Isaiah’s End-Time Vision
Chapter 1: God’s Government
Herbert W. Armstrong often said that one third of the Bible is prophecy and that 90 percent of it is for today! That is a true and amazing statistic that most religious people today fail to grasp! The book of Isaiah is filled with prophetic duality.
Isaiah knew his prophecy was for both ancient Israel and modern Israel. “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever” (Isaiah 30:8). “[T]he time to come” expression means “the latter day” in Hebrew. Isaiah wrote his message on a table (or tablet) for ancient Israel to read. But why did he also write his message in a book? Because his message was primarily for “the latter day”—or the time we are living in right now! That is the only reason he wrote it in a book!
Isaiah also discussed duality in Isaiah 41:22, which says, “Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.” There is the former and the latter end (which almost always refers to the end of this age). There is the former house and the latter house—or God’s physical temple and then the firstfruits who have been called and given God’s Holy Spirit (Haggai 2:5, 9).
Matthew 24 discusses the first century and the temple, but most of the focus is on the end time (see also 1 Corinthians 10:11). God also commanded Jeremiah and other prophets to write their messages in books for the end time (Jeremiah 30:2-3, 7-9). Daniel couldn’t even understand his message because it was for the end time (Daniel 12:9).
The house of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians, ancestors of modern-day Germany, in the years 721–718 b.c. The people of Israel were soon driven from their own land and carried away captive to Assyria, which was located on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea. The Prophet Isaiah had already warned the Israelites that God was angry and would punish them for their sins if they didn’t 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” (2 Kings 17:18). Israel became known as the lost 10 tribes of Israel (biblical Judah is erroneously called “Israel” today).
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon carried the Jews (Judah) captive to Babylon during the years 604 to 585 b.c. That was more than 130 years after Israel was conquered by the Assyrians.
Our primary concern in this book is Israel. The United States and the British peoples are primarily Israel today. For more information, request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. (All of our literature is free.) This book also reveals the identity of Germany today.
Even though Isaiah warned ancient Israel, his message was primarily written to those of end-time Israel. They, like ancient Israel, will be captured by the Germans and carried away captive out of their own land. Isaiah warned both ancient and modern Israel of their terrifying captivities.
Isaiah’s prophecy was twofold. He warned the temple priests and the people of Israel. The same is true for the end time. The members of God’s own Church today comprise the temple (Ephesians 2:19-22; 2 Corinthians 6:16). Most of Isaiah’s temple prophecies are addressed to God’s own Laodicean people in this end time. They have rebelled against God (Revelation 3:14-19).
A Little Bible
In ancient Israel, God used the temple to conduct His religious service and teach His law.
Zion is also used as a parallel word for the temple. The two words are often used interchangeably. Today, Zion is also God’s Church—the spiritual temple. Notice the following scriptures: “the Lord hath founded Zion” (Isaiah 14:32); “say unto Zion, Thou art my people” (Isaiah 51:16); “The Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 60:14); “the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion” (Psalm 9:11); “his [God’s] dwelling place in Zion” (Psalm 76:1-2); “For the Lord hath chosen Zion” (Psalm 132:13); “Is not the Lord in Zion?” (Jeremiah 8:19); “for the Lord dwelleth in Zion” (Joel 3:21).
Of course, Zion often forsook God. We will see many examples of this in the book of Isaiah. In fact, the word Zion is mentioned more in this book than any other book of the Bible.
Isaiah is quoted more times in the New Testament than any other book. We need to better understand why that is so.
There are 63 known statements in the English language from Isaiah. This book has been called a little Bible by many authorities. But even those authorities don’t really understand the book of Isaiah. I will prove that to you.
This book contains some of the best Bible poetry. The Revised Standard Version is printed in its proper poetic style. Almost all of the book is poetry. It includes many outstanding metaphors.
God’s Awesome Perspective
God is speaking to us today through Isaiah; the message of Isaiah is actually God’s message.
“The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children [sons], and they have rebelled against me” (Isaiah 1:1-2).
“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken”—here God gives His perspective. This is a message to all the angels, demons and mankind. God is addressing all of the inhabitants of the entire universe! It even includes the dwelling place of God! It is the widest scope possible.
God shows us that the creation of Earth and its inhabitants is closely tied to the entire universe. God created the angels to rule the universe, but they failed. Then God created mankind to rule the universe. You can’t separate the Earth from the universe—it’s all one super-inspiring plan!
Are you willing to do some prayerful and serious Bible study to comprehend God’s plan for you?
I believe this is one of the top five introductions in the Bible—it has the widest scope possible.
God personifies and addresses the heavens—where angels dwell along with the Father and the Son!
When the angels failed to qualify to rule the universe, God knew that He must create Himself in man. Only God could be trusted to rule the universe.
The angels will not be sons of God. However, the righteous angels will still receive greater positions in God’s Kingdom than they would have received in God’s original plan for the angels.
Try to imagine what a vast building program God will have for His Family and the angels when we begin to beautify and finish the universe!
It is why the angels and men were created!
Look at our building program on the 170 acres that God has given us at His headquarters campus in Edmond, Oklahoma. Even now God is preparing us to make the Earth and universe blossom as a rose.
God commands us not to despise the day of small beginnings. God’s created sons will lead the way in finishing the universe.
Here is where the Laodiceans faltered. They despised the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:9-10).
They don’t see the end of the Philadelphia Church in the Laodicean era. That Church had a tiny beginning in the Laodicean era. But it is going to have a spectacular ending. God will take the Philadelphians to a place of protection during the Great Tribulation. After that they will be placed in the Jerusalem headquarters forever!
We must capture Isaiah’s vision to see beyond those small beginnings to their towering end.
This message will be strongly opposed. Tradition says that Isaiah died when his enemies cut him into two pieces. He remained loyal to God because of his mind-staggering vision.
One third of the angels failed to rule this Earth. Ninety-five percent of God’s own end-time Church failed to rule the Church God’s way. This is not an easy calling. But we were not called by God to fail. We should succeed magnificently!
You could say our 170 acres are about building and beautifying the whole universe! That is why we were created. God’s perspective will keep us inspired forever. The Earth and universe equals one project!
How can any open-minded person not be inspired by this awesome vision?
Isaiah was consumed by this message. If you really analyze this vision, you know it could not have originated from the mind of man. This is God-thinking that will prepare us to enter His Kingdom.
This magnificent vision proves the existence of God to a Spirit-led Christian. We must discern the difference between man’s thoughts and the thinking of God!
Isaiah means “the Eternal is salvation.” God wants to give us rule over His entire creation if we will submit to His government.
God nourished and brought up His sons in this end time. Most of them have rebelled against this mind-staggering vision. This wonderful message ought to awaken and inspire all of God’s people.
The World Tomorrow must become more real to us than this evil world. Isaiah literally sacrificed his life to inherit God’s Kingdom.
