bring Samuel back to the tabernacle, she was going to leave him there—“that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever” (verse 22). Hannah didn’t just give Samuel to God for a few years—she gave him to God permanently (verses 26-28). What a mother! And look at the results: God used Samuel to save Israel—because of what this great mother did! She reared a prophet of God! You can see that this is a New Covenant setting. This is for us today.
Hannah recognized Israel’s profound spiritual poverty. The people were oppressed, they had no spiritual understanding, and all they could look to was Eli and his rebellious sons. She was determined to do things differently. She knew the nation needed to be revived. She began to understand what God was doing with her, why this was all happening. She knew God wanted a different mindset for Israel!
Unless we have a different way of thinking in God’s Church and in God’s college today, it will not grow. We won’t get the Work done unless we change our thinking from what is going on in the Laodicean churches, which talk about God but produce no real fruits of any consequence.
Samuel had a good father, but he had an exceptional mother. She really wanted a child, and she really dedicated him to God in a way that few others have. What a mother! (Her husband was limited because he had another wife and children to care for. Men who have an interest in multiple women need to remember this example!)
Keep in mind, this is all building toward the foundational colleges in Israel. This is where they really began: with Hannah and her dedication to God.
A Prophecy of Christ’s Return
When Hannah understood what God was doing, she prayed a remarkable prayer. Hannah must have been a prophetess since God only reveals truth to His apostles and prophets. Right there in Shiloh, Hannah delivered a prayerful psalm of prophecy. I think it is one of the most profound prophecies in the Bible! You can read it in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
“And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God” (verses 1-2). There is no Rock like God! There’s nothing like God! There is no church like God’s Church—no college like God’s college.
“Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength” (verses 3-4). The Jews still read this chapter on the day of Trumpets; it does have a Trumpets message in it.
Verse 5 is a fascinating prophecy: “They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.” The word seven refers to the seven Church eras that lead up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, pictured on the Feast of Trumpets. Hannah talked about the seven eras described in Zechariah 3 and 4 and Revelation 2 and 3! This lady had vision! Hannah understood her Bible, and God gave this special revelation to her.
Remember, the book of Samuel is one of the former prophets, which are mainly for this end time!
This prophecy has to do with family. Except for those seven children in Hannah’s prophecy, everyone else is barren. They may go off and start offshoot churches, and they may think they’re giving you everything you need, but they’re barren! They are bearing nothing! They’re dying! Only God’s true Church is not barren.
It’s amazing that this lady had such an overview of history and prophecy! The seven Church eras and the Feast of Trumpets are a countdown to Christ’s return, and Hannah knew it would happen that way. God revealed so much to her. What a mother Samuel had!
This is the origin of Samuel’s colleges! God gave birth to them through a prophetess and her son, who was a prophet!
Called to Be Leaders
Hannah’s prophecy continues, “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up” (1 Samuel 2:6). People don’t give God credit for that, but He does bring people up from the grave! Christ is the resurrection! How many people really believe that? Hannah certainly knew it.
“The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them” (verses 7-8). Do you think Hannah understood the New Covenant? Who are the poor raised from the dust? Who are the beggars lifted from the dunghills? These are God’s firstfruits. We are going to be God’s princes and sit on thrones of glory forever! How silly to think that Hannah’s statement applies to this life only.
Today, God’s Church is looked upon as the lowly of this world—a “beggar from the dunghill.” Soon, suddenly, we shall become the highest royalty on Earth! One day soon, God will set the whole world upon these people who dedicate themselves to Him. It is going to astound the world that God would do such a thing—set the whole world upon people who were so lowly.
We are here to become pillars! We are not just naturally pillars: It takes a lot of work to build a pillar. But that is how God is going to use us. He is working today to prepare us for that responsibility.
Notice carefully what God says. He “hath set the world upon them”! God has already set the world upon His pillars (Revelation 3:12). It has already been done, in embryo. Pillars are used in construction to uphold the whole building. God’s spiritual pillars are used to support the whole world!
God has made us kings and priests in embryo! (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). It is as good as completed—if we remain loyal.
What does a king and a priest do? He leads. Samuel was taught to lead. He helped prepare David, a great man of God.
We cannot use the excuse that we’re just not interested in leadership. God says, I want you to dedicate yourself to me, and I’m going to make you a king and a priest, and I’m going to set the whole world on your shoulders! That is no fantasy—it’s the truth of the Bible!
Can we see why God must rule us today? Do we really grasp what God is calling us to do?
We are called to be leaders, not followers! We must be prepared for this mind-boggling, inspiring future! This is prophecy about the most fabulous reward God ever offers to any human being.
The Laodiceans are following, but they are not following God. They were following a man and continue to do so.
What does it mean for the world to be put on our shoulders? We really are here to build a new civilization. The one we are living in is about to explode! And to lead that new civilization, we must develop our minds and our character. God is going to give us the opportunity to help Christ teach every human being who has ever lived!
Here is what we really have to struggle to learn. Hannah, like most women, yearned for a family, a desire God created in her. But that is only a type of the Bride of Christ. Christ wants His Bride to yearn to have a family that includes everyone who has ever lived!
What a colossal, mind-expanding vision! Please read that last paragraph again.
It’s not natural for us to want to take care of the whole world as our family. That is the opposite of how human beings think. We are here to learn to think like God—not man!
It’s not natural for us to want God to set the whole world upon our shoulders. We are the lowly of the world, and we tend to think, Who am I to have that responsibility?
It isn’t natural, but God says that His Bride must think that way. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son …” (John 3:16). The Father gave His Son for the world! What God is calling us to do is loaded with inspiration! We really must work to get that in our minds! We have to think far differently than we’ve thought before.
“He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail” (1 Samuel 2:9). We naturally think that we prevail by exerting more human strength. That’s what the Laodiceans are doing: muddling around in the wilderness of religious confusion, trying to work things out with human abilities. But here is the reality: “By strength shall no man prevail.”
Following God is not about human talent or human strength. What God wants from us most of all is not our great abilities or special talents—although those play a part. He wants you to hunger and thirst for His righteousness! He wants you to look to Him and build His mind and His character! We will have all the power we can possibly handle if we do that! And it all begins with family, or learning about family.
To think that the former prophets are only history is truly a Satan-inspired error. Satan never stops trying to deceive the firstfruits from seeing their eternal, universe-encompassing reward!
The former prophets are not just ancient history. This is prophecy about our future with God—ruling with Him as a part of His royal Family. This is what David’s family throne is all about. God “hath set the world upon them”!
This is the critical background that led to the establishment of God’s colleges!
A Prophecy of David’s Throne
“The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed” (1 Samuel 2:10). What is Hannah talking about? That is a direct, specific prophecy about Christ’s Second Coming! He is going to thunder out of heaven like a tornado and break His adversaries to pieces. Then He will exalt His kings and rule this Earth.
Again, this chapter is read to this day in Jewish synagogues on the Feast of Trumpets. It contains a very prophetic message. The Feast of Trumpets pictures Christ’s Second Coming. This is a Trumpets message in the former prophets. It is clearly a prophecy about Christ’s return—and about the house and throne of King David!
Hannah was prophesying about David and the throne of David—yet David hadn’t even come on the scene! Hannah was talking about the scepter promise of Genesis 49:10! You find that truth throughout this book, and Hannah played a key role in that. She was in Shiloh when she was prophesying about this. The second part of that scepter promise is about the salvation of the whole world. Her whole prophecy is really about being born. She gave birth to a son, which is a type of salvation! That is a precise type of what will happen spiritually: We are going to be born like that child—into the very Family of God!
Hannah’s prophecy shows that David’s throne and the house of David are tied to the Earth—the world! We have to think big! We really are here to become the pillars of the world! That is why God called you.
In this prophecy, she didn’t even speak about Saul. God led her mind straight to David. Hannah prophesied about the house of David ruling forever. This is about the house of David and God setting kings on David’s throne. It’s about faithful priests, sons of Zadok, whom God will have ruling with Him in the World Tomorrow!
Hannah’s son ended up anointing David king. I believe Hannah even foresaw that event. She must have known about the history that was developing. Samuel was honored to be a part of that, and he never would have been if not for his outstanding mother.
Hannah was highly specific in what she said, and it encompasses so much of God’s plan! How unusual that she had such a penetrating vision and understood so much!
Where did this woman get that understanding? God gave her that vision. God was truly moved by this lady and what she did. The scope of the prophecy He gave her here tells you that.
David is a type of all men. God wants family, and I believe He expressed a lot of that through Hannah! In this prophecy, she was kind of a conduit for God’s emotion and His desire for sons and daughters! He wants sons and daughters in His Family, and He wants it more than Hannah ever did. Because He spoke so directly through her, you can sense that. He will have a Family, and if we are as determined as Hannah, we are going to be in that Family, right there with Him, ruling as the house of David forever!
God closed Hannah’s womb, and that really motivated her. When He finally gave her a son, she was one joyful lady! Then God inspired her to structure this wonderful prophecy. The more you read it, the more you’re impressed by it. God motivated her in such a way that she must have become extremely close to Him; then she was able to deliver this in-depth prophecy for all of us today.
‘A Faithful Priest’
Hannah prophesied all this in Shiloh, right at the end of the period of the judges. She lived through a disastrous time. This was a terrible period for Israel because of corruption in the priesthood (1 Samuel 2:12-16). Eli’s sons had become sons of the devil (verse 12). They failed because Eli put them ahead of God.
In many ways, we lived through a similar problem in God’s Church in this end time. “Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord” (verse 17). That is how so many of God’s people are today: Men abhor offering to God.
God personally chose Eli to do His Work (verses 27-28). That is a mountainous exaltation. If a priest or minister fails, it is an equally disastrous fall. God personally chose many ministers in this end time. Most of them became lukewarm. Their tragic fall is the greatest crisis in this end time.
“Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?” (verse 29). God often uses a physical family. This is a great test on a father. Eli had to learn that not even a son can be honored above God. The scope of such a disaster is terrifying!
God was so disgusted with what those evil priests were doing, verse 25 says He “would slay them.” As Hannah prophesied, God is going to see that His adversaries are broken in pieces! (verse 10). He is a God of judgment. This episode ends with Eli dying because of his terrible child rearing, and because he wouldn’t stand up to his own sons and lead as God wanted him to.
Yet in the middle of all this tragedy, one woman came on the scene and began to change the course of history in Israel! What a lady!
Notice, within this context, what God prophesied to Eli: “And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever” (verse 32). God is speaking in terms of forever—especially in these prophecies for us today. “And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age” (verse 33). Such a failure is the most grievous kind. (Request a free copy of my booklet The God Family Vision for a more thorough explanation of this prophecy.)
The word increase here is the same Hebrew word used in Isaiah 9:7. If we fail God today, we will be cut off from God’s Family forever. That is the price of putting anybody or anything ahead of God.
God’s priests today are His very elect. The rewards are towering. The penalties are dreadful. We either become members of God’s Family forever or ashes under the saints’ feet forever (Malachi 4:3). That verse in Malachi should strike fear in God’s people, but the Laodiceans have lost their fear of God (Malachi 1:6).
The stakes are forever: Live forever or die forever!
God makes it clear what He wants from us today. “And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them. And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever” (1 Samuel 2:34-35). Israel (physical or spiritual) is made strong by faithful priests! Please don’t forget that. God is raising up priests today. This is a prophecy of what God is doing now. They are going to be God’s anointed forever! This is a prophecy of the kind of priests God is preparing to rule with Christ.
Samuel’s Family Education
Acts 3:19-24 say that Samuel foretold the times of refreshing that Jesus Christ will initiate at His return. Where did he get that knowledge? He learned it from his mother!
Hannah knew prophecy, and she understood God. She taught her son about the seven eras of the New Testament Church and how Christ was going to return. Samuel was quite a visionary because of all the prophecy and truth his mother taught him. It’s amazing what one person can do by just yielding to God.
What an education Samuel received from his mother! She taught him prophecy—revelation from God—which was something Israel had not had, as they should have, for a long time! Everybody was doing his own thing, and there was no revelation in Israel until Samuel came along (1 Samuel 3:1).
Hannah was tried and tested. She went through a lot of affliction waiting for that son. God made her wait until she was just bearing down all she could. But look at the wonderful results! When Samuel came, Hannah was ready for him.
In the World Tomorrow, we will have to be ready just as Hannah was. This is all a prophecy for today—especially the end time, when Mr. Armstrong raised up three colleges based on what Samuel did. We are doing the same thing.
God’s Work is accomplishing mighty things. Some of our youth may feel too young to make much of a contribution. But again, tradition says that Samuel was 13 years old when God first appeared to him! So God doesn’t just work through adults. What about you, young people and teenagers? What would you do if He appeared to you today? What can God do through you if you obey Him? What kind of understanding will He give to you?
These are extremely urgent times, and young people have to understand this. Young people could consider that a serious burden, but what about Samuel? God really educated this young teenager. God is doing some wonderful work through the students at Imperial Academy and Herbert W. Armstrong College today. These schools are starkly different from those in the world—and we all need to understand that even better than we do. What kind of understanding can He give young people who attend a college that institutionalizes His way of life?
When I look back at when I went to Ambassador College, I realize in so many ways that God was working to educate me. God is doing everything He can to educate every single one of us. He knows you so well, and He loves you so much! He wants you to produce as Hannah did. He wants you to be like Samuel! You can look back on your life and see how loving God is in the midst of your trials. You didn’t want those trials—but they produced something good, and that is the outcome God is looking for.
When we talk about Samuel’s colleges, God has to reveal to us the big point of how it all happened. In order to understand Samuel’s colleges, we first have to understand the family that he came from. God had a big job for Samuel, and this young man had a strong family to prepare him for it.
Herbert W. Armstrong also came from a strong family and had a strong marriage. He taught us that the foundation of a college is Malachi 4:5-6. He taught that if you don’t turn the hearts of the children to the fathers and the hearts of the fathers to the children, you’re not going to raise up anything. There are various ways we can learn that, but the main way is through physical families.
Hannah dedicated Samuel to God, and that young man accomplished marvelous things. What will happen if you dedicate yourself to God? Wonderful, magnificent things will happen in your life! It’s all a matter of whether or not you dedicate yourself to God.
Develop that yearning to be a part of the God Family that will govern the World Tomorrow! Let God build within you a deep desire to help Christ rule the world!
Chapter 5: Samuel: Institutionalizing the God Family Vision
The former prophets talk about colleges and education continually.
A look at history shows that when God raises up a college, He often does so in terrible times.
From what I can tell, the first college God raised in history was during the time of Samuel. Israel had just come through roughly 350 years of the judges, when everybody ignored the great God and wandered around doing that which was right in his own eyes. Acts 13:20 talks about that terrible period. But that verse also shows what brought that period to an end: the Prophet Samuel. God used this man to raise up educational institutions during this awful period because He wanted to warn Israel and give the people an opportunity to know His truth.
When Elijah later came on the scene, it was during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel. That was a horrifying time for Israel, and those twisted leaders practically wore Elijah out with their fierce persecution. Yet Elijah raised up colleges. And after he was gone, Elisha carried on with a similar work.
In this most evil end time, God raised up Herbert W. Armstrong and three splendid colleges. Now, we are in a time when God says “the transgressors are come to the full” (Daniel 8:23)—yet again, God has built a wonderful college. Why does God want this? We must be a witness to this world and also be prepared for the most burdensome job we have ever had.
The information about the colleges in the times of both Samuel and Elijah is all contained in the books of Samuel and Kings. Both books are included in the former prophets. It’s remarkable how much these books relate to education. These biblical books tell us how to become kings. And that is exactly what we are here to do. If you want to be a king for God, study these books. Together they are called the Book of the Kings or the Book of the Kingdoms.
Studying Samuel’s life and how he prepared for such an exalted responsibility is fascinating.
Don’t Let God’s Words Drop
“And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision” (1 Samuel 3:1). God wouldn’t reveal truth to Eli because of his family failures; the priest just let his sons do what they wanted, as if he couldn’t do anything about it. In fact, the nation didn’t have any new revelation for roughly three centuries! Can you imagine God’s Church being without revelation? What a difficult time in Israel. The people were abysmally degenerate! They had no understanding of God at all. It was centuries of exactly the kind of democratic nonsense you see in the world today.
“And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was …” (verses 2-3). The lamp was going out. The same thing happened in the Worldwide Church of God after Mr. Armstrong died. The open vision—the new revelation to add and build on to what Mr. Armstrong taught—faded away.
The “lamp of God” has deep meaning. It actually should be “the lamp of Elohim”—referring to the God Family! This is the lamp of the God Family! If we focus on the God Family, the lamp is going to burn brightly!
That lamp should be bright, and that is where you come in. God is challenging you to help make the Work grow. He is challenging His people. He is challenging the students at His academy and at His college today. That is why Mr. Armstrong built the college in the first place: The Work had to grow.
Eli was failing. But God was ready to turn the state of the nation around with Samuel. The same is true of us: God has chosen you and me to help turn it all around. That is what “raising the ruins” is all about (Amos 9:11)—not just sustaining momentum, but going in the opposite direction. In the midst of terrible catastrophe, what an honor we have!
Samuel was called to his commission when he was quite young. Here is how he responded to God: “Speak; for thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:10). Those are powerful words! That is the attitude we all need when God speaks to us!
God called Samuel to reveal truth to him (verse 11). He began to give new revelation—something extremely rare in Israel! God began by explaining how He would punish Eli and his family “because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not” (verses 12-13). God was angry because Eli put his sons ahead of Him; the priest’s two sons were ruling their father. God had had enough and was determined to put an end to that forever! Nothing or nobody is above God! That is the first lesson we must learn. That is the First Commandment.
If you want to get God stirred up with vehement wrath, start doing like Eli and his family did! That kind of derelict child rearing destroys a nation and tears everything apart.
“And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever” (verse 14). God made a horrifying prophecy about this family who led Israel into sin. God is full of wrath and promises to punish that household forever!
Samuel explained this prophecy to Eli, who responded, “It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good” (verse 18). Eli knew God was working with this 13-year-old boy. Samuel was barely a teenager, yet God was using him. Can our pre-teens and teens be taught to obey God so He can use them? What a marvelous example!
Eli witnessed Samuel, this impressive young man, do the good that his own sons would not do. He watched Samuel condemn his own sons and his own fatherhood.
Verse 19 says, “And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.” He was only a teenager, yet he let none of God’s words fall to the ground! Not even one! That is a marvelous description of a great prophet of God. He was hungering and thirsting for righteousness so much that, in spirit, he got it all. God loved that attitude.
That is how God educates a prophet!
At God’s college today, we emphasize this lesson and encourage our students to have Samuel’s attitude in all their classes. Do you realize how much it would empower your life if you did that? You can see why God used Samuel so powerfully. We all need more of that attitude—to make it our goal to get every word as perfectly as possible. If we can do that, you can be sure God will use us to direct and raise up colleges in the future!
Today, God speaks from His Church. Once you hear the voice of God, you are held accountable for all those words! We have seen 95 percent of God’s people let God’s words drop to the ground. We are in God’s remnant Church because we didn’t let those words drop! But we must keep improving. After all, God is going to set the world upon our shoulders! We will need every word—every little bit of education God gives us. I know that in my life, I really need every bit of the education God has given me—and still need a lot more. We are the lowly of the world, not the geniuses. So we need to be like Samuel and work to keep from letting God’s truth—truth straight from His mind and mouth—drop to the ground. Samuel knew what an opportunity he had. Do you?
Verse 20 says, “And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord.” This was a time when there was no new revelation, and here Samuel had all this knowledge and education from God! It was obvious to everybody that God was working with this young man. Everyone in Israel knew he was a prophet! How very different from today in this country.
After the period of the judges, when all were doing things their own way, God used Samuel to start building a headquarters work that everybody in Israel would focus on.
The Stone of Help
In 1 Samuel 4, the Philistines came up against the Israelites, killed over 30,000 men and stole the ark of the covenant. The Israelites had been under the superstition that this physical object would guarantee their safety even if they were disobeying God. Their defeat proved that belief wrong (inset, “Shiloh: A Mysterious Message,” page 100).
God grievously cursed the Philistines for having stolen the ark. After seven months of misery, they returned it to Israel. But the Israelites were careless in the way they treated it, and God killed over 50,000 of them for their sin. The fearful Israelites put the ark in Kirjathjearim and left it there for 20 years! They were still steeped in superstition and idolatry.
Samuel tried to get the Israelites to turn from their wickedness. “And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines” (1 Samuel 7:3). The Israelites responded favorably to Samuel’s leadership and put away their idols. Samuel prayed for them. They fasted and confessed their sins.
The Philistines grew concerned about what was happening and again came up against Israel. But this time, instead of relying on a physical object, the Israelites asked Samuel to beseech God for protection. “And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel” (verse 10). What a victory! Under Samuel, things began to be done God’s way, and the nation was blessed. It was a real turning point for the nation!
Samuel wanted to cement this important lesson in the minds of the Israelites. The way he did so is very enlightening. “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us” (verse 12). The name Ebenezer means “the Stone of help.”
Why did Samuel give that stone such a label? He wanted to remind the Israelites daily why they had lost those many thousands of men in battle: They had actually made an idol of the ark of the covenant. They had been looking to a physical thing rather than to God! Samuel also wanted them to remember the miraculous victory they enjoyed after simply looking to God, the Stone of Israel. So he placed before them this huge stone called “the Stone of help.” It was a strong daily reminder of how much Israel needed help and from whom they needed to seek that help!
We need to view this spiritually today. This is a formula for how to conquer the problems in your life, whatever they may be. The lesson from the Stone of help tells you how to have a successful and a happy marriage and family. It tells you how to solve your social problems, your job problems, every aspect of your life! God promises that He will empower you if you look to the Stone of help! That will make revolutionary changes in your life!
Notice an end-time prophecy about this Stone in the book of Zechariah. The context is a prophecy about the New Testament Church of God, which has seven distinct eras from the first century a.d. until Christ’s Second Coming. (These eras are prophesied in detail in Revelation 2 and 3.) In Zechariah 3:9, these seven eras are typed by “seven eyes” that are “upon one stone”—and that Stone is Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. That is the “Stone of help” for God’s people.
Zechariah 4:6-10 prophesy about an end-time type of Zerubbabel. “Then he answered and spoke unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (verse 6).
This Zerubbabel role was filled by Mr. Armstrong, who led the sixth Church era, called Philadelphia in Revelation 3:7-13. Mr. Armstrong knew that human talent couldn’t accomplish God’s Work. He didn’t rely on human might or human power, but on the Spirit and power of God—the Stone of help!
“Who art thou, O great mountain?” Zechariah 4:7 begins. Is there some great mountain in your life—some insurmountable problem? “[B]efore Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone.” This end-time Zerubbabel accomplished mountain-moving miracles! No mountain could stand before him. No obstacle, trial or test could stop him because God empowered him and simply turned those mountains into plains. Mr. Armstrong brought forth the Headstone. He looked to God for victory and gave God all the credit.
We need to follow that wonderful example. Bring forth the Headstone! It takes real spiritual effort to do that. God rejects lukewarm Christians. There is tremendous power there, and unbelievable understanding, wisdom, joy and excitement. The powerful Stone of help will move mountains out of your way! God will just reduce them to plains.
That is what God wants to give us if we “bring forth the Headstone” like Zerubbabel and look to the Stone of help like Samuel!
Samuel was well aware of the Israelites’ rebellious tendencies. Turning around a nightmare like the period of the judges is extremely difficult. It’s one thing to sustain something that is already going well, but quite another to reverse a nation’s direction when it is off course!
Samuel came to realize that in order to accomplish that monumental job, he had to do something dramatic. He decided he had to raise up a college so he could institutionalize the wonderful truths of God. He began to nurture an ambition to teach that truth to the whole world! He wanted to get everybody behind that goal, and the college was the way to do it.
“And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places” (1 Samuel 7:15-16). Samuel made that circuit because it was in those three cities that he established colleges where he taught people to forsake doing what was right in their own eyes and instead to obey God.
He then returned to Ramah, where he lived, “and there he built an altar unto the Lord” (verse 17). Samuel was a different kind of college teacher. He built an altar to God right there at his home! He really focused on worshiping God. The inner man is renewed day by day. Samuel wasn’t just talking about religion—he had an altar of God at the center of his life, and everyone knew it. That was how Samuel made sure everyone understood that the school he founded wasn’t just another college: It was God’s college!
Samuel founded these schools for the purpose of cleaning up the priesthood. In fact, he virtually abolished the priesthood because it was so polluted. He decided to start over by raising up these colleges.
As we will see, it appears Samuel also later founded a fourth college in Ramah, where he lived.
In Acts 3, the Apostle Peter says something that shows just how valuable the educational foundation Samuel laid truly was: “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. … Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days” (verses 20-21, 24).
Why did Peter specifically mention Samuel as the seminal individual in foretelling Christ’s return? I believe a lot of it had to do with the educational institutions he founded. God used Samuel to teach Israel powerful lessons and to train the “sons of the prophets.” Samuel emphasized prophecy and talked to his students about prophecy—just as we do with our students today. The more you study Samuel’s example, the more you see that prophetic emphasis. And he didn’t prophesy about Christ alone. He is one of the former prophets, and he gave all kinds of prophecy for this end time! He “foretold of these days.” He gave a message to all Israel, and, to some degree, to the Gentiles as well.
The Soncino Commentary states, “Samuel’s greatest claim to honor and the most permanent of his life’s achievements were the schools of the prophets which he founded, and from which in the work of the Hebrew prophets there issued the supreme creation of Israel’s religious genius. … Where the gift of prophecy existed, the schools would develop it, but the members of the schools formed a religious and moral leaven in the life of the people.”
Samuel taught those students that they had an important message from God to deliver! That is the only way they could build the college and make it as permanent as possible: They had to publicize a message to the world!
This is what motivates our efforts today. Herbert W. Armstrong College is here to support the Work, and we need all of God’s people excited about it so we can publish God’s message to the largest audience possible. We are the loyal Bride of Christ, and we have to yearn for the same things our Husband does. The first part of this commission is to get the message out to the world. The second part is to help God bring the world into His Family. Today we are just warning people as a witness, but we are getting ready to teach them so they can enter God’s Family! We are studying and holding on to education from the very mind of God, doing our utmost not to let any of it drop to the ground. And soon we will be establishing similar colleges all over this Earth! We must internalize this message and yearn for this Family of God! That must become our number one passion.
“Samuel’s interest in having such a group of students fits with the need of the hour,” wrote Leon Wood (Distressing Days of the Judges). I hope we can get our students to see that today! This college is here because of the great need of the hour—this “last hour” of the age of man!
“As soon as any one student was considered ready by Samuel, one may assume that he was assigned contacts to make himself the multiplying of Samuel’s efforts” (ibid). Likewise today, we need the college to multiply and expand the impact of the Work.
In a lecture called “Samuel and the Prophetic Office,” Arthur Penrhyn Stanley said, “In many ways does this origination of the line of the prophets center in Samuel. We may trace back to him the institution even in its outward form and fashion. In his time we first hear of what in modern phraseology are called the schools of the prophets. … But the chief place where they appear in his own lifetime is his own birthplace and residence, Ramah, Ramathaimzophim, ‘the height,’ ‘the double height of the watchmen.’” Samuel had a watchman work. He had to watch and to warn Israel, and so do we.
“[W]e may observe that Samuel himself, after the fall of Shiloh, dwelt not at Gibeon or Nob, the seat of the tabernacle and the priesthood, but at Ramah. At Ramah, and at Bethel, and at Gilgal, not in the consecrated precincts of Hebron or Anathoth, were the prophetic schools” (ibid). In this end time, God put His school in Edmond, Oklahoma—a place no one would think to look!
God Is Our King
Samuel lived and taught prophecy during a terrible time. He faced many problems. He traveled far and long doing his work. Yet, as difficult as times were for Samuel, when you read about what he accomplished, you have to be impressed. He never stopped soldiering forward. He truly was a great prophet in Israel.
Sadly, Samuel’s own sons ended up turning away from God, much like Eli’s sons had (1 Samuel 8:1-3). You young people—what are you going to do? Will you be like Samuel? Or like Samuel’s sons? It is easy for a young person to turn away from God.
The people of Israel held this against Samuel, and it soured their attitude against God’s government. They told Samuel they wanted to be ruled by a king rather than by God through His prophet.
Samuel “was at once the last of the judges and the inaugurator of the first of the kings,” Stanley said. “The people demanded a king. Josephus describes a shock to Samuel’s mind, ‘because of his inborn sense of justice, because of his hatred of kings [and what it all meant], as so far inferior to the [theocratic] rule, which conferred a God-like character on those who lived under it.’ For the whole night he lay, and we are told, fasting and sleepless ….” Samuel knew this was very bad news for Israel.
Samuel’s sons did some terrible things. But consider: Just a short time after this, the Bible gives perhaps its greatest example of how to handle things when there are problems with the leadership God has chosen. As we will see, young David was anointed to be king 17½ years before he was actually crowned, and had to run for his life many times because the king was trying to kill him! Yet he never rebelled against King Saul. He was subject to the king. That is a tremendous example. Even when David cut off a little piece of Saul’s garment, he repented of that. His attitude was, This is the Lord’s anointed. Yes, King Saul made mistakes, but God was still there.
It’s true that sometimes God does leave a church or a nation. If God leaves, then you should leave. We as God’s people must be able to see and know whether God is there or not. If you leave, you had better be careful and make sure God is moving His lamp and leading the effort. We can never afford to follow men—we must follow God!
In God’s Church during the 1970s, there were a lot of problems because of some bad leadership. But those who left at that time were dead wrong. God was still there; He was still working through Mr. Armstrong. But there were some men—including Mr. Armstrong’s own son—who were taking advantage of the fact that God’s apostle was traveling so much, and they were causing trouble in his absence. At one point, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “I refuse, dear brethren, to be like Eli.” He disfellowshiped his son three times. Twice he thought his son had repented, but after the third time, he wrote, “Never again will I bring him back. A father naturally loves his son, but too often sons do not love their fathers.” That is terrible history. Thank God we haven’t had to face that since, and I don’t believe we will ever have to face it again. But when such problems exist, we must let God straighten them out! He is very capable of doing that.
The Israelites hadn’t learned that lesson. They felt justified in asking Samuel to step aside. They wanted a king to lead them. God was upset at what Samuel’s sons were doing—but He didn’t agree with the people. He told Samuel, “[T]hey have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (verse 7). That was the reality! The people didn’t want the law and government of God!
This was Israel’s cardinal sin! As long as Samuel was guiding them, God was actually their King. And they rejected God as their King! How much more sinful can you be? God branded this catastrophe into the nation’s mind by allowing the sanctuary at Shiloh to be overthrown (inset, “Shiloh: A Mysterious Message,” page 100).
God is the King of His Church today! Everything will be made right if we can just have God as our King. But we must earnestly desire that.
‘A Company of Prophets’
God had the Prophet Samuel anoint Saul king. Samuel was the man God used to start the monarchy in Israel! When you understand what God is going to do with that throne, you realize that this was quite an illustrious honor!
When Samuel anointed Saul, he gave him some detailed instructions that included this: “After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets …” (1 Samuel 10:5). Commentaries will tell you that this “company of prophets” refers to students and instructors at some kind of college. This is another biblical reference to the schools of Samuel.
In his book The Religion of Israel to the Fall of the Jewish State, Dr. A. Kuenen wrote this: “Nor … can it be by accident that in the history of Samuel’s life an association or a company of prophets is mentioned for the first time. It was established in the neighborhood of Ramah. … We are surely not mistaken in believing that Samuel directed that religious movement from the beginning, and that the prophets had him in view when they chose Ramah, where he lived, as a place in the vicinity of which they should establish themselves. So much is certain, that Samuel played among them from time to time to an advanced age. In this way, Samuel was the ruling mind in the association at Ramah, and perhaps also in others which rose elsewhere. …
“Men such as Nathan and Gad, who attached themselves to David and were influential during his reign, were perhaps educated in one of the prophetic schools.” I believe that is probably true: Samuel educated a lot of people, and some of them entered into the ministry. Considering how much effort he put into these schools—as did Elijah and others who later followed his example—I would say it’s likely that many of the prophets who came on the scene throughout biblical times probably came from those colleges or were heavily influenced by them.
These “associations,” this man says, “continued to exist after Samuel had disappeared from the stage of history”—although it is another 150 years before the schools are mentioned again in the time of Elijah.
William Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible says this: “So important was the work wrought by [Samuel] that he is classed in Holy Scripture with Moses (Jeremiah 15:1; Psalm 99:6; Acts 3:24), Samuel, being the great religious reformer and organizer of the prophetical order, as Moses was the great legislator and founder of the priestly rule. … Samuel took measures to make his work of restoration permanent as well as effective for the moment. For this purpose he instituted companies, or colleges of prophets.”
Today’s educational system is based on Plato and Socrates. Those men are too recent. If people want to find real education that is founded on the very Word of God, they need to go back to Samuel, and then Elijah and Elisha! That’s where people, especially Israel, should look for a model of education! It’s right there in the Bible!
Samuel started colleges because of the crises within the nation and the degeneration in the priesthood. A similar situation prevailed later when Elijah and Elisha came on the scene. These men raised up colleges because they were in the business of proclaiming God’s message to Israel. They educated God’s people to support the man God had chosen to do His Work.
I believe God inspired Samuel to build that college during a dark time in the nation’s history to make sure the Israelites would receive His message. For those who wouldn’t, that institution was a witness or a warning against them! But for anyone who wanted the truth, they could get it.
Likewise today, God raised a college because there is such a tremendous need for it. Ninety-five percent of God’s people have turned away! We have had to fight to preserve and publish God’s truth. We need students and supporters who want to publicize and distribute God’s message.
The Music of the Prophets
Notice what these students in 1 Samuel 10:5 were doing: “… coming down from the high place with a psaltery [something like our modern bagpipes], and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy.” In their music, these students were prophesying. Their music was inspired, and it taught prophecy, and it prophesied.
At God’s college today, we hear beautiful music—and we do prophesy through it! Much of that music is about God’s Word and about prophecy.
Samuel was doing a lot of what we are doing today with our music program. He wasn’t thinking about the college just for the moment. He was thinking about a permanent college program—one that would inspire God’s people throughout the ages and forever!
Keil and Delitzsch Commentary says the education at Samuel’s colleges “included the cultivation of sacred poetry and music and united exercises for the promotion of the prophetic inspiration.” Those schools had sacred music and taught poetry. Smith’s Dictionary continues, “Subsidiary subjects of instruction were music and sacred poetry, both of which had been connected with prophecy from the time of Moses (Exodus 15:20) and the judges (Judges 4:4; 5:1).” It then quotes 1 Samuel 10:5, as well as an incident in 2 Kings 3:15 where Elisha calls on a minstrel so that he could become inspired to prophesy for God.
Many of the biblical writers were skilled and well educated. They wrote history, they wrote poetry, they wrote music, they sang, they danced, they had magnificent choirs. David is renowned for his brilliance in establishing beautiful choirs like you’ve never heard before.
Arthur Penrhyn Stanley said that in Samuel’s colleges, “Song, and music and dance were interwoven in some sacred union ….” He talked about how the rise of the monarchy coincided with “the growth of poetry, architecture and music, and all the other arts which sprang up under an established rule.” That sounds like Armstrong College, doesn’t it?
Lange’s Commentary says this about 1 Samuel 10:5: “The four instruments which accompanied them indicate the rich variety and advanced culture of the music of that day.” Unger’s Bible Dictionary says, “The cultivation of sacred music and poetry may be inferred partly from the fact that, according to 1 Samuel 10:5, musicians walked in front of the prophesying prophets, playing as they went along, and partly from the fact that sacred music not only received a fresh impulse from David, who stood in close relation to the association of prophets at Ramah, but was also raised by him into an integral part of public worship.” 1 Chronicles 25 records where David “separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals …. All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God …” (verses 1, 6).
In our weekly services in God’s Church, we have congregational songs and special music. That music gets us attuned to God, and thinking about God! Then we are ready to receive the spoken messages. There is probably a lot more of a practical reason for this than we even understand, and we need to learn more about it. Unger’s continues by saying that these students used music “as a means of awakening holy susceptibilities and emotions … of lifting up the spirit to God, and so preparing it for the reception of divine revelations.” There is a real purpose in music, poetry and art within a liberal arts college.