A Dangerous Error
Isaiah was sent to do God’s Work (Isaiah 6). One of the Worldwide Church of God ministers wrote: “This is where the introduction of the book [of Isaiah] begins.” That was written about a year before Mr. Armstrong died. However, Mr. Armstrong was not aware of such a statement or he would have rejected it. The Laodiceans were already getting control of God’s Church. Herbert W. Armstrong was 92 years of age. They were even then losing Isaiah’s vision.
That minister made a dangerous statement. It shows that the church Mr. Armstrong founded was becoming Laodicean by losing the God Family vision of Isaiah chapter 1—where the inspiring instruction begins.
Why did that minister and the Laodiceans get confused about where the introduction of Isaiah was? They don’t see why they were called now and where God’s Work is leading. They became “rich, and increased with goods.” They wanted physical wealth, not the spiritual riches. God says we must set our affections on things above (Colossians 3:2).
That deceived minister also said that Isaiah 6:1-13 mean you must “hear and act or [there will be] no more understanding.” But here too he missed the point. Read those verses and you will see that the emphasis is on how hard and rebellious the Laodiceans are (including that minister). They disobey to the point where “cities [will] be wasted without inhabitant”! (verse 11). They are so hard that they rejected God’s warning, given to them by Mr. Armstrong—95 percent of them have rebelled. They will have to experience the Tribulation horror and die for God to receive salvation. Only 50 percent of them will repent even then.
Why does God lay cities waste without an inhabitant? Because that is what it takes to get Israel’s attention! That includes spiritual Israel, or the Church of God, and the nations of Israel.
Modern Israel has been given great physical blessings because of Abraham’s obedience. (This story is related in The United States and Britain in Prophecy; request your free copy.) Most of our people think this wealth was created by our own ingenuity. God has a far different view. “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3). God considers Israel’s intelligence anciently and today as less than that of an ox!
“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint” (verses 4-5). This applies to Israel anciently and today. Israel was, and is today, too sick and fainthearted to deal with its own problems and enemy nations.
“From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers” (verses 6-7). Our cities in the United States and Britain will be burned by fire from rioting within. “Strangers,” or Gentiles, within and without will play a major role in devouring our land.
A Cottage in a Vineyard
The biggest problem in Israel anciently was that Zion, or the temple service, went astray and the people followed along. But remember, this is dual. God speaks to the “daughter of Zion” (Isaiah 1:8), or primarily God’s temple service in the end time! The emphasis here is on the end time. God’s own Church has gone astray in this end time—the very Church where God dwelled for so many years!
“And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city” (verse 8). God says it is left as a “cottage in a vineyard.” That is a little temporary hut used during the harvest time. After the harvest, the little hut is most desolate indeed. That is a tragic and poetic picture of what has happened to God’s own Church in this end time. God’s people have a history of being in a glorious spiritual harvest with God. But they stopped harvesting for God. Today they are only left with a “hut”—a memory of their former greatness!
Shortly, God will punish them. “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (verse 9). God has retained a remnant of loyal saints.
First of all, God condemns the temple, or His Church. “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah” (verse 10). Only God’s Church keeps His law today. All but a remnant have become lukewarm and rebellious toward God’s law. Every group of Laodiceans has rebelled against God’s law.
God’s own Church has lawless rulers like Sodom and people like Gomorrah. Here is God’s own Family, and He calls them Sodom and Gomorrah—perhaps the most repugnant and corrupt people in the Bible!
This prophecy says there is only a remnant—one remnant—today that keeps God’s law! Do you know where that remnant is? Your protection from the Great Tribulation depends on it!
God’s very elect must become experts on God’s law. Of all people on this Earth, we must understand God’s government, which is based on His law! Please notice this carefully: Most of the prophecies tell us that the Laodicean leaders cause God’s people to stumble at the law (Malachi 2:7-8). They are condemned repeatedly for this sin.
We have often shown how the Worldwide Church of God, since Mr. Armstrong’s death, teaches falsely about God’s law. But what about other Laodicean churches that have left the wcg?
Perhaps the best way to illustrate this point is through the example of marriage. When there are marital problems, generally both parties are to blame. The biggest problem the wives have is submitting to their husbands.
I have been in the ministry over 40 years. In many marriage counseling sessions, I have noticed that the wives are zealous and excel in numerous marital responsibilities. But many wives cause some serious problems in their marriages. The root cause with the women is usually their not submitting to their husbands as God commands. Their problem is with God’s marital government and the law on which it is based.
Since we are Christ’s wife, we should expect that our biggest problem would also be submitting to our Husband, Jesus Christ. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). How did Christ’s “wife” make herself ready for the marriage? By learning to submit to Christ as His wife before He returns. We can’t be Christ’s wife unless we learn to submit lawfully to God’s marriage government now! That is how we get ready.
Many women never learn to submit to their husbands, and many of God’s own saints refuse to submit to Christ—their Husband. That is always the hardest part!
All of the Laodicean groups reject God’s government taught through Mr. Armstrong! And there is something else all of the Laodiceans reject. They don’t believe Mr. Armstrong was God’s end-time Elijah (Matthew 17:10-11; Malachi 4:5-6).
Do you know why the Laodiceans don’t believe that Mr. Armstrong was God’s end-time Elijah? Many of them believed he was a type of Elijah before he died. But after he died they rejected God’s government and lost that understanding. Mr. Armstrong was at the heart of that government. This is all about the Laodiceans rebelling. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25). They don’t have the childlike attitude of a babe, so they can’t see what God has already revealed in this crucial area. God the Father “revealed” to Peter who Christ was (Matthew 16:15-17). That is how Peter knew.
Why can’t the Laodiceans accept the many new revelations given to the Philadelphia Church of God (pcg)? They simply lack the childlike submission to God’s government, so God won’t reveal to them which church is doing His Work today.
If people reject Mr. Armstrong as God’s end-time Elijah, what chance is there that they would see that God is using the pcg? Their big problem is accepting God’s government!
God’s truth is revealed—but only to babes! (Matthew 11:25). This is the most basic and difficult lesson we have to learn. We either learn it by submitting to God’s inspired words, or we learn it in the Great Tribulation! When we get to Isaiah 66, the last chapter, we will see the same lesson taught.
Foundation of Church Doctrine
There are very specific reasons why one group sees God’s revelation and other groups don’t! There is cause and effect. God’s government is the foundation of all Church doctrines!
The Laodiceans have a zeal, but not for God’s government. “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:27). God will destroy all people who won’t let Him “reign over,” or rule, them. The government lesson is the most important lesson we must learn! It is also the hardest lesson to learn.