Mr. Armstrong established the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation for the same reasons. The foundation described its purpose this way: “By serving the cultural, educational and humanitarian needs of mankind, the foundation believes it can create in men and women an awareness of their ultimate individual and collective potential for good. As a builder of bridges between all peoples everywhere, few organizations have had such impact as the Ambassador Foundation.” That is why we began the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation, continuing in that tradition.
After Mr. Armstrong died, we had a court battle with the wcg over his literature; Joseph Tkach Jr. explained why he terminated the performing arts series at Ambassador Auditorium: because “it had nothing to do with the mission of the church.” That is the type of thinking that destroyed the church!
What did God have in mind when He created the angels to rule over the universe? Ezekiel 28:13 describes how when He made Lucifer, “the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee.” God created him to rule with tremendous musical ability—not only for the Earth; that was just the beginning. Lucifer was a universe being, created to fill the universe with beautiful music! God made him to think as He thinks, and to love and produce music that He loves. Lucifer did so for a while, but then he rebelled, and God changed his name to Satan. Now the music he makes is twisted and perverse.
Satan is influencing the minds of people everywhere, especially youth, with wrong music. That is why it is so important that we teach our children and other people the right kind of music—and the right kind of everything else! We use the college and the foundation to point people to the kind of culture that God really loves! And it orients people toward the future, when God will restore all things, including godly culture, to this Earth and eventually the universe! You can be sure God will have the most beautiful music, the greatest poetry, the most wonderful literature and architecture and other art filling the cosmos!
The Poetry of the Prophets
Closely connected to the musical art form was poetry. The Bible has quite a lot of poetry. Just about every book in the Old Testament after the books of Ezra and Nehemiah is poetry. Look through the Revised Standard Version: The biblical poetry is written in poetic verse style—unlike in the King James Version. That captures more of the sophistication of the culture these prophets had and adds more impact to the message. I believe we need more poetry in God’s college today. We need to learn more poetry.
When Winston Churchill wrote his great speeches, they were written in poetic style. You can see why they moved people and still do.
During the horrifying and murderous rule of Stalin, Russia had some illustrious poets. One was Osip Mandelstam. This man was in jail a lot of the time during Stalin’s reign. In the early days, when he still had a lot of hope, he wrote in an ode to Stalin:
Heaped hills of human heads go off into the distance.
I grow smaller there, they won’t notice me any more.
But in much loved books and children’s games
I shall arise to say that the sun is shining.
Another of these poets was Anna Akhmatova, whom one of her fellow poets called “the Anna of all the Russias.” She was so good that all the Russias listened to and read her poetry. She endured very rough times; her son also spent considerable time in jail. She wrote a poem about Osip Mandelstam toward the end of his life. Mandelstam had been exiled into a little city, where he was getting close to death, and she went to visit him and composed this poem after she left. I believe her son was still in prison at that time. She wrote:
In the room of the exiled poet
fear and the muse stand duty in turn
and the night is endless
and knows no dawn.
How sad! That has been the reality for 6,000 years of human history—an endless night that knows no dawn. But God promises that this 6,000-year night is about to end!
David had a drastically different view in his poetry! It is truly inspiring to see the poetic view of the biblical writers. David was still writing poetry—much of it inspiring and filled with hope—while experiencing some of worst trials of his life! We can write poetry in our trials as David did.
Look how the last words of King David appear in the Revised Standard Version. Firstly, here is how they are introduced (2 Samuel 23:1):
Now these are the last words of David:
The oracle of David, the son of Jesse,
the oracle of the man who was raised on high,
the anointed of the God of Jacob,
the sweet psalmist of Israel.
That is quite poetic in and of itself! Now here are the words (verses 2-4; rsv):
The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me,
his word is upon my tongue.
The God of Israel has spoken,
the Rock of Israel has said to me:
When one rules justly over men,
ruling in the fear of God,
he dawns on them like the morning light,
like the sun shining forth upon a cloudless morning,
like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.
That is powerful poetry—perhaps some of the most powerful you’ll ever read. What a contrast to “the night is endless and knows no dawn”! That’s the way the world sees it—and how could you view it any other way when you think about Stalin’s style of leadership?
But notice these beautiful words (verses 5-7; rsv):
Yea, does not my house stand so with God?
For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things and secure.
For will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire?
But godless men are all like thorns that are thrown away;
for they cannot be taken with the hand;
but the man who touches them
arms himself with iron and the shaft of a spear,
and they are utterly consumed with fire.
I believe some of the poetry in the Old Testament is among the most beautiful writing in human history. It was inspired by God.
Doing God’s Work in an Evil Time
Saul had a great beginning as king—but he made some fatal mistakes. God had wanted to establish his kingdom “upon Israel for ever,” Samuel informed him. “But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart …” (1 Samuel 13:13-14). That “man” was David (whom we will study in the next chapter).
David was the one of whom Hannah prophesied. She had lived through the troubled period under Eli and his sons, and she wanted a king whom God chose!
In 1 Samuel 16, God directed Samuel to David, and these two men met for the first time. Notice what happened: “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him” (verses 13-14). God gave David His Spirit and removed it from Saul.
This was another terrible time in Israel. The king was troubled by an evil spirit (see also 1 Samuel 18:10-11; 19:9-10). Is it possible that an evil spirit could influence the leader of the modern Israelite nation? It has happened a number of times. The same could certainly occur in this end time, and I believe there is plenty of evidence that it has. In God’s Church, we were witness to what Satan did to spiritual Israel after Mr. Armstrong died. Satan was cast down at that time, and now Satan and all those demons are confined to this Earth! What are they doing? Their number one goal is to bring Israel down—spiritual Israel and three nations of Israel in particular. You can read more about this in my booklet America Under Attack. We must be aware of the spiritual dimension to world events.
When Saul was troubled, his servants called for David, who harped for Saul. While David played, the evil spirit would leave—but the Holy Spirit didn’t come back because Saul was still in rebellion. When you depart from God, another spirit comes right in and troubles you. If God has called you out of this world, and you have become a member in His Church, then if you get away from God, look out! The Laodiceans will continue to be troubled until they repent.
Under demonic influence, King Saul did everything he could to kill his successor. David had to flee. It is during this period that we see the wonderful relationship between David and Samuel.
Look again at Acts 13:20, which speaks of Samuel marking the end of the period of the judges. That passage continues by talking about God raising up King David, “a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (see verses 21-24). Samuel did much to prepare for the great King David to do his work. In fact, I believe he had a lot to do with David’s success.
These two men were very close. That is a big reason why David was such an outstanding leader. Perhaps the reverse was true as well; they helped each other.
As we will see, the biblical account shows that when David was on the run, he looked to Samuel for inspiration and direction, and also visited Samuel’s college. I’m sure he was also refreshed by his time with the college students.
1 Samuel 22 talks about a dark period when King Saul was pursuing David and was in Ramah, where Samuel’s college was. “And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the Lord; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not shew it to me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the Lord. And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod” (verses 17-18). Saul told the men of Israel to kill those priests, but they refused. So the Edomite did the dirty work, killing 85 priests! The king couldn’t get anybody else to do it, but he got an Edomite to.
Notice what David perceived about Doeg when he was there. “And Abiathar shewed David that Saul had slain the Lord’s priests. And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul: I have occasioned the death of all the persons of thy father’s house” (verses 21-22). David felt guilty about the way it all transpired. This was all done in Ramah, where Samuel built a college. The man responsible for those deaths—this wretched traitor—had been right in their midst!
These events show that the time when Samuel was teaching was still an extremely difficult period for Israel. King Saul was persecuting David—and you can be sure he was also persecuting Samuel and the schools. It isn’t easy to do the Work of God.
But think about this: Samuel brought revelation back to Israel and was disseminating it—in spite of Saul trying to kill David and stop the colleges!
This is the kind of leader God is working to create in the members of His Church! He doesn’t want people who will drift along or fear to rock the boat. He is educating and training individuals who can really have a positive impact in a negative situation.
What a lesson for us as we pave the way for the greatest glory on Earth. Yes, times are difficult—and will get more so. But we can all thank God for the college He has given us, and the Work, and the marvelous opportunity we have!
Miracle at Naioth
The Prophet Samuel recorded all this history, certainly up to his death in 1 Samuel 25. He wrote Judges, and probably edited Joshua. But who finished the book of Samuel? The evidence shows that this book is basically a product of Samuel’s college!
Notice this observation in the Cambridge Bible: “If then, the book of Samuel was compiled largely from the chronicles of Samuel, Nathan and Gad, supplemented by other records preserved in the schools of the prophets, it follows that it rests upon the best possible authority. Samuel is the historian of his own lifetime, which included the greater part of Saul’s reign. Nathan and Gad together give the history of David’s reign.” So this work was probably finished by Nathan and Gad—who were both prophets as well—and maybe others, just like we are finishing the Elijah work after Mr. Armstrong’s death. But they relied on records that were preserved at Samuel’s colleges. These prophets were at least heavily influenced by the education that had been disseminated at the schools, if they weren’t actually students there themselves.
The Cambridge Bible continues, “The events of David’s life must have been familiarly known in the schools of the prophets at Ramah. It is expressly mentioned that when he had fled from Saul, he came and told Samuel all that Saul had done to him, and he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth.”
That is referring to 1 Samuel 19:18, which is part of a passage that gives more important insights about this educational system Samuel established: “So David fled, and escaped, and came to Samuel to Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth.” David was running for his life, and he fled to Samuel’s home, and they went to the college. That was a dangerous time because Saul was causing so many problems—and, I’m sure, a pretty exciting time as well. The students at the college were well aware of Saul’s treachery and surely knew that God had chosen David—that the chancellor of their college had already anointed him! I wonder if David didn’t have a lot to say to those young people when he was on the run. That was probably a thrilling day in school. David surely would have talked to them about what was happening.
Ira Maurice Price wrote, “Samuel had established his home in Ramah in the early days. There he built an altar of God, and he had built a school of prophets over which he presided. To this same place came David as a refuge from the rage of Saul” (The Dramatic Story of the Old Testament History). This is key. How much do you think Samuel taught him while he was there? What do you think they talked about? David was on the run for his life, and he went to Samuel! Samuel was his benefactor and had a lot to do with his education.
One of Saul’s men found out where David and Samuel were and informed Saul. “Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah,” this soldier said (verse 19). David was in Ramah—but at Naioth. Verse 22 also says, “Behold, they be at Naioth in Ramah.” Verse 23: “And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah … he came to Naioth in Ramah.” 1 Samuel 20:1 says, “And David fled from Naioth in Ramah”—so he was at that place. These men were in Ramah, but what is so important about Naioth?
The reference within the King James Version says Naioth is the schoolhouse. Unger’s Bible Dictionary says that “Kyle Endelich believed Naioth to be a proper name applied to a common dwelling of the pupils of the prophets.” It was the actual building or complex where the college students attended.
One definition of Naioth in Strong’s is an “implied idea of beauty.” That word is closely related to a word that means “lovely, a home, of God, dwelling (place), habitation.” These words seem to indicate a very nice structure. This was not just a normal building. Apparently it was something like the millionaires’ homes that Mr. Armstrong built the colleges from in Pasadena. It may have been a building well known in the area.
It probably was a very impressive place. That is what God gave Mr. Armstrong. That is what God has given us. I believe it is what He has routinely done throughout the ages: God provides something that is of high quality and fine character. I would think that people were impressed by the structures of Samuel’s colleges, and the way they were landscaped and cared for, which caused some of the persecution against them to diminish.
There certainly is indication of that within this account. When Saul’s men came to try to capture David, what happened? “And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets [the college students] prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied” (1 Samuel 19:20). Can you imagine that? These hardened soldiers came to kill David and maybe Samuel too—and they started prophesying! What was happening at this college?
Notice that verse says Samuel was there “as appointed over” the students of the school. Somebody appointed him over those students. Who do you suppose that was? It wasn’t David; it wasn’t Saul. It was God!
Unger’s Bible Dictionary says that from this verse “we learn that there was a ‘company’ of prophets at Ramah under the superintendency of Samuel, whose members lived in a common building.” At God’s college, we have common buildings—our students live in dormitories; we all eat in a common dining hall—it’s very much a family, isn’t it? This educational structure was formed “for the purpose of mental and spiritual training that they might exert a more powerful influence upon their contemporaries.” This writer recognizes that such a college can educate students to have a more powerful influence on other people. At God’s college today, we educate students for a purpose: God expects a return on this investment.
“And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also” (verse 21). This is a mind-staggering miracle! These men who just couldn’t wait to get to David and kill him actually started to prophesy! To a great degree, God simply took control of their minds!
What are we going to do if somebody comes into this Church to kill one of us? Well they’re probably going to start prophesying right along with us—maybe singing the same songs we are singing!
Saul became so enraged he went down there himself to take care of the situation. “And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?” (verse 24). Can you imagine Saul trying to kill David—and then taking a break to prophesy for God? That was quite a day! And this was quite a college!
God’s College Today
When Samuel spoke about his schools, he referred to “the company of the prophets.” With Elijah’s schools, the Bible speaks of “the sons of the prophets.” I believe that indicates Samuel’s college was just for ministers—more exclusively a Bible college. They were on the run at that time and didn’t have the time or the luxury to educate both men and women in all of the liberal arts training we have today. Still, Samuel certainly did lay the foundation for Elijah and Elisha, as well as for Mr. Armstrong and for our work today.
Today, we need women and men together. We need family. That is God’s way. That’s what this college is all about: God’s Family.
What a legacy Samuel created. At the end of his life, his impact was widely felt. “In Ramah Samuel died, mourned by all Israel who assembled to bury him on his own place,” Ira Maurice Price wrote. “Samuel was a Levite. His grandson was Heman, the singer (1 Chronicles 6:33) and a judge from Eli to the anointing of Saul, a priest who officiated at sacrifices, a prophet who founded and presided over the school of the prophets, a writer who prepared a history of the times. … He also gave the entire prophet movement an impetus by the bands of young prophets who lived under the influence and direction at Ramah” (The Dramatic Story of the Old Testament History). That is the history and the education we ought to look to.
Using those schools, Samuel revived the spirit of God’s people and gave them hope! So do we here at Armstrong College. We are trying to revive a spirit and raise the ruins. The fruits prove that we are getting that job done, but we can always improve. We want to have a kind of revival in the right way. We have the monumental commission to prophesy again (Revelation 10:11), raising up a work after a great catastrophe in spiritual Israel. This college has a message for the world! God promises to open the doors for us to get the job done. How important is God’s college to this Work? Mr. Armstrong wrote, “It was the development of the college in Pasadena that made possible the growth of the whole gospel Work” (Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Volume 2).
This college is about to introduce Christ to the world! We should be a college for all the ages! We ought to do things that will be talked about forever—just as they did in the schools of Samuel and Elijah and Elisha. We need students who are urgent, students who understand what these words are all about and won’t let any of them drop to the ground. If we follow Samuel’s example and have that attitude, we will impact this world in a way people will never forget! As Arthur Stanley said, “Happy are they who are able to perceive the signs of the times, and to answer [as Samuel did], without fear or trembling, ‘Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth!’”
God gave the job of turning the nation around to Samuel and David. They did a marvelous job, and it would have been even better if the people had followed them.
These two men were alike in many ways. What a magnificent king-prophet team David and Samuel made. They both sought all God’s will! And they really did turn the nation around by using God’s power. What an inspiration. Those became the golden years in Israel! We need to be reminded about these men, when Israel was in its glory days. How did they achieve such glory? It started with a prophet who wouldn’t let any of God’s words fall to the ground and a king who fulfilled all God’s will. Everything these men did, no matter how small the project, they wanted to do God’s way. What marvelous examples for us to follow!
Shiloh: A Mysterious Message
The city of Shiloh occupies an important place in the former prophets. It was where Hannah uttered her magnificent prophecy in 1 Samuel 2. It was where she brought Samuel in order to dedicate him to God. It was where Samuel began to serve God after receiving such a wonderful foundation from his mother, and where God appeared to that young man (1 Samuel 3:21).
What is interesting is that Jesus Christ is also called “Shiloh” in prophecy.
Genesis 49:10 makes a strange statement that really puzzles the commentaries: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”
“Until Shiloh come” is clearly referring to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. But nowhere else in the Bible is Christ referred to as Shiloh. Shiloh is a city, yet here it refers to Christ. How do you explain that? The commentaries think it simply doesn’t make sense: Why call the Messiah Shiloh?
The history of this special place, recorded in the former prophets, gives a sobering and inspiring answer.
Here is an example illustrating why biblical scholars don’t understand the Bible as they should. They often fail to dig into the Bible for an answer to the difficult questions. Instead, they just rely on their human reasoning instead of God’s reasoning! They don’t let the Bible interpret the Bible. That prevents them from getting the depth they should have.
There is a scepter that won’t depart from Judah; that is speaking of the Jewish rule on the throne of David. There is also a lawgiver from Judah in this end time—until Shiloh come, “and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”
Look again at the prophecy in Genesis 49:10. It reads, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” From verse 1 of Genesis 49, we can understand that this entire passage is for the “last days”—the time we are living in now. So, in the last days, God said there would be a scepter, or a ruler on David’s throne, at the same time there is a lawgiver, who has a message about David’s throne.
Concerning the scepter promise, we have always believed it refers to a kingly line that would rule from the time of David right up to the Second Coming of the Messiah. The scepter also refers to the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Verse 10 refers to a lawgiver from between Judah’s feet. The Companion Bible says this lawgiver comes “from between his feet,” which means he is to come from Judah’s descendants.
There is to be a scepter and a lawgiver in the “last days.” The lawgiver is a Jew who is here when Christ returns.
This is the same twofold covenant referred to in Jeremiah 33:17-18: “For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want [or lack] a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel [the scepter promise]; Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man [the lawgiver] before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually [a type of spiritual sacrifices].” (Jeremiah’s book is for this end time—Jeremiah 30:1-9.)
The kingly line of the tribe of Judah continues to this day. God said in Genesis 49:10 that a lawgiver would parallel that scepter promise, which continues until Christ returns.
Traditionally, we have believed this lawgiver to be Christ. In principle, that is true. Christ always gives the law. He is the source. But notice, the scripture says this lawgiver would not depart from Judah’s feet “until Shiloh [Christ] come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Would it make sense to read that Jesus would not depart from Judah’s feet until Jesus come?
Shiloh refers to Christ, so this “lawgiver” must refer to another individual. God has always worked through one man at a time. Again, Jeremiah 33:18 says that God would choose one man to fulfill this commission. Since this prophecy about the lawgiver was not revealed to me until after Mr. Armstrong died, it specifically refers to my office today.
Mr. Armstrong had to establish God’s law and government. He was the Elijah who restored all things just before Christ’s return (Matthew 17:10-11). I have continued the same law and government he taught. No other church can truthfully make that claim!
Mr. Armstrong and I each have been used to fill the role of lawgiver to God’s Church and the world. So today, where is the human lawgiver descended from David and the tribe of Judah? Who administers the same law that Christ will teach when He returns to sit on that throne of David? Those are questions you must be able to answer!
This man will be teaching about the scepter—the kingly line, or David’s throne, and the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ. It is the same throne that is about to be taken over by Jesus Christ forever (Luke 1:30-33).
In these last days, the kingly line, David’s throne, is not governed by God’s law. But the Church is ruled by Christ—that great Lawgiver, the King of kings who shall rule on David’s throne forever.
The use of “Shiloh” in Genesis 49:10 is a coded word. Clearly, God wants us to learn more about Shiloh.
Shiloh is 30 miles north of Jerusalem. While the Israelites were conquering the Promised Land, the ark of the covenant was set up in Gilgal—but once they finally subdued the Canaanites, they moved the ark to Shiloh. “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them” (Joshua 18:1).
Because it hosted the ark of the covenant, which symbolized God’s presence, Shiloh was the spiritual headquarters of the nation. Unger’s Bible Dictionary calls it “the site of Israel’s early sanctuary in the time of the judges,” and says, “It was the focal point of Israel’s tribal organization before the establishment of the kingdom.”
Again, it was there that God began working with young Samuel. “And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord” (1 Samuel 3:21). This was the second time God appeared to Samuel in Shiloh (also in verse 10). Somehow, Samuel had to have seen at least a little sliver of God—two times! How impressive! I’m sure we would drop dead if God appeared to us that way! This man must have had quite a message, as did his mother. God used them in a powerful way.
I have recorded four television programs from Shiloh. I was probably more stirred there than any other place I’ve been, just thinking, as I walked among the ruins there, that God appeared to Samuel right here.
Today, however, that site is strewn everywhere with ruins—massive, glistening white boulders. Why? Because God destroyed it. Those ruins tell a tragic story. They serve as a reminder of the glory of ancient Israel when they did obey God—and when they did not. It is quite a sight and contains quite a lesson for us.
The Message of Shiloh
One of the most dramatic events in the Bible is recorded in 1 Samuel 4. The Israelites went out to battle against the Philistines, and 4,000 Israelites were killed. That defeat showed them that God was not with them.
The Israelites returned to their home base in Shiloh, which housed the ark of the covenant. Without consulting God, they decided to grab the ark from Shiloh and bring it with them into battle, as if that physical object would save them. In the ensuing battle, they ended up losing 30,000 men, and the Philistines seized the ark! That was absolutely crushing to them.
Unger’s Bible Dictionary says, “Shiloh was destroyed … presumably at the hands of the Philistines when the ark was carried away (1 Samuel 4).”
Shiloh was desolate, and the ark was gone. That was truly depressing for Samuel to witness. “The overthrow of Shiloh marked a turning point in the history of that period,” Unger’s continues. That watershed event marked a big change in Israel. And after the Philistines brought the ark back, it was never set up again in Shiloh.
The author of Psalm 78 related some of Shiloh’s history. “For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images. When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men” (verses 58-60). God placed that tent there Himself! He had a vested interest in Shiloh. Through Samuel and others, God placed that tent there, with the ark and the truth of God, so Israel could be blessed and set an example for the world! But Israel didn’t cooperate with God, and it doesn’t today.
“And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand. He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance” (verses 61-62). Shiloh was God’s glory and His strength! Israel manifested that strength by obeying God and having Him empower them. When they stopped, He became full of wrath.
This history illuminates an important end-time prophecy given by the Prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah knew all about Shiloh and why it was destroyed. He prophesied that, in this end time, all Israel would be destroyed like Shiloh!
Remember, the book of Jeremiah is primarily for this end time (e.g. Jeremiah 30:1-9, 24; 23:20). His personal message only went to Judah anciently, but his book is addressed to the nations of Israel today.
In Jeremiah 7, the prophet speaks about corruption in the temple. This is an end-time prophecy about God’s spiritual temple today—His Church. That corruption has infected this last era of God’s Church, the Laodicean Church today (request a free copy of Malachi’s Message for more explanation). In verse 4, he warns against people saying, “The temple of the Lord”—or, as we heard it, “The Church! You can’t leave God’s Church.” God practically mocks people who say that! Verse 11 says that God saw His house in this end time become “a den of robbers”!
“But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel” (verse 12). “My place” is the sanctuary—even the holy of holies where God was! God had to destroy Shiloh, despite all the rich history of Samuel there.
“Then come to present yourselves before me in this house, which belongs to me, thinking you are now quite safe—safe to go on with all these abominable practices!” (verse 10; Moffatt translation). The people in Shiloh thought they could continue their abominable practices and God would keep blessing them—yet look at Shiloh today! There is nothing left of it! We need to remember that history and take heed! All of God’s people need to know about Shiloh. There is a lesson there that we must learn.
In Jeremiah 26, God told His prophet to stand in the court of the temple and tell the people to turn from their sins. “And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord; If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you” (verse 4). Again—this is for the end time. Somebody in God’s Church set the law before the people. Who was it? Some people would say we can’t determine that! That is ridiculous: We know who established the law of God in this end time! We know who established the government that would submit to that law: It was Herbert W. Armstrong (directed by God, of course). Nobody else did that.
“Then will I make this house [talking about the Laodiceans] like Shiloh, and will make this city [Jerusalem—a type of three modern nations of Israel] a curse to all the nations of the earth” (verse 6). That is quite a prophecy! Is this something we ought to be urgent about? Jeremiah was certainly urgent.
After Jeremiah gave this prophecy, the priests and prophets objected, and they and all the people threatened to kill him (verses 7-8). They railed against him, saying, “Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord” (verse 9). Jeremiah didn’t have much success with them.
Somebody is likewise sending out this message today. The Laodiceans have already become like Shiloh, and the nations of Israel are rapidly heading down that same path. That is an end-time prophecy! It is a prophecy of huge cities being without an inhabitant! What a terrifying warning about our nations! Do we really believe that is about to happen? If so, we need to act on that!
Most people who believe in the Old and the New Testament think they are doing what God wants them to do. They believe they are religious the right way. They believe they’re practicing Christianity correctly. But God prophesies that our nations will end the same way Shiloh did! Our nations are beset by sins and problems that are getting continually worse: drugs, crime, family breakdowns and breakups, terrorism, addictions, pornography—on and on it goes. We talk about our nations being so great, but God calls Israel “an hypocritical nation” (Isaiah 10:6). What does God think about the way we’re living? After all, that is what our religion is all about: what we do—the way we live! How many people really understand that?
Jeremiah told them that God had sent him, and he trumpeted the warning, “Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God …” (Jeremiah 26:13). In this end time, God is sending me, backed by God’s very elect, in the same way.
You can see in verse 16 that, in this case, the princes of the world actually rescued Jeremiah from the religious people. In verse 24, another person from the world protected God’s prophet. The religious people wanted to kill Jeremiah. The princes said that he hadn’t done anything worthy of death, and they saved him this time.
We need to think about this. Here in Jeremiah 26, these princes came to his aid. But if you follow the chronology, these same princes soon began to change their story. Beginning in Jeremiah 34, Babylon attacked in a series of sieges. And by Jeremiah 37, in the third siege, the two princes Gedaliah and Jehucal—whose bullae have been excavated in Jerusalem and are on display in Armstrong Auditorium—did all they could to have Jeremiah imprisoned two times. They also appealed to the king to kill him!
When we have that level of persecution coming against us, God is going to take His people to a place of safety. I don’t know what all will happen, but Jeremiah did prophesy this about the end time. We should not be shocked when that persecution comes, because it will come. But if we do our job, we will only get stronger.
God wants us to understand more about Shiloh. There are some awesome messages there. Hannah’s prophecy was all about the beginning of the house of David and the throne that Jesus Christ is going to sit on. The ark of the covenant was once positioned there. That is where God spoke and where Israel heard His voice.
But Israel fell away from God. The nation rebelled, Shiloh was destroyed, and the ark was removed. Once it left, it never returned to that city. That is a symbol of what happens when someone who once knew God turns away from Him. Jeremiah’s prophecy uses it as a picture of what we can expect to happen to our nations very soon!
Either we learn the lesson of Shiloh, or it is prophesied that we will suffer like Shiloh!
This all makes Genesis 49:10 far more meaningful: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” When Christ thunders back to this Earth, He will sit on David’s throne, ruling beside kings and priests of the spiritual house of David! And we are the house of David—kings and priests being exalted to show this world how to live. This world is falling apart, and we don’t have much time to get ready to educate it. We are the greatest royalty for all eternity! That is the most magnificent reward that God could give us!
Chapter 6: David: A King After God’s Own Heart
In Acts 13:22, God calls David “a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.” David wanted very much to fulfill all of God’s will. He didn’t say, Well, I’ll keep two of the commandments, or nine of them. He wanted to keep every one of them, and to fulfill every little detail he could to obey God.
The Greek word translated after in this verse means “motion or extension through a space from top to bottom,” “throughout” and “down through.” This indicates a total saturation of the mind and heart. The word is used in connection with something covered or overwhelmed, or denoting an abundance of that with which something is filled up or covered up. It’s not easy to be “after” God’s own heart—trying to think and act exactly as God does with all your might!
At times David was very rich; other times he was very poor. But whatever his state, he always worked to keep close to God. He knew his relationship with God was most important. That is what made him a man after God’s own heart.
That attitude made David an outstanding king. We can learn priceless lessons about how to be kings for God from his example.
Some commentaries say David’s example is just a popular legend. That is totally false. You can easily prove that the Bible is God’s Word and that David served God. Even archaeology is proving more and more that the Bible’s account of King David is accurate. He was, indeed, a real person and a faithful man. And because of his deeds, soon David will be resurrected to rule over all Israel forever!
Through the former prophets, God places special emphasis on the royal, priestly throne He established in King David. The whole book of Samuel revolves around David’s throne. Why all the attention on David?
That throne was to be a family throne, established forever (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Astounding as it may seem, David’s family throne is still in existence today. (We explain this truth thoroughly in our free books The Key of David and The New Throne of David.)
A thorough understanding of David’s throne reveals what God is doing today and shall do in the future. Jesus Christ will assume David’s throne upon His Second Coming to Earth (Luke 1:32).
True religion revolves around the family throne of David. God’s people are training even now to share that throne with Him (Revelation 3:21). God has already made His firstfruits kings and priests in embryo (Revelation 1:6).
The former prophets—especially Samuel and Kings—contain a lot of history and instruction about Israel’s kings and priests. In essence, the former prophets teach us how to be kings and priests for God. At the heart of that instruction is the example of one of the most towering personalities of the Bible, King David.
God Looks on the Heart
When Saul proved to be such a poor king of Israel, God rejected him. “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” (1 Samuel 13:13). That sounds like what God told David! Did Saul have a chance to do what David did? It certainly sounds that way to me. Look at what an opportunity that man had, and how he failed in it.
“But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee” (verse 14). God is not passive about this. He is always vigorously seeking a man after His own heart.
God wants each one of us to follow David’s splendid example. That is why there is so much about David in the Bible!
God instructed Samuel the prophet to visit the house of Jesse because He had chosen a king to replace Saul from among Jesse’s sons. When Samuel went there, Jesse put forward Eliab, whom he thought was his most talented and effective son. Samuel was immediately impressed. Surely this fine young man was the king God had chosen.
Actually, God had something to teach Samuel and Jesse. “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Pay attention to this: God doesn’t look at us as the world does. He doesn’t look to see if you are tall, dark and handsome. He doesn’t check whether you have a high iq. He looks on your heart. The heart as described here is the seat of the senses, affections or emotions, or the seat of the will. Perhaps the closest English word is “attitude.” When choosing people to serve Him, He looks on your heart—because if your attitude is right, it doesn’t matter what else you may lack; God can use you very effectively. You don’t need to feel inferior to anybody.
It is important that we learn more and more to look upon leaders and men the way God does. Saul was an impressive man: probably about 7 feet tall, surely a good-looking man, and personable. The people fell in love with him. But God doesn’t want us to look at people that way!
In dating, people tend to look at the exterior; women in this world quite often want to choose someone like Saul—tall, dark and handsome. Men also often use superficial standards toward females. God is telling us that if you look at a potential spouse that way, you might end up with someone like Saul as a husband! We have to be ever so careful.
We urgently need to look on the heart when we are seeking a husband or a wife. Without God’s help, we make dangerous mistakes. It happens all the time! How spiritual are you? How much do you know how to look on the heart?
If we’re going to be leaders for God, we must let Him teach us to look on the heart. Men may have a few insights into the attitudes of other people, but they are extremely limited. Only God knows how to look on the heart.
Men make catastrophic mistakes when they think they have this ability.
We can never look on the heart as God does. But we can always go to God in deep humility for help. We can continue to learn from God throughout our lives.
Even in child rearing, we need to learn to look on the heart, or we can’t very well rear our children to develop the heart that God wants or the attitude that David had. We can never properly rear our children without help from God in this area. Without this critical understanding, much of our instruction and discipline will be less effective.
We must know how limited we are in looking on the heart. We always need God’s help in this area. And the need is desperate. But first, we must see that we don’t naturally have this ability.
Nobody needs help in this area more than God’s ministers! Without the ability to look on the heart, serious mistakes will be made. Only God can give us this understanding.
After God refused Eliab, Jesse called Abinadab, his next son. God refused him too. Then came the next son, and the next—a total of seven sons (verse 10). They looked like outstanding young men—yet God told Samuel to reject every single one of them! These were the best sons Jesse had, at least as he reasoned. He didn’t even consider David. Isn’t that amazing?
If people in the world were to look around and choose people to represent God in this end time, how many of us would be chosen? Probably none of us! But God does the choosing. And He doesn’t judge the way men judge. He doesn’t look upon you the way the world does. That is something we need to keep in mind.
Samuel asked if Jesse had any other sons, and Jesse was reluctant to mention David. David doesn’t have any outstanding ability, he said. All he does is take care of the sheep (verse 11). But Samuel insisted that David be sent for. “And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he” (verse 12). God chose young David.
David was different from others around him. He was a young man after God’s own heart—that’s why he was chosen. Are you that way? Does God think of you as a person after His own heart? Do you want to fulfill all of His will—everything God wants you to do in your life?
If you do, you’re going to have wonderful success.
Develop Your Talents
When David was out on the night watches with those sheep, he spent a lot of time thinking about God. He thought about God’s power. He meditated on God’s law.
David was a real student of God’s Word. He saw God’s Word as “a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” as it says in Psalm 119:105. He kept this shining lamp right there to guide him in the path, and then just walked down that lighted path. That is why and how David became great. He let God’s Word guide him, not his carnal reasoning.
He later became a friend of Samuel. He didn’t shy away from the top leaders of Israel; he wanted to be right there with them because he knew that would help him grow and get to know God better.
Several times throughout his life, David said that God was with him. That was like the motif of his life. That’s the most important statement that you can make about a person: that God is with him.
David was accomplished in the arts of his age and country. He was a poet, as you can see in the Psalms. He was also a musician—a skilled harpist. In his hours alone, watching after the flock, he composed and sang songs for God. His skill on the harp became well known throughout the neighborhood. It actually became the means of his introduction to the court of King Saul.
Saul was having deep spiritual and emotional problems. His servants recommended that he find someone who could play soothing music on the harp whenever he was troubled by an evil spirit. Saul agreed and asked them to find such a musician.
Please pay close attention to this verse: “Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him” (1 Samuel 16:18). Read that again: This was a teenager he was talking about! What a reputation David had built!
It’s amazing what a contrast there is between this man’s view and that of David’s own family. David’s father and brothers had an extremely low view of him. Even after Samuel anointed him, they didn’t esteem him highly—they put him right back out with the sheep (verse 19). Sometimes when a boy is cast aside like that, he will do almost anything to please his dad. Maybe God worked things out in a way that would motivate David, and in the process he would learn to see a Father—a spiritual Father—who would never view him as an outsider or outcast, and would never let him down! Maybe that helped to really motivate David. Whatever the reason, this young man just kept working and making a strong name for himself.
God is choosing His nobility, His royalty, today. He wants you to develop your talents. Do you develop your talents the best you can? Are you preparing to lead the world in that way? This is important to God.
David wasn’t some fool who didn’t know anything; he was an intelligent young man. He clearly cultivated his talents diligently, and surely that was part of why God chose him. But first of all, David fervently sought God; as a result, God kept opening doors for him.
Notice too that Saul’s servant called David “a valiant man.” He had courage. He was gutsy like no young man on Earth at that time! He wasn’t afraid to step out and do what needed to be done. God was impressed by how valiant he was. We too need to develop our abilities and have courage when we need to use them.
Be a Positive Person
So Saul sent for David, and David joined Saul’s court. “And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer” (1 Samuel 16:21). David had a lot of love for people. He loved Saul greatly! And Saul wasn’t such a great person at this time; he was having some serious problems. But David loved him. He must have looked upon him the way God did. God loved Saul—He just didn’t like the way Saul ruled, and tried to get him to repent. But David thought like God in this way.
How about you and me? Do we have a lot of love for God’s people and God’s leaders—in spite of their flaws—as David did? Are you outgoing and loving? Or do you sit back, maybe looking suspicious or having an evil eye toward people? David was full of love and truly loved being around other people.
David had to see that this was God’s man. He obviously knew he was to be king, but he was happy to wait in the wings until God put him into that position. He knew God had placed Saul into that office, and he was God’s man until God removed him. Saul was God’s king—the only king God had on Earth! David loved Saul greatly because David loved God greatly.