In a sermon on October 2, 1982, during the Feast of Tabernacles, Mr. Armstrong said, “Jesus said the Elijah shall yet come and restore all things. Elijah did not restore what was taken away. The heavens have received Jesus until the times of restitution of all things (Acts 3:19-21). Restitution means restoring something that had been taken away, restoring to a former state or condition. What was taken away? The government of God on this Earth—the government of God was taken away. It was to be restored. … God raised me up to restore it. God raised me up to restore the government of God. But it is only restored, so far, in the Church. I have no authority from God, no ability to restore the government of God any further than just over you brethren in the Church. But that has been done. That has been done, brethren. You go back and read Malachi 3:1-5 and Malachi 4. And where Jesus said, ‘Elijah truly shall come,’ even after John the Baptist was put in prison, he was yet to come. But he [Elijah] was to restore. John the Baptist didn’t restore. You’d better realize, brethren, what this Church is and what you are behind when you say you are behind me 100 percent.”
The whole world will be ruled by the government that God established through Mr. Armstrong! This is basic and so important for you to understand.
“Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats” (Isaiah 1:10-11). God is discussing Zion and the temple sacrifice—that means God’s Church in the end time!
Burnt offerings and sacrifices refer to God’s Church service today. “When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?” (verse 12). These people “appear” before God, but they tread over His temple courts. They are not sacrificing lawfully—but note, they are sacrificing diligently! What is the problem? They are not attuned to God’s government!
These people are zealously sacrificing to God. But they are treading all over His law! And that is a prophecy for the Laodiceans today!
“Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting” (verse 13). Sabbaths—plural. That means God’s holy days. Who keeps God’s holy days today and also rebels against God’s law? Only the Laodiceans. And God says their holy days are vain and an abomination. Why? Verse 10 again: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.” God calls these Laodicean leaders “rulers of Sodom”! These religious leaders won’t give ear to God’s law—His government! They won’t hear it! God taught it to them for about 40 years—and still they won’t give ear to God’s government based on His law! (Of course, this also applies to all nations of Israel today in a general way.)
The end-time Philadelphians hear God clearly on this issue! The end-time Laodiceans don’t! (see Revelation 3:7-20). That is the big difference between the two churches!
The control is in your hands. If you submit to God’s government, you will hear what God’s end-time Elijah taught about God’s government and you will accept Mr. Armstrong as fulfilling the Elijah role. You will also hear what God reveals to the pcg. It depends on your own submission!
“Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them” (Isaiah 1:13-14). Incense and oblations—this is speaking of the temple, or church, service. But these people “weary” God, which means to “wear out, overcome one’s patience.” Their rebellion against the law is weighing heavily on God. It is much harder on God than anybody else when His Church goes astray!
“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (verse 15). The Laodiceans are praying fervently to God, but God won’t hear them! Why? Because their hands are full of blood! Yes—look at Ezekiel chapters 3 and 33. If we don’t get behind God’s Work—in the pcg—and the Ezekiel watchman warning, then Israel’s blood is on our hands!
God only has one work that is warning the Laodiceans and modern Israel. All members of God’s Church must either back and support the warning message or be guilty of Israel’s blood! How serious is the work God has given the Philadelphia Church of God? God holds us responsible for the blood of Israel if we don’t watch and warn. This is very serious indeed.
Chapter 2: God Looks to This Man
Verses 16 and 17 of Isaiah 1 tell us to “plead” (Hebrew—“fight”) for the widow. We are command-ed by God to fight for the helpless people. But there is a deeper spiritual meaning here for the word widow.
A woman is used throughout the Bible as a type of God’s Church. The context in these verses concerns God’s own Church. His Laodicean Church has lost her Husband—Jesus Christ! (This is shown very clearly in our Colossians booklet. Request a free copy.)
We are to plead for the Laodicean widow. The Laodicean leaders have led God’s Church away from Christ. The Philadelphia Church has the responsibility to plead (or fight) for that church! The pcg warns and tries to help God’s people reject the false doctrines taught by their leaders. God commands that we do so!
Verse 18 reveals more about why they are Laodicean.
‘Silver Is Become Dross’
Many people are confused about the following verse: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). Remember, this is still in the context of the temple service. That means it applies to God’s Church in this end time.
What does God mean by “let us reason together”? A better translation would be, “Come and reason with me.”
How does God reason with them? Does He personally come to this Earth and reason with them? No, as always, He works through those saints who remain loyal. He works today through His Philadelphians. God tries to persuade the Laodiceans. Through the Philadelphians, God says, “Come now, and let us reason together.” If they fail to do so, then God spews them out of His mouth and into the Great Tribulation! (Revelation 3:14-19).
Today, God’s own Laodicean people think they can choose the Laodicean church of their choice. There probably will be seven different Laodicean churches (Isaiah 4:1). At this point, you can only see three significant ones. Request our booklet on Hosea for a full explanation. None of these seven women (types of the churches) have a husband. Jesus Christ has only one wife that He directs. You don’t have a choice when it comes to God’s Church. You either go with God’s only true Church and Work, or you have no husband!
Christ is the Head of the Family. The Church has lost its Head. That is the biggest of all crises!
We don’t have a choice as to which of God’s churches we like best and desire to attend. The only choice we have is between life and death (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). When we choose a church, there is only one choice—God’s choice! Not yours! Not mine! Our Husband doesn’t have seven different wives—He has one.
Then God gives the same warning that He gives the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:19. “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 1:19-20). God’s own lukewarm people will be devoured by the sword. This is an end-time prophecy.
“How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers” (verse 21). The faithful city was where God’s temple was located. The faithful are God’s own people. But in this end time, and anciently, God’s faithful “become an harlot”! They were “full of judgment,” and then lost that judgment! This prophecy is happening now to God’s Church. They were faithful under Herbert W. Armstrong, then they lost that faith!
They are “murderers” because they are guilty of the blood of Israel. They are failing to warn Israel, which God called them to do! (Again, see Ezekiel 3 and 33.) God always calls His people for a great purpose. There is never an exception.
The Laodiceans were pure sterling silver. But notice: “Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water” (Isaiah 1:22). The silver has become dross. That means they were pure silver, and then became dross—or polluted. They had the very truth of God and then lost much of it!
Their spiritual wine has been watered down. Spiritually, this is the ultimate disaster!
Perhaps the best way to get an overview of the whole book of Isaiah is to read the last chapter first. Isaiah 66, the last chapter in the book, will help us see that God is addressing those living in the end time—especially God’s Church.
The Anchor Bible states that Isaiah 66 is “prophecy against the temple.” That means it is for God’s own end-time Church.
To This Man
“Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 66:1). Here is a crucial question: Where is God going to reside? Where can you find God? Where is His temple today? God answers that question for us: “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (verse 2). The word “contrite” means broken and smashed. The word “poor” means meek.
We need to get our minds off thinking that God resides in a huge organization or large church. Today, it always gets down to “this man”—the individual who trembles at God’s Word! “This man” doesn’t tremble before men, but before God! God will look to and use this man, who is childlike before His Word (Matthew 18:1-3). For example, this man will read God’s Word as revealed in Malachi’s Message and act on it out of godly fear! He knows that book contains God’s truth. He trembles and obeys.
This subject is at the end of Isaiah for a good reason. It shows why people fail spiritually!
This man doesn’t go along just because some high-ranking evangelist leads the way. This man of God is not waiting for a man of stature to lead him. He studies God’s Word diligently and has spiritual depth. He looks to our great God of awesome stature—and trembles!
This is consistent with what God is doing right now. He is working very carefully with each person who comes out of the Laodicean Church. “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 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” (Revelation 3:18-20). “[I]f any man” (or individual) hears God’s voice, God will come in and dine with him spiritually. When Laodiceans repent and come into the Philadelphia Church today, they always say they were starving spiritually.
“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). This is prophecy for the end time also. God is taking “one of a city, and two of a family” to do His Work. (For more information on this subject, request our free booklet Jeremiah and the Greatest Vision in the Bible.)
Isaiah 66:2 is aimed precisely at God’s own people today. Verse 5 reveals that God’s Church is split—and those in power are leading the Church astray. The leaders excommunicate those who tremble at God’s Word!
When Mr. Armstrong died, it scared some people. But it was a marvelous test from God. God is learning who trembles at His Word and who doesn’t!
When a Laodicean member says he would come to the pcg if an evangelist would also come, what is he saying? Such a statement reveals that he does not tremble at God’s Word!
This is not a small issue. God says, “[T]o this man will I look”! This is where God’s power is! This is where God’s Work is done! This is where God reveals His truth! This is where the omnipotent God dwells!
God’s goal is to get other men out of the picture. He wants a one-on-one relationship with you—His begotten son! God is your loving Father, and He does not neglect His sons!
I believe Isaiah 66:2 is one of the most important verses in the Bible. Salvation is between you and God. You and I must tremble at God’s Word, or God can’t work with us.
This verse is at the heart of God’s government. Only this man can be ruled by God. Government is the one central issue that separates all of the Laodicean churches from the pcg. The pcg is comprised of individuals who tremble at God’s Word. That is why you see God’s great power behind this little Church today!
Trembling before God’s Word is the epitome of God’s government. As Mr. Armstrong said, “Government is everything”!
The Laodicean ministers don’t fear God (Malachi 2:5-9). So what is God to do if His own ministers desert Him? He looks to the Isaiah 66:2 man, and raises up another work through saints with that attitude.
Do we need high-ranking ministers to do God’s Work? No, no, no—a thousand times no! What we need are people with the Isaiah 66:2 attitude. Then we have all the power of the universe behind us! God’s “very elect” cannot be deceived about government—or anything else. Because they tremble at God’s Word, He will never allow them to be deceived. He reveals His truth—His prophecy—to them (Amos 3:7).
Maybe we can understand Isaiah 66:2 better if we look at a physical marriage about to be consummated. Let’s suppose a man and a woman are to be married. The groom is eager to prepare for this happy event, so he asks his fiancée to accompany him in making the final preparations. She says yes, but only if her old boyfriend can also go with them. She doesn’t feel personally secure going alone with her husband-to-be.
The groom would surely be insulted. And so is Christ, when people say they would come to the pcg if a high-ranking minister they like would also join! How does their Husband—Jesus Christ—feel about such a statement? Deeply insulted!
We are to tremble at our Husband’s Word. No man should prevent us from being intimate with our Husband. If we truly tremble at God’s Word, no man will ever separate us from Christ!
The context here is the end time. “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children” (Isaiah 66:8). A nation is about to be born. Obviously, this has not happened yet. And just before it does, God’s own Church is divided (verse 5).
“He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations” (verse 3). Today, that means God’s Laodicean Church is eating unclean spiritual food, and the people are going their own way—not God’s! Their temple sacrifices today are offending God.
“I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not” (verse 4). God sent them strong delusion—their own leader is betraying Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:4, 11). God called and they didn’t answer. He spoke and the Laodiceans did not hear. When did this happen? It is happening this very moment. The pcg has the distinct honor to speak for God! We are warning the Laodiceans, but they refuse to hear (Jeremiah 6:16-17). For that reason, they must go into the Great Tribulation—unless they repent.
If God speaks, it is our responsibility to be aware of it! God is alive, and He is speaking! We must know God well enough to know when He speaks. God’s own people ought to know when this occurs. Then they should answer. The Laodiceans refuse to hear and answer. They violently reject what God is saying and cast out members who heed God’s Word. “Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed” (Isaiah 66:5). Why are the very elect cast out? Because they tremble at God’s Word. This causes the Laodiceans, who don’t tremble at God’s Word, to hate them! Satan has done vile damage to God’s Church in this end time.
“Your brethren that hated you”—their own God Family, their own spiritual brothers, betrayed them! This is a tragedy of towering proportions! Those saints who tremble at God’s Word today will have great joy when Christ returns. However, there is no joy today in experiencing this split in God’s Family.
Zion Gives Birth
God’s Church is experiencing severe birth pangs. “A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord that rendereth recompense to his enemies. Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children” (Isaiah 66:6‑8). Zion is God’s Church. The literal translation at the end of verse 8 is, “For Zion has both travailed and brought forth.” There is a very happy ending!
This nation to be born at once is going to be comprised of Israelites and Gentiles.
Verses 5 and 8 are extremely revealing. How does the rebellious Worldwide Church of God hate God’s very elect? Here is one way: Its leaders hate the message in Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. (Request your free copy.) That book shows us how God has chosen Israel to do God’s Work. They are not “God’s favorite people.” They were chosen to do God’s Work anciently. But they failed.
In this end time, God has chosen spiritual Israel—or His Church—a spiritual nation, to do His Work of proclaiming His gospel and warning the world.
Some wcg leaders have accused us of racial prejudice against the Gentiles, when they know that to be a lie. There are many Gentiles in God’s Church today. They have been grafted into Israel (Romans 11). The Bible teaches that the people of the whole world are going to become Israel when they are all converted in the World Tomorrow.
The words “shall a nation be born at once?” reveal how the wcg is lying. Again, God’s Church today is comprised of Israelites and Gentiles—the spiritual nation of God. Isaiah 66:8 says all of them—Israelites and Gentiles—are going to be born into God’s Family in a day and be the nation of spiritual Israel. They will help Christ rule from the Jerusalem headquarters forever.
What a beautiful, all-inclusive plan! The wcg leaders label us racist only because they hate God, His people and His loving plan!
Verse 8 condemns their hateful, racist charge.
The picture here is not of the time early in a pregnancy. We see the time when God’s Church is going through its worst birth pangs—just before the actual birth. We must hang on because the birth is almost ready to occur.
There were two terrible splits in God’s Church in the 1970s. Now we have seen another split in the latter 1980s and 1990s. Next, the Laodiceans will be plunged into the Great Tribulation where 50 percent of them lose their eternal lives. But 50 percent repent and are born, along with the Philadelphia saints, into the very Family of God! So much travail makes the birth of God’s own Church even more splendid. So much pain! So much joy! But in the long run, the joy far outweighs the pain!