It just isn’t natural to think this way.
Soon Saul sent a message to Jesse saying that David had found favor in his sight (verse 22). David really made a positive impression on people. This is why Saul wanted him around.
“And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him” (verse 23). Wasn’t that powerful music, inspired by God? This is what good, God-inspired music can do. Saul wouldn’t have been soothed by so much of the popular music in this world. But David played the sort of music that actually healed Saul and caused that evil spirit to leave! Demons don’t want to be around a happy environment.
God used David to lift Saul’s spirit. There is a lesson here too. Clearly we must learn to control our own emotions and stay positive. But if you’re going to be royalty for God, you must also learn to be encouraging to other people. That’s what a leader does. Are you an encouraging person to be around?
When we are negative, we can cause other people to become negative and discouraged. There isn’t any reason for God’s people to be discouraged.
Contrast these two kings. Saul was depressed and discouraged, and he needed somebody to play music just to drive away his negativity. David was the opposite: He used his talents and personality to lift up those around him. He played inspiring music on the harp; he loved Saul, and he was outgoing and uplifting. He was a happy person; he was positive. That’s what God wants you to be.
Think about this. If you’re going to help Jesus Christ rule in the World Tomorrow, you must be living by these laws. You must be a person who has a positive impact on other people. If you are, you can be a great encouragement to them!
The Faith to Fight
When King Saul ruled, the nation suffered from a shameful lack of faith. David, still a teenager, visited the army on the battlefront and saw Israel’s soldiers—who should have been the picture of faith-filled valor—cowering in fear before a Philistine warrior. “And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid” (1 Samuel 17:24). Those men were afraid of a man! You see the same pathetic spirit of timidity and fear—and even worse—in modern Israel, both physical and spiritual.
Saul offered a great reward to anyone who would stand up to Goliath—but no one would fight even for riches (verse 25). Saul wasn’t even considering fighting the giant himself.
Why were these men so shamefully fearful? It was primarily because of Saul’s poor leadership!
Young David had a totally different spirit. “And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (verse 26). David saw these not as the armies of Israel—but as the armies of the living God! Who would dare defy the armies of the living God? David asked. Not one person in that army looked at it that way! And David was just shocked.
David’s older brother Eliab got indignant at David—and remember, this was after David was anointed as king! He accused David: “I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle” (verse 28). The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible defines pride as haughtiness, arrogance, insolence, rebelliousness. “This kind of pride presumes to have more authority than is warranted,” it says. The word naughtiness means badness, wickedness, wretchedness, an evil condition. These are terrible things for a brother to say to another brother! Maybe Eliab was offended that he hadn’t been chosen as king! He looked good, but God didn’t choose him—and his attitude here probably indicates why.
Who was the real soldier here? Someone can look like a warrior, but it takes real faith to stand up to giants and other problems. Trials reveal who the real warriors are. We cannot fake this. When the big battle comes, who will stand up like David and fight for the living God?
David asked his brother, “Is there not a cause?” (verse 29).
These were the armies of the living God—the Creator of the universe and mankind. He has unlimited power to support us if we believe Him—have faith in Him. But His soldiers were terrified and fleeing in retreat.
This sickened David. He saw it to be the ultimate insult to God and Israel.
“Is there not a cause?”
What a profound question that David asked. He saw the whole scene through God’s eyes. He knew God and was close to Him. He exuded faith because he believed God.
This young warrior was eager to fight Goliath the giant. David wanted to show him and the world some of the unlimited power of God!
“Is there not a cause?”
From God’s point of view—and David’s—there was a monumental cause! God wants all mankind to see it.
Can’t you all see there’s a good reason to fight here? David asked. We need to take this Philistine on! Today, we have a cause to stand up and fight for God! We could never do the Work if we didn’t have the attitude that David did here.
David’s language was so different from anyone else’s in the army. They hadn’t heard anyone talk like that before. This young man really had something that nobody else saw but God. This was something that would make him a great king. You can already begin to see, so soon after David was anointed, why God was so impressed with David’s heart. This young man clearly had a lot of spiritual depth.
In verse 34, David told Saul, “Thy servant kept his father’s sheep ….” It is interesting how he expressed that. You would think that normally someone in his job would call them “our sheep.” But David saw them as his father’s sheep, and nobody was going to take his father’s sheep because, I think, he wanted Dad to think highly of him.
As a youth, David had slain a lion and a bear that menaced his father’s sheep—even delivering the sheep from the mouths of these animals! Imagine that! If you were taking care of a flock of sheep and a lion came and grabbed one of those lambs, probably every one of us would say, “Well, I think I can afford to lose one lamb.” Think about what this young man did, who knew that the God who created that lion was alive—and if necessary, would kill it because it was taking his father’s sheep! Imagine what kind of prayers he prayed for those sheep: that God would watch over them and protect every single one. And did God ever protect them!
We have to live like God is alive, as David did! David had a certain childhood innocence that even made him stronger in this area, but he risked his life for a lamb! That is a type of God’s flock! Would we ministers risk our lives for one of God’s people? I hope we would—we certainly should. That’s the kind of love and courage David had.
So when Goliath menaced Israel’s army, young David told Saul, “The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine” (verse 37). Goliath may have been the biggest man to ever walk the Earth. He was a trained warrior, covered in impressive armor. David knew this was a most dangerous situation. He was not playing games. He recognized that lives were at stake; he was not naive about that. But notice how he said that. He knew God had won those battles with the lion and the bear, not himself, and he never forgot that.
A God in Israel
Notice how David spoke to Goliath: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45-46).
What an earthshaking example of David’s faith! What mind-staggering power in a young David who believed the living God!
Can you imagine how this example is going to encourage and inspire the people of this world when they get to know God?
Do you see how we can impact the world today with this kind of faith in the living God?
David was motivated to fight Goliath so that all the Earth may know there is a God in Israel!
David was motivated to show the whole world that the God of Israel lives—He is alive and wants to fight for each one of us!
David wasn’t trying to become some great general; that wasn’t his motive at all. He was blessed by God, and he wanted all Israel and all the Gentiles to know that God lived!
Oh how Britain, America and Judah need to hear that message today! They need to know that there’s a God in Israel! They need to know that there’s a God in this Church—a living God who is telling them what is wrong with their land, their people and their government! They need to know!
“And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands” (verse 47). David was just a young man who believed God, and God was dynamically alive to him. What a difference that makes in a person’s life!
Would you ever risk your life to show this world that God lives in the pcg, in spiritual Israel? Certainly nobody in physical Israel today would do it. But this has to be our goal. We must passionately want the world to know that the living God is in the pcg. The living God is here, and He wants the whole world to know that! David was a man after His own heart, so he thought just like God in that respect.
Do you think maybe Goliath was shaken by this talk? I think he was. He’d never heard anything like this! He had to stop and think, Well, he certainly has confidence. He’s a gutsy little guy. I’m sure it unnerved him. He’d heard stories about the God of Israel.
When David went to fight, he picked up five stones, not just one. One would have done the job, but David had to do his part. He didn’t just stand there and say, I’m going to pray that God takes care of you. No, he said, “I’m going to kill you by God’s power!” He had to go out there and let God’s power work through him. He had five stones, but he said, “The battle is the Lord’s.”
Today God rules spiritual Israel, or His very elect Church, and we do things somewhat differently. We can and do slay giant problems because of our faith in the living God. But we never kill anybody!
Our six-year court case with the Worldwide Church of God is a prime example. (Request a free copy of our large book Raising the Ruins for a full understanding. We had to successfully win the court battle to even do God’s Work today.)
What problem are you facing that you can’t handle? No matter how gigantic it is, there is no problem you can’t handle if you face it the way David did. We can conquer anything if the battle is the Eternal’s! But if we don’t have this living God in our lives, we’re not going to conquer like we should. We need all of this power that David had in order to win. Trust God and face your problems in faith, and God will deliver you. Beyond that, He will ultimately use you like He is going to use King David as a king in the World Tomorrow!
This is not just a nice slogan or a cute formula: I’m talking about having faith in the living God—trusting God to do great things in your life! He has promised to do that—and He cannot lie! (Titus 1:2).
God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He wants a whole Church full of Davids! This is the Church of the living God! We host a college of the living God, and youth camps of the living God, and congregations of the living God! Our publications are of the living God! God established all those things. He’s alive! And oh, how we are blessed because of that! We in God’s Church today really need to think like David.
How did David express it? “For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth” (Psalm 71:5). Believing God was something David was demonstrating before Goliath, before the lion, before the bear, back in his early teens. “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works” (verse 17).
God is a magnificent, powerful, wonderful, loving God! Can we declare His wondrous works even from our youth? God wants His people—even young people—to stand up and say so with their lives today! And show the world by deeds that God really is that way!
Do you expect God to work miracles in your life? It’s up to you. Your life ahead is what you make it, and what God makes it through you.
We must always remain humble, of course. David’s faith in God helped him realize just who he was and helped him never get proud or vain. But with faith, nothing could stop God from doing awesome things in his life!
David knew he was a king, and he thought like one, and he fought like one. He was quite a king even before he became king!
David displayed amazing faith and courage here. He personally stepped up and killed the giant who brought such a reproach on Israel.
God later replaced Saul’s weak leadership with David’s faith-filled leadership. And as we will see, with that change in government came a giant transformation in Israel and its military.
You will see the impact one leader can have on his nation and the world when he believes the living God!
David on the Run
Soon after David killed Goliath, Saul became very jealous of the young man. He allowed the devil to influence him heavily—to the point where he wanted to kill David.
Samuel had anointed David, and I’m sure seeing David running for protection from the king of Israel had to be one of the most painful experiences of his life! What a spectacle that was to the world.
David had to wait over 17 years from the time Samuel anointed him before he was actually crowned. That took a lot of patience. David had the right attitude, but he needed more preparation. God made him wait for years. He often works that way with people.
God’s saints are experiencing something like this today. God has chosen you to share His throne in the future! But you have to wait until God is ready, and you must prepare to be able to rule. However, never forget this awesome truth: God has already called you. But He wants to choose and prepare you to be a king and priest forever, if you will submit to His rule. God says in James 2:5 that He chooses the poor of the world, rich in faith. That’s what God wants you to be! Even if you are a sheepherder now, don’t worry about that.
God worked with David during those years on the run. It’s interesting that a big part of David’s training for his role as king was running from Saul! Here was the man who had already been anointed to be king, running for his life! God allowed this to happen. Spiritually, David was being fitted for his calling by learning how to depend on God constantly. He was sorely tested before he became king. God was preparing him to rule! He brought a large group of fugitives who began following David around. Leading those people in such trying conditions was tremendous experience for the future king. As Saul’s persecution increased, David and his followers really learned to depend on God. David wrote psalms about some of these harrowing experiences, and they are some of the most inspiring psalms you’ll ever read because he always went back and praised God for delivering him.
One major reason why David had such power sprang from his attitude toward the office of God. 1 Samuel 24 records the incident where he had the opportunity to kill Saul, and instead he cut off a piece of his skirt. As soon as he did that, it says that “David’s heart smote him” (verse 5). His heart began to pound as he realized, Something’s not right here. I’m breaking the spirit of God’s law. David told his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord” (verse 6). This was God’s man! It wasn’t just a man—it was God’s anointed! Again—God was really alive to David! He knew that if he raised his hand against God’s anointed, he would have God to deal with! What loyalty David showed to Saul—or really, to God.
David never attacked Saul; his faith kept him from this great mistake. That in itself was quite an accomplishment. David could have taunted Saul by saying, I’m in line to get your office. You’re finished; you’re history. But he loved Saul greatly, which is amazing after all he went through! That is why God loved David greatly—because he always brought God into the picture.
David’s men believed God had delivered Saul right into David’s hand. In a sense, that was true: God did deliver him right into his hand, but not for the reason they thought: God wanted to know what the next king of Israel would do! He was training him to be the king of Israel forever! So He tested David to the limit, and David said, No! I’ll not touch him. That really impressed God.
For 13 years Saul hunted David like an animal. Yet David maintained that marvelous spiritual perspective: “And David said … Destroy him [Saul] not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless? David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed …” (1 Samuel 26:9-11). In this case, all David would have had to do is say nothing, and Saul would have been dead. His men were just begging David to let them kill him, and David said no.
God approved of Saul being made the king of Israel. David knew that he would not be king until God removed Saul. David learned deeply that it was God’s responsibility to do that—not his!
God was teaching David the supreme lesson of government. As Mr. Armstrong said, “Government is everything”!
Before we can ever be in God’s Kingdom, we must learn this profound lesson.
It really does get down to government, and how we look upon God’s rule. When the Worldwide Church of God went off track after Mr. Armstrong died, I strived to maintain the same attitude. I never raised my hand against those corrupt Church leaders. I didn’t try to kick them off their “throne”—I simply did the Work of God after He moved the lamp, as He commanded. Even in printing Mystery of the Ages, all we were ever trying to do was do the Work, and they were trying to stop it! But God had moved the lamp with Malachi’s Message. When the lamp goes, you have to go. You had better know where it is, or you are left in the thick darkness of this world.
David also used that time to train those men to be competent fighters, to endure hardship, to be bold and daring in fighting for God. These lessons all proved invaluable both to David and to his men later in helping to rout Israel’s enemies and to establish the kingdom.
David remained loyal to Saul even after Saul was dead! After all those trials, a man came to David claiming that he had killed Saul. I don’t believe he did; it was pretty obvious he was lying. But David had that man killed (2 Samuel 1:13-16). There was treachery toward the office of God, and he wanted all Israel to know that you don’t act treacherously toward that office! Of course, David was thinking about more than Saul: He was just getting established in his office. But he still loved Saul and respected his memory, and was establishing the rule of God in Israel.
It took some time for the nation to recover from the instability brought about by Saul’s corrupt rule. Saul’s general crowned Saul’s son Ishbosheth king, essentially declaring a civil war. The war between David’s government and that of the house of Saul went on for a long time (2 Samuel 3:1). It was a lawless period, and David had to get control. When two men assassinated Ishbosheth, thinking they were doing David a service, David sent a strong message by having them killed and their hands and feet cut off and hung up over the pool in Hebron (2 Samuel 4:12).
David began to build some fear into the Israelites so that they might hear and fear the law of God, the government of God. As a result, God came alive to those people!
Remember, David was dealing with people who did not have God’s Holy Spirit. Carnal-minded people have to be dealt with differently.
Consult With God
God had great plans for David. One of the greatest of these, as we will see, was that David would prepare to build God a fabulous house in Jerusalem. But before he could participate in such an exalted project, God had to try and test him, and the king had to learn some important lessons.
The Israelites had lost the ark of the covenant during the days of Saul—the most shameful thing that could happen to them. It certainly revealed the state of their relationship with God. David wanted to bring the ark into Jerusalem. This was a good desire, but he didn’t go about it the right way. He did not consult with the ministry, or the Levites; he consulted with the political leaders (2 Samuel 6:1). You can see how he rallied the people behind this project in 1 Chronicles 13:2-3. All that David did and led the people to do seemed so religious. But something was terribly wrong.
As verse 4 states, “the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.” The people thought it was great, but was it right in the eyes of God?
2 Samuel 6:2 calls it “the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the Lord of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims.” This is the great God who sits on His throne between the cherubim—and the ark was the replica of that throne on Earth! It represented God’s rule over carnal Israel. This was a critically important event, to say the least.
The Israelites transported the ark on a new cart (verse 3). They were playing all kinds of music; it was a festive occasion. The people were thoroughly enjoying it, until the oxen stumbled. Then something horrifying happened.
“… Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God” (verses 6-7).
That was a terrible event that certainly got Israel’s attention. What had the people done wrong? What had David done wrong?
“And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day” (verse 8).
It appears David sulked over this for about three months. Rather than examining himself, he got upset at God (verses 9-11). So what was wrong with the way David was doing things?
First, in Exodus 25:14 and Numbers 7:9, God commands Israel that the ark be transported on the shoulders using poles—not in a new cart. Numbers 4:15 states that only the sons of Levi were to transport it that way. David apparently hadn’t even consulted them—which was a big mistake. Third, Numbers 4:15 instructs that, of the Levites, only the line of Aaron could touch the ark or any holy thing. The law made it clear what should be done. Anybody who knew much about it could have told David. When we obey God, we have to do it the way He says—in the order He says do it. They didn’t do that.
Was God harsh for striking Uzzah dead just because they made a mistake? We must look at this from God’s perspective. It was a terrible mistake they should not have made. If David was going to build God a house for that ark, he would have to be able to follow God’s instructions in detail. God was training David to rule forever over all of Israel! God is also preparing you to rule forever. Perhaps you do not always understand what God is doing in your life, but He is preparing you to rule forever.
Worship God in ‘Due Order’
After three months, David had realized what he had done wrong and was ready to try moving the ark again. 1 Chronicles 15:2 records: “Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the Lord chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever.”
Much like today, we have to counsel before doing many things. We have to consult God’s Word on every detail of our lives. It’s not good enough to just worship God. We have to do it His way. Jesus Christ asked, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Many people want to be religious, and they talk about the Lord all the time, but they won’t do what God says! God deals with them accordingly.
The Laodiceans have their way to worship God, but they’re not worshiping God in spirit and truth. That is as easy to prove as it is to prove that David was wrong in how he first moved the ark.
“For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order” (1 Chronicles 15:13). David had really learned something valuable. It is amazing how he repented. He emphasized everything being done in “due order.” Get God’s order right and forget about human reasoning. David truly feared God, and wanted to do this exactly the way God designed it to be done.
We are going to rule the entire universe, which seems endless to astronomers. Imagine if God gives you jurisdiction over a part of the universe and you make gross mistakes because you are sloppy with God’s law and instructions. Soon you would wreck things just as Lucifer did. God is giving us a heavy responsibility!
Scripture records how David appointed Levites just to thank and praise God according to God’s Word (1 Chronicles 16:4). He wrote psalms extolling God’s wondrous works, and publicizing God’s deeds as much as possible (Psalms 96, 105, 106). When I read passages like this closely, I realize I need to repent and thank and praise God more! We too should let God’s deeds be known among His Church! Let people know when God heals or performs some other miracle. Make sure they know what God is doing! David talked about worshiping God “in the beauty of holiness” (1 Chronicles 16:29). What a beautiful expression! How beautiful it is to be holy. How beautiful is a holy church, a holy marriage, a holy family or holy unity—and how ugly is divorce and division and hatred and fighting! We are here to be born into God’s Family and become holy as God is holy.
Having learned this lesson, David was ready to consider building a more permanent structure for the ark.
Ready to Build
A pivotal chapter in the former prophets is 2 Samuel 7. It contains God’s prophecy about the endless throne of David.
Look how this chapter begins: “And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies; That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains. And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee” (verses 1-3). David had this beautiful palace. Suddenly, though, his heart smote him, and he said, What am I doing? I have this nice house, but we don’t have a house for God and the ark! So he devised this plan to build a house of God. This was King David’s focus: What great thing can I do for God? That shows real spiritual conversion.
David was inspired to build God a house. He didn’t get to build that house, but he surely prepared for it. And God gave him a son who did build that magnificent edifice. But God prepared David to play a huge part in the building.
For David to be able to serve in preparing for that house, however, he had to be sorely tried. Think about David’s trials! To gain an attitude like this man had, we have to be tried and tested. We are flawed and must be corrected to build the character that God so mercifully and lovingly works with us to produce.
Here in this end time, we were able to build a house for God—a house for the God of David and of Samuel! We had some particularly serious trials before we decided to build God a house. God does things in “due order.” I believe that is how God was preparing us to build His house and glorify Him!
To build a house for the living God is a monumental undertaking! God allowed us to have such an honor so we could get our minds more on what He is doing and what He is all about.
The purpose of God’s house is to glorify God all over the world! Look what David says later in this chapter: “And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee” (verse 26). One translation of the parallel account in 1 Chronicles 17:24 reads, “Let it be even established that your name may be magnified forever.” We are here to magnify the name of God forever! We have to be continually praying that we live His way.
God wouldn’t let David build that house because of his bloody history; He did not want His house to be associated with bloodshed. But when God told David He would use his son for the actual building of the temple, how did David respond? “Then went king David in, and sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” (2 Samuel 7:18). David did not sulk about this. He felt honored—of all the millions of people—to have the part he did in building for the great God!
We must have the same attitude. Who am I to be here in God’s only Church on this entire planet? How can I be so blessed when all these billions of people don’t know anything about God? Who am I to have this honor?
When was the last time you thanked God for that? When was the last time you thanked God the way David did? To be here, knowing everything about God we need to know, and to be honored to build His house on Earth—the only one there will be before Christ returns. Who are we to be given that opportunity?
King David institutionalized praise for God. Throughout his long life, David had grown to love God deeply. He knew of God’s great love for mankind. He knew that men should praise God because of all of His “wonderful works” (Psalm 107). David was dazzled by God. We all need to develop that same mindset. Consider who God is and the opportunities He is extending to you, and ask yourself, Who am I? Who am I to be in God’s Church? Who am I to be doing a Work for God? Who am I to represent the living God? Why should we be so privileged and honored? With billions of people out there, why us? See beyond the present problems—see this indescribable blessing God has given you! As long as we have that attitude, God is going to bless us day after day after day!
Like us, David had many faults—many even recorded in the Bible. He was human, after all (Psalm 25:7). But God never gave up on him, and He will never give up on you—as long as you never give up on Him!
A Throne Established Forever
Even though God didn’t allow David to build Him a house, He was very pleased with David’s desire to do so. And He made a phenomenal promise to this man after His own heart: “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13). God established David’s throne to last forever!
The Cambridge Bible Dictionary and basically all other Bible commentaries say that Judah’s monarchy fell when the first temple was destroyed. They know that contradicts what God promised in 2 Samuel 7. God said David’s throne would continue forever! But they say the monarchy died with Zedekiah. Who is wrong here? If these Bible scholars did a little more Bible study, they would see that God never lies, that He never fails, and that He can bring miraculous things to pass. But these scholars put their own human reasoning above God’s promises!
Herbert W. Armstrong just believed what the Bible says and submitted himself to that. God revealed to him what happened to the throne of David. The United States and Britain in Prophecy explains how God kept His promise. Six million copies of that book have been mailed out. Yet the scholars still cling to their ideas despite all kinds of biblical and secular evidence proving they are wrong and God is right!
When commentaries say the monarchy ended with Zedekiah, they are calling God a liar! Here is a clear prophecy from the living God that David’s throne would be established forever! An understanding of David’s throne unlocks eternity!
Notice this prophecy in Isaiah 9:6-7: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” In God’s coming Kingdom, Christ is going to rule from the throne of David forever. The responsibility for administering God’s government will be placed on His shoulder. And that government—the same government that has already been restored to the Church of God—is going to increase forever! It will direct God’s Work in the universe. That same government taught by Mr. Armstrong will extend throughout all eternity!
Without this government, we have no future. But those who cling to this government will be right forever. The stakes are eternal—forever! We must understand this eternal government.
Christ is going to rule from the throne of David—that throne is on Earth today. One of the gloomiest failures of America and Britain is that they understand almost nothing about that throne. Our pitiful, degenerate nations have a dark, bleak future unless they grasp their future majesty revolving around David’s throne. That throne is the small beginning of eternal splendor in God’s Family!
A Family Throne
In 2 Samuel 7:13, the word house means dwelling and would be better translated as family. God is establishing a family throne forever.
The next verse reinforces this truth even more: “I will be his father, and he shall be my son” (verse 14). God told David that He would be a Father to Solomon. Solomon would be His son. This is the God Family throne—the God Family rule. God’s royal kings are to be leaders in the Family of God. Solomon was a king, but he was also God the Father’s son! God will have no kings who are not His sons—His Family.
This is a prophecy of God’s Family in the World Tomorrow. We are to be one as the Father and Son are one—and have been for all eternity (John 17). Only God’s government has ever worked! And it has worked forever! By contrast, man’s government has never worked successfully.
The books of Samuel and Kings really demonstrate what a spiritual catastrophe it is if you wreck the family.
God’s Laodicean Church does not honor God as a Father (Malachi 1:6). If it did, all of God’s people would be united today. The Father is the Head. God’s Family, like any stable family, must have loving government.
That is the towering difference between a false church and God’s Church. No man is going to lead God’s Church, which is the Father’s Family. He reserves that prerogative only for Himself.
2 Samuel 7:14 continues, “If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men.” A king or leader of God’s Church might weaken and think he is above the law. God promises that He will correct His leaders “with the rod of men” of this world. Members of God’s true Work should know by faith that their ministers—even the most exalted ministers—will be corrected! God is a Father who lovingly “spanks” His leaders who commit iniquity. That is an unbreakable promise from God!
God says, I want everybody in my Family involved in this hopeful message! I want it to be built into their very character from when they’re little babies right on up to adulthood. If we are taught these things, over the years it begins to become part of us, and we take on this righteous, godly nature. God is preparing us for eternal life!
God’s Family Government
God’s most precious gift to man is His family government. If you study the subject of David’s throne carefully, you will see that God is building Father-son relationships with His Spirit-begotten children today. He is building His Family. If we repent now, we have the unparalleled opportunity to share God’s throne forever!
The majesty of 2 Samuel 7:14 becomes more vivid when we see how it is used in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul quotes this verse in the first chapter of Hebrews: “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” (Hebrews 1:5). The context of this verse shows God talking to Jesus Christ. But the King James Bible reference relates that the last half of this verse is cited from 2 Samuel 7:14, where the son being referred to was King Solomon—an ordinary man like you and me! Some commentaries, like the Anglican Bible Commentary, draw the same connection.
This is all about family! God keeps emphasizing that we have a Father-son relationship with Him—just like Christ Himself has! Do we understand what this passage is teaching? It shows what is in God’s mind and has been throughout the ages!
This passage continues discussing the angels. If you were to see an angel in all its fiery brilliance, you would probably faint. Angels are far more powerful than human beings. But read the rest of Hebrews 1: You will see that an angel has never been called a begotten son of God. Even these magnificent spirit beings don’t have that potential! But mankind does.
God never called an angel His begotten son, but He said those words to David. He says them throughout the Bible. I will be his Father. He talked to David just as He did to Christ. We have to have this message at the heart and core of our being: God is building a Family.
One definition of the word increase in Isaiah 9:7 is “progeny, increase of a family” (Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon). Is God’s Family going to increase forever? There is that possibility. Whatever the future holds beyond the Millennium, it is mind-staggering. The firstfruits will be at the top of the pyramid with God. And the pyramid will grow forever. That means our position of responsibility and authority will grow forever! We have the illustrious duty to help extend God’s love forever.
This is a prophecy about God’s loving Family. This love of God flows both ways. The Father loves His Family so much that He gave His only Son. It is a love so deep that the Son of God died for us. There is no deeper love. Now we must work to build a love where we would die for God if that is required.
We know this kind of loving government works. The Father and Son have demonstrated for all eternity how it works.
When the Church was falling apart in 1979, Mr. Armstrong called an emergency meeting and brought in all the ministers. He hammered home this message about the good news of the coming Family of God! That is the gospel: We are going to be born into God’s Family! The whole Church was nearly destroyed because the ministers had lost that vision.
Satan is trying to destroy the Family of God. He hates the fact that family was never offered to him. God never said to those brilliant, powerful angels, “You are my son, this day have I begotten you” (Hebrews 1:5).
We must understand the importance of God’s Family and this calling! Families and marriages are God-plane relationships. What could be more important than that? What could be more important than getting your marriage and your family on the God plane? It worked for Hannah, and it certainly worked for Samuel and David.
The firstfruits—those called out before Christ returns—are called to be Christ’s Bride. This is the highest calling God has for any human being! Do we grasp what it means to be a human being? A firstfruit? This is what God has been trying to teach man from the beginning.
The human family is a type of the God Family. Family is a God-plane relationship. This institution was created to bring us into the God Family. That has never been the potential for the powerful, majestic angels.
“And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Samuel 7:16). God repeatedly says that David’s throne will be established forever. The key of David, spoken of in Isaiah 22 and Revelation 3, unlocks glorious eternity!
A reference in the King James Bible indicates that we should compare 2 Samuel 7:16 with Luke 1:31-33: “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” The Anglican Bible Commentary also states that these verses are mainly a quote from 2 Samuel 7:16. Here we see David’s throne mentioned again. This “throne” has remained on Earth through the centuries. It is a throne from which Christ is to rule forever. There is to be no end.
This throne belongs to the Son of “the Highest,” which is God the Father. It is a royal family throne. God is building a family government that will rule the universe forever! The space and time are staggering: the universe and forever!
We see how God’s government will be administered during the Millennium. But this vision reaches into eternity. That means we also see how the universe will be ruled forever!
Why God Tested David
Common sense should tell us that sharing that throne will require some difficult qualifying. Extensive training and fiery trials are necessary.
2 Samuel 11 records David committing adultery with Bathsheba. I’m sure Bathsheba played her part in that; she did tempt David, and I believe she knew what she was doing. But David didn’t stop with the adultery—he made the problem even worse by murdering Uriah. These sins became exposed to the whole nation and to the world; we still read about them to this day. They were terrible sins, and David really had to pay for them. God told David that the sword would never depart from his house (2 Samuel 12:10).
David never blamed Bathsheba. As far as I can see in the Bible, David never once justified himself. He just said, Oh, what a sinner I am! Did he ever know how to repent. If you want to learn how to repent, go to David.
After he committed the sin with Bathsheba, David experienced terrible curses in his family. He had several children by different mothers, and I’m sure he couldn’t take care of them all. His firstborn son, Amnon, raped his half-sister. Another son, Absalom, took revenge by killing Amnon. Later Absalom led a revolt to steal the throne from David.
When David did sin, his own people attacked him—and he just put up with it. There is the incident with Shimei, who was cursing him, and one of his men wanted to kill the man. David said, Oh, leave him alone. Maybe God will count it good for me that I deal with his cursing. David felt that he probably deserved what the man was saying about him (2 Samuel 16).
David had some serious trials—some of the toughest of just about anybody in the Bible! I’m sure at times he wished he could go back to the simple life of looking after sheep! Under God’s watchful eye, David experienced a lot of trying and testing. We must never forget that he was being prepared and trained to rule over Israel forever!
We have been chosen to build God’s vision in our minds. We must learn to think and act as God does.
Being a leader—a king, a minister—is not an easy job. Those in high office need support and help from the people they lead.
God tested David to where He could finally know and absolutely never doubt that David would stick with God’s way and His government even if it meant giving up his own life!
That is the same attitude we need. The last warning to the Philadelphia era of God’s Church is to let no man take your crown—your throne (Revelation 3:11). After that comes the Laodicean rebellion in the last era of the Church, the time we are in today (verses 14-19). God then explains what we must do to qualify for our throne. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (verse 20). First, the faithful remnant of Philadelphians must knock and warn the Laodiceans. This is how we put God first. His Work is more important than our lives.
The reward for that effort is astronomical: We get to share Christ’s throne! “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (verse 21). Notice that Christ discusses His Father. We are going to be part of God’s family rule. Only sons of God will be there. We shall be in the holy of holies, ruling with God. We shall be there because we are Christ’s Bride—the highest level of God’s Family available to human beings!
Once Christ returns, no human being will ever again, for all eternity, have the opportunity to be a part of Christ’s Bride!
This is why we warn our beloved Laodicean family! Fifty percent of them are going to lose this reward (Matthew 25:1-10). The other 50 percent will lose a large portion of their reward unless they repent before the Tribulation.
This is all about the Father’s throne, Christ’s throne, and your throne—God’s royal family government. This is about God’s only Bride forever!
Surely we can see why we must be individuals who overcome. The vision of this magnificent future is why so many of the great men and women of the Bible were willing to die for God.
God Multiplies Our Numbers
When King David was 67 years old, just three years before he died, he got into some serious trouble, and he learned a big lesson.
Satan was well aware of how God was preparing David, and that God had exalted plans for this man. The devil took every opportunity he could to attack the king. At this time, “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1; see also 2 Samuel 24:1). Satan hated that family throne. He didn’t want to see God’s house constructed. He was passionately against what God wanted to accomplish with David! And David was human, as we all are.
Satan moved David to get his mind on the armies and how many they had, and how powerful they were. David ordered this census, which was a faithless act.
Notice what Joab told him: “Now the Lord thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?” (2 Samuel 24:3). This was wonderful advice: Look David, what difference does it make about the army or how many people we have in Israel?
Does it make a difference how many are in God’s Church? We don’t need to look to human beings! God has infinitely more power. Even Joab could see that. When God showed us we were to build Him a house, we didn’t first take a census of this little Church to see whether it was feasible. Otherwise, we would have said there is no way we can do it. If we look to God, our numbers will be a hundredfold more powerful.
David insisted that the census be taken, and God was very angry. He disciplined David again, bringing a mighty plague on the nation. Seventy thousand people died (verse 15). We must understand how displeased God was. Was God cruel to kill 70,000 Israelites—out of about 7 million—because of what David did? God got His message across. He also has a strong message for the people of Israel today—and they are not going to like that, either.
This was a terrible punishment for a big sin before all the people. But something truly inspiring happened here.
David repented mightily again. “And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite” (verse 18). When David offered to buy this piece of land from Araunah, the man said the king could have it, along with whatever he needed for the sacrifice, for whatever he wanted to pay (verses 20-23). This man loved his king!
David refused to take the land for nothing. “And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing” (verse 24). David realized he had sinned. He wanted to give an offering to God and for God to know there was some sacrifice in it. It wasn’t something he could easily give. He wouldn’t take the land for nothing, which was a good attitude to have at such a time.
“And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel” (verse 25). God halted the plague when David reared up an altar in Jerusalem and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
David was preparing for the temple shortly after this, and the location of this altar ended up being the exact location of the holy place in the temple! God gave him this special honor. So even though there was a lot of suffering, David turned this into good news. What an inspiring ending.
1 Chronicles 22 records the tremendous preparations David put into building God’s house. Now his mind was focused. Counting the nation was not the way to prepare to build God’s house. Here, David realized how to prepare. “And David prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the joinings; and brass in abundance without weight; Also cedar trees in abundance: for the Zidonians and they of Tyre brought much cedar wood to David. And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the Lord must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death” (verses 3-5).
We can call it “Solomon’s temple,” but that magnificent building was mainly the result of what David did.
Think of how David had to prepare to make a building so magnificent that it would be famous throughout the whole world. That is what happened. Everybody all over the Earth was impressed by the greatest structure ever built! King David gave up practically all his wealth because he really wanted that for God. And he wouldn’t even live to see God glorified by it!
To build something like this, everybody must have a giving attitude—not one of, what am I going to get out of this? We must do it because we want to give and because we love God and want to glorify Him. It is a towering act that God’s people have to do! We must have the attitude that says, I want to show the world the best I possibly can how GREAT God is! I want everybody to know what I know about God! I want EVERYBODY to understand what an incredible potential they have if they stop rebelling! We must get to know God deeply and want, with all our might like David, for everybody to know the God who dwells in the northern heavens!
God had to try David excruciatingly hard to get him to focus properly on his part in building the temple. What a majestic demonstration of character David was for all of us.
But David didn’t just prepare financially. He also set up the course of priests to serve around the ark, as they would once the temple was finished. Twice a day, he had the Levites thank and praise God. He institutionalized this to show people how wonderful God is—to help them get to know Him deeply and have Him guide them in their spiritual lives (1 Chronicles 25:1). These men were to prophesy in psalms. David wrote the majority of them, and many of them are prophetic. We, too, prophesy in God’s house—in psalms and in other ways.
David said, “Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house” (1 Chronicles 29:3). David had planned to give a certain amount, but when he really set his affection on it, he went far above what he had planned to give! God was stirring him up more and more, and he wanted to give more and more with all his might. Everybody else caught the same spirit too (verses 4-6).
“And gave for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents …. And they with whom precious stones were found gave them to the treasure of the house of the Lord, by the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite. Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy” (verses 7-9).
The Israelites probably gave more here than they ever had in their lives. And they were rejoicing all the more because of that! They were totally given over to God, as much as carnal minds could be, at least. That is what giving can do even to the carnal mind—it fills people with joy and rejoicing because they are giving. Isn’t that the law of God? The more you live the give way of life, the happier you become—whether it is of yourself, or your money, or anything else (Acts 20:35).