We agonize and struggle now to be born again as members of the God Family. Our mother, the Church, is in the most painful stage of childbirth labor! God gives us the birth image to help us understand this terrific struggle.
Nation in Embryo
The firstfruits are a nation in embryo! They are also the Family of God in embryo! Our trials today will result in our being born again into God’s Family!
This birth, in a general way, includes the trials and spiritual birth of all God’s saints—dead and living. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). We are fellow citizens of the nation of spiritual Israel. We are members of the household of God, or God’s Family. We are about to be born as the spiritual nation of Israel. Surely Isaiah 66 is the greatest “born again” chapter in the Bible!
Imagine, a mighty spiritual nation born at once to help Christ rule the world! What a mind-shaking event this will be. The whole world will be in a state of shock. Many people will be filled with joy to see the horrendous suffering end. What a mind-boggling event this world is about to see. Next to Christ’s coming, it will be the greatest event ever to occur in the universe!
The Zion of God is about to give birth. Now we are experiencing birth pangs. But hang on, the most spectacular birth ever seen by man—or God—is about to occur!
“Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God” (Isaiah 66:9). Sometimes we get worn down and depressed. It can even look hopeless. But keep your mind on God. If we do our part, God will make our birth certain. Nothing can stop it!
It’s not easy to give birth. And sometimes the labor is long. That is why we must keep these verses in mind. This is one of the most powerful visions in the Bible. It will get us through any trial! God is not going to close the womb when the birth is about ready to spring forth. And remember, the whole world will be served by God’s born-again saints.
“Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees” (verses 10‑12). Jerusalem has had less peace than any city on Earth! But peace is about to flow out of Jerusalem like a river—and never stop. Jerusalem is about to nourish the whole world, under God’s family leadership!
The image in these verses is of nursing children, mom and dad—a type of God’s Family. God is about to bring the whole world into His Family! We are being offered the opportunity to share His throne and help rule that Family!
“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (verse 13). We will help God comfort the whole Earth from Jerusalem!
“And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the Lord shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies. For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire” (verses 14-15). The whole Earth is about to flourish and break out in singing! (verses 18, 23). How great is the calling God has given His people!
Today is just a small beginning. But we are about to see the greatest event this universe has ever experienced—the Messiah is coming. Then comes the second-greatest event ever to occur in the universe: A nation shall be born at once!
Chapter 3: Why Family?
The book of Isaiah is filled with good news about God’s glorious world to come. “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it” (Isaiah 2:1-2). The term “last days” always refers to the time period leading up to and including the return of Christ.
God’s house, or Church, will be exalted far above any other institution. Then the nations will flow to it—because Christ commands it. Then the people will know that only God’s way works. They will greatly desire to live by God’s law. “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).
God’s law will go out from Zion, or God’s Church, in the Millennium. That means the law certainly should be going out from God’s Church today. Otherwise, how could we possibly be prepared to rule with Christ? We must submit to God’s government, which is based on God’s law, today. In God’s future world, we will teach the whole world how to submit to God’s law. Today, the whole world, including the world’s religions, rejects God’s law. That is why this world is filled with problems!
What else will we teach in the Millennium other than God’s law? Much will revolve around the truth Herbert W. Armstrong restored to God’s Church (Matthew 17:10-11). We must deeply learn what God taught us through him. We are God’s spiritual college today, and we shall establish God’s colleges all over this Earth very soon. Today, God’s true Church is a college to train teachers for the World Tomorrow. We have a message of hope for the world! That is easy-to-prove truth!
The basis of all our teaching is God’s law. His law will ensure that the whole world will live in peace. “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4). This verse is on a plaque at the United Nations. But in 6,000 years of man’s history, those words have not even come close to being fulfilled! Only God will fulfill this verse—not man. War on this Earth is about to end forever! A beautiful, glorious world is about to burst on the scene. God will use those saints being called now to help create that glorious world!
However, there is bad news just before God’s beautiful world to come. “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord. Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers” (verses 5-6). God will forsake His chosen people Israel. Some churches today say God wouldn’t do that, but He will. God will forsake His people because they have rejected Him and His law proclaimed to them by His Church.
God made a covenant with the people of ancient Israel, but He divorced them after they broke that covenant. God made a covenant with His New Testament Church. In this end time, many of God’s own people broke that covenant. God will forsake them too. Many of them still have a chance to repent before the Messiah’s coming.
God will never, never, never forsake us if we obey Him. But both parties must keep the covenant if it is to be binding. That covenant is based on God’s law.
God will punish physical and spiritual Israel (His Church in this end time). Mr. Armstrong taught us for years who physical Israel was. These prophecies are aimed primarily at the American and British people.
Just a little sound thinking should prove to us who Israel is. “Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots” (verse 7).
Most of this world is extremely poor. But there have been some nations that have received unparalleled blessings because of Abraham’s obedience. Primarily, the American and British peoples have been the recipients of these blessings. Anybody should see that there has been no end of their treasures! Their lands have been full of horses and chariots, or powerful transportation vehicles and war machines. And remember, that prosperity occurs just before Christ returns. Have we seen such wealth in Africa? South America? China? Russia? Of course not.
Just as God gives blessings, He often has to take them away. The nations of America and Britain are also full of something evil. “Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made” (verse 8). Our people have used that wealth to create amazing things. But we have taken those creations and put them ahead of God in our lives—made idols of them. Our nations don’t worship God. We worship what our hands have made! And that includes religion today.
Now God has to humble us. “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day” (verse 11). Notice, this all happens “in that day”—the end time, right now.
Only God will be exalted “in that day.” The problem with this evil world is that we exalt men to a level only God should inhabit. That is why God must humble man. Then there will be no more worshiping of men. Only God will be worshiped then.
The Hebrew expression for “shall be humbled” is in the perfect tense. The Prophet Isaiah is so certain that he describes this event as if it has already happened! You and I need that kind of faith in God’s future world! That fabulous world is about to become reality. Nothing can stop it!
“And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats” (verses 18‑20). Again we see this is prophesied to happen “in that day,” or the end time.
“To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth” (verse 21). God is about to “shake terribly the earth”! He says this twice in three verses! He will shake Israel and then the whole world! He will get man’s attention!
If we don’t heed God’s message today, then we have to learn it through horrendous suffering! Why, oh why, won’t we listen today?
The Cause of Our Problems
What is the source of our problems today? God says, “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” (Isaiah 2:22). Man is the cause of our problems today. We must cease following man and follow only God. Man is incomplete. Mankind must replace human reasoning with the mind of God (Philippians 2:5). Human reasoning is causing all of our problems today. And as a result, a mind-chilling change is coming quickly to the American and British peoples!
“For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water” (Isaiah 3:1). That means all of our support will be gone—a total disaster! Most of the food and water is about to go.
Israel will go from the peak of prosperity to the depths of deprivation. In other Bible verses this is called the worst time of suffering ever (Matthew 24:21; Daniel 12:1; Jeremiah 30:7). This is the kind of calamity about to strike Britain and America!