“Wherefore David blessed the Lord before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee” (1 Chronicles 29:10-14).
They were really sacrificing. David spoke for all of them when he asked, God, who are we to be here and to be able to sacrifice for this AWESOME house for you? Who are we to be honored to be given this opportunity?
We should all be asking ourselves these questions today. What an unparalleled honor God is giving us.
Here is an event from near the end of David’s reign as Israel’s king: “Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint” (2 Samuel 21:15). At this point, David was an old man.
Among this Philistine army was a whole mob of giants like Goliath! “And Ishbi-benob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David” (verse 16). Notice what happened in the face of this threat: “But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel” (verse 17).
David’s men wanted to protect David in order to ensure that “the light of Israel” would not be quenched. What a superb attitude! These men could have defected from David, calling him an adulterer and a murderer. But instead, they were sterling examples of virtue and loyalty.
To some degree, we will all be under King David in the World Tomorrow, so we need to cultivate this same spirit!
Those men knew God was behind David. They knew that following David was the key to Israel’s success.
What a difference it makes when God is working through a man to lead His people and the people simply follow that man!
David set a wonderful example of trusting in God, and he inspired others to do the same. We should be striving with all our being to attain David’s spiritual stature.
These soldiers under David were valiant—a stark contrast to what they had been under Saul’s leadership. “And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant” (verse 18). Sibbechai was yet another giant-killer cast in David’s mold.
“And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam” (verse 19). Elhanan too followed in David’s giant-slaying footsteps.
“And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant. And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea the brother of David slew him. These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants” (verses 20-22).
Why did Israel become so great under David? These men wanted to do all they could to help their king. They killed giants just as David did! This faithful attitude came from David right on down through his generals.
This is how we can become the greatest possible Church!
This wonderful example demonstrates the unity of command God wants His Church to have.
Each one of us should ask ourselves how much we possess this attitude. Would you stand up and fight the way these men did? Will you unify around God’s leader today the way those men rallied around David?
Remember these examples. Follow the faith of the man God is using to lead spiritual Israel. Don’t follow the man.
We all need to be giant-killers! God makes that possible for every one of us. That is how the Body of Christ will become powerful and accomplish amazing things!
This example of David’s army of giant-killers represents the epitome of God’s government! These men weren’t afraid—they didn’t run from giants. What changed from the cowardice and timidity they displayed under Saul? What made the difference? They followed David’s example of faith! And in so doing, they grew in their love for God.
It’s not enough that David be great. Everybody under him must be great! That is what is required if we are to have a great Church. There can be no breakdown in any link.
God’s Church needs to understand this truth better than it does today. This towering lesson in government is what will help us finish the Work with real strength!
David’s Last Words
“Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:1-3). These are the last words of the sweet psalmist of Israel. God spoke through this great man. David learned many lessons and wanted to impart them before he died.
The government of God “must be just, ruling in the fear of God”! (verse 3). We see many examples of devastating failure. But David wanted us to see the fabulous fruits of God’s government of love. So he illustrated what it is like when a ruler submits to God. “And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain” (verse 4). God’s loving government is like the morning when the sun rises in a cloudless sky. It’s like the tender grass springing beneath a brilliant sun after a pleasant rain. Read these verses in the Revised Standard Version. There is no greater poetry in the Bible about God’s loving government.
David is going to rule over all Israel because he learned how to rule and be ruled within the government of the living God. We must learn not only to submit to God’s government, but also to love it as David did.
I would not like to live under the government of most people. They don’t understand God’s loving family rule. But to have God’s government, and then reject it, is the greatest possible catastrophe! This is exactly what the Laodiceans have done. Most of God’s own people have been deceived about God’s family government. They don’t even understand how the devil has deceived them.
Mr. Armstrong once said, “The restoration of God’s government is uppermost in God’s mind. Is it in yours?”
“Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow” (verse 5). How can anyone say these books are not prophetic? God made a covenant with David that lasts for all eternity! David learned how to implement God’s government. That rule will solve all the problems in this world.
When we think of David today, we tend to think of him as a great empire-builder and giant-slayer. He certainly was that, but he was a weak man, too. He made quite a lot of mistakes that cost him dearly and weakened him for much of his kingship.
But overall, what was God’s evaluation of him? God loved David’s rule as king over Israel! So much so that He’s going to make him king over Israel forever!
The ministers’ job is to keep the people of God focused on David’s throne so they will have hope in their lives. This must not be obscure for God’s people; it has to be starkly present in their minds at all times! We have to know this key of David message God has commissioned us to deliver. We need that hope because problems are exploding in this world! If we don’t see the vision of David’s throne, we get discouraged and depressed. This vision is what propels God’s people forward!
When you talk about a throne that is going to bring about great change, that is a pivotal scripture. The entire world will pivot when we transition from the rule of Satan to the rule of God, when He will stop all the madness, suffering and misery—and it’s on the horizon right now! We really are experiencing the very last days of this age. We are so close to the rule of Jesus Christ!
David is about to rule this world. He and Christ and God’s people are going to galvanize the whole world and fill it with love, happiness, faith and joy. What a future we have! We are already kings and priests, and we will be right there, ruling with David. Then we will get to go out and help David show this world how to live, and will teach people all about the living God.
Why the House of David Is So Important
Think of the honor God has given to David. As God told him, “I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel” (2 Samuel 7:8). That is a spectacular rags-to-riches story!
Here is the promise God made to this mortal man: “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever” (verses 12-13).
That is an eternal promise! Why does God emphasize that? Well, David is a type of all of us. He was a sinner like we all are, yet God drew him into this universe-encompassing royal vision!
The promise continues: “And thine house [the house of David] and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (verse 16). The big reason God emphasizes that throne is that He is going to sit on it! It’s His throne! God is thrilled about that. The physical kings on that throne are there to pave the way up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when He will use that throne to unite the world, filling the Earth with blessings and happiness.
You are going to be kings and priests and rule with Christ forever if you are in that spiritual house of David today. God has a spiritual line of David that will produce the kings to sit on the throne forever! God wants us to get our minds on ruling on the throne of David forever! That is something to get excited about! It truly should make us hyper!
Notice how David responded to receiving this promise from God: “Then went king David in, and sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” (verse 18).
David made some serious mistakes, but he repented deeply, perhaps like no one else in the Bible! And he held on to this beautifully humble attitude: Who am I? Who am I to be a part of all of this? Even when Saul was chasing him down and trying to kill him, David thought, Who am I to be the son-in-law to the king? He knew about the house of David and the future of that throne of David. He realized what God was doing with his name. And he said, What is my house that you would exalt my house that way? Why would you do that for me, a lowly rebel who sinned mightily in Israel? He surely knew how to repent and turn it all around. He had to understand then how God exalted his house.
We have to ask ourselves, do I really love God’s law and want to do all His will—everything that God says? Do I really have the attitude David had? Am I really someone after God’s own heart?
Here are nine points on why our being in the spiritual house of David is so important:
1) It helps us realize more deeply who we are and will be for all eternity.
2) It raises our spiritual standard. David was a man after God’s own heart, and that is the standard we should strive for as well.
3) It strengthens our faith. We are constantly reminded of how God’s promises were fulfilled and continue to be fulfilled.
4) It encourages us because we are in the same spiritual house as Christ and David.
5) It impresses on our minds the essential need for our trials and tests.
6) This understanding gives us a built-in vision. We are spiritual Jews (e.g. Romans 2:29).
7) The house of David gives us a built-in overview of God’s plan.
8) It helps us keep our endless glory in our minds. It illuminates the royal and noble calling God has given us.
9) It sharpens our focus on our future reward.
The deeper we learn this lesson about the house of David, the more meaningful these points will become to us!
Chapter 7: Zadok: The Loyal Warrior-Priest
At the close of the dark days of the judges, when Eli was high priest, a man of God came and delivered God’s judgment. In that message, God said this: “And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever” (1 Samuel 2:35).
At Ambassador College, we were taught that this “faithful priest” was Samuel. In looking at this more closely, however, I don’t believe it could be. Samuel served as a judge and a prophet, but never as high priest. He was not of the Aaronite line. The role of high priest remained in Eli’s family through Abiathar.
1 Kings 2:26-27 show how Abiathar the priest failed. At that point, that line of priests ended, and God established a new, faithful priestly lineage. He gave the office of high priest to Zadok. Zadok was the “faithful priest” of 1 Samuel 2:35.
This man of God in 1 Samuel 2 was prophesying about the priest who would replace Abiathar—decades after Eli’s death! God was already looking beyond Abiathar and his rebellion, all the way to Zadok! And He said, I will raise me up a faithful priest—one who will be loyal to my throne forever!
This connects us to this prophecy in a special way because God calls His faithful Philadelphians in this end time “sons of Zadok.”
There is quite a lot about Zadok and the sons of Zadok in the Bible. One thing the Bible shows us is what a warrior Zadok was. Zadok instructed and even led some of the mighty men of David. Zadok was a captain, a fighter—not the type of priest you would normally think about.
When King Jeroboam broke 10 tribes of Israel away from David’s throne, he schemed to get the weakest priests in power so he could control them. That’s not the way it was when Israel was great. In David’s time, the unified kingdom had some priests whose examples of courage and power will rock you back on your heels!
Zadok had a lot of these men of character around him. The men who were loyal to David and to God had to be strong warriors. Just think about some of the trials David endured: David sinned with Bathsheba and even had her husband murdered; two of David’s own sons nearly kicked him off his throne. Men like Zadok had to deal with many serious problems and difficult struggles. But Zadok was there from beginning to end and never left David—or God.
Zadok also had an outstanding son and a grandson—fighting sons of Zadok. The example of this faithful priest and his sons is one we should study and gain inspiration from.
‘A Young Man Mighty of Valor’
Because of his rebellion against God, Saul lost the throne to David. After Saul died, thousands of Israelites came to show they wanted David to rule them (1 Chronicles 12:23). Among these thousands of people were some “mighty men of valour for the war” (verse 25). Here was one of them: “And Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father’s house twenty and two captains” (verse 28). Zadok was with David virtually from the beginning of his reign.
Zadok hadn’t always been a priest. He was a strong man—a mighty man of valor—before he was ordained! (1 Chronicles 24:3 shows that he was a descendant of Eleazar, a son of Aaron—from whom Israel’s priests issued; Numbers 25:11-13.)
When you look at this world, do you see that kind of a strong man becoming a priest or a minister? This is unusual. Zadok, a mighty man of valor, was in control of 22 captains—probably commanding a total of around 900 men who were themselves men of valor.
Another priest, Abiathar, had been with David even back to the time when Saul was chasing David in order to kill him. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary states that both Zadok and Abiathar were “officiating high priests” of great rank. “The duties of the office were divided. Zadok ministered before the tabernacle at Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:39); Abiathar had the care of the ark at Jerusalem, although not exclusively ….”
A Dangerous Commission
Zadok spent a lot of time by King David’s side, and he learned some profound lessons from David.
He witnessed David’s son Absalom trying to draw the hearts of the people away from God’s anointed king. Absalom launched a conspiracy to usurp the throne that gained a lot of momentum. He actually got to the point where he was ready to kill Israelites—even his own father if necessary—in order to satisfy his lust to be king!
When David learned of the treachery, he decided to flee the city (2 Samuel 15:13-14).
It is in desperate circumstances like these that those who are truly loyal to God’s throne distinguish themselves. “And the king’s servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint. And the king went forth, and all his household after him …” (verses 15-16).
Zadok and Abiathar were both with David at this time. They were both loyal to David, but I think for very different reasons.
Zadok and the Levites were carrying the ark of the covenant, and after they had gone out of Jerusalem, David instructed Zadok to bring it back (verses 24-25). The ark really did belong in Jerusalem—but by this time, the city had grown quite hostile and rebellious toward God. David said, “[I]f I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation: But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him” (verses 25-26). David was saying, The ark belongs in Jerusalem. If God is with me, He will bring me back to Jerusalem. And if not, I don’t need to go back.
It took a lot of courage to fulfill this command—but this was also a tremendous lesson for Zadok. David just trusted God, and that had to be very impressive to Zadok. This great king didn’t say, Let’s start chopping off heads and killing all the rebels we can. He said, You just take the ark back, and we’ll see what God works out for us.
David then sent Zadok and Abiathar on a mission with their sons, Ahimaaz and Jonathan, to spy for him. David put a great deal of trust in these men and even asked them to risk their lives for him! That was a big and a dangerous job for those sons—two young men who were likely teenagers, maybe 17 or 18 years old (verses 32-36). But they didn’t question such a commission; they just did what David requested with a good attitude.
This made a good impression on the king. Later we see Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, receiving high commendation from David.
During this trying period, Zadok and Abiathar and their families remained loyal to David because they knew he was God’s man. That is a credit to them and a wonderful example to follow.
However, both priests did not remain loyal.
Absalom’s rule came to a bitter and bloody end. The story here takes an exciting turn if you understand what it means for us. And this story does apply to all Philadelphians today.
The tide began to turn in David’s favor. David was able to build an expert army while exiled from Jerusalem. When the revolt led to a battle, Absalom’s army was no match for David’s. Absalom’s defeat was on the horizon. David loved Absalom, even though he had killed David’s firstborn son, Amnon, and now was angling to take over. David took special precautions to ensure Absalom would be spared: In the ears of all the people, he commanded Joab and the other captains not to kill his son (2 Samuel 18:5).
David was a strong king spiritually, but he was weak in the sense that he couldn’t always control those under him. Joab was a powerful general in David’s army. King David was weak in this situation, and he really needed Joab. Joab was loyal to David in that he recognized Absalom as an enemy, but he was disloyal in that he decided to take matters into his own hands.
As it turned out, Joab found Absalom, whose head had gotten caught in the branches of an oak tree. David’s captain ignored what he had been told and thrust three darts through Absalom’s heart (verse 14).
Amid all the trauma besieging the throne at this time, here was another act of disloyalty to David’s government!
If you read Israel’s history, you know this was a significant event. God takes vengeance on that kind of rebellion—and, when the time was right, Joab was going to be punished.
As far as David’s rule was concerned, Absalom’s death was bittersweet. David would be restored to the throne, but his son was dead. The good yet tragic news had to be delivered to David.
Zadok’s Son: ‘A Good Man’
David’s men won this civil war in Israel, and the two teenage sons of the priests had a lot to do with that. Zadok’s son, Ahimaaz, was so excited that David had been restored to the throne that he wanted to personally deliver the message of the victory to the king (2 Samuel 18:19). Joab didn’t want to let him run the message to David because he knew how David felt about his son, and Absalom was dead. Joab sent Cushi instead.
Ahimaaz was loyal to David like his father was. He wouldn’t give up; he begged Joab to allow him to deliver the message. “Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi. And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready? But howsoever, said he, let me run. And he said unto him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi” (verses 22-23). Finally, Joab relented and allowed Ahimaaz to run the message to David. He was so excited about David’s victory that he outran Cushi to tell David the news. He ran because he loved David, just like his father did.
This was a dark hour for David, at a time when he was a weak king. But he hoped the messenger would bring good tidings. Notice what David said about Ahimaaz. “And the watchman said, Me thinketh the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok. And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings” (verse 27).
David was hopeful because it was Ahimaaz. He knew that Zadok’s son was a good man. From having experience with Zadok close by, David knew this was a loyal young man, running with news of the battle. There was great loyalty to David’s throne in Zadok’s entire family.
After the battle was won, David was most of all concerned about Absalom. I’m sure he thought about the times he had different wives and the times he was away from Absalom and neglected to train him well. The king was weak in his child rearing. When he received news of Absalom’s death, he probably blamed himself most of all. He felt he should have died in Absalom’s place. He deeply loved all his sons—but it appears almost all of them were a disappointment to him. Absalom was a violent man, and he died violently—but David was still devastated to lose him. Even with the victory, it was a dark time for David.
Joab strongly criticized David for mourning over Absalom (2 Samuel 19:5-7). The nation was in confusion after Absalom’s revolt. The Israelites felt that David had abandoned them. There was doubt as to whether David would be accepted back as king.
Zadok and Abiathar were still very loyal to David, and they began to help win the people back to the king. Throughout this major crisis, these two priests stood by him. But another crisis was yet to come, and only one priest remained loyal.
A Failure in Child Rearing
Let’s skip ahead now to the very end of David’s reign. 1 Kings 1 records another terrible rebellion against David that teaches us more about Zadok.
At this time, David was old and getting weak. His son Adonijah seized the opportunity and declared himself king. This was a very arrogant thing to do. Why did Adonijah do this?
God laid much of the blame at David’s feet. 1 Kings 1:6 reveals, “And his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, ‘Why have you done so?’” (New King James Version). Again, the reason comes back to David’s inability to rear his children properly. David never restrained Adonijah. He had not trained and challenged his son like he should have. He never corrected his son. The Moffatt translation reads, “His father had never checked him all his life, by asking what he meant by his conduct.” He never told him to stop or asked him to explain his behavior—he just let him go. Maybe David was around Adonijah so little that he felt guilty about correcting him. Yet that correction earlier in Adonijah’s life would have been a great blessing! That is the kind of training that Zadok gave his son.
We must learn to apply the rules of child rearing if we are going to rear princes for God.
Verse 6 also states that Adonijah was a “very goodly man.” David probably saw positive traits in Adonijah and didn’t think he needed to discipline him. David should have observed him more closely. He should have tested this son’s loyalty more.
Mr. Armstrong used to tell stories about his two daughters. They were good daughters, very loyal to Mr. Armstrong and the Work early on. But Mr. Armstrong said himself that he did not test them enough. When challenged by certain issues related to the use of makeup, one daughter left God’s Church.
Parents need to observe their children closely. When you do, you will discover certain motives that are not right. Our children need to be restrained at times. If we fail to do so, then they will act like David’s sons: They will revolt against us and do things that are very embarrassing to our families. An unrestrained child will eventually do what Adonijah did. The problem with teenage gangs and thuggery is a perfect example of unchecked children. No one has ever restrained these young people, so God will have to restrain them in the Tribulation. He will use the military might of a united Europe led by Germany to restrain them.
God has child rearing laws that must be obeyed if we are going to raise kings and priests that can rule for God. If you have children, then you have the responsibility to rear them properly.
It was in the midst of this betrayal that the character of Abiathar, the other priest who had been loyal to David for so long, was revealed. “And [Adonijah] conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him” (1 Kings 1:7). This is what happened to Abiathar. He forsook David and helped the king’s rebellious son!
Abiathar had been with David for a long time. He stayed with David before he became king. He stayed with him while Saul was chasing them and forcing them to hide in caves and making their lives miserable. He stayed loyal through David’s mistakes and all the challenges he faced. But in the end, he lost it all and went with Adonijah.
Abiathar must have been giving David his support on a carnal level only. This was a terrible ending—forsaking God’s man and looking to another man. Abiathar appears to have looked only to David the man and not to the God behind him.
There is a great lesson here for all of us. God is going to test our loyalty. We may pass the test once like Abiathar. We need to be ready to pass it a second time. God will test our loyalty until He knows we won’t betray Him or His throne.
Why would Abiathar leave David for Adonijah, but not with Absalom? Probably the main reason was that David was an old man. At the time of Absalom’s rebellion, David was a younger man and more virile; when Adonijah revolted, he was much older. It would have been easy for the younger men to look at themselves—their youth, talent and abilities—and determine that David was too old to rule Israel. It would have been easy for them to feel that they should rule Israel. But God did not choose them.
We have seen a rebellion like this today. Remember, these are prophecies for this end time, primarily. Isn’t this story very similar to the history of Mr. Armstrong in the late 1970s? Many of the young men who worked with him seemed loyal. They weathered many crises together. But when he became an old man and had a near-fatal heart attack, some of the young men began to claim that they should rule in his place. Many began to claim that Mr. Armstrong was too old to lead God’s Church. Like Adonijah, some appointed themselves rulers in Mr. Armstrong’s place. But God did not choose them or approve of them.
Abiathar made a grave mistake. He looked at David as a man only, and decided David was too old to lead. He wanted young, powerful Adonijah, even though God wasn’t with him. He followed youth instead of following God. God is always going to use men. We must be sure to follow the right one—the one God is using. Abiathar’s disloyalty is the only big mistake recorded against him in the Bible. Nevertheless, it did bring much shame on himself and on his family.
Notice, though, that there was another priest who wasn’t shaken in his loyalty: “But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, were not with Adonijah” (verse 8). These men remained faithful! Zadok could have left: He was there when David committed all those sins. But he knew God was behind that man and never doubted it to any serious degree.
Notice in this verse: Zadok is listed first. This indicates that Zadok had a lot to do with spiritually instructing and directing Benaiah. David taught Zadok, and then Zadok taught Benaiah, this mighty man of David. Zadok was a strong priest who had the respect of David’s best warriors!
All of David’s priests betrayed him except one. Zadok was the only priest loyal to David throughout his reign. He had the faith to recognize whom God was using. It is all too easy for human beings to get confused with loyalty. God does expect us to follow men—but we must follow the men God is with.
Zadok Anoints Solomon
Nathan came and announced that Adonijah had called a great celebration to confirm his kingship (1 Kings 1:22-25). “But me, even me thy servant,” Nathan said, “and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon, hath he not called” (verse 26).
Adonijah knew who was loyal to David! He knew exactly where those men stood. It is quite an honor that these men were not invited to Adonijah’s feast.
David quickly planned a coronation for Solomon: “And king David said, Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada” (verse 32). They took servants and put Solomon on David’s mule, bringing him down to the Gihon Spring. “And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon” (verse 34).
Up until the present-day queen of England, coronations on David’s throne have rung with these stirring words: “God save the king!” Why? Because of this history!
After David gave these instructions, Benaiah responded in a most inspiring way: “And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the Lord God of my lord the king say so too” (verse 36). This response shows a wonderful perspective: Benaiah, like Zadok, was focused not on a man, but on where God was! He was following God’s anointed, but he was looking to “the Lord God of my lord the king”!
God really blessed those men for that spiritually oriented attitude. They had the honor of anointing Solomon king. At that point, the whole situation rapidly turned around.
Men of War Fit for the Battle
Benaiah is listed as one of David’s mighty men in the book of Chronicles: “Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many acts; he slew two lionlike men of Moab: also he went down and slew a lion in a pit in a snowy day. And he slew an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits high; and in the Egyptian’s hand was a spear like a weaver’s beam; and he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and slew him with his own spear” (1 Chronicles 11:22-23).
Later, Benaiah was given an important job. Adonijah was given a chance to live, but he rebelled again and deserved to die. Joab, too, needed to be executed for some of the things he had done. Once Solomon became king, he directed Benaiah to kill both of these men.
Do you see gutsy men like this in Israel today? When David was a teenager, he slew a lion and a bear, and then Goliath. Benaiah followed that example and fought against great odds. This is the kind of warrior you would want on your side!
And realize: Benaiah was trained by Zadok—before he became the priest!
That may seem incongruous. But the fact is that it took great faith to do such mighty deeds. And again, this history is recorded mainly for God’s Church today!
1 Chronicles 12:8 describes the great servants of David. These were “men of war fit for the battle.” That is what we need to be today. God has called us to be spiritual soldiers. We are here to take on the worst Goliath of all time: Satan the devil in his worst wrath. We must be fit for this spiritual battle.
This is an age when we really need to remember our own history and Israel’s history. This history is specifically for us. When we understand men like David, Zadok and Benaiah, it helps us realize how much more valiant we need to be, physically and spiritually, in this battle!
We must learn to war and fight like these tough soldiers who had faith in God and who really loved each other. God is telling us He wants us to be tougher. We need to become warriors like Zadok and Benaiah and their sons. We can have their kind of courage because, like them, we have the unlimited power of God behind us!
When Benaiah crawled down into a pit to get that lion, he wasn’t just looking to David. If he had been, he would have probably asked David to do the job. He was looking to God! He knew this was required of him in order to further the cause of a ruler of Israel, and he simply believed God. That valiant, faith-filled attitude enabled him to accomplish some amazing things.
One of modern Israel’s recent prime ministers said, “We’re tired of fighting.” Just like the Laodiceans, the Jews are tired of fighting. But if they don’t fight, they will face the worst time of suffering ever. The Laodiceans will have to spill their blood just to make it into the Kingdom of God!
We must FIGHT! We must fight to do spiritual battle every day. We have to fight to remain faithful to the great God. We have to fight to get our prayer in. We have to fight thinking that we are “too busy” to pray. If you get “too busy” to pray to God and don’t fight to put Him first in your time, then you are in the carnal zone. Never allow that to happen. As Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life”!
In 1 Kings 2:35, Zadok was made the chief priest, replacing the disloyal Abiathar. That was a wonderful job, giving him the opportunity to serve right there beside Solomon. Zadok was loyal throughout, and he was given the chief seat and the authority to direct all the ministers. He was a “priest’s priest.” All because he was loyal to David, and to God, from beginning to end.
The Interpreters’ Bible says this about Zadok: “God gave to Eli’s ancestor, Aaron, the priesthood in which he intended to keep in Eli’s family forever. But the conduct of Eli and his sons had made this impossible. And the coming death of Hophni and Phineas is to be the sign of a greater disaster to the family from which only one man will survive. It is further the destiny of Abiathar to weep out his eyes in exile under Solomon while a faithful priest, Zadok, takes his place (Deuteronomy 19:6-8). The plain object of the present passage is to give divine sanction to the exclusion of the priests of the high places by making the family of Zadok the only legitimate priests.”
What honor God gives this man! Zadok was loyal through all of David’s sins and battles. Even after David died, Zadok was loyal to his memory and to Solomon. He remained loyal because he was not following a man. He followed God, and God’s leader, regardless of circumstances. And his legacy carried on long after he died.
1 Kings 4:2 states that Zadok’s grandson Azariah (1 Chronicles 6:8-9) was made a prince for Solomon. That loyalty to God’s throne continued in the family, and so too did the honors for that family!
God is grooming royal priests today for His Kingdom tomorrow. His people have a tremendous and exciting calling! If you want to be a “prince” or leader in God’s Kingdom—if you want to be a royal priest for God—then take a lesson from the success of Zadok and his family.
Zadok also had other relatives who were dedicated and accomplished great things. They received many rewards, even in this life, because, as Azariah’s name means, they were “strengthened by God.” If you are strengthened by God, amazing things will happen in your life, just like they do all the time in God’s Work! You do have to do a lot of praying to really be strengthened by God. You may think you have strength—but you’re not really strengthened by God unless you go to God to receive that strength.
2 Kings 15:32-33 are about another king of Judah, Jotham. He began to reign as a young man, “[a]nd his mother’s name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done” (verses 33-34). Here was a mother who, just as the Proverbs instruct, taught her son how to be king. I’m sure she was quite an outstanding wife and mother, just judging by the fact that she came from Zadok’s family. Here the house of David was merged with the lineage of Zadok!
Not every example was perfect, but the Bible really does record some great deeds performed by the “sons of Zadok” anciently. On top of that, God bestowed additional honor on that faithful priest by attaching his name to an inspiring prophecy.
A Time of Apostasy
We have lived through a time of great treachery and apostasy among God’s people—upheaval even worse than what King David faced! The great majority of the very people of God have been disloyal to David’s throne during this Laodicean era. When Mr. Armstrong died, so many of them left God—as if God died at the same time!
Ezekiel 44 is an end-time prophecy about these terrible abominations occurring within God’s sanctuary, the Church of God. In verses 8-12, God prophesies of the Laodiceans who went far from God when the people turned away.
God condemns them for their lawlessness. Because of their failure, God refuses to let those men come near Him now and in the future: “And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed” (verse 13). Their reward, even if they repent in the Tribulation, will be severely diminished (verse 14).
This is also a time of mass disloyalty to God’s government among His ministers. That terrible example has led God’s people into catastrophic lawlessness! Just like Saul, these rebellious leaders caused the Church to go astray.
The disloyalty and faithlessness these men demonstrated is at the heart of why they went astray! They didn’t get it at all!
We must take heed, because this is where we too could begin to go off track. God’s ministers are given more honor and more responsibility than the rest of God’s people—and we are also judged more severely! God says that in many scriptures (e.g. James 3:1).
Notice, though, how Ezekiel’s prophecy continues.
Sons of Zadok
“But the priests the Levites, the SONS OF ZADOK, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me … They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge” (Ezekiel 44:15-16).
Anciently, the sons of Zadok were loyal through all the trauma; they never followed a man. Who are the sons of Zadok today? They are God’s very elect. They are loyal to God’s government established through Mr. Armstrong even after his death—just as Zadok remained loyal to God and Solomon after David died.
This is a prophecy of what the Philadelphia Church of God is doing today. When the majority of God’s Laodicean people go astray, the sons of Zadok remain loyal. That is why they receive such breathtaking rewards!
This is surely one of the most profound prophecies in the Bible! The sons of Zadok will come near to Jesus Christ in the World Tomorrow, when others cannot. The people of God who rebelled against Him, even though they repent, will not qualify to be on that level.
The sons of Zadok are always loyal to the teaching about David’s throne, which God also taught through Mr. Armstrong. This Church clings to that teaching about David, and the house and throne of David, just as Zadok did. Because of that loyalty, we will share that headquarters throne, unlike the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-21).
Doesn’t that suggest that we are going to work closely with David in the World Tomorrow? It’s David’s throne, and Christ is going to sit on it, and God has focused the pcg on the key of David in an extraordinary way! We have received a lot more truth about it even than what Mr. Armstrong had, and we are proclaiming that truth to the world. So it would make sense that in the World Tomorrow people are going to get a lot of their teaching and instruction from those of us in the Philadelphia Church in the Laodicean era.
“And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the Lord to minister unto him” (Ezekiel 40:46). The chamber faces north, where God’s throne is. The sons of Zadok are in charge of the altar. They are chief among the Levites, or ministers. The sons of Zadok are the only ministers who “come near to the Lord” from the last era of God’s true Church. They have qualified to be the leading kings and priests, working closely with God in the highest level of government. They work where God dwells, in the inner court (Revelation 11:1-2). They are to be God’s pillar priests forever, working closely with David and other top leaders.
All of God’s ministers need to remember Zadok’s example. We must unify around headquarters. Whenever we speak, we should speak as if we were giving our message at headquarters. We are the sons of Zadok, and will receive special honor for eternity for demonstrating that loyalty today.
Remember where the revelation about the sons of Zadok came from: through the office of God’s end-time apostle. That is how God’s government works! You become a son of Zadok by understanding that revelation. Since we are the spiritual sons of Zadok, if the revelation came through my office, couldn’t you say this office is a type of Zadok? I’m only asking a question, not making a statement.
To this day, we use the wonderful title “sons of Zadok” to describe the faithful people of God. What honor God gives us! He calls Zadok a faithful priest, and He calls us sons of Zadok.
God prophesied in 1 Samuel 2:35 that He would raise up a faithful priest, Zadok: “And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.”
This prophecy applies to the spiritual sons of Zadok in the end time! God has done it, just as He said. All the way through, these saints stay with the throne of David because they see God behind it.
We are here to become faithful priests like Zadok. It means a lot to God to have a faithful priest! He needs faithful priests—not somebody who will say, I’ve had it with David! and revolt when things get rough. We must be willing to sacrifice everything for the house and throne of David. If we are not faithful priests, then we cannot be pillars, serving God and helping to rule the world.
David was a man after God’s own heart, who wanted to think and act like God in every way. That is the kind of king God wants. And Zadok was faithful, and did according to what was in God’s heart and mind. That is the kind of priest God must have in His headquarters temple forever! God loves a priest who will stay loyal to Him no matter what.
God will test us in this, you can be sure. But look at the reward He offers: “and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.”
There is endless depth in this prophecy! God uses the word “forever.” If you will remain a faithful priest, you will reside forever in the headquarters of God’s great Work in the soon-coming World Tomorrow! Soon God’s Family will be introduced to the world. We will be kings and priests, teaching the whole world these spiritual lessons. Today God has restored all things in His Church, but He will soon use us to help Him restore all things to the entire Earth! That is the purpose for which God calls His people, His firstfruits, at this time. And that is why it is so important that we remain loyal! Then we will help Jesus Christ restore all things and teach all nations.
You are righteous, faithful priests. You are a king from the house of David getting ready to rule forever with Jesus Christ! Once you find that throne, cling to it and never let it go! You will be thrilled forever that you made that choice. That is promised!
Zadok was a great fighter for the throne of David, and for God. And to this day, that man who supported David is sung about. Every time a king or queen is crowned on the British throne, the chorus sings “Zadok the Priest.” The music was written by G. F. Handel, and the words were taken from 1 Kings 1:38-40: “Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, anointed Solomon king. And all the people rejoiced, and said, God save the king! Long live the king! God save the king! May the king live forever! Amen! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen!”
So I think we can all say, “And long live Zadok the priest and the sons of Zadok!”
Why ‘Sons of Zadok’?
The Prophet Ezekiel describes those who remain loyal to God during the end-time apostasy within God’s Church as “sons of Zadok” (Ezekiel 40:46; 44:15; 48:11). This is the exalted title God gives to the faithful members of the Philadelphia Church of God. Why? Here are seven reasons.
1) We cling to The United States and Britain in Prophecy.
This important book is the key to understanding what happened to David’s throne and how God has kept His promise to him. God revealed that truth to Herbert W. Armstrong. Yet after Mr. Armstrong died in 1986, his successors destroyed that book. Even those who broke away from the Worldwide Church of God declined to preach about the revelation God gave Mr. Armstrong in that book. Some of them thought they knew enough to put their own uninspired versions together, but they were shallow and out of touch with God. The pcg was the only church that printed the non-copyrighted 1945 version of that booklet. Then we fought in court for the greatly expanded 1980 version and won the right to print it. When the rest of God’s people rejected it, we clung to this important revelation.
2) We continue the dig in the City of David.
Mr. Armstrong was involved in archaeological projects and other activities in Jerusalem, the City of David. God opened that door for him—and then He kept it open, so we walked right through it! As impressive as Mr. Armstrong’s achievements were there, it is obvious that God saved all the more important finds related to David’s throne, including David’s palace and Solomon’s wall. God ensured that only the sons of Zadok—those who hang on to this deep vision about David’s throne in the last Church era—would be involved in those discoveries!
3) We are spiritual Jews who never lose the key of David vision.
Even as 95 percent of God’s people turn away, we cling to the truth about David’s throne. Our television program is named The Key of David. My booklet The Key of David contains a tremendous amount of new revelation on the subject from God (request a free copy). Clearly God wants us to get deeply into this truth as much as we possibly can.
4) We continue to let God deepen that vision.
Because of our love for the wonderful truth about the throne of David, God has revealed more and more about that vision to us. He has done so in a number of our articles about the former prophets, the booklet on Chronicles (The Book of Chronicles—also free upon request), and other ways.
5) We continue to follow Mr. Armstrong, who taught us the truth about David’s family throne.
6) We have staged musicals about Jeremiah and David, both centered on David’s throne.
In late 2012, the pcg produced Jeremiah—A Musical and Step-Dancing Extravaganza in Armstrong Auditorium, a musical with a message about David’s throne. A year later, we produced David—The Endless Throne Begins, even more directly about that subject. We have a message to deliver, and we deliver it in every way we possibly can.
7) We are doing all we can to proclaim the key of David message to Israel and the whole world.
Chapter 8: Solomon: The Temple Builder
The book of Kings is the history of the kings of Israel. We in God’s Church are the kings of Israel spiritually today—kings and priests in embryo. So this book is really prophecy about us, and it contains mighty lessons for us. As we go through the book of Kings, let’s try to learn these lessons as much as we can.
Show Yourself a Man
Note this foundational lesson for kings imparted by King David to his son Solomon. “Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die,” 1 Kings 2 begins. The king was old, near death. He had almost lost the kingdom twice to his own sons, Absalom and Adonijah, whom he loved in spite of their rebellion.
Here, with a lot of intensity, David gave Solomon some crucial parting wisdom: “I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself” (verses 2-3).
David told Solomon to walk in God’s ways, His commandments, statutes, judgments and testimonies. Do this, he said, and you will prosper in all that you do. Don’t be like Absalom and Adonijah. Show yourself a man and keep the commandments of God! Then God will take you to the pinnacle of success!
That was the reason David had been successful and why his servants were successful: They obeyed god. Look at the reward David received for that!
This is how to show yourself a real man. If you men want to be masculine, this is how to do it—for real, not a phony, Hollywood-type manliness. This is where our young men will get their masculinity.
This was David’s advice to Solomon. If you follow it, you will prosper and achieve astounding exploits! These are foundational words. The world doesn’t think this way at all. They believe it’s “cool” and sophisticated to break God’s commandments. But if you are going to be a king for God—if you’re going to serve God and rule with God—here is a fundamental lesson you must learn.
In some respects, David learned this lesson the hard way. In several situations, David had been a king with a weak government; a lot of that was because of his own sins. But now it would be different.
Once Solomon assumed the throne, he dealt with Abiathar for his treachery (verse 27). He also had Joab put to death for all of his evil (verses 28-34). Solomon was going to be a strong king.
Solomon’s reign had a splendid beginning. “In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee” (1 Kings 3:5). God appeared to Solomon in a dream! How extraordinary! God loved David, and He had promised to work with Solomon in a special way.
“And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day” (verse 6). Solomon had a wonderful attitude here. He praised his father, and he praised God for using him like He did.
“And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in” (verse 7). That is the humility we need for God to be able to use us and work with us! It is an outstanding and very important attitude for a king to have!
“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (verse 9).
All of this pleased God greatly. He responded by giving Solomon wisdom like nobody has ever been given wisdom! “Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days” (verses 12-13). Solomon was greatly blessed by God.
Then God said: “And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days” (verses 14). God really wanted Solomon to follow in David’s footsteps. And for a while, Solomon did.
Before long, he undertook the most inspiring of his father’s final directives: building the temple.
Referring to Solomon, 2 Samuel 7:13-14 state, “He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son.” David prepared mightily for the construction of that house, and then he charged his son with adding to what he had prepared and then carrying out the work (1 Chronicles 22:6-16).
Some of the most wonderful lessons we can learn from Solomon’s reign center around his construction of God’s temple.
An Awesome Construction Project
Most people do not see the connection between the physical temple in ancient Israel and God’s spiritual temple. The physical temple contains prophecy about the spiritual temple.
We can learn many lessons from the history surrounding the physical temple in Jerusalem. We can also learn from Herbert W. Armstrong, the man God used to lead spiritual Israel and the building of another physical house for God, in Pasadena, California. These lessons teach us how to build for God. (They also indirectly teach us how to maintain what we build, whether physically or spiritually. That is not an easy task. We have seen a grandiose failure from the Laodiceans today. They couldn’t maintain what God had built through Mr. Armstrong, spiritually or physically. They cast down all that invaluable truth and mismanaged the physical wealth. They ended up selling God’s house, and look at the shame that has entered that building ever since.)
Solomon had 200,000 workers build the most magnificent structure ever to grace the Earth. He commissioned the most skilled laborers available on the planet. The great building stones of Solomon’s temple were carved and finished at the stone quarry. Then the stones were brought to the building site (1 Kings 5:17).
Today, the Father and Christ have an angelic army of many millions helping to build His spiritual temple. They provide a great portion of God’s spiritual skilled labor.
God the Stonecutter
“And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building” (1 Kings 6:7). Each stone was pre-cut. No hammer, ax or tool of iron was heard on the building site when the temple was constructed.
This is a great lesson and powerful prophecy about how the spiritual temple is being built today. God’s very elect are being pre-cut as spiritual stones today. There is a tremendous amount of building going on—but since it is spiritual, the world is unaware of its existence. They don’t realize that there are individual stones—future kings and priests—being shaped and molded. God is doing that work in silence. Then when He gets here, that temple will be waiting for Him! The world will be utterly shocked to see a spiritual nation, or temple, that appears to have been built in a day! (Isaiah 66:8). It will suddenly see the temple—spiritual Israel—that God built with the firstfruits.
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22). God’s “holy temple” is “fitly framed together.” By whom? By God, through apostles and prophets—men. That means God’s government.
Those who totally submit to God will be pillars in that temple (Revelation 3:12). Clearly, it will be a family government. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (verse 21). We get to share Christ’s throne as He shares His Father’s throne.
Christ continually reminds us about the Father and Son—the God Family. There is a throne—government—that God will share with those saints who understand God’s loving family government.
God places those saints who rebel into the “outer court” of His temple. They will be plunged into the Great Tribulation (the times of the Gentiles) unless they repent. “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (Revelation 11:1-2). The saints who rise and measure now become pillars in God’s future temple. They are in the inner court today, where God dwells. It is from there that God’s Work emanates.
Today God is measuring, or pre-cutting, His spiritual stones for His spiritual temple—which is far greater than Solomon’s temple! The Laodiceans fail because they refuse to be measured or carved by God’s family government. “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion” (Jeremiah 3:14). Only a tiny few—one from a city and two from a family—will allow God to shape and mold them into His spiritual temple, which is also Jesus Christ’s Bride. God is married only to spiritual Israel today.
This process of shaping temple stones could never be done without God’s family government. That is why the rod is given first—it is a symbol of God’s government. God uses men today to accomplish that job. Only a tiny few understand and submit to God and fulfill their highest potential.
God used an end-time Zerubbabel to build the Philadelphia era of His Church. “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:8-10). God gave a man His commission and a plummet to help God carve, or pre-cut, the temple “stones.” God always uses one man to lead His Work. A plummet is of no value unless God also gives His family government.
A plummet is used to measure precisely, as any construction worker knows. God is not a sloppy builder.
Solomon had to use strong government to construct the most beautiful edifice ever on Earth; isn’t it logical that God must also use His government to build a far more glorious spiritual temple?
Herbert W. Armstrong was used to establish God’s government, and look at the fruits of his work! In terms of numbers, there has probably never been a greater Work of God. In spite of these fruits, all of the Laodiceans have rejected that government—to their own shame.
Soon God will take all of these pre-cut “stones” to Jerusalem and rule this entire Earth! What a magnificent, transcendent master plan God has in building His temple. What a horrifying failure if we fail to understand about God’s fabulous temple!
God used a vast wealth of gold in Solomon’s temple. “So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold. And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house: also the whole altar that was by the oracle he overlaid with gold” (1 Kings 6:21-22). Today, God’s firstfruits are that spiritual gold. I discuss this subject in my booklet Lamentations: The Point of No Return (free upon request).
Chapter 4 of Lamentations describes the main reason why God is going to plunge His Church into the Great Tribulation. It shows that the main problem lies with the ministry. “‘How the gold has grown dim, how the pure gold is changed! The holy stones lie scattered at the head of every street’ (verse 1; Revised Standard Version). This passage prophesied long ago that the majority of God’s end-time ministry would become Laodicean. God compares the end-time Laodicean ministry to gold that has become tarnished, and to “stones of the sanctuary” (kjv). These ministers had God’s precious truth and then corrupted themselves.
The gold that “has grown dim” undoubtedly refers to the 50 percent of the lukewarm Laodiceans who will repent in the Great Tribulation. The gold has become tarnished, but it is still gold. The stones that have been thrown into the streets surely refer to the 50 percent of the Laodiceans who refuse to repent and will be cast into the lake of fire. They are no longer spiritual gold and have no value to God.
But verse 2 shows that God’s very elect are doing a work at the same time. “The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!” The very elect have remained humble, so God could shape and mold them.
Look at how God talks about those precious sons of Zion! You can see in the Revised Standard Version this is the most powerful kind of poetry: “The precious sons of Zion, worth their weight in fine gold, how they are reckoned as earthen pots, the work of a potter’s hands!”
How does God look upon His people? Precious! Fine gold! God wants to make us understand how He loves us! The saints of God are like pure gold! Do we see how precious that character is that we are building? The ministers spoken of here are referred to as “fine gold,” a term similar to that of the “jewels” found in Malachi 3:17. God esteems His Family very highly, for they are rare—the Eternal’s most precious possession. These ministers have remained close to God and are upholding His truths.
Verses 1 and 2 of Lamentations 4 are more proof that a Church split was prophesied to occur. Verse 1 refers to a group of ministers as gold that became dim—or Laodicean. They were ministers of God who became tarnished! Verse 2 refers to the precious sons of Zion, who are compared to fine gold! They have surrendered to God and have been refined spiritually by Him.
That is how God viewed all of His people—but as you can see in verse 1, many of them have grown dim, and that pure gold has changed. What happened to those precious sons of Zion? They were deeply precious to God—noble, golden, pure gold—and then that gold degenerated. It is totally contrary to the nature of gold to change like that! It should also be contrary to us. Woe be unto us if we allow golden character to tarnish or become like common stones.
Is our nature golden like God’s? Oh, how God loves the golden character that is preparing us to marry His Son!
“And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, within and without” (1 Kings 6:29). Now God has carved saints with glorious godly character.
When construction was complete, Solomon staged a grand dedication ceremony. “And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven: And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart: Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day. Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man [a man from the house of David] in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me. And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father” (1 Kings 8:22-26). God not only spoke that promise to David, Solomon said, He fulfilled it with His hand. He fulfilled exactly what He had said, though most people in this world would deny that. Solomon was keenly aware of that spectacular covenant, and he believed in it! What a beautiful prayer.
In verse 27, Solomon said that in spite of the glory of the temple, it wasn’t even a good footstool for God. We will study more deeply into this verse a little later. Not even the whole universe can contain God—so why is He so concerned about you? “Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day” (verse 28). God still hears our prayers. Why? Because we are His sons. And God doesn’t neglect His Family as most humans do. We are king-priests in embryo. We are being called to help rule the universe as a part of the God Family.
There is a great danger that we must understand, or we could lose that future. “What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)” (verses 38-39).
We must overcome the plague of the human heart. And what a plague it is. Most of God’s own Spirit-begotten people have turned away from Him in the midst of a glorious spiritual harvest. Their own evil human nature deceives them into rejecting the government God taught them. The problem always revolves around government. But if we spread forth our hands and cry out to our Father, we can overcome the plague of our evil heart. If we do, the universe is ours!
An Endless Universe
Within this dedication prayer, Solomon made an astounding statement we need to understand.
My booklet Prophesy Again explains the revelation that God has given us about Ephesians 3:9. That verse says, “And to make all men see what is the fellowship [or dispensation] of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” It is talking about dispensing or distributing some truth of God that has been shrouded in mystery to this world. It doesn’t just say we should deliver this mystery—which we certainly must do. It says we should make all people understand that this mystery needs to be dispensed, or declared, to all mankind!
As I explain in that booklet, this strongly suggests that the Family of God will continue to grow and grow forever! Isaiah 9:6-7 prophesy, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end”—it will be endless, without limit—“upon the throne of David.” It is on the throne of David from where the kings will be ruling.
Now look again at 1 Kings 8:27. Solomon prayed, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” That is the King James Version, but here is the way it reads in the Hebrew: “But will God in truth dwell on the earth? Behold, the heavens and the heavens of the heavens cannot contain you; how much this house which I have built?”
The word heavens is the same in all three instances. All three of them are plural. The same word is used in Isaiah 65:17, where it says, “I create new heavens”; Lamentations 3:41 speaks of “God in the heavens,” talking about the universe; Habakkuk 3:3 says “His glory covered the heavens,” or the universe.
The Theological Word Book of the Old Testament says that the word heavens (Hebrew shamayim) is used of the physical heavens, and also of the abode of God, where God lives. It states, “Solomon recognizes that all of heaven and the highest heavens, themselves, cannot contain the Almighty God. As vast as the heavens are, they are merely part of God’s creation, and He stands above it all. Therefore Solomon has no illusions that God has need of His temple or that it can contain Him.”
Our universe contains some 2 to 3 trillion galaxies. Solomon is saying, God created those—and they can’t contain Him! If He wanted to, He could create 3 trillion or 50 trillion more! They can’t contain God because He is their Creator! You can go on with heavens and heavens and heavens, and it still can’t contain God. Just stop and remember that God fashioned all that real estate. He created you and your mind. He is not contained by His own physical creation.
I don’t think anybody can really comprehend just how infinite the heavens and the heavens of heavens will be. But I think this verse is describing something beyond anything we have ever looked at as far as the creation out in the universe—that, no matter what you see and what is out there, it cannot contain God. It is as if the universe itself is without limit!
I believe 1 Kings 8:27 describes an endless universe. If so, it adds another dimension to what we have speculated in the past.
Certainly I think this verse describes something beyond the universe as we know it. Maybe all the universe God needs is already out there, but I don’t believe that is what this verse indicates.
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this: “Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, speaking before a joint session of the United States Congress in the time of World War ii, said, ‘There is a purpose being worked out here below.’ … A higher power above, of course, is working out that purpose. That purpose is the creation of perfect, holy and righteous character in separately created beings for continuing God’s creative work throughout the endless universe, perpetually time without end.
“Now I wonder if you grasp all of that? That is far more than anything that we would normally consider as the work of this Church here and now. That is more than a thousand years yet into the future. What God is doing now is preparing for that. He is producing Himself in His Church now. He is going to continue producing Himself when Christ comes to set up the Kingdom of God during the Millennium” (Worldwide News, March 6, 1981).
It seems as if 1 Kings 8:27 amplifies those other scriptures we talk about so often. It synchronizes with Isaiah 9:7—that the government that rules the throne of David, and the peace that it brings, is going to keep expanding and expanding forever! One definition of increase in Isaiah 9:7 is the progeny or increase of a family. This is a clear statement of prophecy that God has a plan to expand His family government forever and ever. It looks to me like the expansion of His Family will go on and on! Now Solomon seems to indicate that the increase of the universe never ends. If the Family of God is endless, there will be a need for endless space!
This is God we are talking about!
Solomon said, “Behold, the heavens and the heavens of the heavens.” Behold! Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon says that word means “Lo, behold!”—like you are trying to explain this truth about the universe to somebody, and become so overwhelmed that you say, “Lo, behold!”
Who is going to stop God if He wants to create a trillion or 50 trillion more universes? It is, after all, His creation, and He is not contained by it. The more you think about these verses, the more you realize that you can’t quite come to grips with the awesome mind of God! It just keeps expanding in your thinking all the time. And it becomes more exciting because you know you are going to be in that Family! You and I are a part of that future—we are right in the middle of all that. It is breathtaking to ponder what all we will be doing in the universe forever! This is the truth of God!
God is always capable of expanding the universe. The heavens and the heavens of the heavens can’t contain Him. As one definition of this verse put it, He stands above it all. How little we human beings know about God. We all need to stretch our imagination and let the Holy Spirit magnify it. Pray and study and try to grasp all this because it is not easy.
When God brings the people of this world into the Family of God, they are going to be filled with joy and excitement! Their imaginations are nearly going to burst when they understand what God has in store for them! And we will be honored to be able to teach them that truth.
This is about Solomon and the house of David. You can see that Solomon was quite an intelligent man. He had a lot of wisdom from God, and he made a statement here that I don’t see anywhere else in the Bible. I think it is unique in that way. It is talking about the physical creation, and it seems to add a dimension to all this other wonderful truth we have heard.
It has to change our thinking and our lives to realize how special we are to be the house of David spiritually and sit on the throne with the Creator of all that!
“Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day: That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place. And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive” (1 Kings 8:28-30).
The same God who cannot be contained by the heavens of heavens hears your prayers! That same God forgives us when we sin, if we repent as David did. And He wants you to know that all that power is there to watch over and protect you, to inspire and encourage you!
We are getting to know God more all the time; that is why we are here. If you really know this God, you are going to fear Him the way David did—and desire to be like Him, to think and act as He does!
God wants to fill us with wonder at what He is accomplishing! There isn’t a lot of childlike wonder in Satan’s world; most people are going in the opposite direction from that. But there is unlimited wonder in the house of David! How can you think about what Solomon was saying in conjunction with other verses like Isaiah 9:7 and Ephesians 3:9, and not be filled with wonder? This isn’t about plucking on harps for eternity—this is the most exciting thing that could come out of the very mind of God! He will fill you with wonder—and we need that! We need to be inspired. We need to use our imaginations to project out into the universe because, after all, we are going to be ruling over it. We need to explain to people how thrilling this all is!
Who are you? Who am I to know this amazing wonder? Who am I to be able to understand this? Who are we to be a part of this? We are mere dust; if we don’t do something spiritually significant on our journey through this life, we are simply going to turn back to dust. There is nothing there worth saving unless we connect that spirit of man with the Spirit of God.
“Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant” (1 Kings 8:56). The world doesn’t believe this, but not one word of God’s promise to David and to us has failed.
God’s Heart Is With His House
When Mr. Armstrong dedicated Ambassador Auditorium in 1974, he said it was “one of the greatest occasions in the lives of all of us.” Do we think that way about Armstrong Auditorium, the house of God today? One day, those people who have visited this house, who were not called or chosen in this age, will be absolutely shocked to realize the message given here.
In his prayer at that 1974 dedication ceremony, Mr. Armstrong said, “[N]ow we come to the time that I want to dedicate this in the name of the living Jesus Christ to the honor and the glory of the great God. Almighty God, please grant that we will always use this building to your honor and glory; that nothing will happen here that will be displeasing to you. I ask you, Almighty God, to honor prayers that go up to you from this building.” We made the same prayer about Armstrong Auditorium.
“I ask you to bless those who come into it,” he continued. “I ask you to bless everyone who will speak in sermons or in Bible studies from this platform. I ask you to bless all the people as they come and to open their ears and their minds to do what will be preached to them in this building. I ask you, Almighty God, to bless it and protect it in every way—to preserve it, because you are the great Creator, and you’re the Creator who preserves that which you create.”
There was only one problem: The people didn’t want to preserve it. Those at the top wanted to rebel against it. It was just another building; so they sold God’s house! That shows how ignorant they are about the Word of God and rebellious toward the end-time Elijah-type whom God used to restore all things and to build that house!
After Solomon finished building the temple, God appeared to him a second time, as He had before in Gibeon (1 Kings 9:2). What opportunity Solomon had! What is it like to have God appear to you twice?
“And the Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually” (verse 3).
Armstrong Auditorium is God’s house, and His eyes and heart are upon it perpetually! Our eyes and hearts must be upon this house also—perpetually! We must be wholeheartedly wrapped up in what God is doing! This is God’s house, and how blessed we are to be able to meet in it. God blesses what is done in this house! But He is not going to preserve it if we don’t care to preserve it ourselves.
Solomon’s name implies peace (1 Chronicles 22:9). God gave Israel peace under Solomon’s reign—a type of the wonderful World Tomorrow. God is about to bring peace to the entire Earth! We will establish God’s house in Jerusalem, and also houses of God in other places for worshiping God and educating our children and adults to glorify God. Our hearts and minds will be on everything God is doing—perpetually!
Glorify God on Earth Today
Discussing the second temple in Jerusalem, Mr. Armstrong wrote this in his January 20, 1964, member letter: “Jeremiah had prophesied the rebuilding of the temple after 70 years. These returned Jews had misfigured dates. They thought the 70 years had not yet come …. They were building elegant houses for themselves to live in—but they were neglecting to build the house for God to dwell in.”
Haggai 1:7-8 read: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord.” Building something to glorify God like that is a huge project. It takes a lot of love toward God. There is no room for selfishness. It requires joy and gratitude.
Verse 14 shows that God stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel and the remnant of the people to do this massive job.
Here is what I wrote before we built Armstrong Auditorium, or God’s house: “Today God wants us to build a house for Him. Can we be stirred up like Zerubbabel? If so, we’re going to build—and build fast—and it will be impressive, and we will glorify God all over this Earth! After all, the book of Haggai is a prophecy for us today (request our free booklet on Haggai).
“The Revised Standard Version, in verse 8, states, ‘Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may appear in my glory ….’ God truly wants to appear in His glory. He wants people to know Him the way He really IS. ‘That I may appear in my glory’ is a fascinating expression. We must build that house so that God takes pleasure in it, and then He will ‘appear in His glory’! In spirit, God will be present and will give us more of His glorified presence! It will be the most beautiful building on the Herbert W. Armstrong College campus by far. And the more we glorify God in that house, the more He will appear in His glorified presence!”
God wants all His splendor and honor to be manifest to the world.
Isaiah 60:1 states: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” We have God’s real glory.
“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (verse 3). The Gentiles and the whole world are all going to come to us and come to that light when we are glorified like God. They will be eager to go where God is glorified. We need to manifest as much of that glory as we can today and bring people to that wonderful, precious light.
God’s goal is not to get your money. His goal is to glorify you as He is glorified! Isaiah 60:1-3 show that God is going to glorify us the way He is glorified IF we glorify Him on this Earth today. That is special. God wants His glory here today; that is why you are here!
Mr. Armstrong continued, “[W]hen I read, once again, Haggai’s message from God—it came like a bolt of lightning as a message of God to His Church today! It struck me as a loud message straight from God that we have been planning to build, first, buildings for college use. But here we are at God’s headquarters on Earth. And we were planning to delay the building of God’s house, for Him (in spirit) to dwell in!”
The house we have built is a place in which God can dwell in spirit. If He has a house, and we built that house, that shows something about us. And it has brought and will bring even more blessings!
Mr. Armstrong wrote, “Brethren, I went straight to the council of God’s ministers, assembled in our outgrown former assembly hall, and announced to them that God’s house—the new auditorium—the meeting place for the headquarters church—must come next on the priority list” (ibid).
When Christ says to do it, we must do it! He is the Head. What if we don’t? What happened to the house in Pasadena? What a wretched, wretched, miserable history!
Mr. Armstrong got that directive from God! He said in this letter, “This is a commandment direct from God! It is not for us to question. The living Christ is Head of God’s Church. He leads—He directs His Church. And, as Zerubbabel was obedient to the command, and with the enthusiastic and generous help of all the people, started building God’s house, so must we. …
“It will be plain and simple—just a 1,200-seat auditorium—yet a truly fine one in character and quality and architectural design. … We must finance most of this building operation by paying cash as we go! Brethren, this message from God to build the house for Him to dwell in is His command to YOU as much as to me!”
If you know God, you are not going to build a little crackerbox. Would that glorify God? It has to be special. When we set about to build God a house, we worked to make it as beautiful as possible in order to glorify God!
Solomon’s Wall—a Magnificent Discovery and a Warning
The temple was the most magnificent of Solomon’s construction projects, but he also did quite a lot of building elsewhere in the city and beyond. Among his other projects, Solomon fortified Jerusalem by building a wall around it (1 Kings 9:15).
In 1968, Prof. Benjamin Mazar pioneered the excavations just north of the City of David on what is known as the area of the biblical Ophel. After he and his crew dug every summer for a decade, they reached a wall dating to the time of Solomon. The ruins were well preserved, and some parts of the wall stood impressively nearly 20 feet high. Picking up where her grandfather left off, Dr. Eilat Mazar began a small excavation in 1986 (the year Herbert W. Armstrong died) that revealed a large stone gateway complex, 45 by 54 feet, attached to a short section of the wall built by Solomon. In 2009, Eilat Mazar reopened the Ophel excavation, and more fascinating details emerged. Inside the royal structure, Dr. Mazar discovered that the bottom floor and walls of the structure had been constructed during the 10th century b.c.
All evidence indicates that this structure was built by King Solomon and is the one mentioned in 1 Kings 3:1. This scripture speaks of Solomon building his own palace, “and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.” Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Dr. Mazar stated the “reality was that a very highly skilled fortification and sophisticated fortification was built by King Solomon.” Our Herbert W. Armstrong College students were honored to participate in that excavation, which brought this amazing biblical history to life.
Now—look at something God mentions in the context of that construction: “And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about” (verse 1). This was something God was very concerned about. In the context, God says some wonderful things about Solomon, but He could also see trouble looming on the horizon.
Notice: In the same context, it reads, “And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places” (verse 3). That was not good news! God ensured that detail was recorded because it really bothered Him! Solomon had many wonderful traits and good qualities; he had a lot going for him. But he had a lust for women, and it created terrible woe! In this passage, God is warning Solomon to take note and to get control of that sin.
What about you? Perhaps you have some wonderful traits that God is pleased with—but you still have a sin in your life that you are clinging to and haven’t completely dealt with. God says, Beware! You had better deal with everything that’s there!
You know the difference between Solomon and David? David was a man after God’s own heart! He wanted to think like God in every little area! He couldn’t stand it if he had one trait or one quality that was different than God’s. That was not the way Solomon thought at this time.
Solomon was given everything—but eventually ended up almost losing everything! That wall we have uncovered in Jerusalem reminds us of that history. It really is a warning to each of us, if we will heed.
While appearing to Solomon a second time, God gave him a strong warning: “And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people” (1 Kings 9:4-7). God holds a king who sits on David’s throne more accountable than other kings! He warned Solomon that would be the case. And if you follow Israel’s history through the rest of the former prophets, you see that God fulfilled this warning exactly.
In his message at the dedication of the temple, Solomon said this: “Then what prayer or what supplication soever shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, when every one shall know his own sore and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in this house: Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:)” (2 Chronicles 6:29-30).
Only God knows our heart. We do not. David had sins he had no idea about—and had to repent of—before he was able to even prepare for building God’s house. We need to go before God like David and say, God, show me my secret faults. Show me what you see. I want to deal with that. God will give us the correction we need.
It is awfully dangerous when we begin to think we know our heart. But that is exactly where Solomon failed at this time.
God told him not to multiply his chariots or women, but Solomon did both. “But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart” (1 Kings 11:1-3). That is crazy! Imagine, 700 wives and 300 concubines! Was he mad? What kind of a family is that? No wonder he got into trouble! Those wives turned him away from God when he was old (verse 4). They had an impact when he was young too. He was so caught up in this world and its ways, it is hard to even understand.
Solomon had all that wisdom, and the Bible reveals that God appeared to him twice! All those women, though, turned his heart away from God. He thought he could handle that. Would you let a woman or a man turn you away from the living God? It can happen to any one of us if we don’t change our evil heart according to God’s standards.
Thankfully, it appears that Solomon did later repent of his depravity. At the end of his life, he composed the Song of Songs, which God included in the Bible. If you understand the incredibly deep message in that book, you can see that it had to be written by a profoundly repentant man. I urge you to request a free copy of my booklet The Song of Songs—God’s Greatest Love Song.
Nevertheless, Solomon went through indescribable depravity before he turned himself back around. Look at what happened to Solomon. God told him that if the people would humble themselves before Him, He would heal their land; but if they forsook Him, He would turn that house into an astonishment to the world (2 Chronicles 7:21-22). That is just what happened. The same evil has been brought upon the Laodiceans today. Do we see what happened to what used to be God’s house? Oh, the disgrace in that! I believe God wanted us to build Him a house to blot out the ugliness that prevails in the Laodicean Church toxday.
This is the crowning act of the Philadelphia Church of God raising the ruins—the greatest piece of the ruins.
Building for Heavenly Jerusalem
The Laodiceans essentially say that God has temples all over the place. But you can prove who is right and who is wrong, and it is really connected to Jerusalem. It’s about God’s temple. God says those who build His house have their headquarters in heavenly Jerusalem!
Galatians 4:25 shows where we get our orders: “For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.”
Jerusalem today is in terrible bondage! What is the solution? There is another Jerusalem! That is the solution.
“But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (verse 26).
The mother of us all, the Church, is free. The headquarters of the pcg is in Jerusalem above! Imagine that! The directive to build God’s house didn’t come from this Earth! It came from Jerusalem above, the mother of us all! This is the real Jerusalem—the one we should be concerned about!
“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 12:22). That is where we go, and we are free! God is going to let us help Him free the whole Earth and the whole universe that is in bondage!
Mr. Armstrong wrote the classic conclusion to Mystery of the Ages about the time when God’s people will be made spirit beings. He wrote in the last paragraph, “With God’s great master plan of 7,000 years finally completed—the mystery of the ages finally revealed, and with the re-creating of the vast universe and eternity lying ahead, we come finally to … the beginning.” That is the conclusion of all conclusions: That is the beginning!
Abraham had his heart set on this heavenly Jerusalem. He had faith in that—the city of Jerusalem that was going to come down to this Earth. That was his goal.
Revelation 3:12 states that the Philadelphians, whom God is using today, focus on the Jerusalem that will come down from above to this Earth. That is “the beginning” that Mr. Armstrong was talking about. That will be the real beginning. That is where our heart has to be! In that Jerusalem!
Chapter 9: Israel: The Way of Jeroboam
The biblical books of Samuel and Kings are both built on a theme: the house of David. The house of David is not one of the tribes of Israel; it is the descendants of David, from the tribe of Judah. Why is there so much in these books about the house of David? The answer to that question is one of the most inspiring truths in the Bible!
The subject in this chapter probably has about as much depth as anything you have ever read. So I hope you will not only read it, but carefully study it as well.
I want to show you a scripture that has profound meaning for all of us and for our understanding of the house of David.
1 Kings 12:16 says, “So when all Israel saw that the king [Rehoboam] hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.”
The people of Israel had a terrible attitude about the house of David.
Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, had just imposed some cruel demands, and the people revolted. When he sent Adoram, his chief tax collector, to deal with the problem, they stoned him to death. Rehoboam fled.
Verse 19 makes this profound statement: “So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.” Israel had a bad attitude about the house of David. The people were not just rebelling against Rehoboam, or against Judah, or against Jerusalem. God says they rebelled against the house of David! There is a big difference.
And Israel is still rebelling against the house of David unto this day!
I believe this verse has about as much depth as any scripture in the Bible. In this end time, Israel’s name is on America and Britain. (Request our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy for the explanation. All of our literature is free.)
The great sin of our ancestors was their rebellion against the house of David. It continues to be our major sin even to this day! That means we need to fully understand the sin of Jeroboam and who will be the type of Jeroboam in this end time! (See Amos 7:10-11. Jeroboam ii also came in the spirit of the first Jeroboam. The book of Amos is primarily an end-time prophecy.)
The leader of Israel today is the U.S. superpower. So whoever leads this nation just before its destruction will be a type of Jeroboam. According to the Amos prophecy, its leader will be confronted by a type of the Prophet Amos.
So can we know who this end-time Jeroboam is going to be?
Whoever he will be, he will rebel strongly against the house of David—physically and spiritually.
Let’s get some more background.
The Scepter Promise
Genesis 49 is an end-time prophecy about the modern-day descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel. In verse 10, the prophecy of Judah—whose descendants are the Jews—is what is called God’s “scepter promise”: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh [speaking of Jesus Christ] come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”
The first part of that promise is that a Jewish descendant of David would rule on the throne right down to the Second Coming. Herbert W. Armstrong explained it this way in The United States and Britain in Prophecy: “Of course it is well understood that the scepter went to Judah and was handed down through the Jews. King David was of the tribe of Judah. All succeeding kings of David’s dynasty were of the house of David, tribe of Judah. Jesus Christ was born of the house of David and the tribe of Judah.” The second part of that promise is Jesus Christ, who is also from the house of David, will bring salvation to this world.
God promised that Israel’s kings would come from the house of David. That Davidic line of kings continues to this day. Jesus Christ Himself is about to return to Earth and inherit the throne of His father David! (Luke 1:31-33).
The house of David has a built-in vision. Understanding this vision will bring abundant inspiration and joy into our lives.
That scepter promise makes David’s dynasty, the house of David, much more important than something physical. We must not be casual about this because this is the very throne that Christ Himself is going to sit on. We need to understand this truth better. David’s throne is really God’s throne!
This is what Israel rebelled against.
People don’t pay much attention to that throne because they have rebelled against the house of David unto this day. They rebel not against a wooden chair, but against the house of David and God.
Anciently, the people of Israel rebelled against David’s house and set up Jeroboam as their king. Jeroboam turned away from the throne of David and from God. The Israelites didn’t have the Holy Spirit, but they still lacked faith in God even by the letter of the law. They wouldn’t stay loyal to the house of David, where God promised to keep His focus and His power.
Just as ancient Israel rebelled against the house of David, the nations of Israel today do as well. And spiritually, most of God’s people are rebelling against the house of David. His lukewarm people, the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-22), have rejected the key of David teaching, and they refuse to proclaim the message about the throne of David, where Christ will sit with His kings and priests forever! That is staggering! How could anybody lose contact with something so eternally majestic?
God makes two unbreakable covenants in Jeremiah 33:17-18: first, that a seed of the house of David would always be sitting on the throne of David, and second, that there would always be a minister or a priest proclaiming the message about that throne.
That message is this world’s only hope!
God has forcefully emphasized to His Church today that He wants us to focus on the house of David physically and spiritually.
The nations of Israel are rebelling against the house of David in the letter of the law, but spiritual Israel (or God’s end-time Church) is rebelling against the house of David spiritually. Rebelling by the letter of the law is bad enough—but rebelling by the spirit of the law, and God’s government that enforces that law, jeopardizes your eternal life!
The 10 tribes should have remained loyal to God’s promise and David’s throne in Jerusalem. They should have accepted the king and his lawful role—and let God take care of the man who sat on that throne.
God always establishes some kind of fallible human government on this Earth that we must obey. But it is still God’s rule that we embrace—not man’s government.
That is especially true of spiritual Israel or God’s Church. God’s Church today has God’s Holy Spirit. Still 95 percent of spiritual Israel has rebelled against the house of David, or the key of David (Revelation 3:7-9).
Here is a critical point: Why does God discuss physical or spiritual Israel rebelling against the house of David? Why doesn’t He just always say they are rebelling against God? Because God has a government on this Earth and a man He chooses to be the physical head under Christ.
Anybody can reason that they are obeying God when they are disobeying. But when God brings the house of David, the throne of David on this Earth, and a man on Earth proclaiming His warning message about that throne, it’s not easy to ignore.
Even if they ignore the message, it is still going to be a witness against them! (Matthew 24:14).
We must prove where God’s government is on this Earth. There you will find a strong loyalty to the truth about David’s throne or the key of David (which Christ gives to His Philadelphians in the last two eras of His Church).
We must learn to submit to God’s government on this Earth today. That is how we qualify to rule with Christ in the wonderful World Tomorrow and be His Bride forever.
We are commanded to follow God’s man as he follows Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
God’s own lukewarm Church today is rebelling against God’s law and government. That is the way of Jeroboam.
America, Britain and the Jewish nation have a long history of rebelling against the letter of God’s law and government. That too is the way of Jeroboam.
The house of David ought to unite the Church of God today. Shortly, it will unite this whole world. All people are going to unite around David’s throne—which is really God’s throne. Yet the Laodiceans want no part of it! Not one of those groups even wants The United States and Britain in Prophecy. They are rebelling against the house of David, the only thing that will bring this world peace, joy and hope.
The Key of the House of David
Isaiah 22:20-25 contain an end-time prophecy about which God has revealed a great deal to us concerning Eliakim. Verse 21 says the man who fulfills this role “shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.” There is a physical and spiritual application to these scriptures, but we look mainly at the spiritual today.
The “house of Judah” here is the faithful Church of God. You could say it is “the house of the Jews.” We are Jews—spiritual Jews! And an Eliakim type is a father to Judah.
Verse 22 says of this man, “And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” We must look at the key of the house of David spiritually also. God has given Eliakim a key to this royal house. What does that mean to you?
If Eliakim has a key of the house of David, he and his supporters must go inside that house. Isn’t that logical? That is the main message of that key. Those who marry Jesus Christ will share David’s throne with Christ. They will be kings and priests who are descended from David spiritually—from the spiritual house of David. They are not just spiritual Jews: They are spiritual Jews of the line of the royal house of David!
The house of David is already here in spiritual embryo.
The Philadelphians are the spiritual Jews in this end time who have the key of David (Revelation 3:7-8).
The Laodiceans say they are Jews, but God calls them liars (verse 9). Fifty percent are going to keep saying it until they are destroyed forever in a lake of fire. The other 50 percent will change when they face the Great Tribulation and their own death, and they finally repent of their vile rebellion against God.
In this end time, God has sent two apostles to help His people focus more on this truth. Both of these men descended from the house of David. (For more information, request our booklet Prophesy Again.)
We always must point to the king or queen who sits on that physical throne, and proclaim the message about that throne. But God’s government is not on that throne, or in any nation around this world—which is why the world is about to fall apart. God’s government is only in His true Church.