Will you repent before the Great Tribulation?
The strong leaders are taken away. “The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator” (Isaiah 3:2-3). Our leaders have degenerated to a child’s level in judgments and decisions! “And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them” (verse 4). Then we see anarchy and violence erupt throughout the land.
It’s especially bad in America, where violence has spiraled out of control. Even our schools are no longer safe. The whole world sees crime exploding in America. Ezekiel says, “[T]he land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence” (Ezekiel 7:23). Violence and bloody crimes were prophesied to fill our land today (request our book Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet).
How much violence and bloodshed must there be before we wake up and turn to God? And I don’t mean turning to so-called Christianity today—I mean turn to the great God of Isaiah!
The strong oppress the weak because our weak government doesn’t protect the people. “And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable” (Isaiah 3:5). The strong people abuse the weak. God says the problems will get so bad that nobody wants to rule! (verses 6-7). That is frighteningly bad! And this is all prophesied to happen “in that day.”
“For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory” (verse 8). Jerusalem was the capital of ancient Israel. Today, it is a type of Israel—mainly America, Britain and the Jewish nation. God says Israel is ruined! Notice, it reads that “Jerusalem is ruined”—as if it has already occurred. These verses reveal the very prophecies of God. They are absolutely certain to happen. Nothing can stop them!
The foundation of any strong society is strong families. “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isaiah 3:12). Here we see upside-down families with women ruling. The children are not taught and disciplined properly, so they oppress the parents.
This applies to the nations of Israel, but only in a general way. Israel has a history with God. It was chosen by God to lead the world in God’s way of life. But the people rebelled, and God divorced them. “Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God” (Hosea 1:9). God named Israel “Lo-ammi,” which means “you are not my people.” Then, just to make sure they understood, God told them they were not His people! The nations of Israel have rejected the most honored calling any nation has ever received. God will still use them in the future, after He punishes them and brings them to repentance. But right now, they are not God’s people, except in a general way.
God’s Church is where His people are today. They also have twisted families. The leaders cause the people to go astray (Isaiah 3:12). God’s own Church follows leaders who reject God (as do the nations of Israel). Therefore, we see the family disintegrate. But this problem reveals a far greater sin. The families would not be twisted if they followed their true leader, God the Father, and their Husband, Jesus Christ.
The family is a God-plane relationship. The physical family is patterned after the God Family. Why? Because the physical family was designed to prepare us to be born into the God Family!
What rich rewards we can receive now and in the future, if we would build godly families. What fiercely painful penalties we pay for rebelling against God. Some even reject the family relationship and are proud of it! (verse 9).
Into Worldly Fashions
God’s own Church is deeply into this world’s evil fashions. “Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet” (Isaiah 3:16). Zion is God’s Church, where God dwells (Isaiah 8:18). The daughters (plural) of Zion here refer to the end-time Laodicean churches. There are many different Laodicean churches today.
The Soncino commentary translates “stretched forth necks” in Isaiah 3:12 as “with their head in the air.” The expression “wanton eyes” is “ogling with their eyes.” The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary reads, “deceiving with their eyes or falsely setting off the eyes with paint.” They have a haughty attitude and are involved in evil lusts. They are into the fashions of this world, giving little or no thought to God’s style of fashion. God’s Church in this end time has had a history of problems in this area. That is why God is so condemning in these verses. They have been taught the truth and ought to know better.
This problem still relates back to the family relationship. “Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts” (Isaiah 3:17). This is how God corrects these daughters of Zion. God smites “the crown of the head.” That is because they follow the wrong head! “[T]hey which lead thee cause thee to err …” (verse 12). Their greatest evil is following the wrong “head.” The Lowth translation reads, “humble the head of the daughters of Zion.” That means they have a government problem. All of the end-time Laodiceans follow a human “head”—not Jesus Christ! They follow man’s reasoning, not God’s Word.
Again, let’s remember that the time setting is today—“In that day” (verse 18). The subject of verses 17-18 is the daughters of Zion in this end time. Not only does “in that day” date this prophecy, it is also dated by the expression “daughters of Zion.” The temple service in ancient Israel was referred to as Zion. In this end time we have the daughters of Zion—not the “mother,” or ancient Zion! What happened in Isaiah’s time was only a type of the end-time prophecies.
This appalling prophecy is coming to pass right now. But the worst part of this horror is yet to occur. “And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty” (verse 24). The “sweet smell” of our fabulous prosperity is about to become a putrefying stench of oppressive poverty and national captivity!
We need to keep the overview in mind. Isaiah 2 shows the blessings that are coming to this Earth. God’s law will be taught. God’s government is based on that law. God has a family government. God’s Church and the nations of Israel are destroying the physical family, which should be patterned after God’s Family! Soon “all nations shall flow” to Zion where God’s family law is taught (Isaiah 2:2). Those who deeply learn the lesson today about God’s family government will be teaching all nations in the very near future! Christ is getting His Bride ready to rule this world! (Revelation 19:7). We must learn today or we can’t teach in the beautiful World Tomorrow.
Soon the people of this world will be seeking God’s law and God’s way. We must be ready to teach them. What a fabulous future God is offering to His Church today!
Women Without a Husband
Those saints who rebel have some sad times ahead. “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach” (Isaiah 4:1). Again, Isaiah talks about “in that day”—the end time. During that time, seven women are living in reproach. These ladies all want to marry one man.
If we look at this spiritually, we know God teaches that a man should have one wife (1 Timothy 3:1-2). A woman is used to represent a church in the Bible. Since the context of Isaiah 3 and 4 is about Zion, or God’s Church, I don’t see how these seven women could refer to anybody but seven rebellious Laodicean churches in this end time. These ladies want to be called by this man’s name. Christ is represented by the man. God has removed His lamp from the Laodicean Church. It no longer does God’s Work or has His name. This must be talking about Christ and the rebellious Laodiceans today.
Again, we see an end-time setting. “In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel” (Isaiah 4:2). “In that day,” God will establish His rule.
Zion is mentioned repeatedly. “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning” (verses 3-4). God is about to wash away the filth of the daughters of Zion—His own Church! These daughters are obviously the seven women discussed in verse 1. They must be cleansed before they can again be called God’s true Church.
The word “daughters” is plural. How many Laodicean Church daughters will there be in this end time? Perhaps there will be seven. Regardless, this is still the same rebellion as the one mentioned in Revelation 3:14-19. The Laodiceans in this end time have lost the God Family name. If they didn’t refuse to be led by the Father and Christ, all of God’s end-time churches would be one body—unified and doing one Work of God!
All of the Laodiceans have one common sin. They won’t let Christ rule them. That means they have rejected their Husband and Father! This is a major, major sin that must be repented of before they can again be a part of God’s Family and Work.