In 1 Kings 12, once the northern 10 tribes rebelled, Jeroboam wanted to make sure they never returned to the house of David. He hated that house, and was concerned that if the people continued to travel to Jerusalem to make sacrifices in the temple, they would go back to Rehoboam (verses 26-27).
This attitude in Jeroboam and the people led to what I believe is the greatest disaster in the history of Israel up until the time right ahead of us. Israel was conquered and lost its identity because of it.
Jeroboam’s rebellion against the house of David was rebellion against God! Anyone who starts going down that road will end up in the biggest calamity of his life! Most of God’s people today are heading in that direction.
Here is what Jeroboam did: “Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (verse 28). This was the biggest lie he could have possibly told: that these golden calves were the gods that delivered Israel from Egypt! He was flagrantly rebelling against the omnipotent, all-powerful God! Jeroboam knew that what he did was wrong, but a lot of people in Israel wanted to believe it. What do we have to do with the house of David? they reasoned. But it was the Creator of man whom they were disobeying.
Jeroboam even moved the keeping of God’s feast days to one month later: “And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made” (verse 32).
Where did this rebellion lead Israel? To this very day, the nations of Israel still rebel against the house of David and God—they still walk in the way of Jeroboam—and they are about to go through the worst trouble and greatest suffering this world has ever experienced!
The Laodiceans are also rebelling against the house of David, and they face the worst disaster ever in any Church of God!
If we leave the house of David, expect physical and spiritual catastrophe.
This is not something you can take lightly. God is very serious about the house of David!
A Dire Prophecy
When Jeroboam’s evil became apparent, God sent a messenger with a dire prophecy (1 Kings 13:1-2). This unnamed prophet told the evil king that his whole system of false religion was going to be destroyed by a righteous king. “[T]hus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee” (verse 2).
Miraculously, 360 years later, Josiah came on the scene. God prophesied this and brought it to pass! (You can read much more about this amazing prophecy and the significance of Josiah’s reign in my free booklet Lamentations: The Point of No Return. I also cover it more in Chapter 12.)
The unnamed prophet also did this: “And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the Lord hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out” (verse 3). Jeroboam was marching around the altar, arrogantly acting like the high priest, which he was not. He heard the prophet issue this prophecy against the altar, and he was so incensed that he stretched out his hand and ordered his men to lay hold of the prophet. At that instant, his hand dried up and would not move! (verse 4). Then the altar split in two, just as this prophet had said (verse 5).
At that moment, Jeroboam began to realize God was behind this man. “And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Intreat now the face of the Lord thy God”—he said your God to the prophet—“and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored him again, and became as it was before” (verse 6). What an amazing event!
You would think that this would have been a life-altering experience for Jeroboam. But as with so many people, it didn’t change anything—he still refused to obey. Miracles from God just don’t have much effect on most people. They happen all the time, and yet people remain adamant in their rebellion.
Jeroboam Caused Israel to Sin
1 Kings 14:15-16 contain a prophecy about Israel being smitten, rooted up and scattered. These verses say that God “shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.” Jeroboam sinned, and he made Israel sin. Leaders can do that. This man turned Israel away from the house of David and God. The same thing happened in the Laodicean Church in this end time: The leaders turned the people away from the house of David and God!
Look at the results. The Laodiceans are wandering around and fighting each other. They are divided, and they keep shrinking and doing virtually no work. That is the price for going the way of Jeroboam!
What a contrast with God’s faithful remnant, those who will not give up on the throne of David message, and who remain loyal to the Head of this Church who is about to sit on that throne and rule the world! God keeps blessing us, and we are filled with wonder and joy!
The Way of Jeroboam
The chronicle of those northern 10 tribes that departed from David’s throne is absolutely terrible. It is filled with tragedy of every stripe, brutal politics, usurping and murder. It vividly shows the consequences of disloyalty to God’s throne!
The third king over the 10 tribes was Baasha. This man actually served as God’s instrument to correct the house of Jeroboam, it says, “Because of the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, by his provocation wherewith he provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger” (1 Kings 15:30).
However, before long, Baasha fell into the very sins for which Jeroboam was punished (verse 34). In 1 Kings 16, God sent him a strong message of correction. God started by saying, “Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust, and made thee prince over my people Israel …” (verse 2).
What a supremely important point to remember! God was disgusted with this man’s behavior, and reminded him: Remember what you are! You were exalted out of the dust—you were nothing! Yet I put you over my people! Now, look what you’re doing with this power I’ve given you. I gave it so you could use it to turn Israel to God, to this throne and this house—yet you’re betraying that calling!
Loyal people of God’s Church today, we are the lowly of the world. We are dust! Yet look what God has given us. He is exalting us to be the greatest royalty on Earth—in the spiritual house of David forever. That is the greatest opportunity offered to man for all eternity! We will be Christ’s Bride forever. We must never forget that we are just dust—and that is all we will ever be apart from God. But look what God is doing with dust! It is truly miraculous what God does with dust!
Also in that verse, God condemns Baasha because he “walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins.” This became the pattern among this cursed people that turned away from the house of David. They continued to walk in the way of Jeroboam and to suffer for doing so.
God promised to destroy Baasha’s family (verse 3). Baasha’s son Elah reigned only a short time before he was murdered by his servant Zimri, who then seized the throne (verses 8-10). Zimri was only in power for seven days before the nation revolted against him (verse 15). He set fire to the king’s palace and died in it—and God again pinpoints the reason for his untimely end: “For his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the Lord, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, to make Israel to sin” (verse 19).
The next king, Omri, was even worse. “But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him. For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities” (verses 25-26).
Then came Ahab, Omri’s son. Look at God’s assessment of his reign: “And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam,” that he married Jezebel and began worshiping Baal (verses 30-31). Stupid Ahab! He thought it was a light thing to follow the way of Jeroboam! But it is no light thing! God cannot condemn it strongly enough!
In Israel today, people still think it is a light thing to walk in the way of Jeroboam.
God strongly condemns that attitude! It is not a light thing when we turn to the way of Jeroboam. It is going to bring the greatest disaster in your life! That is no light thing!
People simply don’t see the terrifying end of their decisions. They are too shallow spiritually, and they just don’t believe their own Bible!
Ahab married Jezebel, who was an extremely vicious woman. She had a stronger will than Ahab. Verse 33 says that under her influence, “Ahab [led by his wife, Jezebel] did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.” We will learn more about Ahab in the next chapter.
Do you realize that we are witnessing the same scale of evil in Israel today? God is provoked! The nations of Israel will commit any evil and then publicize it for all the world to see! And they consider it just a light thing! But when they get through the nightmares that are coming, they won’t think that any longer.
A Succession of Sinful Kings
God condemned several kings who followed Ahab with the same analysis. Scripture is careful to record one particular detail that all these evil rulers had in common.
Ahab’s son, King Ahaziah, was just as evil as his father had been. “And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin … and provoked to anger the Lord God of Israel …” (1 Kings 22:52-53).
As God’s kings and priests, we cannot live that way! We must be like God and drive out the evil forces! That is not an easy thing to do. It takes godly education and strong courage.
1 and 2 Kings are really one book. The Cambridge Bible says, “The division between 1 and 2 Kings is made in the middle of the short reign of Ahaziah, king of Israel, a severance which would never have been made by the compiler.” It’s clear that this was not an inspired division, but Bible scholars who divided this book think they know better, when they are just confusing people.
Ahaziah’s brother Jehoram followed on the throne, and “he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 3:3).
Of Jehoram’s successor, King Jehu, 2 Kings 10:31 tells us, “But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.”
Jehu’s son Jehoahaz “followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom” (2 Kings 13:2). God in His anger delivered the Israelites to the Syrians, and when Jehoahaz called out to God, God mercifully delivered them. But Israel went right back: “Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin …” (verse 6).
Verse 11 shows that Jehoahaz’s son Jehoash (or Joash), when he became king, committed the same sins of Jeroboam. In fact, he even named his own son Jeroboam! (2 Kings 14:23).
It’s no surprise that Jeroboam ii followed his father’s example: “he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam” (verse 24).
Jeroboam ii’s son, King Zachariah, also “departed not from the sins of Jeroboam” (2 Kings 15:9) and was quickly murdered.
The man who killed him, Shallum, ruled only a month before he too was assassinated (verses 13-14). His killer, Menahem, “departed not all his days from the sins of Jeroboam” (verse 18).
Of Menahem’s son and successor, Pekahiah, God says, “he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam” (verse 24). He also was murdered.
The king who followed him, Pekah, “departed not from the sins of Jeroboam” (verse 28). He died by assassination at the hand of Hoshea (verse 30).
Hoshea ended up being the last king of the northern kingdom, and he, too, was evil in God’s sight (2 Kings 17:2).
Each of the histories of the 19 kings of Israel begins with this shameful expression: “He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”
This is the rebellious, bloody legacy of the northern 10 tribes! This is what happened to the people who turned their back on the house and throne of David! God took pains specifically to document that virtually every one of the 18 kings who succeeded Jeroboam was guilty of the same sins that Jeroboam committed! Once “Israel rebelled against the house of David,” it never turned it around! So the tragedies just went on and on.
And how did it end? “In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria …” (verse 6). This happened in 718 b.c.
Israel had sinned and would not repent! “Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only” (verse 18).
Read this entire chapter, which is God’s summary of the whole history. Verses 21-22 say that God “rent Israel from the house of David; and they [the people] made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them.” Jeroboam made them sin a great sin! The people of Israel never should have listened to him. They should have listened to men like Elijah and Elisha—whom God sent to them during this time. But they didn’t—so God turned the Assyrians against them.
This history is prophecy! It is exactly what is about to happen to the nations of Israel in our day!
Who is about to strike Israel? Europe is almost falling apart financially, except for one powerful nation. God prophesies in Isaiah 10:5, “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation”!
God is coming to correct Israel because of the sins of Jeroboam! Our peoples have embraced that same evil way of life and a religion that does not come from their own Bibles. Anybody can prove that.
God says He wants us to live by every word that proceeds from His mouth! (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). He will fill our lives with joy and abundance, happiness and wonder if we will just heed what He says. But people will not listen, so He has to correct them.
What are the Laodiceans doing today? These people knew God and His Word! Yet now they keep experimenting with new things, and splitting off and fracturing. They are going in the way of Jeroboam! They have thrown away The United States and Britain in Prophecy. They don’t look to the house of David. They have flagrantly rebelled against God. They are leaving God with only one way to reach them, and that is by inflicting punishment and suffering.
God is not passive about people living the way of Jeroboam! The Holy Roman Empire is about to be fully formed—and it is going to correct modern Israel in the Great Tribulation! Just look at this world and you know it cannot continue for much longer.
We can easily see that bad news—but we also need to see the hope! This is the last assault of any significance that the Gentiles will make on Israel!
The Spirit of Jeroboam
A prophecy for God’s Church today talks about this subject.
In Amos 7:9, God says, “And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.” This is an end-time prophecy, and yet God is still upset with Israel and its spirit of Jeroboam.
The “high places of Isaac” is a coded expression meaning a religion that started correctly but later rebelled against God. The “sanctuaries of Israel” are the churches of this world. (This is all explained in our Amos booklet.)
Verse 10 speaks of “Amaziah the priest of Bethel.” Bethel means the house of God. This is a priest right out of the house of God; it must be our mother church, the Worldwide Church of God. And here is what this man is prophesied to do: This priest “sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.” Here is somebody right out of God’s house saying that.
In Amos’s time, the king spoken of was Jeroboam ii. This man “departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 14:24). Even though it wasn’t the original Jeroboam, Amos’s prophecy is talking about Jeroboam and the spirit of Jeroboam.
There are scriptures throughout these former prophets about how Israel rebelled by going the way of Jeroboam. And what did Jeroboam do? He rebelled against the house of David and God. God talks about Jeroboam here because the people today in Israel are doing the same thing! Do you want to talk to them about the Feast of Tabernacles and the other holy days of God? Or about the Sabbath, which is a sign that they are God’s people if they keep it the right way? Jeroboam changed these holy observances and, unto this day, the nations of Israel do as he did!
Here is a priest from what was, at least at one time, the Church of God. And this priest is allied with Jeroboam, who rebelled against the house of David and God! The Laodiceans—certainly the mother church—are making an alliance that tells you they are also rebelling against the house of David! They are anxious to get away from that house and that throne and what God teaches about it—because they have the spirit of Jeroboam. It’s the same spirit that is in physical Israel today.
You can read in Raising the Ruins of how wcg leaders in the 1970s cut The United States and Britain in Prophecy down to almost nothing and then discontinued it. When Mr. Armstrong learned of their rebellion, he put those men out and restored that book. However, the Church leadership did the same thing after Mr. Armstrong died: slashing two thirds of the text, claiming it was too expensive to distribute, and finally killing it altogether. What did they have against that book? It virtually built the Work! That was plainly the spirit of Jeroboam at work.
In a 1992 letter to a wcg member, Joseph Tkach Jr. wrote that “British Israelism” (his term for Mr. Armstrong’s teaching) is “a racist doctrine that sees the British Empire as the Kingdom of God on Earth, and the whites as God’s favorite people.” That is a complete lie!
That man said it was his duty to keep Mr. Armstrong’s “errors” out of circulation. That is rebellion against God and the house of David! We had to go to court to win The United States and Britain in Prophecy.
The Sardis Church also rejected that truth, and God says that church is dead (Revelation 3:1). The Laodiceans rejected it, and they are dying spiritually! (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Anyone who decides to reject the house of David will suffer the same fate.
We must tell the Laodiceans, as well as the people of Israel, that they are going the way of Jeroboam—and then show them what happens when you do that! Just look at the history of Jeroboam! Israel was taken captive and practically disappeared from this world until Mr. Armstrong came and widely published the truth about its modern identity. Of course Christ and the first-century Church preached this, but they didn’t reach nearly as many people as we do. God wants this message to go out most of all in this end time, just before Christ returns to sit on that throne. We must have a big megaphone to announce that Christ is about to return, and to let people know what the solution to all their problems is.
“Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words” (Amos 7:10). This priest is going to say that the people can’t bear our message. But they will have to bear it for a short span of time. God will ensure that message is broadcast right out of the house of David.
This is not about a book—it’s about the house of David and God, and the government soon to be ushered in on Earth.
We need to understand this, because it is also about us. It’s about you, and it’s about your qualifying to sit on that throne forever. Look at this history, and how many people have turned away! Most of God’s people are not qualified! But you are the spiritual house of David, and this is all about that house.
We must proclaim the message about the throne of David today. If we fail to do so, we will not qualify to sit on that headquarters throne forever!
We know that most people will not listen to us—but some will. However, a great multitude will repent and turn to God when the Great Tribulation strikes. That is when we will reap the real fruits of our work. What a blessing to have the opportunity to get God’s message out to this dying world. Christ is about to return! And if we do what God commands, what a reward God will give us!
We are going to teach the whole world about the throne of David! God says He is going to give those kings and priests a rod of iron. We will teach, and people will listen and accept it. How people need that wonderful education.
We are getting ready to help Christ rule the world. We are His wife—kings and priests of the spiritual house of David. What a blessing!
Chapter 10: Elijah: God’s Family Government
Three Elijahs are mentioned in the Bible. After the original Elijah, there later were two types of Elijah. Jesus Christ told His disciples that John the Baptist was the first-century type of Elijah. Christ also prophesied of an end-time Elijah.
The history and prophecy of the original Elijah is contained mainly in 1 and 2 Kings. So these books in the former prophets tell us a lot about the end-time Elijah.
All three Elijahs came into the midst of great religious confusion. All of them were voices crying out in the wilderness.
The name Elijah means “My God is God.” That says a lot. Elijah revealed the true God. At the same time, he exposed all religions, except his own, as false! Mr. Armstrong did the same work. The pcg follows in that tradition. Whether people realize it or not, the pcg is the only Church today that reveals the true God!
These Elijahs taught the world about the true God Family. It is a Father and Son family rule. The three Elijahs clearly revealed the government that the God Family administers in God’s Church and will implement in the soon-coming Millennium. This is the gospel—the good news of the coming Kingdom, or Family, of God. The three Elijahs didn’t just point to the Son; they showed how the Son exalted His Father—unlike the religious confusion taught about Christ and the Father today.
If we just understand about the three Elijahs, we should expect that the original Elijah was involved in a very prophetic work. That Elijah work, which includes the work of all three Elijahs, will provide the educational structure of the wonderful World Tomorrow. If we want to be a part of it, it is essential that we understand.
We cannot be ready to rule with Christ unless we understand the Elijah work. Then we will understand what Christ did in the past, what He is doing today, and what He shall do in the future. However, we must be childlike to have this truth revealed to us (Matthew 11:25; 18:1-3).
“Many are called, but few are chosen.” The few that are chosen have the key to whether or not God reveals His truth to them and continues to do so. That key is being childlike or a babe spiritually.
God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). All truth is revealed by God.
The Elijah Work
In 1 Kings 17, Elijah came on the scene. What did God expect him to do? The same work we have today. Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah, and we continue the Elijah work. What are we supposed to do?
“And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” (verse 1). Wow! He burst into the picture and said, Whether you receive rain or drought depends on my word! Elijah had real spiritual power and authority! He must have been obeying and serving God. He believed in God and followed God!
Nobody could command such authority today except one who is doing the Elijah work.
What a message Elijah had. He had to go to a nation that was walking in the way of Jeroboam and rebelling against the house of David. He warned of curses that were coming because of the people’s sins. He condemned their idolatry and paganism. Again, Elijah means “my God is God.” Everything else is false religion. You may think that’s a light thing—but God disagrees. It’s not a light thing, and God will hold anyone accountable who thinks it is. The nation of Israel was on a path that was leading into captivity to Assyria!
Those of the spiritual house of David must take this same message to Israel today. We must warn that God is about to correct Israel with Assyria just as He did anciently. We must tell people how to get focused spiritually and turn to God.
In the rest of the chapter, you see God working tremendous miracles for Elijah. This was a man of faith, doing a work of faith. God sustained him for years during the devastating drought that hit Israel and the famine that resulted. He also protected His prophet from King Ahab and his evil wife. This was one of the darkest periods of Israel’s history—and it is prophecy for us today! Ahab and Jezebel ruled, and they loved doing evil. If they saw a plot of land they liked, they just killed the person and took it! (1 Kings 21). They were into Baal worship, deifying calves and everything you can imagine, just as Israel’s descendants are doing today. They also went on a killing rampage against those practicing true religion.
Finally, after nearly three years, God instructed Elijah to present himself before the king. Elijah knew about the innocent people Ahab had killed, yet he did just as God asked and confronted him! Oftentimes you must have great courage to do the job God has commissioned you to do.
“And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). It seems God’s representatives always get blamed for everything!
Look at Elijah’s powerful response: “And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table” (verses 18-19). Elijah demanded that Ahab summon these false prophets. And with conditions in the parched nation being as dire as they were, Ahab was desperate enough to do as Elijah asked. He had quite a different attitude from what he had when Elijah first appeared before the drought came. (1 Kings 21:27-29 show that Ahab later did humble himself, and God responded by postponing the punishment upon Israel.)
What followed was an epic showdown between God’s prophet and hundreds of false prophets of Baal.
God’s Only Prophet
Once the people of Israel all gathered at Mount Carmel, Elijah asked them a profound question: “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). They were on the fence. They were halting between two opinions. Yeah, I follow God. I’m going to go ahead and walk in the way of Jeroboam, too, but I believe in God—I’m religious. (Although, this verse concludes, “And the people answered him not a word.” The fact that they couldn’t answer him indicates, I presume, that deep down, they knew they were guilty.) Elijah said, Nonsense! If you’re going to follow God, follow God! He exposed the error of their thinking and showed that it would lead to a grievous captivity.
“Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men” (verse 22). He really faced a lot of opposition, and many enemies!
Think about this: Elijah was talking to the nation, and there were hundreds of prophets in attendance. Yet he said, I and I only am the prophet of the Eternal! Most people would consider that incredible arrogance! What do you think all those other professing prophets thought about that statement? I don’t suppose they liked Elijah too much! But the reality was, Elijah was speaking the truth! Elijah means my God is God—and yours isn’t! It was gutsy for Elijah to say that—but it was the truth.
God uses one man. Historically, He always uses one man at the top to get the job done. I’m the only one, Elijah said. I’m the only prophet on Earth today who obeys God.
The Bible is clear (as we will see) that Elijah educated many “sons of the prophets” to serve God. But he was the head, the chief. Also, Jezebel had killed hundreds of these true prophets; God had protected some, but Elijah apparently didn’t know that.
Elijah laid out the terms of this challenge. The prophets of Baal prepared their offering. “And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made” (verse 26). Can you imagine praying to Baal?
Elijah mocked these people for their false gods: Where is your god? Is he asleep? Do you have to wake him up? (verse 27). They responded by crying out and actually cutting themselves so their blood gushed out! (verse 28). Clearly, they were sincere religious people: Nobody would cut his flesh like that if he weren’t sincere! But sincerity clearly does not make false religion right. They were just a pack of deceived prophets. They didn’t know what they were doing, but they believed they were God’s people and they were trying to get God to reveal Himself to them. And God wouldn’t.
In the end, Elijah prayed, saying, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel …. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God …” (verses 36-37). This must be our prayer as well. All the truth God has given through Mr. Armstrong and this Church, all the miracles He has performed, are the means by which we can let it be known that there is a God in Israel!
God answered Elijah’s prayer in dramatic fashion! “Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench” (verse 38). What a miracle—and what an impact it had on the people! “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God” (verse 39).
In the end, Elijah saw to it that all those false prophets were killed—every one of them! (verse 40). Do you really believe a man of God would do such a thing? Most people would consider that cruel, but God knows what He is doing. Perhaps He was keeping those men from becoming so evil that He wouldn’t be able to work with them when He resurrects them at a future time. God is love, and He has His plan for saving all men! How misguided people can be to say that God is cruel and lacks love, and to try to tell Him how to do things.
Back to Horeb
After Elijah performed these impressive miracles, the news got back to Jezebel. “And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time” (1 Kings 19:1-2). Jezebel clearly ruled over her husband, King Ahab. Elijah’s actions infuriated Jezebel so much that she determined to kill him.
When word of her intentions reached Elijah, he became fearful and discouraged. “And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers” (verses 3-4).
After all those miracles, Elijah feared Jezebel and asked to die. He knew she excelled at killing people. She had already killed all the other prophets! Elijah lost the vision God had given him. He got his mind on Jezebel trying to kill him and off the great miracle-working God.
“And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God” (verses 7-8). What did God do to turn Elijah’s attitude around? He sent him on a journey—to Horeb, or Sinai, the mountain of God. This is where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, where the people saw lightning, thunder and a quaking mountain, and were very fearful because of God’s power. God took Elijah back to a crucial beginning. He even had him fast for 40 days and nights, just as He had had Moses do.
God directed Elijah to stand on that mountain. Then He sent a tremendous stormy wind that shook and shattered the rocks on the mountain. But, the Scripture says, God was not in the wind. Then He sent a mighty earthquake. But God wasn’t in the earthquake either. Then came a fierce fire, but God was not in the fire (verses 11-12).
“[A]nd after the fire,” it says, there came “a still small voice” (verse 12). God was not in the strong wind, earthquake or fire. However, He was in the “still small voice.” That was how God revealed Himself in this instance.
God sent Elijah to Mount Sinai to give him some perspective. There He showed him just how ridiculous it was to be afraid of a pitiful woman like Jezebel. There is no comparison between her and the great God! Elijah regained his awareness of God’s overview and His power to back His chosen servants.
What an important lesson for God’s people today to remember. We have nothing to fear! After all, we serve the God who came down to Sinai, the mountain of God! Sometimes we lose perspective; sometimes we forget who we are. Sometimes we fail to remember who our God is! Then we have to go back to Mount Sinai—really study what happened there when God began His physical nation—and realize that we have nothing to worry about. We are God’s spiritual nation today, and we can, and must, understand this reality far better than the Israelites did anciently.
God thunders to His people today, “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb [or Sinai] for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments” (Malachi 4:4). This admonition is directed at us! God tells us to remember not only the law—but also the setting, and how the people of Israel received that law on Mount Sinai. Don’t forget that! We must keep God in the picture—the God who gave the law on Mount Sinai—or we will become afraid, and we will run from Jezebel or somebody who has power like that.
Notice, though: There was a difference between the way God spoke to Israel during the time of Moses and the way He spoke with Elijah. This time, He wasn’t in the earthquake and the fire; He wasn’t speaking with physical lightning and thunder. He spoke in a still, small voice. That is true today as well: God isn’t speaking in a booming voice, shaking mountains in the midst of lightning and thunder. Now He just has a still, small voice. There has been a change. When you get to the Elijah work, it’s not done like it was in Moses’s day. God has a still, small voice—and it comes through a man. God gives that revelation through a man. Today, He is talking to people who have the Spirit of God. He’s not going to speak the way He did to the carnal-minded Israelites; they didn’t get the message spiritually anyhow!
God does not often manifest Himself in mind-shattering physical events. Usually He comes in a still small voice. But it is still the same omnipotent God! You must learn to recognize God in that “still small voice”—like in what you are reading right now!
If we truly understand this great vision at Horeb, we do not need physical miracles from God. All we need is faith! It makes no difference whether you hear God’s own voice thundering from Mount Sinai—or you hear the still, small voice today through God’s messages and His Word: It is still the same God! It’s the same God today—but He has a different way of speaking.
Do you deeply know that God?
We should be able to see the spiritual splendor, the fire and thunder and lightning, the spectacle, of God speaking to His Church today—just as surely as the Israelites saw it with their eyes anciently. This is how it is when you are close to God. He directly guides His Church—and He is about to direct this whole world!
At this point in his life, Elijah felt depressed and alone. He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:14). He was very disheartened. I think we can all relate to that from time to time. He said, God, I’m the only one who is doing anything. There were others, but he apparently didn’t know about them.
Maybe this was some of the emotion Mr. Armstrong felt when he said on that day of Pentecost toward the end of his life, “Most of you don’t get it!” Do we get it today? How deeply convicted are we about what God’s end-time Elijah taught us? He felt most of the Church members were not with him spiritually. He, like Elijah, felt somewhat alone.
Doing God’s Work does get tough at times; we have our trials and tests. Elijah really had some difficult assignments to fulfill, and he got depressed, thinking, Nobody is interested in this, God! It seems nobody wants this message! You can see what made Elijah such a great man: Whatever God instructed him to do, he did! But it can wear you down when you feel like you are the only one doing it, without any help.
The truth, though, was that neither Elijah nor Mr. Armstrong were alone. God responded: “And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room” (verses 15-16). Elisha was anointed as a prophet to replace Elijah. “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (verse 18).
There were 7,000 people who had not bowed their knee to Baal. It doesn’t say they didn’t lean a little in that direction, but they didn’t bow to him or kiss him. It doesn’t say they were doing God’s Work, but they knew God—perhaps only by the letter of the law. They had learned about God and they didn’t cave in. Sadly, even those who didn’t bow their knee to Baal apparently weren’t doing much to help Elijah. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about them.
I believe that supporters of this Work have remained close to that number for most of our history—that includes members, the unbaptized who attend and co-workers. We must not forget that the book of Kings is a prophetic book.
“So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him” (verse 19). God just went out in the field and chose a farmer to wear Elijah’s mantle. That would seem strange to many people. Elijah didn’t go to some scholarly seminary to find a replacement. Elisha was an ox farmer—not of a scholarly reputation as many would like to see.
Notice: Elijah didn’t deal with those 7,000; Elisha did! He received the mantle. He received the government. He received the one-man rule.
There were 12 yoke of oxen with Elisha. The pcg began with 12 members. Twelve is the number of new institutional beginnings.
One Worldwide Church of God evangelist didn’t think God would use Gerald Flurry as the physical leader to “hold fast” to His truth. He said if God chose another leader, it would be from Pasadena. Who knows the kind of man God will choose for a job and from where he will come? Only God knows.
Christ said, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Put your hand to the plow, and don’t look back! That is what God has called us to do. Just keep plowing, keep your mind on the Work, and you’ll be OK. Keep your mind on the harvest.
Paul talks about these 7,000 in the New Testament: “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew …” (Romans 11:1-2). God foreknew these people. That means they had His Spirit in them or the Spirit was working with them, leading them to conversion! “Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, ‘Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars [in this end time, they tore apart the Church of God!], and I alone am left, and they seek my life’?” (verses 2-3; New King James Version). Elijah was worn down from fighting for God, and God then put Elisha in the office. I think Mr. Armstrong was worn down, by age and from doing the Work, while most around him hated the law and government of God! The fruits have proven that. “But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men …” (verse 4). Those who have not bowed the knee to Baal are out there.
A couple of biblical prophecies refer to 10,000 saints being in a place of safety in the end time. (You can read about this in Chapter Five of my free booklet No Freedom Without Law.) Deuteronomy 33:1-2 speak of “ten thousands of saints” coming with Christ from mount Paran, which is located in Petra, Jordan. The Apostle Jude referred to this in an end-time context as well (Jude 14).
God clearly says there will be 10,000 members in a place of safety. It has to mean that. He is going to come back with those 10,000. So maybe we’ll convert, say, 500 of our teenagers in the place of safety, and between now and then. And maybe we will pick up between 2,000 and 2,500 from the world and from the Laodicean churches.
Reaching that number might take a little more time than what we have thought, but I would hasten to add that so much is happening in this world, and it is disintegrating so fast, there is no guarantee it will take long at all.
The Schools of Elijah
2 Kings talks about the people Elijah taught, the “sons of the prophets.” Clearly, God has a lot of concern for young people. Elijah raised up three colleges. They were probably located in Bethel, Jericho and Gilgal (2 Kings 2:3-6; also see 2 Kings 4:38—this is why the sons of the prophets were sitting before Elisha).
Elijah was educating students to teach the whole world. Just as with Samuel, these schools give us a glimpse of how God is going to educate all mankind!
Herbert W. Armstrong was the end-time type of Elijah. He also raised up three colleges. His work also clearly showed that God has huge plans for all people—including young people. God used him to help get His Bride ready for marriage when Christ returns.
Gilgal was in Ephraim. Mr. Armstrong also had a college in Ephraim. Hosea 4:15-17 and Amos 4:4 show that Gilgal was a very evil city. Bethel is also mentioned in Amos 4:4. Apparently God established these schools in evil areas because He wanted to combat that evil as much as He could with His truth. God has to warn Israel, so He gets right in the middle of the evil to publicize that message.
Why did God establish these colleges? We can know the answer to that because we know why Mr. Armstrong established Ambassador College: Without it, the Work simply couldn’t grow. The Work kept falling apart as fast as he could build it because he didn’t have the ministerial and administrative help to keep people’s minds on what God was doing.
Through the college, God was able to deeply educate people in His vision! That is His goal. People don’t naturally have godly vision, but once He can educate them and point them in the right direction, they can do a great Work for God! That is also why we have established Herbert W. Armstrong College at the Philadelphia Church of God headquarters in Edmond, Oklahoma.
God truly wants His young people to catch the vision of His Work and His plan. To really grasp this takes a lot of effort on your part. Satan does all he can to keep you distracted and focused on the present. You really have to fight hard to combat that. Realize, 95 percent of the young people Mr. Armstrong worked so hard to educate didn’t get it. This is a rather sobering challenge. But that fabulous 5 percent who did get it are so special to God! If you can understand what God has in mind for you, it is truly inspiring!
Don’t Leave Elijah
The students of Elijah’s schools were called “the sons of the prophets” (1 Kings 20:35; 2 Kings 2:3; etc.). Elijah taught all about God’s Family. An inspiring proof of that fact comes right at the transfer of authority from Elijah to his student Elisha.
Elijah was about to be taken away by God. Apparently, Elijah was visiting his three colleges to say good-bye. He loved those young people and what they were achieving. His followers were extremely emotional about his departure. “And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel” (2 Kings 2:1-2). Elijah, as he went from college to college, kept offering Elisha the chance to stay behind. But Elisha would not leave Elijah’s side. How loyal Elisha was to his teacher!
When the two men arrived at the college in Bethel, they were greeted by the students. “And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace” (verse 3). I don’t know how these students knew God would take Elijah; He must have revealed it to them somehow. This same thing happened at the college in Jericho (verses 4-5). Surely the fact that Elijah was to be taken meant a great deal to these students, just as Mr. Armstrong’s death touched many of our lives.
It appears, though, that God wanted to test how dedicated Elisha was to Elijah. We can see that Elisha passed this test. “And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And [Elisha] said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on” (verse 6). Elisha had learned something most of God’s people still have not learned today, and that is not to leave Elijah! Even after he is dead, don’t leave the spirit of Elijah or what he taught.
Like Elisha, the true followers of Elijah won’t leave what Elijah taught. They say, with Elisha, I will not leave you—or what God taught through you! This is the kind of love and loyalty a leader must have for God and Mr. Armstrong (also his memory) in order to succeed today! This prophetic history teaches us exactly that! This prophecy reveals how the Church will succeed or fail. Elisha’s attitude will bring great success. The opposite attitude will be equally disastrous! If we are going to make it, we need Elisha’s attitude toward what Mr. Armstrong taught.
‘My Father, My Father’
“And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan” (2 Kings 2:7). There were 50 concerned students watching what Elijah and Elisha were doing by the Jordan River. They wanted to follow their leaders.
“And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground” (verse 8). What an impressive miracle! Today God provides us with many miracles of a different sort, but they do keep God’s people looking to His leaders.
“And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so” (verses 9-10). Elisha had asked for something only God could give. But as the next verse shows, God did give him a double portion of the Spirit so he could do the work God wanted him to do.
“And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (verse 11). This was an impressive sight. Elijah was taken to another part of the Earth. As Elisha watched that, he must have thought, Wow, I am going to receive a double portion of God’s Holy Spirit. I’m sure he remembered that miracle for the rest of his life.
Today we feel this has been fulfilled in type within the Philadelphia Church of God. First, we have all the revelation God gave to Mr. Armstrong. Second, we have all the revelation God has given to me since Mr. Armstrong’s death. In that sense, we have been given a double portion of God’s Holy Spirit too.
As Elijah was being taken away, Elisha cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof” (verse 12).
Elijah was not his physical father. But God did use that man to raise up His Work at that time, so Elijah was a spiritual father to all of his followers. That is because they came into God’s truth through him. Elijah was the instrument God used to call all of the other members. In that sense, they were all his sons.
Never forget Elisha’s statement, “My father, my father.” This gives you important insight into the family education he received from Elijah. This education taught him a lot about the magnificent office of the father. Elijah focused his students on God the Father and His Family. The Father is the Head. Our calling is all about the God Family vision. You must build this vision into the heart of your thinking. Today, we learn the lesson in God’s Church. Then in the World Tomorrow, we will help Jesus Christ, our Husband, lead the whole world into the Father’s Family!
Some people didn’t see Elijah’s office as one of importance, but Elisha saw that it was the only office that could lead and carry Israel forward! He called Elijah the “chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” He was saying, You’re the only chariot in Israel—the only one who will move this Work and this nation forward!
The only way to advance and grow is to get on board with God’s leader. If Israel is ever going to solve its problems, it will have to look to Elijah! That’s the only “chariot” that will carry them into the Kingdom of God. The God of heaven has one chariot. There is one chariot of Israel, and only the Elijah work has it and teaches about it. Through God’s power, that office saves spiritual Israel both physically and spiritually! It was Israel’s only hope—then and now! There is only one way we can soar and reach our goals: We have to climb on that chariot and use all the power that is there. If you rebel against that, you have lost your spiritual ride, and you are heading toward catastrophe!
It is not enough merely to have a pool of knowledge, even about God; the important thing is how we use that knowledge to move forward and accomplish the Work. We have to get on God’s chariot and know that if we do, we will move forward and nothing can stop that! We will always be going forward and accomplishing something if we are on this chariot empowered by God!
Elisha saw that, ultimately, all Israel would be governed by the foundational teachings of Elijah. He understood the value of the education Elijah had offered, and he was very emotional about it. His fruits prove that this was a heartfelt statement. It revealed Elisha’s beautiful attitude toward God and Elijah! The fact that Elisha thought this way reveals so much about the God Family education he received from Elijah. His statement, “My father, my father,” displayed a deep understanding and a beautiful attitude. God esteemed it so much that He used Elisha to replace Elijah. God loved his attitude. You can see why God chose him.
Some people today scoff at such an attitude, but it is very biblical. “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you” (1 Corinthians 4:14). Paul considered his followers to be his spiritual sons. Why? “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (verse 15). Paul said he was a father to them! That is because they received God’s gospel through Paul; they came to God through him.
In this end time, all the foundational revelation came through Mr. Armstrong, our spiritual father. Mr. Armstrong said the same to all of those who came to God, either directly or indirectly, through him. The abundant revelation God has given me since Mr. Armstrong’s death builds on his foundational instruction. But the Laodiceans refuse to recognize him as the end-time type of Elijah.
Elijah, Paul and Mr. Armstrong were all used by God to raise up His Work. Then all the people came into the truth through them directly or indirectly. Only in that sense are they “fathers.”
The End-Time Elijah
Mr. Armstrong was also a type of Levi, the father of the Levites. Malachi 2:4 shows that God made a covenant with Mr. Armstrong. Malachi 3:3 says that God will “purify the sons of Levi, and purge them”—those ministers who trained under him but then turned against him.
In our court case, we were saying the same thing: “My father, my father.” And, also as Elisha said, we were announcing to Elijah and to God, “I will not leave [you]” (2 Kings 2:2, 4, 6). That is what our court case was about!
Paul and Mr. Armstrong were rare because we have not many fathers. This “father” label is a very exalted calling from God!
The original Elijah and the end-time Elijah held extremely important “father” offices for God. The pcg, like Elisha, recognizes that fact. This is the foundational issue that sets the pcg apart from the Laodicean groups. It is such a vital principle to understand. If you follow the Elisha example in this respect, God will make you a king with a headquarters position forever. Why? Because this foundational truth points us to God the Father.
That does not mean Mr. Armstrong was or is to be called “father.” It is not a title. It’s just a spiritual fact. It simply means that God used him to help convert the rest of us. Elijah and Paul both understood this truth; however, neither Elijah nor Paul were addressed as “father.” That is forbidden by God’s law (Matthew 23:9). But God still used them as a “father figure” to call people into His truth.
The lukewarm Laodiceans show by the way they treat Mr. Armstrong’s teachings and writings that they are not honoring God the Father! (e.g. Malachi 1:6). People who fail to honor a spiritual father on Earth won’t honor their real spiritual Father in heaven! If you don’t understand the role Mr. Armstrong filled, you don’t understand God the Father!
God truly loves you. He is your Father. But you have to love Him back. God wants you to honor Him; He even wants your education to honor Him. Mr. Armstrong established Ambassador College to teach the young people that. If all those students had stuck with it, we would have many thousands of people in the Church today doing a spectacular work! We ought to have many more people helping to deliver God’s message, because it is the only hope in the world today.
All of the Laodiceans have dishonored God the Father, which means they have rejected God’s family government. This is the foremost reason why they are Laodicean.
Jesus Christ said, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). He repeatedly made such statements to honor and fortify the Father-Son family relationship. God is trying to get us to capture, or recapture, this God Family vision. We can rule in the God Family only after we prove to God that we will be ruled.
This Family understanding will keep us in God’s Church forever! Then God knows we shall always remain loyal to the Father and Son and anybody else they place over us. We must become locked into God’s family government—and accept the Family rule forever! This is a beautiful family vision that a person with a carnal attitude cannot grasp. God cannot reveal it to anyone who has a carnal attitude.
God prophesied that He would send an end-time Elijah to teach this fabulous vision. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6). This Elijah was to build strong physical families by teaching them about the God Family. Mr. Armstrong wrote a booklet titled Why Marriage—Soon Obsolete? He showed that marriage is a God-plane relationship that is a type of our marriage to Christ (Ephesians 5:22-32). He often asked, and answered, the revealing question “Why family?” He taught the Church that it too is a God-plane relationship—a type of the God Family. No other religion today has ever taught this amazing truth about God’s Family!
The whole book of Malachi is condemning God’s Laodicean Church, specifically the ministers. (You’ll find thorough proof in my book Malachi’s Message. We will send you a free copy upon request.) “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy [family] name?” (Malachi 1:6). They fail to honor their spiritual Father. This means they have lost the God Family vision taught by Mr. Armstrong. The ministers are the primary cause of this problem. If you properly understand Malachi 4:5-6, you will see that these rebellious ministers are in danger of losing their eternal lives! Malachi’s Message makes this clear.
How can we ever expect to enter God’s Family if we don’t even understand its government? If we do understand, God exalts and rewards us as He did Elisha! Elisha knew that God worked through one man—Elijah was their spiritual “father.” The college students were called sons because they understood the God Family vision. That is what the original Elijah taught them. And that is what Mr. Armstrong taught in the three colleges God raised up through him. God’s Family is the most profound truth in the Bible. It is the most wonderful, inspiring revelation from God! But we must be very humble for God to reveal it to us. Our loving Father yearns to reveal this fabulous potential. What a ghastly failure it is when God reveals it and we become lukewarm about such a vision.
The God Family understanding will be the foundation of education in the coming world. First of all, the true God must be revealed. The Father is offering only the firstfruits an opportunity to be Christ’s Bride forever in His Family. What a catastrophic failure if we fail to grasp our potential!
This precious knowledge is about to fill the Earth as the water fills the ocean beds! (Isaiah 11:9).
Chapter 11: Elisha: Carrying the Mantle of Elijah
Elijah had a mantle—some sort of cloak that distinguished him as a prophet of God. Even some of the leaders of the land seemed to understand this; they had more respect, or at least more awareness, of the prophet of God than they do today. Lange’s Commentary calls this mantle “The insignia of the office of the prophetical leader.”
In 1 Kings 19:13, Elijah wrapped his face in his mantle when God spoke to him. Later in that chapter, Elijah cast his mantle upon Elisha when he called him.
Some time after, just before God took him, Elijah struck the Jordan with his mantle and the river opened up so he and Elisha could walk across (2 Kings 2:8). So obviously there was a lot of power emanating from that mantle.
You can read in 1 Samuel 15:22-28 how Samuel’s mantle being rent symbolized the Kingdom of Israel being ripped away from Saul. God’s power is associated with that mantle, and so is the fate of the nations of Israel!
How does this apply in our day? Who picked up the mantle of the end-time Elijah? The answer to this question is obvious to anyone who looks into it honestly. In so many ways, God has made it clear where the Elijah work is being done today. The Philadelphia Church of God holds fast to the instruction of Herbert W. Armstrong. We publish and freely distribute all of Mr. Armstrong’s major books and booklets, of which God has given us the copyrights. God has opened doors for us to continue some of Mr. Armstrong’s humanitarian efforts, most notably by allowing us to carry on with archaeological excavations in the City of David in Jerusalem. On top of that, God has even committed into our care certain physical treasures from Mr. Armstrong’s work, including a Steinway concert grand piano from Ambassador Auditorium, some brass lettering from an inscription and two exquisite candelabras that were on display in the lobby of that building, and an inspiring sculpture by Sir David Wynne, Swans in Flight, that Mr. Armstrong commissioned for the Ambassador College campus in Big Sandy and that now graces the front of Armstrong Auditorium. These physical objects are nowhere near as important as Mr. Armstrong’s spiritual legacy, which we hold, protect and perpetuate, but they are certainly additional signs God has given that demonstrate the continuation of the Elijah work after Mr. Armstrong died.
God is repeatedly reminding the pcg that we are still doing the Elijah work today. There was not one work under Mr. Armstrong and then a separate work today. The two are tied together into a single work. This is not the “Elisha work.” It is the Elijah work in the Laodicean era of God’s Church.
Note the importance of the symbolism in that mantle! Again, the prophet’s mantle has everything to do with the fate of Israel! Today the nations of Israel are hurtling toward disaster, and God’s prophet is the only one on the scene to warn them. Modern leaders are going before the pope and other religious leaders in a supposed effort to learn God’s view. But, as presumptuous as this may sound, the only place they will find God’s perspective today is from me and this Philadelphia Church! They can only find the answers where the mantle is. That may seem like the wildest exaggeration, but it is truth of God that you can prove from your own Bible.
The time came when Elijah was taken away in a whirlwind to another part of the Earth. Elisha cried “My father, my father …” and tore his clothes (2 Kings 2:12). Then something else significant happened: “He [Elisha] took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan” (verse 13). Elijah’s mantle fell, and it was obvious to everyone that it fell on Elisha. This was an outward sign that the responsibility of being God’s man had shifted.
There are types here. Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah. God gave him a tremendous amount of revelation, which he wrote into numerous books and booklets. After he died, we held on to those works and then printed and distributed them for free. When the Worldwide Church of God sued us for copyright infringement, we fought six years in court for the right to keep printing that literature—and eventually bought those copyrights. Now we make all of Mr. Armstrong’s most important material freely available to anyone who asks for it. It makes sense that there would be some outward symbolic signs of where his mantle is now.
Soon the whole world will be educated in the works of Mr. Armstrong that we fought for. In fact, this process has already started! What good is having all that truth if we don’t deliver it to the world?
Elisha had to take some action—he took up the mantle of Elijah. Spiritually, I had to do the same thing. All of God’s faithful people have had to take up the cause of that mantle. Nobody pushed us to do this. We must reach out and take some aggressive action, or nothing happens.
The copyright victory showed what God will do for us when we do as Elisha did! This means accepting God’s form of government.
Where Is the God of Elijah?
After Elisha took up Elijah’s mantle, notice what happened: “And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters [the first time], and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters [a second time], they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over” (2 Kings 2:14). Elisha had the mantle, but the first time he smote the waters, nothing happened. Then, after he said, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” and smote the waters again, they parted!
I believe God was giving Elisha some subtle correction here: Elisha, there will be no parting of the waters until you get your priorities straight. He wanted him to acknowledge the God of Elijah!
There is a precision in the way we have to do things, or that mantle won’t empower this Church. We have to put God first, or it won’t work. If we don’t get on our knees first, the waters will not part for us. This is about God using a man—but it is God’s power. That is what He was reminding Elisha about. Of course, Elisha realized his mistake very quickly and corrected himself.
God does give that mantle to a man. Someone had to step out and say, We are going to print Mystery of the Ages! Then a group of people had to stand behind that decision and say, Amen! That message must be taken to the world! It takes God’s government to get that done. It takes a man who has the spiritual mantle.
But it’s not about the man—it’s about the God of Elijah! Is He really alive? The same God who gave Mr. Armstrong that enormous work? Yes, He is!
Do you want to know how to do the Work of God today? How to have doors open for you—even rivers, if necessary? Here is the formula. Elisha knew where the God of Elijah was, and he was following his spiritual father. So God opened up the river for him, just as He had for Elijah.
The problem with the lukewarm Laodiceans is that they don’t honestly ask where the God of Elijah is! God did a powerful work through Mr. Armstrong. So where is that God today? He did not die with Mr. Armstrong. Yet none of the Laodicean groups have that kind of power. They don’t receive and proclaim God’s revelation. They don’t have the right government. We must find and remain with the God of Elijah and continue doing the Elijah work! The Laodiceans will be held accountable for the fact that they were with that God for so long and now they have left Him and rejected the Elijah work. The fact is, they are not interested in where He is! If they wanted to know, they would submit to God’s government and end up in God’s true Church.
Our copyright victory is an outward sign of exactly where the mantle is and where the God of Elijah is! This is something people can’t ignore.
Here is something else extraordinary: The wcg agreed to sell us the copyrights of that material on January 16, 2003. That was the anniversary of Mr. Armstrong’s death in 1986—a date that God has emphasized repeatedly. The fact that the wcg agreed to that deal on January 16 was a sign in two ways: First, it pointed to God’s end-time Elijah; second, it pointed to the Church today that has the mantle of Elijah. God wants to make sure people know where that mantle is—which is where the God of Elijah is! This is something anyone can see.
The Laodiceans will have to come to where the mantle of Elijah is, because that is where God is! God really wants them to see where the God of Elijah is.
There is only one reason God has the “mantle” of Elijah: to get people’s minds focused on the God of Elijah. When we stop looking to the God of Elijah, the revelation and miracles will stop. The major proof of where the God of Elijah is, is new revelation. God is speaking to His very elect through new revelation! What a blessing to be in the Church where God is speaking.
God has repeatedly shown with power that the mantle of Elijah is here!
Elisha picked up Elijah’s mantle and then went to cross back over the Jordan. He smote the waters with the mantle, and the waters parted. This was a clear sign that God was now using Elisha. “And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him” (2 Kings 2:15). These young students were deeply submissive to God’s government. It is sad that more of Mr. Armstrong’s “students” do not have this kind of attitude.
God used miracles to show these students who His man was. Today, He shows us who His man is by giving him new revelation for the very elect. Malachi’s Message is the greatest single book in the world to show you where God is working today. It points you to what is really the greatest book in the world after the Bible: Mystery of the Ages, written by Herbert W. Armstrong, the end-time type of God’s Elijah. God makes clear where He is working.
When these 50 students realized Elijah was gone, they wanted to go and look for him (verse 16). Elisha told them they wouldn’t find Elijah, but they kept insisting on going after him. Young people can be quite insistent at times. “And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not. And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?” (verses 17-18).
The point is, Elisha didn’t use a heavy hand with these students. He used the same loving family government that Elijah had. They were learning about their new leader. They came to him for counsel and didn’t want to heed it, so they went on a worthless search for three days. But they learned, the hard way, that Elisha could be trusted.
Elisha performed far more miracles than Elijah. John the Baptist, who was also a type of Elijah, didn’t perform miracles; yet Christ said there was no man greater than John (Matthew 11:11). So we cannot judge righteousness by miracles.
Scholars today have labeled Elisha a “peripheral prophet.” That means he was not deeply involved in society, just as we are not today because you can’t be and still serve God.
Elijah established colleges in Gilgal, Bethel and Jericho (2 Kings 2:1-5). Mr. Armstrong taught that the original Elijah will lead the educational system in the World Tomorrow. Then John the Baptist will work under him, and Mr. Armstrong, who taught so much about true education, will work under John. The Philadelphia Church will work under Mr. Armstrong. We will be teaching the world very soon. God wants to motivate us by getting our minds on this future.
Looking at how important education was to Elijah, don’t you think, if you could find the mantle of Elijah today, you would find people who were interested in having a college like Elijah had? After all, Elisha took over the schools of Elijah. It makes sense that they would be training their youth to replace the older people—training dedicated people who will fight and even die for the truth.
This is another instance where we are demonstrating that we will not leave Elijah! We refuse to leave what he taught! We teach just like Elijah did and get our students grounded in what Elijah taught—which is the foundation of tomorrow’s education. Herbert W. Armstrong College and Imperial Academy are tied directly into the return of Jesus Christ!
An interesting side point is that some of these “sons of the prophets” were married students (2 Kings 4:1), just like I was when I went to Ambassador College.
Verse 38 shows the students in a classroom-type session: “And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth [famine] in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.” Where it says they were “sitting before him,” the verb sit implies a session or school. Again, God wants us to be educated. If you seek to become educated, then the same God who parted the river for Elisha will educate you—one way or another.
As these students were preparing the food, one gathered some wild herbs and put them in the pottage. When they ate, they realized something was wrong with the food. Here is how Elisha handled this problem: “But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot” (verse 41). This was a great miracle performed for these young people.
God has given this Church many miracles, and opened many doors for this Work! I believe that with our increased understanding, God holds us more accountable than He did those students of Elisha. They did not have near the amount of truth that we have.
“And there came a man from Baal-shalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat” (verse 42). Here was a layman who brought his firstfruits to the college. Everybody wanted to serve God.
“And his servitor said, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat: for thus saith the Lord, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof. So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the Lord” (verses 43-44). By this time there were 100 students, so the college was growing. And notice: There was plenty of food left over after these young people had eaten. That too was quite a miracle!
Realize that if you are loyal to God and submit to His government, He will perform miracles for you—great and small. He did it for these students time and time again. Let’s look at one more example.
The Floating Ax
“And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us” (2 Kings 6:1). The sons of the prophets were facing a problem. The college building was getting too small, and the students wanted to build a bigger place for themselves. They didn’t have enough land. So they asked Elisha if they could build in another area, down by the Jordan. They were clearly subject to God’s government.
Elisha consented to their plan. The students wanted Elisha to come with them, so he did. The group was by the river, chopping down timber for the new building. Then an accident happened: “But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed” (verse 5). That iron ax head fell straight to the bottom of the river.
This son of the prophets had character, which he was taught by Elijah and Elisha. (Mr. Armstrong also taught his students how to live first, then how to make a living.) The young man lost an ax that was borrowed, and it troubled him intensely. Because of his character, he was very emotional over this loss. He went to his master, or boss, and asked for direction. God’s family government was obviously there.
Anyplace where you find God’s family government, you will find many inspiring miracles! “And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim [float]. Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it” (verses 6-7). Because this student was so faithful and obedient to God, the ax swam to him! Probably only four to six people in the whole world ever saw this event. But it was still a spectacular miracle from God—performed before His little flock!
This certainly must have been inspiring for these students. God wanted these young people to learn that if you are loyal to Him, He will work amazing miracles in your life. If you back God’s Work, you can expect miracles because they will happen!
We know that most people scoff at such miracles. But God has always performed mighty miracles for His own Family. He always has and will forever do so! This ax miracle is a prophecy that God will continue to perform miracles for those submissive to His family government!
The swimming ax is trivial compared to God’s miraculous plan to build His Family. The world knows almost nothing about God and His Family today. They reject His family government and, as a result, lack the faith to ever experience such miracles. This is why the firstfruits are called out now. Soon the world will understand about the miracle of the ax. We will teach them. We must understand that this is why we are called today. We are not called just to be saved. We must qualify to teach the entire world, or we won’t even be a part of God’s Family!
The Apostle Paul got upset with the Hebrews. At a time when they should have been teachers, someone had to go back and teach them the basics—again (Hebrews 5:12).
God’s true Church is a college to train teachers. A new civilization is being prepared right now. And only a small minority of God’s own people grasp this vision. Only they will become pillars in God’s headquarters temple. Only they will be qualified to administer God’s loving government.
A God in Israel
Elisha became famous throughout Israel for the miracles that were happening within his schools and beyond. Eventually that fame spread beyond Israel’s borders.
The captain of the Syrian army, Naaman, was a great man, but he was a leper. He had probably been all around the world trying to find a cure for his condition. During one of his military strikes, his men captured an Israelite woman who then served Naaman’s wife. This woman told Naaman about Elisha, saying the prophet of Israel could heal Naaman’s leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-4). The Syrians were no friends of the Israelites; I don’t imagine Naaman was terribly excited about this.
Nevertheless, the Syrian king sent a letter to the king of Israel. “And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy” (verse 6). When Israel’s king heard this, he thought he was being personally asked to heal Naaman. He assumed the Syrian king was trying to provoke a war and became angry. He knew he couldn’t heal anyone.
But when Elisha heard about the letter, he sent a message to the king saying, “[L]et him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel” (verse 8). That is a bold statement! Bring him to me, and I’ll show him there’s a God in Israel. He can’t learn that from you, O king!
So Naaman came to Elisha’s house and stood at the door. Notice what happened: “And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (verse 10). Elisha didn’t even come to the door himself. He sent one of these college students, no doubt, to tell Naaman to wash in the Jordan seven times.
Elisha wanted Naaman looking to God, not to any man. Mr. Armstrong did the same thing throughout his ministry.
The messenger’s directive didn’t sit well with Naaman, this great warrior. He got angry over the fact that Elisha didn’t deal with him directly, and he left in a rage. But his servants were able to cool him down and convince him to do as the student had instructed. “Then went he [Naaman] down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (verse 14). He wouldn’t have been healed had he dipped six times. You must do it God’s way if you want to be healed.
Naaman recognized that a miracle had occurred. “And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him [this time he met directly with Elisha]: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel …” (verse 15).
Here is what God’s Work must teach the world! This impressive Gentile leader learned from Elisha that the only God in all the Earth is Israel’s God. This is what we will teach the whole world!
Remember, this is prophecy. Sometime in the near future, God is going to begin to pound the heads of the kings of today’s world, and they will come to recognize that there is only one God, and everything else is just a dumb idol. God is only leading the faithful little remnant of spiritual Israel, or God’s true Church—the one doing the Elijah work! The whole world will be educated about God by us and all of God’s firstfruits!
Naaman was so appreciative of the healing that he wanted to give something in return. “I pray thee, take a blessing [or a present] of thy servant,” he said (2 Kings 5:15). He wanted to donate silver and gold and physical goods.
Of course, Elisha flatly refused. “But he said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused” (verse 16). You can understand why. If someone is anointed by a minister and then wants to pay him for that healing, that would be very dangerous. God performs the healing; the minister just prays and anoints as God directs. The ministers are not in it for money; they are here to bring people to God the Father.
After Naaman left and traveled a short distance, notice what happened: “But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the Lord liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him” (verse 20). Gehazi had to be one of the outstanding college students to be Elisha’s servant. But he got materialistic here. Elisha didn’t take anything, the student thought. I’ll go and get something.
“So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well? And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me [that was a lie], saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets [this may have been a lie, too]: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments” (verses 21-22). Gehazi wanted silver and gold, and was willing to lie to get it, clearly going against Elisha’s wishes.
Naaman complied, giving him what he asked. It took two of his servants to help Gehazi bear the huge load back home. Of course, Gehazi dismissed the servants some distance from the house and stashed the wealth before coming back to Elisha—very unethical behavior. “But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither [another lie]” (verse 25). This outstanding student had a serious lapse here and became spiritually weak.
Then Elisha started asking his student some hard questions. “And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow” (verses 26-27).
It is very serious to work against God’s Holy Spirit and His Work, whether you are young or old. This was a terrible punishment for Gehazi. But the same will happen to anyone who makes his mistake. You may think you won’t get leprosy by doing something along these lines, but consider those who leave the Church and don’t come back. The Tribulation is much worse to experience than leprosy—and they will know while they are in it that they could have escaped! Young people who have been taught by God’s type of Elisha today and who act this way are displaying spiritual leprosy. They will pay a severe penalty.
Is it a time to receive money? To get caught up in things? Everywhere you look in this world, there are things to distract you. It’s not that God does not want you to have those things, but you had better never put any of them before God!
Instead, be careful to stay with God and with what His Elijah taught. Make sure you understand the wonderful instruction and lessons Mr. Armstrong taught for years. Make those teachings a part of your thinking! That will help protect your mind from materialism and other such spiritual traps.
Our Spiritual Army
God’s Work is the greatest endeavor any of us could be involved in. But as Elisha’s students learned, sometimes the work can be dangerous.
An example in 2 Kings 9 illustrates the point. Elisha gave one of his students the honor of anointing the next king of Israel. But notice his instructions: “Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead: And when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber; Then take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not” (verses 1-3).
Elisha was living in a dangerous time. He got involved in some dangerous warfare. Those young people had to be courageous to serve him. They had to trust God, because they could have lost their lives. But what an honor to be associated with that Work! In this case, the young student changed the course of history.
In another instance, Elisha had incurred the wrath of the king of Syria, and the king sent a whole army to kill him. The story is related in 2 Kings 6. The king of Syria was angry because he thought one of his servants was revealing secrets to the Israelites. But there was no spy in Syria: The informer was the Prophet Elisha!
In the middle of this traumatic series of events, one of the sons of the prophets had a faith problem. But he knew he had to go to God and Elisha to build his faith. He was clearly submissive to Elisha, his “master”—or God’s government.
The Syrian king asked which of his servants was betraying him. “And one of his [the Syrian king’s] servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber. And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan. Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about” (verses 12-14). This was a massive army—come to capture one man!
It appeared Elisha was in grave danger. “And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?” (verse 15). That great army surrounded the city where Elisha was staying, and when this young college student saw it, he quaked with fear.
The student saw this vast Syrian army and believed there was no hope. All he needed was more faith in how God protects His Family, those who are subject to His government.
This is what most people fail to grasp. This is why most of God’s people and the world are deceived. Because they rebel against His government, they don’t see God as a great miracle worker. This is such a difficult lesson for humans to understand. Thankfully, this servant went to Elisha for help. He followed God’s government.
How did Elisha respond? Today, how should we respond when we are besieged by seemingly insurmountable problems? Think about this: If you saw a huge mechanized army surrounding Edmond, looking to kill me, that would be rather frightening! That is exactly what happened to Elisha.
This was an opportunity for this college student to learn a great lesson of faith. Elisha spoke up, “And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (verse 16). Here were two men. One saw only the enemy’s army. But Elisha saw another army that the young man didn’t.
“And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (verse 17). God showed His young son a vast army of angels with chariots of fire, ready to attack the Syrians. Then that student realized how helpless the enemy was against God’s army! That made the student feel very secure!
This army is still protecting us today! I wonder how well we see it. Why do we win court cases? Why do great doors open for us? Why do we have so much new revelation? Because there is a real, spiritual army fighting for us and for God’s Work! We must see that reality as Elisha did.
Remember the lesson Elisha taught this student: We never have to fear marching into battle. The Elisha group has a great work to do. We will be severely opposed at times. But there is no need for us to worry. To keep ourselves from faltering, we have to know that we are being protected and looked after. There is a mighty army supporting us!
Do you see a gigantic army of fiery angels protecting the Elijah work today? You can see why we must have faith to do God’s Work! We must see the invisible!
How did the story end? The Syrian soldiers became blind, and Elisha led them back to Israel as captives. One man led a whole army of blind soldiers back to Israel! Can you imagine that? What a powerful miracle!
Then the prophet convinced the Israelite king to let them go, and that army never attacked Israel again (verse 23). They knew that God was in Israel. Do you know that God is in Israel? Do we understand that deeply? The living God is in spiritual Israel—doing His Work through the Philadelphia Church of God!
What an awesome testimony. What a faith-building example for that student! Elisha was a magnificent educator.
This is how God has always protected His obedient Family. It is a prophecy of how God protects His Elijah work today. That is why Mr. Armstrong did such a towering work in spite of his many enemies. This is the reason God’s Philadelphia Church today does such a powerful work with only a tiny group of people!
God’s mighty army with chariots of fire is always there to support His Work! There will always be many battles. Some battles may be lost—but God’s people always win the war if we are obedient to God’s family government.
Why wouldn’t the all-powerful, omnipotent God always protect the Family He loves? God always has. But only a few people have ever believed God!
In future crises, we need to understand this truth profoundly. Then we can have relaxed faith and not be continually stressed out in our spiritual war. We must continue to build the faith to see God’s army! Again, God always protects the Family He governs.
This is the foundation of our future civilization! This is the heart of God’s educational system in the World Tomorrow. Soon God’s Family will be comprised of every obedient human being who ever lived. Christ’s Bride will be used to teach them by example and instruction. The Bride is a critical part of God’s Family and educational system. That is why these lessons are taught in the former prophets. It is prophecy of our marvelous future. This is not new. God’s Family has always understood that He protects them. God promised He would “reveal it unto babes”—to those who are childlike and submitted to their Father (Matthew 18:1-3).
God’s army is real. These prophecies are real. We must build the faith to believe God. That kind of faith will revolutionize any person’s life.
Prophecies Affect the Nation
Elisha did his work in the midst of difficult and dangerous times. He had a very alarming message against Israel, just as we have today! And it was very upsetting to the king and rulers of Israel, as we will see.
2 Kings 4:38 says that when Elisha was visiting one of the colleges, “there was a dearth in the land”—a great drought, a sign of curses being on the nation. In recent years, terrible drought has hit Oklahoma, where God’s college is today. Heavy droughts have also hit Texas and California, the sites of the two Ambassador College campuses in the United States. God takes care of His people, but just as in Elisha’s day, we do sometimes feel the effects of God’s wrath on national Israel.
After that harrowing incident with the Syrian army, the Bible records, “And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver” (2 Kings 6:24-25). This famine was so grievous that people were eating the worst parts of unclean animals.
Israel’s king passed by a woman who called to him for help, and she told him about unimaginably abominable cannibalism that was going on in the nation (verses 26-29). This tragedy directly fulfilled God’s warning prophecy in Deuteronomy 28:53 and 57!
“And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh. Then he said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day” (2 Kings 6:30-31). The king reasoned that Elisha’s prophecy actually caused Israel’s collapse! The king was determined to kill God’s prophet.
It can be very dangerous to speak God’s prophecies. But we must not forget that God’s unconquerable angelic army is fighting for the Philadelphia Church of God. We, like Elisha, are going to impact the lives of kings and nations! Nothing can stop the living God!
It was in this context that Elisha sent one of his disciples to King Ahab and Jezebel on that dangerous mission (2 Kings 9:1-8). The messenger delivered a frightening message, saying that the dogs were going to eat Jezebel (verses 9-10). That is exactly what ended up happening (verses 30-37). She became dog dung! She could no longer deceive and force others to embrace her false religion.
Jezebel is a type of the great religious whore of Revelation 17. So this is really a prophecy of that church’s end. It is going to become dog dung!
We are about to see the end of Satan’s great rebellion. We have seen how this great false religion has even made heavy inroads into God’s Laodicean Church today. Soon this satanic religion will be history.
The Chariot of Israel
Toward the end of his life, Elisha had a good relationship with the king of Israel. Notice this astounding passage: “Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof” (2 Kings 13:14). King Joash said the same thing about Elisha that Elisha had said of Elijah! (2 Kings 2:12).
What a wonderful thing for a king to say of a religious leader! The king knew that Elisha was the only “chariot” that would bring Israel (and the world) to success. God brought that king to this realization.
God’s Elijah work is “the chariot of Israel.” If we don’t “hitch our wagon to this star,” we will go no place. That king was a type of all the prominent people who will be brought to David during the World Tomorrow and then instructed in what Elijah taught and pointed to God the Father. Here God gave us an example of a king who knew where to look to solve his nation’s problems: the chariot of Israel.
This isn’t just another work. It is the Work that will save the world! God will bring all the world to this “chariot of Israel,” and He will do so through His people. Soon we will educate the whole world! We will build the Family of God like Elijah and Elisha did. We are learning today to tell people how to solve their problems, how to be kings and priests, how to look to God and build His Family.
That is why God’s very elect are the true royalty of God. We are the most honored people on Earth today! We honor God the Father, and He turns around and looks after us in miraculous ways.
God records one final statement about what He thinks of Elisha, the man who served Him so well, the man who continually pointed his students back to Elijah.
“And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet” (2 Kings 13:20-21). Here a dead man just touched the bones of Elisha, and he was instantly brought back to life!
We are part of the same work that Elisha did. We continue the Elijah work. What a fabulous history we have. Yet we understand more truth today than God’s people ever have in the past! There has never been a greater opportunity to learn God’s truth than today!God has great plans for us. He wants to educate us to be kings and priests! Take advantage of the opportunity and the education available to you. Use this truth, build your faith, and let God work miracles in your life! Then, when we reach a successful end, we will be able to look back on these times today with great joy!
The Shunammite: How to Be Great
Chapter 4 of 2 Kings contains the example of someone God called “a great woman” (verse 8). Why great? She wasn’t heading a corporation or joining the army. The Bible doesn’t talk about her doing anything—except that she discerned by the fruits and by the Holy Spirit that Elisha was God’s representative. She was great because she perceived that Elisha was a man of God!
Do you perceive a man of God when you see one? Do you recognize God’s ministers? Do you know there is a man of God who has the mantle of Elijah? For those who don’t know that, extreme suffering will be the result. We must know! And God says, if you perceive that, you are great. That should be encouraging to every single person in God’s Church.
This woman wanted to do all she could to help God’s man (verse 10). She prayed for Elisha, probably every day. There is no telling how many of those prayers God answered for her.
This Shunammite woman wanted a child, and God gave her one because she was great (verse 17). When the child was in his late teens, he died (verse 20). That could have devastated this woman, but instead she went straight to Elisha and asked for his help. She wouldn’t leave him until he helped her (verse 30). Because of her faithful attitude, God raised her child from the dead! (verses 34-35). All because this great woman perceived Elisha was a man of God!
Is this example just ancient history? No—it is for today! It is about understanding where the mantle of Elijah is. The miracles we receive are often different, but this story shows you how to be great.
Do you know deeply where the Elijah work is today? Those who perceive that and support it will be rewarded with a headquarters job with God for eternity! If we support God and His Work, we cannot lose. What a glorious opportunity God has given us!
Chapter 12: David’s Throne: The Lamp in a Dark World
Solomon was succeeded by his son Rehoboam (1 Kings 11:43), who quickly made terrible mistakes. “But he forsook the counsel of the old men,” it says (1 Kings 12:8). He was not a good king, and Israel rebelled against him and against the house of David—as they do to this day (verse 19). This caused the division of Israel into two nations, just as it is causing appalling division within spiritual Israel, or God’s Church, today.
The northern kingdom never recovered. From the time Israel broke away until its fall to Assyria in 2 Kings 17, the record of every single king of Israel is evil! The northern kingdom suffered through the instability of nine different dynasties. What a devastating picture of what happens when you rebel against David’s throne!
The southern kingdom also had considerable problems, but God did preserve David’s throne. He ensured “that David my servant may have a light [or lamp] always before me” (1 Kings 11:36). Unlike the northern kingdom, Judah maintained one continuous line of rulers. God’s promise is sure!
Though Judah had its share of evil kings, it also had several righteous kings who periodically helped restore godly worship. Sadly, Judah eventually succumbed to its sins and went into captivity as well. That is how the books of the former prophets conclude.
Nevertheless, those kings who followed the righteous example of their father David had success. The same is true of God’s kings today—and it will hold true forever!
Judah and the city of Jerusalem were conquered by Babylon. Then the lamp—the light of David’s throne—was moved to Ireland. After Ireland, the throne was moved to Scotland and then to Britain. Today there is a new throne, which you can learn about by requesting our free book The New Throne of David.
Herbert W. Armstrong’s work and the Philadelphia Church of God today have added fiery brilliance to that lamp of David’s throne—spiritually! God has empowered the pcg to do so today by revealing an even deeper understanding of God’s promise to David.
The proper translation from the Hebrew in 1 Kings 11:36 is lamp, not “light.” That lamp continues to burn until Christ returns and rules this world from that throne!
Through Jeremiah, God made two covenants: one to David and one to the Levites. These two covenants were to keep that lamp burning brilliantly.
“For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually” (Jeremiah 33:17-18). God made a promise that there would never lack a man to sit on David’s throne. That covenant itself is a lamp to this world. But there is another covenant made to the spiritual Levites today, that there will always be a man magnifying that lamp for God.
Zechariah discusses seven lamps, representing a prophecy of the seven eras of the New Testament Church (Revelation 1:20). We are now in the seventh and last era. “And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:1-6). The oil in that lamp is a type of God’s Holy Spirit.
God’s message today about David’s throne is empowered by His Holy Spirit. That means the lamp of David’s throne is shining brightly in this world today.
Anybody can see and understand the truth if they desire to do so.
There is a message being proclaimed to this world by God’s very elect today that revolves around David’s throne. It is called the “key of David” (Revelation 3:7-8). That key unlocks the true meaning of David’s throne spiritually.
This world is without excuse. God’s lamp is spreading its light around the world. Billions of people can access this message and understand. Most of them will not at this time. But the message will still be a witness against them.
The suffering of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord will cause, but not force, millions to get to know God. Then they will look to Christ and His Bride sitting on David’s throne for leadership.
Here is the only hope for this dark, evil world. God never leaves us without hope! That hope is fully explained in our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.
That lamp burns forever. It is about to fill this world with its light. Jesus Christ’s imminent return is certain. A new civilization is about to be given to this dangerous world!
During Rehoboam’s reign, sin spread wildly: “For they also built them high places, and images, and groves [these are all used in pagan worship], on every high hill, and under every green tree. And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel” (1 Kings 14:23-24). These men were committing acts that God called abominations.
Some years later, Rehoboam’s grandson, Asa, turned that situation around. “And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did David his father. And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made” (1 Kings 15:11-12). Asa looked to David’s example and took bold action to put the nation back on track.
You know that this was not easy to accomplish! People’s tendency is always to go deeper into sin. Reversing course requires painful confrontation. It takes conviction and spiritual courage. God was very pleased with what Asa did, even though the king didn’t completely finish the job (verse 14).