God watches over and protects His loyal people. “And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain” (Isaiah 4:5-6). There was a time when God led the nation of Israel. During the day, a huge cloud was located over the tabernacle. At night, the cloud became a pillar of fire. The cloud was a sign that God was with the Israelites. He watched over and protected them. The Old Testament says that “every dwelling” was watched over by God.
And so it is today. Every individual and every family who follows God is protected (Romans 8:31). Of course, we have our trials. But if we are loyal to God, He always watches over us.
That is the focus the Laodiceans have lost. They simply lack the faith to have God’s protection.
Every individual on Earth will wish he or she had God’s protection before Jesus Christ returns! And I do mean every individual!
Chapter 4: The Universe Vision
God keeps reminding us in the book of Isaiah that He dwells in Zion (Isaiah 8:18). And where God dwells, there is a vision so great the human mind can barely comprehend it—even with God’s Holy Spirit!
The great tragedy is when God’s own Church turns away from God and that vision.
When Christ returns, where will He focus our attention? It will be focused on God’s family government. “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” (Isaiah 9:6). This verse discusses Father, Son and government—God’s family government.
“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” (verse 7). Isaiah repeats one subject over and over—God’s family government. There will be no end to the increase of this government! It will increase for all eternity!
God’s plan is first of all to teach family government to His Church today—the firstfruits. Secondly, this government will be taught to the whole world by God and His firstfruits. Thirdly, God’s government will fill the universe and never stop growing! God’s universal paradise will continue expanding forever!
The Feast of Tabernacles shows that God is now teaching His government to His Church. Then God shows how that government will fill the Earth. God’s purpose for “operation Earth” is to prepare mankind to rule the whole universe forever! Of course, we shall rule within God’s government.
God’s plan for His whole Family really begins here. If we can grasp this universe vision, it will revolutionize our lives! At this point, God’s Family has been created. Its purpose is then to rule the universe. Our glorious destiny reaches far beyond this Earth. We desperately need to fill our minds with this vision!
The Apostle Paul discussed this same vision. “But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him” (Hebrews 2:6-8). Why man? He was created to rule “all things”—the whole universe! But that is not a reality yet. We have to be trained for such a towering responsibility.
This job will be given only to God’s own sons—born into His Family. This calling is so great it should take our breath away! The angels were created by fiat. God never gave them an opportunity to be His born sons. “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). You and I must choose to live God’s way. In the process, we build the very character of God. We are God’s begotten sons. There could never be a more exalted calling!
The angels never had the chance to become God’s begotten sons with God’s own character. Do we humans truly grasp the exalted calling God has given us?
Isaiah says God’s government keeps on growing forever. What does that mean? Will God continue to expand His Family forever? That certainly seems to be a good possibility!
Many of God’s Laodicean saints fail to grasp this awesome vision. Do you know why? Simply put, it is because of their government problem! Mr. Armstrong probably did the greatest work for God on this Earth in nearly 2,000 years in terms of the number of people involved (see Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 17:10-11; 24:14). Yet God’s Laodicean churches deny that work because they don’t want to submit to God’s government!
This is why the Laodiceans don’t have new revelation from God, while God has given abundant new revelation to the Philadelphia Church of God. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25). God has only “revealed them unto babes,” or Church members who become as little children (Matthew 18:1-3). If we fail to submit to God’s government, God closes the door to using us in His Work.
There are many revelations God must give us in this end time. We have a warning message to deliver. Much of it is bad news—in the short run.
However, the greatest prophecy of all is the universe vision discussed in Isaiah 9. There must be some gloomy times and severe trials before we get into the universe. But all of these trials are a part of God’s plan to get us there. We must keep this universe vision in our minds, or the trials will discourage us. If we keep this glorious universe vision in our minds, nothing can get us down for long!
Imagine the whole universe filled with God’s beauty and joy. Today, we only get flashes of that breathtaking glory. Soon it will be reality in our daily existence!
Unfortunately, God’s Laodicean churches are losing or have lost the universe vision. They are sliding or plunging back into this world! They are now bogged down in the present evil world with no vision to lift them out of it. They have all accepted a form of this world’s government—not God’s government taught by Mr. Armstrong.
The Laodicean youth are especially vulnerable. “Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks?” (Isaiah 57:5). Anciently the Israelites sometimes physically sacrificed their own children. Today we sacrifice our youth spiritually when we give them no uplifting vision. We sacrifice them to sexual lust and fornication. The Internet alone does $10 billion to $13 billion worth of business in pornography every year just in America! It is the most profitable online business. We also sacrifice our children to demoniac music, drugs and greed. In the nations of Israel, this is done even before our youth are taught to use their minds! They get so hooked on coveting that they never even learn about the wondrous potential of our God-like minds!
The people of Israel today have forgotten God (verse 11).
Revive the Spirit of the Humble
You and I must work to understand and think like God. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15). This verse is probably more revealing than any verse in the Bible about God’s plan for man! Let me show you what I mean.
God inhabits eternity. He is apart from time. Men are constantly hounded by time. We live a few years, then we die, usually doing a lot of groaning along the way. God wants to free us from the bondage of time.
God lives in a “high and holy place.” But also notice, God is inviting man to live with Him—if man is of a “contrite and humble spirit”! That is where character-building comes into the equation. We are called by God today to “revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” That is not the prevailing spirit in this world.
The word “contrite,” according to Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, means: “to break in pieces, to crush, … to be crushed, humbled, broken in spirit, … broken very small.” God says this is what must happen to man—if we are to dwell with Him in His “high and holy place.” Today, man is filled with pride, vanity and rebellion toward God. That rebellious spirit must be crushed and broken before we can dwell with God!
You and I are called today to revive that humble spirit before God. It is not a spirit you see on this Earth today! God is calling His firstfruits to revive that spirit and then help lead the world to God! It’s not easy to have that self-willed spirit crushed. In fact, it’s the hardest thing we have ever had to do! But it can be done, with joy, through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. It is the only way we will ever be a part of God’s “high and holy place.” When we learn this lesson, we receive the exceedingly joyful job of teaching the world that same lesson! What unparalleled ecstasy God has given His people. How can we contain our excitement in the presence of such godly joy?
Again, we see that it comes back to God’s government. We revive the spirit of the humble by submitting to the very government God taught us through Mr. Armstrong. All of the Laodiceans refuse to humble themselves and submit to that government. Are you and I strong enough to revive the spirit of the humble? Of course, we should be. If we are, then we will share God’s own throne in His “high and holy place” (Revelation 3:21).
After all that stupendously good news, Isaiah discusses some bad news.
The Germans Are Coming
God will correct the people of Israel very harshly. For over 80 years God has warned them, first through Mr. Armstrong and now through the pcg. Remember, this book was written for the end time. “The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel” (Isaiah 9:8). God sent His “word” (or “message”; see the New American Standard translation) into Jacob, which has the patriarch Israel’s name before he became converted. God’s message also “lighted upon Israel.” The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary explains the expression “lighted upon Israel” this way: “fallen from heaven by divine revelation (Daniel 4:31).” This is a coded message to the nations of Jacob (which are unconverted, as Jacob was) and to spiritual Israel (God’s Church) in this end time. That means God reveals His message to spiritual Israel, or His very elect. Then the very elect takes that message and warns Jacob, or the unconverted nations of Israel.