Asa was succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat, who was also righteous. Jehoshaphat assumed the throne of Judah during the fourth year of Ahab’s evil rule over Israel (1 Kings 22:41). “And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of the Lord …” (verse 43). One item of business was to finish what his father had started: “And the remnant of the sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa, he took out of the land” (verse 46). Again, this upright king just drove the sodomites out of the country! If they didn’t get out, they died. And God approved.
What is your view about sodomy? Is it the same as God’s? Today, the nations of Israel are steeped in this sin! We are up to our eyeballs in Sodom and Gomorrah! Society is aggressively promoting same-sex “marriage.” This isn’t marriage at all; it is right out of the mind of the devil—yet it is being encouraged from the very top today! As we saw with Jeroboam, leaders can “make” the people to sin (e.g. 1 Kings 14:16). God holds the leaders accountable. If they keep talking about a sin—and talking about it, and talking about it—it is inevitable, given the tendencies and weaknesses of human nature, that the people will grow accustomed to it. Then they joke about it. Then they accept it. And in their attitudes, they become sodomites!
What does God think? He had these kings drive the sodomites out! That is clear. Anybody ought to know what the Bible says about this, yet how many religious people do you see actually speaking out against the terrible sodomy in this land? They reason that it is ok, and most of them strongly support it! But human reasoning does not determine whether something is right or wrong—God’s reasoning does! Anybody who knows anything about the Bible ought to know that! Many of them do, but they will not accept it. People even argue that the Bible approves of this abomination. Are they being honest? Of course not!
God tells His Church that we must warn people of the results of this sin. We have written a booklet on the subject called Redefining Family, which explains God’s thinking about it (request a free copy). This is an extremely unpopular message. Do you think there might be a clash between God’s people and this Sodom-and-Gomorrah society? I perceive that we are going to have some conflict there.
Widespread sodomy is a sign that our society is about to collapse. Why? Because sodomy is the fruit of a far greater sin, the breakdown of the family. Strong families make strong nations, and upside-down, broken families produce a Sodom-and-Gomorrah society.
We were prophesied to have a breakdown of families in the nations of Israel, especially the U.S., Britain and the Jewish nation (Isaiah 3:1-12).
Sodomy is a matter of cause and effect, contrary to most human reasoning.
It is time we listened to God, the Creator of man and his mind!
We live during the darkest time of Israel’s history ever. People are proudly, arrogantly walking in the way of Jeroboam. Amos 7:10-13 prophesy of a confrontation between an end-time Jeroboam and a prophet of God. These examples in the former prophets teach us many lessons we need to know in this end time.
1 Kings 15 describes the short reign of Abijam over Judah. He was a wicked king, yet verse 4 says, “Nevertheless for David’s sake did the Lord his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem.” A similar statement is made during the reign of evil Jehoram: “he did evil in the sight of the Lord. Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah for David his servant’s sake, as he promised him to give him alway a light, and to his children” (2 Kings 8:18-19).
God always gives us a lamp or a light to show men the way of God. But man rejects that lamp even if it is God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, bringing that light!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). Christ’s life was the light of men. “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (verse 5).
This dark world even rejected God in the flesh and crucified Him. We are all guilty of that crucifixion because of our sins.
That example illustrates how hard and rebellious our human nature is. And how we fail to comprehend the light of God!
Satan is always trying to stamp out the throne of David and lead God’s people into sin. Judah went through a terrible period under some very evil kings, and an effort was made to stamp out David’s line (2 Kings 11:1). But God preserved that royal lineage by protecting Joash (or Jehoash).
Under Joash’s reign and the influence of Jehoida the priest, the house of Baal was destroyed and the covenant with God renewed. Joash even repaired the temple that was broken down (2 Kings 12). Not everything was done correctly, though. Sadly, after Jehoida died, Joash made some serious mistakes and descended into idolatry. Because of sin, Judah became oppressed by the Syrians, and Joash was killed by his own servants in a conspiracy (2 Chronicles 24:24-26).
Joash’s son Amaziah also had a relatively righteous reign, but didn’t serve God wholeheartedly, to the standard of King David (2 Kings 14:3). His rule was concluded by a defeat at the hands of Israel and—like his father—an assassination (verses 19-20).
Then came the rule of Amaziah’s son Uzziah (also called Azariah), who also started out righteously (2 Kings 15:3). “And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:5). Uzziah enjoyed military successes and rebuilt and fortified Judah and Jerusalem. But then he forgot who gave him his blessings. He acted presumptuously and went into the temple to burn incense on the golden altar—as if he were a priest!
Some valiant priests confronted him: “And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God” (verse 18). Uzziah never should have been in there! Serious problems happen when you have people trying to do the job of God’s ministers whom God has not placed in that job. In God’s Church during this Laodicean era, we have suffered terrible problems from people who don’t belong in the ministry, who aren’t thinking like God or leading people to God. That is a very serious sin in God’s eyes!
For this sin, God struck Uzziah with leprosy, essentially bringing his reign to an abrupt end (verses 19-21). At some point around this time, a great earthquake struck that is referred to in the prophets (Amos 1:1; Zechariah 14:5). Josephus says this event happened while Uzziah was right there in the temple, causing massive damage to the structure (Antiquities, ix, 10:4).
Spiritually, we have seen such an earthquake rock the Laodicean Church. The city of Laodicea in the first century was repeatedly struck by earthquakes. The same is true spiritually of Laodicea in this end time.
These kings performed some positive acts, but they were ultimately failures because they did not go wholly after the lamp of David’s throne—and they did not remain faithful to the end. Half-hearted obedience will ultimately end in disaster. God truly wants us to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Doing so will change your life in a dramatic way—forever!
Whom Will You Trust?
The next king of Judah who is commended in Scripture is Uzziah’s son Jotham: “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done” (2 Kings 15:34). As we saw in Chapter Seven, Jotham’s mother was a “daughter of Zadok” (verse 33). She surely played an important role in Jotham’s education, and helped raise a king who served God.
Two of the most loyal priests under King David were Abiathar and Zadok, Abiathar being the chief priest and Zadok serving under him. A rebellion rose up under the leadership of David’s son Absalom and many in Israel turned against David to follow Absalom. Abiathar and Zadok did not.
Later, when David was getting quite old, another son, Adonijah, rose up against him. This time Abiathar made the mistake of siding with the rebellion. Perhaps he believed David really had grown too old for his job. The high priest turned on the king! For David, that betrayal must have been one of the most depressing moments of his life.
But Zadok remained faithful. He was made chief priest because of that loyalty. Shortly after, he was given the honor of anointing Solomon king. Like none of the other priests, Zadok stayed loyal to David all the way into Solomon’s reign, until he died. His sons followed his example.
Zadok’s sons showed strong loyalty to their father and God. It was so strong that God even calls the 5 percent who are loyal today in the Laodicean era, sons of Zadok.
As 95 percent of God’s people turned away from Him today, the sons of Zadok remained loyal.
And now here in 2 Kings 15, we see a daughter of Zadok help shape her son into enhancing the lamp of David.
It is phenomenal how a strong father, Zadok, could have had such a strong impact on his family. He was the best and most loyal priest David ever had. He helped mightily in giving others an opportunity to see how God made David’s throne a precious lamp to this world. It was a witness against Israel and all other nations.
Like Zadok, his daughter helped others to see what a beautiful lamp God had given this world through David’s throne!
Jotham’s son Ahaz was an evil ruler. He got involved in terrible paganism and idolatry, and stopped the temple worship. As a result, God allowed many of the people to be captured or killed by the king of Syria—and even by the wicked Israelites! For protection, Ahaz didn’t appeal to God—he turned to Assyria! He even spoiled gold and silver out of the temple to buy this alliance! (2 Kings 16:7-8). This was a type of what the end-time nation of Judah is going to do just before the Great Tribulation (Hosea 5:13). Such an alliance is a terrible trap! The Assyrians ended up being terrible oppressors to the Jews (e.g. 2 Chronicles 28:20), and Judah began paying regular tribute to this brutal empire.
Then came Hezekiah, considered one of Judah’s greatest kings. “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did” (2 Kings 18:3). That is high praise from God. Hezekiah revived Judah’s religion, cleaning up the priesthood and reopening the temple for true worship. The nation observed the most wonderful Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread (2 Chronicles 29-31). At that time, Hezekiah was really striving to follow King David’s righteous example (2 Chronicles 29:2, 25-27, 30) and how the Messiah was going to sit on David’s throne forever. What a lamp!
Hezekiah also stopped paying the Assyrians (2 Kings 18:7). It was during his reign that the northern kingdom of Israel fell to Assyria (verses 9-12). So the mighty Assyrians were a formidable threat at that time. Not long after, they began attacking towns in Judah.
At this point, Hezekiah’s faith wavered. He decided that his failure to pay tribute had been a mistake. He sent a message to Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, that he would pay for the Assyrian armies to withdraw. Sennacherib asked for a monstrous sum. Hezekiah submitted by paying it—and he even raided God’s temple for the wealth to do so! (verses 13-16). But the Assyrians didn’t withdraw—they threatened to march on Jerusalem!
Whom do you trust? “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. … It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. … Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Jeremiah 17:5; Psalm 118:8-9; 146:3-4). Have you really learned this fundamental lesson of faith? Very few people have.
With Jerusalem under threat, this time Hezekiah reacted righteously. He turned to God for protection, praying a wonderful prayer of faith (2 Kings 19:15-19). As a result, God saved Judah by supernaturally destroying the Assyrians! (verse 35).
Hezekiah then had to face another big problem.
Cozying Up to Babylon
“In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live” (2 Kings 20:1; you can also read about this in Isaiah 38). This news shocked Hezekiah. At this point in his life, he handled the situation correctly.
“Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying, I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore” (2 Kings 20:2-3). Hezekiah turned to God and prayed.
God responded immediately. He instructed Isaiah to deliver this message: “Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years …” (verses 5-6). God recognized that Hezekiah was walking by faith. He promised to add 15 years to Hezekiah’s life and proved His promise by reversing Earth’s rotation 10 degrees! (verses 8-11). What an astounding miracle!
When the king of Babylon sent a message expressing his apparent concern over Hezekiah’s sickness, it played on Hezekiah’s vanity, and he allowed the Babylonian messengers to come see all his treasures (verses 12-13). Isaiah confronted Hezekiah over the incident, but Hezekiah was evasive in his response (I explain this in more detail in Chapter 12 of my booklet Isaiah’s End-Time Vision. Request a free copy.) This exchange shows that Hezekiah was cozying up to Babylon—a massive mistake! In his vanity, he never considered that the Babylonian king may have had ulterior motives for his inquiry. He did not recognize the danger.
Isaiah wanted to show Hezekiah that he was relying on his own treasure or strength instead of on God. Isaiah wanted the king to recognize that he was beginning to rely on Babylon.
It was at that point that Isaiah prophesied Judah’s fate: The nation was going to fall to the Babylonians (verses 16-18).
As God’s people, we must learn that we cannot cozy up to Babylon and also be close to God. We cannot hold back or compromise with God and His way of life. If we do, we will receive a free trip to Babylon like the ancient Jews did.
We must always look to the lamp of David’s throne. David is prophesied to have a lamp always before God!
A Fulfilled Prophecy
After Hezekiah, his son Manasseh became king. “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord …. And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord said, In Jerusalem will I put my name” (2 Kings 21:2-4). He brought Judah right back into the paganism that his father had worked to eliminate. Under his rule, the Israelites came to have familiar spirits and wizards—all kinds of demonism—and really provoked God to anger!
“And he [Manasseh] set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever” (verse 7). Manasseh had the audacity to desecrate God’s own house—the very house in which God said He would place His name forever! The way this is written, you know that God was extremely angry about this. Manasseh led the nation into evil worse than the Canaanites had been doing before God drove them out of the land! (verse 9).
After Manasseh’s reign, his son Amon followed in his wicked footsteps. He was assassinated after a short rule, and then his son Josiah became king—at the tender age of 8 (2 Kings 22:1).
Remember, God had specifically prophesied about Josiah’s righteous rule 360 years earlier during the reign of Jeroboam—even naming him. It was as if the forces of evil were on notice! Surely Satan tried to do everything possible to prevent someone named Josiah from becoming king—but God is more powerful than the devil!
At the time that Josiah took office, the temple was desecrated and the Jews’ religion was far from God’s law. But just as God had prophesied, Josiah proved to be one of Judah’s most righteous kings. “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (verse 2). He saw to the renovation of the temple and the restoration of God’s law.
Hilkiah and the Law
Hilkiah was high priest at that time and father of Jeremiah. He had a great deal to do with the restoration of the law. Isaiah 22:20-25 contain a prophecy concerning an end-time Eliakim, the son of another Hilkiah, another end-time personality. I explain this prophecy in detail in my booklet Isaiah’s End-Time Vision. It connects to these personalities discussed in the former prophets.
Are you placing the right priority on God’s law? Mr. Armstrong greatly emphasized obeying God’s law. He would not compromise with it. He even said he believed this was the reason God used him so powerfully.
When Josiah wanted to repair the temple, he sent Shaphan the scribe to Hilkiah to determine how much money was available for the repairs (2 Kings 22:3-4). Hilkiah delivered all the funds collected for the temple repair to Shaphan (verse 7). At some time during the renovation, Hilkiah found the book of the law. Hilkiah became very convicted and excited by what he read in the law—and alarmed. He immediately showed it to Shaphan. This faithful scribe reacted the same way: He was stirred, moved and alarmed by what he read (verse 8; see also 2 Chronicles 34).
Shaphan realized that the king had to have the book. “And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord. And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes” (2 Kings 22:9-11). Now there were three men alarmed by the book of the law.
Are we stirred by God’s law? Are we alarmed by how most of God’s own people have rejected His law and government today? We should be just as stirred and alarmed as Hilkiah, Shaphan and Josiah were! We should react even more emotionally. It takes a strong reaction to establish and keep God’s law and government in the spiritual temple today. God’s very elect are that temple. You are that temple if you obey God’s government today. You are not God’s temple if you don’t.
Some commentators believe the scroll Hilkiah found was the book of Deuteronomy. This makes sense. Why? The history recorded here shows that Hilkiah, Shaphan and Josiah were very concerned about the nation being cursed by God. Deuteronomy 28 records the blessings and curses that Moses delivered to the nation. In its proper translation, 2 Chronicles 34:14 reveals that the book Hilkiah found was written by the hand of Moses. Even this fact must have been inspiring to these men.
Josiah Restores the Law
Josiah was so upset by what he read in the book that he sent an entourage to Huldah, a prophetess, to find out when God planned to punish the nation (2 Kings 22:12-14). Josiah’s quick response after reading the book shows his right attitude before God. He recognized that the nation was in serious trouble! He wanted to take whatever action was necessary—immediately. Do we approach God’s law and revelation in that manner?
The entourage received bad news. Huldah revealed that God was about to punish the nation severely (verses 15-17). But because Josiah’s heart was right before God, he would be spared from witnessing the destruction to Judah—it would not come until after his death (verses 19-20). In many ways this is similar to what happened in this end time. Much of the great tragedy that befell spiritual Israel, the Church, did not happen until after Mr. Armstrong died.
2 Kings 23 shows that even though destruction was coming, Josiah provided some zealous and righteous leadership. Study the whole chapter. He made a covenant with God to obey Him. He made sure the book of the law was read to the nation. He restored the holy days to their proper significance. He destroyed the pagan high places. He burned the bones of the priests on the altars, just as that unnamed prophet had said 360 years before! Verses 15-17 show that even Josiah knew he had fulfilled that prophecy. “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (verse 25).
The events recorded in these two chapters are a tribute to Josiah’s righteousness. Look at the impact this one man had. It is amazing what one righteous man can do!
There was a strong flame coming from the throne of David for many to see.
Mr. Armstrong was stirred up about God’s law in this end time. He worked hard to stir up the Church too. He made a covenant with God to obey Him. He restored the law of God to its proper significance. He destroyed pagan practices. He restored the holy days. You can read a great deal more about the parallels between Josiah’s work and that of Mr. Armstrong in my free booklet Lamentations: The Point of No Return.
God holds great wrath for the Laodiceans for what they have done to His end-time temple. They have destroyed the Church through lawbreaking. We must learn this vital lesson about the importance of God’s law, or we face tragedy. But if we do, then there is protection for us—God will spare us from Satan’s wrath. That is a sure promise. Remaining faithful to God’s royal law pleases the Lawgiver.
The Prophet Jeremiah also came on the scene during Josiah’s reign with some terrifying prophecies. He warned that, after Josiah died, the people of Judah would be suffering and lamenting.
However, the shortsighted people of Judah knew the prophecy that the nation wouldn’t be punished until after Josiah died, so they foolishly felt relieved. Josiah was young, they reasoned, and would live for a while—so in the short run, they didn’t need to worry. But not long after, in a battle with the Egyptian pharaoh, Josiah was killed (2 Kings 23:29-30).
The Jews were terrified at this news. This meant that punishment could descend on their nation at any time!
If you look at the history, however, God didn’t punish Judah right away. Around 24 years passed between his death and Judah’s fall. However, those years were far from peaceful—the nation suffered terrible curses during that time. I believe we have seen something similar in this end time: Many years have passed since Herbert W. Armstrong died. Conditions on Earth have progressively worsened—and they will continue to deteriorate until Christ returns. If you study the book of Lamentations, you see where we are headed.
The king who succeeded Josiah was his son Jehoahaz (also called Shallum; see 2 Kings 23:30-31; 1 Chronicles 3:15; 2 Chronicles 36:1-2). His reign was a curse: “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done” (2 Kings 23:32). Jeremiah prophesied exactly what would happen to him: He would be taken captive and die in captivity (Jeremiah 22:10-12). Within just a few months, that is exactly what took place. The pharaoh whose army had killed Josiah saw Judah as a vassal nation of Egypt. He invaded and took Jehoahaz captive back to Egypt, where he died (2 Kings 23:33-34).
In Jehoahaz’s place, the pharaoh demanded that Josiah’s older son Eliakim, who regarded pharaoh as his master, be made king, and he changed his name to Jehoiakim (verse 34). Just the fact that the king of Egypt made him king tells you something. Under pharaoh’s command, Jehoiakim taxed the people grievously and sent the money to Egypt (verse 35) while keeping a generous cut for himself at the people’s expense (see Jeremiah 22:13-17). He too was a very wicked king who led the people of Judah back into idolatry and other evils (2 Kings 23:36-37; 2 Chronicles 36:5). He rebelliously ignored the warnings of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36), and ended up dying according to one of Jeremiah’s prophecies (Jeremiah 22:18-19)—at the hands of the Babylonians.
Judah fell in three successive besiegements from Babylon. The first assault came in 604 b.c.: “In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years …” (2 Kings 24:1). The Babylonians took over as the masters of Judah.
Jehoiakim was succeeded by his son Jehoiachin, who was also an evil king (verses 6-9). Jehoiachin was only on the throne for a short time when the second Babylonian assault came—in 596 b.c. (verses 10-11). Nebuchadnezzar removed Jehoiachin and placed his uncle, whom they renamed Zedekiah, on the throne (verse 17).
Zedekiah was terribly wicked. Jeremiah warned him to continue paying tribute to the Babylonians, but Zedekiah ignored that godly counsel. “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For through the anger of the Lord it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon” (verses 19-20). Those mistakes set the nation of Judah up for its final besiegement and captivity by Babylon!
Under these terrible leaders, the more time that passed after Josiah died, the worse conditions in Judah grew! Even though the captivity didn’t come for some time, the people still suffered horrible curses!
These people would not listen to God’s prophet. They ignored Jeremiah’s counsel—then imprisoned him and tried to get him killed! (You can learn about the archaeological proof of the men involved in this history by requesting a free copy of our booklet The Seals of Jeremiah’s Captors Discovered.)
2 Kings 25 describes the final attack on Judah. Nebuchadnezzar blockaded Jerusalem, cutting the city off from outside supplies. Within a few months, Jerusalem entered a terrible famine. The Jews knew this was the end. The soldiers tried to escape with their lives by night, and so did King Zedekiah. “And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him. So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him. And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah …” (2 Kings 25:5-7).
Nebuchadnezzar wanted to make sure this rebel saw his own sons die before his eyes, and he wanted to end the throne of David forever! He was motivated by the devil, who tried to break God’s prophecy that there would always be someone from David’s descendants to carry on that royal lineage.
Astoundingly, however, Nebuchadnezzar ended up releasing Jeremiah—the very man who would assure that line would continue through God’s power!
As for Judah, 585 b.c. marked its captivity. “And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem: And he burnt the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire. And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about. Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carry away” (verses 8-11).
Where Was Jeremiah?
The Soncino Commentary has a fascinating quote in its introduction to 1 and 2 Kings: “From the evidence of the books of the Kings and the book of Jeremiah, it is generally assumed that the compilation of the former or of the greater part took place sometime between 561 and 536 b.c.” Those dates might be a little too far down the line, but the point is this: Kings was compiled after the fall of Jerusalem in 585 b.c. Soncino goes on to say that “the author or compiler who belonged to the class of didactic historians was honest, fair-minded and reliable. According to the Talmud (bb15a), he was the Prophet Jeremiah.”
The Talmud indicates that the compiler of Kings was Jeremiah. Commentaries like Soncino know the writer was probably Jeremiah. The interesting thing, though, is that they have no idea where he was when he compiled these texts.
The Cambridge Bible describes how Jeremiah was taken down to Egypt along with Jewish fugitives, “and the after-fate of that prophet is wholly unknown.” They don’t know where Jeremiah went after he left Egypt. Most Christians are deafeningly silent about Jeremiah’s commission, about the throne of David, and about what Jeremiah did after Jerusalem fell to Babylon.
If these scholars think Jeremiah compiled all this material, why don’t they ask where he was when he did so? They know he wasn’t in Jerusalem. They know he wasn’t in Babylon. Some think he remained in Egypt, but their sources are suspect. So where was he? They just don’t know. Do you think maybe they don’t want to know? Quite a lot of secular history tells you where he was.
At Herbert W. Armstrong College, we hosted an archaeological exhibit from January 2012 to October 2015 displaying two clay seals found in Jerusalem that belonged to Judean princes who persecuted Jeremiah. Israeli officials let us bring those artifacts relating to the great Jeremiah over to America. We wanted to display that history, and we’re absolutely awed by what God did in opening those doors. We were allowed to display those artifacts, and so many other wonderful things, for a purpose!
To understand where Jeremiah went, you have to know and believe God’s promise that David’s throne would last forever!
What kind of a fiery flame of hope is that?
Strong Warning—Awesome Hope
In The United States and Britain in Prophecy, Mr. Armstrong records the inspiring means by which God preserved that throne—that lamp—through Jeremiah. It has everything to do with the second part of the commission God gave this man: “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10). God used Jeremiah to plant the throne of David in Ireland.
History verifies that Jeremiah traveled to Ireland with the ark of the covenant and the stone of destiny, along with a daughter of Zedekiah who would carry on the royal line of David. We also know that Jeremiah raised up a college there. I’m sure that his work on the book of Kings took place at the college. Surely that college was an exciting place to be because Jeremiah could teach from his experiences during such important history!
The book of Jeremiah contains prophecies from during the reign of Josiah, from throughout the reigns of the kings who followed him, and even from the time after Jerusalem’s fall. It overlaps significantly with the history in 2 Kings; parts of it are identical. This is evidence that Jeremiah probably played a significant role in compiling the former prophets. It also shows that, as far as God is concerned, the former prophets are on the same level as the major prophets!
We know that Jeremiah personally went only to Judah, but he addressed his book to all of Israel. His message was a prophecy for Israel, yet it is about the attack of Babylon and the fall of Judah. Why? Because Judah’s fall and captivity to Babylon is prophecy for the modern nations of Israel!
Look at the two covenants spoken of in Jeremiah 33:17-18. The first involves the physical house of David, and the second—about God’s priests—involves the spiritual house of David. God’s faithful people are that spiritual house of David today.
Now, if you read the chronology that follows those covenants in the book of Jeremiah, what do you find? In the very next chapter, immediately after those two covenants, we start reading about Babylon conquering Judah (Jeremiah 34:1-3). That is a type of Babylon conquering Israel today. Babylon is on the scene again, and the leader of Babylon is the only economically strong country in Europe, even as the whole continent is falling apart financially. The suffering that this end-time Babylon wreaks on Israel will be a thousand times worse than what happened anciently! Modern Israel really is about to fall!
Then what follows? Jeremiah 38 talks about Jehucal and Gedaliah, these men who had Jeremiah imprisoned twice and tried to persuade the king to murder him. These are the two men whose seals, or bullae, God preserved all these thousands of years, and which now sit in the archaeology exhibit in God’s house on our college campus! Surely we can see this is a terrible warning to Judah and Israel! When you put the scriptures together with the seals from those princes, and you know what they did to Jeremiah and tried to do to the message of God, it may be the single strongest warning in the Bible!
All this flows after the revelation of those two covenants and the physical and spiritual house of David. We are getting ready to replace what Babylon is about to take away! And of course, Babylon itself is going to be taken away.
Those two bullae are a sobering discovery, but we don’t want to overlook the hope. Those men tried to kill Jeremiah, but then Nebuchadnezzar came in and released him. Zedekiah wouldn’t listen, and he had to see his sons die before he was blinded—and everybody thought that was the end of the throne of David.
But no! Jeremiah carried on with the throne of David and the house of David, installing Tea-Tephi on that throne. He carried right on with the great Work of God! God’s Word says that throne and that house will exist forever! Believe God!
This is the only hope of the world! Once Babylon is destroyed, there will be a nation of kings and priests to rule this world, and that is why we are here. That is why we are being prepared. This means we need to put out every effort we possibly can to get ready for that most honorable position in that most honorable royal house there ever will be! Are you ready to do that job? Are you ready to rule on David’s throne forever?
Then the lamp of David’s throne will illuminate the world!
These former prophets contain wonderful lessons; that is why God recorded them for us. There are examples, marvelous lessons, to teach us about God and His Work. There is so much wonderful history and prophecy of God as we get into those books. I believe God will show us even more as time goes on. But you really do have to dig in and study it. We must desire to get into the mind of God, the very depth of God. The more you get into them, with balance, the deeper and deeper it gets—and the more it will stir and move you to want to be a part of God’s Work and do anything you can to contribute to it!
Appendix: ‘A Law of History’
Today we hear many academic voices telling people that learning history is of little or no value. This is an extremely dangerous trend that may be too entrenched ever to correct.
This educational plague is rampant among the American and British peoples. It seems that few of our leaders understand what a colossal disaster it is!
“When history is taught at all nowadays, often it is taught as the unfolding of inevitabilities—of vast, impersonal forces,” syndicated columnist George Will wrote in his Dec. 23, 2001, column. “The role of contingency in history is disparaged, so students are inoculated against the ‘undemocratic’ notion that history can be turned in its course by great individuals” (emphasis mine throughout).
He then implied that America probably would not have been born without the bravery and leadership of George Washington. We came dangerously close to losing the Revolutionary War. “This nation was not inevitable,” Mr. Will wrote.
“Gen. George Washington, commanding ill-fed, ill-clad and barely trained forces against the world’s mightiest power, had been in retreat, as he was to be much of the war. By Christmas night 1776 he desperately needed a victory and got one with the surprise attack on Trenton. … The human story would have had different contours if the bullets that sliced through his clothing during the French and Indian War had struck him.”
Great individuals do turn the course of history!
One of Winston Churchill’s greatest biographers, William Manchester, said that Churchill “saved Western civilization”—not just Britain and Europe. More accurately, Mr. Churchill was used by God to save Western civilization.
How important is it that we learn from that civilization-saving history?
Our most esteemed universities, however, neglect history and ignore its invaluable lessons. Mr. Will commented on a survey of seniors at 55 of America’s elite colleges that showed “only 22 percent knew that the words ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’ are from the Gettysburg Address. Forty percent could not place the Civil War in the second half of the 19th century. … Twenty-five percent thought the pilgrims signed the Magna Carta on the Mayflower. … To the question of who commanded American forces at Yorktown, the most frequent answer was Ulysses S. Grant.
“Such questions should not be difficult for high school seniors. But at the time of the survey, none of the 55 colleges and universities required a course in American history. And students could graduate from 78 percent of them without taking any history course.”
What a disturbing survey! Over three fourths of the students didn’t have to take even one history course!
Why is this information so shocking? Mr. Will concluded his column with the words of one of America’s Founding Fathers, former President James Madison—words that are inscribed on a Princeton building: “A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.”
Are we about to lose our freedom? The answer is a resounding yes! We are going to lose our freedom and a lot more!
A Law of History
Henry Steele Commager wrote an introduction to Winston Churchill’s biography of his ancestor, Marlborough. In it Mr. Commager wrote that “Churchill’s reading of history reinforced his early education to exalt the heroic virtues. He was Roman rather than Greek, and as he admired Roman accomplishments in law, government, empire, so he rejoiced in Roman virtues of order, justice, fortitude, resoluteness, magnanimity.” Our nations live today because great leaders learned and practiced these heroic virtues! “These were British virtues too, and, because he was the very symbol of John Bull, Churchillian. He cherished, as a law of history, the principle that a people who flout these virtues is doomed to decay and dissolution, and that a people who respect them will prosper and survive.”
Learning lessons from great leaders of the past is critical to national well-being. If we respect and emulate those heroic virtues of history, we “will prosper and survive.” But if we flout them, our nations are “doomed to decay and dissolution.”
That is “a law of history.” The survival of nations is at stake!
The Lessons of History
Commager wrote, “[Churchill] accepted, instinctively, the attitude toward history which that century took for granted: that history, in the words of Bolingbroke, was philosophy teaching by examples. What is more, he was quite ready to stand there and point to the examples. Indeed we can say of Churchill what he himself wrote of Rosebery, that ‘the past stood ever at his elbow and was the counselor upon whom he most relied. He seemed to be attended by learning and history, and to carry into current events an air of ancient majesty.’
“Nowhere does this appear more simply than in the ‘Grand Theme’ which Churchill imposed upon his history of The Second World War: ‘In War: Resolution; In Defeat: Defiance; In Victory: Magnanimity; In Peace: Good Will.’ He read history as a stupendous moral scripture, and for him the writing was, if not divinely inspired, at least authoritative. More, it was straightforward and simple. History was a struggle between the forces of right or wrong, freedom and tyranny, the future and the past. By great good fortune Churchill’s own people—‘this island race,’ as he called them—were on the side of right, progress and enlightenment; by great good fortune, too, it was given to him to buckle these virtues onto him as armor in the struggle for a righteous cause.
“If history was philosophy teaching by examples, what lessons did it teach? …
“First, history was not just the pursuit of idle hours but was, itself, philosophy and, rightly read, furnished lessons which statesmen could ponder and apply.
“Second, history was both memory and prophecy. It provided the counsel and the solace of the long view both to the past and to the future. The contemplation of the ages which mankind had somehow endured, and survived, infused the student with patience, with humility, and with courage; the prospect of a posterity which, a thousand years hence, might pronounce the verdict that one generation had given to a nation ‘its finest hour’ encouraged resoluteness and hope, and strengthened the ability to confront crises that seemed insurmountable.
“Third, history followed great cycles: The same themes recurred, again and again, the same drama was played out, from age to age; and as men had somehow survived the vicissitudes of the past there was ground to hope that they might survive those of the present and the future. Thus four times Britain had fought to rescue Europe from the grip of a tyrant—Louis xiv, Napoleon, Kaiser William and Hitler—and four times Britain had succeeded in saving Europe and, with it, the cause of liberty and justice. Here was a recurring pattern which augured well for the future of ‘this island race,’ and of mankind, for, as Churchill saw it, the welfare of mankind was inextricably intertwined with that of the English-speaking peoples.
“Fourth, history bore witness to the vital importance of national character, for character was as important to a people as to an individual, and every nation must be alert to defend and preserve it. That each nation had a special character Churchill did not doubt, and as he contemplated the long arch of centuries he was led to a fifth conclusion, that it was, above all, the English character which had lighted up the corridors of time, flickering now and then but mostly pure and clear and even luminous—the English character and that of England’s daughter nations around the globe.” Today, character isn’t even important enough to raise as a political issue in Britain and America!
Commager continued, “From all this flowed a sixth lesson, that the test of greatness was politics and war. …
“‘Battles,’ he wrote in Marlborough, ‘are the principal milestones in secular history. … All great struggles of history have been won by superior willpower wresting victory in the teeth of odds.’ [In the modern nations of Israel, God has broken the willpower (Leviticus 26:19).] And elsewhere he concluded flatly that ‘The story of the human race is war.’ Like those statesmen he most admired, Marlborough, Chatham, Wolfe, Clive, Washington, Lee, he was himself a war leader; alone of great war leaders he was a great war historian.
“History—not least the history of war—taught a seventh lesson, and taught it not only to Churchill but through him: the vital importance of leadership”—another disastrous failure in Britain and America (Isaiah 3:1-4).
Manfred Weidhorn, in his book Sword and Pen, said this about Winston Churchill: “In attempting to assess the ultimate significance of events, Churchill grapples with the problem of historical perspective. Incidents have one meaning at the time of their occurrence and another when they have become part of history.”
Many people have called Mr. Churchill a prophet. Here is the main reason: He tried “to assess the ultimate significance of events” in a historical perspective. All human beings are weak in this area, but we must strive to see not just the present, but also the past and the future.
Mr. Churchill also said that the further you see into the past, the further you can see into the future.
What we really need is God’s perspective. We should avoid human reasoning (2 Corinthians 10:5). Instead, we should reason with God (Isaiah 1:18).
Most people in the 1930s were almost totally unaware of Adolf Hitler’s grand design. That is because they were ignorant of Hitler’s own history. He had laid out his master plan in his book, Mein Kampf.
Around 50 million people were killed in World War ii. How many lives could have been saved if we had read and heeded Mein Kampf and then used our power to stop Hitler before he could do so much damage?
The Russians made a pact with Hitler at the beginning of World War ii. The world was alarmed. The Russians were delighted, though they should not have been. Hitler had written in Mein Kampf that he must conquer the Soviet Union. They were either ignorant of Hitler’s history or didn’t believe what he said and wrote.
As most people know, Hitler later marched into the Soviet Union.
The world finally believed Hitler when Mein Kampf became a terrifying reality!
How vital is it to learn that history?
Similarly, Osama bin Laden wrote and spoke about how he was going to attack and terrorize America. Most of our people ignored his declaration of war. When he bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, we still didn’t know about or believe his threats, even though that was the first time America had ever been attacked by terrorism inside its borders. It wasn’t until terrorists struck America on September 11, 2001, that we finally believed bin Laden’s speeches and writings.
The great tragedy is that we have learned little if anything from the twisted histories of Hitler or bin Laden.
Mr. Churchill warned for almost a full decade about Adolf Hitler, and the British and American people refused to listen. Civilization was almost beyond saving when the jarring gong of reality struck! Our nations came close to losing World War ii because we rejected Churchill’s warnings too long!
Our failure to learn from Mr. Churchill’s warnings in the 1930s is helping to lead civilization into a nuclear war!
This is the historical perspective we must have.
Our leaders continually show an obsession with their “new” and “modern” ideas—ideas that have been proven over and over throughout history to be failures—and a contempt for history and tradition. That is a dangerous problem—the kind of thinking that destroys nations!
In recent years, America’s leaders have continually pushed Germany into dominating Europe—which demonstrates the ultimate contempt for extremely recent history! (The facts are truly shocking. To learn more about this vital subject, request my free booklet Germany’s Conquest of the Balkans.)
The solution is not in being a liberal or a conservative. The liberals believe in individualism, which often means they trust in their own human reasoning. Conservatives believe that people should learn from history, but God is often left out of the picture. Neither liberals nor conservatives rely on God as they should. Too many of their views are anti-God, and that is the worst plague of all. Generally they learn dangerously little from secular or Bible history.
However, the law of history is still there. Life will be extremely hard unless we learn this immutable law of history.
God prepared Winston Churchill to save Western civilization in World War ii. No such man is being prepared to save us from World War iii. But God is sending a warning about a nuclear catastrophe to come!
Our warning message is from the great God. And you can prove it. Will you?