Who is delivering this message? That is a question you and I must answer from our Bibles. If we can’t, God says we are “blind.” God will send the Germans (descendants of ancient Assyria) to correct the unconverted nations of Israel. But He always sends a warning message to Israel before its captivity. We can’t afford to be casual about such a thunderous warning. It is interesting that God precedes the warning message with glorious news about His government, which Israel and God’s lukewarm Church reject.
“The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars” (Isaiah 9:10). Israel is collapsing, but people still try to solve their problems themselves instead of turning to God.
“For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts” (verse 13). God is smiting the people of Israel. But they still won’t repent, so the smiting must continue. Ancient Israel experienced this collapse, but this was only a type of what is to happen in this end time.
“For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke. Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother. And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm” (verses 18-20). Conditions will get so bad that people will eat their own arms—or their own families! One third of Israel will die because of internal problems before the Germans strike with nuclear bombs (see Ezekiel 5). It didn’t get this bad anciently. This is mainly for today.
“O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation” (Isaiah 10:5). The word “staff” refers to their power to strike. But remember, we must not blame the Germans. They are only the tool in God’s hand—an expression of His indignation.
“I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets” (verse 6). Who sends the Assyrians, or the Germans? (For more information, request our free, full-color booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.) God is full of wrath against Israel, and He sends the Germans to punish and bring Israel to repentance. It is horrifying beyond words when the nations of Israel become “the people of [God’s] wrath”! These words ought to ring in our ears! “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). Why can’t we just listen to God’s Word today?
“Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few” (Isaiah 10:7). It is not that difficult to prove that the Assyrians are modern-day Germany. God says Germany has a history of destroying “not a few,” but many nations!
Anybody who knows anything about history would surely think of Germany first when reading this verse. Germany has a famous history of military destruction as no other nation.
“For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings? Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus?” (verses 8-9). These were powerful cities anciently. Israel thought they were invulnerable—just as we think nobody could destroy New York City, Washington, d.c., Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Toronto, Vancouver, London, Sydney or Melbourne. But God says these cities will be destroyed and the American and British peoples enslaved.
Not one of those mighty cities escaped anciently. And not one of our major cities will escape either. God has spoken!
“Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks” (verse 12). God will punish Jerusalem (or Israel) and Zion. God’s own Church is to be punished also.
Then, later, God will humble the stout-hearted Assyrians. “Therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt. For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction” (verses 24-25). God tells His Church, or Zion, not to fear the Assyrian. It won’t last long—31/2 years.
Can we be certain these are end-time prophecies? “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing” (verse 27). “In that day” always refers to the time of Christ’s return and just before.
Germany is already a great power in Europe. In 1991, Germany recognized the breakaway Yugoslav republics of Croatia and Slovenia, even though other European countries, America and much of the world opposed it.
Why was the world so opposed? Because it remembers that Croatia and Slovenia were strong Nazi satellites, or puppet states, in World War II.
Russia kept quiet when all this occurred, only because it was receiving such huge loans from Germany.
Many people believe that the main cause of the conflicts in Yugoslavia that followed was Germany’s recognition of those two Yugoslav states. The U.S. tried to help stop the civil war. It met one deep frustration after another. Finally, former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said that the Germans “bear a particular responsibility.” This statement was quickly picked up by the press—and the Germans were enraged. Mr. Christopher rapidly backed off and said that the U.S. didn’t want to point a finger at anybody. Just another indication of how powerful Germany is—and that happened over two decades ago! Germany is several times stronger today. To learn more about this situation, request a free copy of Germany’s Conquest of the Balkans.
Germany and the European Union are a great power on the world scene! The U.S. and Britain are on the verge of collapse.
Herbert Armstrong proclaimed that Germany would rise again, even as it lay in ruins after World War II. Now it has risen. Otto von Habsburg, of the Habsburg dynasty that ruled the Holy Roman Empire, was one of the primary architects of the European Community (ec), today the European Union. He spoke with Mr. Armstrong about the ec. Mr. Habsburg was concerned that the ec was uniting too slowly. Mr. Armstrong told him that he believed a severe crisis would shock Europe into finally uniting. Mr. Habsburg agreed with him.
Mr. Armstrong thought that crisis would be the collapse of the Western world’s monetary system! America’s banking system collapsed in September 2008. The American economy is already destroyed, we just don’t know it yet! Request our booklet He Was Right to see in detail how it was all prophesied.
The currencies are all tied together—the pound, dollar, shekel and many others. This crisis is going to cause the collapse of the American and British peoples in particular.
These prophecies are accelerating with lightning speed! God help us to heed while there is still time.
Chapter 5: Satan Cast Down
The book of Isaiah is like a miniature Bible. How wonderful are the truths of this book. Isaiah explains why the world has such horrid problems today. But Isaiah also shows us what an inspiring solution God has planned for mankind. This world doesn’t know God. And that includes religious people. They also don’t know Satan. That ignorance will cause our people horrible suffering. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can avoid Satan’s wrath, if you heed Isaiah’s warning.
Why End-Time Crises Intensify
Isaiah prophesied of a beautifully peaceful time just ahead of us. “The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing” (Isaiah 14:7).
Just before that happens, there will be an unparalleled crisis. The Assyrians, or Germans, will conquer Israel. However, God will break the Assyrian in Israel’s land. That is just the opposite of what happened in Israel’s first captivity (718 b.c.). This is obviously a prophecy that is yet to occur in the near future! This Assyrian attack on Israel will be inspired by Satan in this end time. Of course, this all fits into God’s plan (Isaiah 10:5-6).
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man [or one] that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms” (Isaiah 14:12-16). This is the story of Satan being cast down to the Earth when he tried to overthrow God. Isaiah then places this event in the context of the end time. Why? Because Satan is cast down again in these latter days!
This is a being who has “made the earth to tremble”—he has the power to “shake kingdoms”! And now he has been cast down to this Earth again. “Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12). “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea” when this satanic powerhouse is cast down. And this time he has “great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Satan knows his time is short because the gospel has already been preached around the world (Matthew 24:14).
We publish booklets on all the major prophets. Two of the booklets—Isaiah and Ezekiel—discuss Satan being cast down (see Ezekiel 28). We discuss Satan in detail. Only the Philadelphia Church of God understands Satan today. Only we reveal Satan to the Laodiceans and the world. The devil rules this world and is worshiped by its inhabitants. Satan is their god! (2 Corinthians 4:4). This world is in abject slavery to the devil. The whole world is deceived by him (Revelation 12:9). Still, even most religions refuse to believe what God says about the devil.
Some in the world try to label the pcg a cult. Actually, we are the only church doing God’s Work on this Earth! That can easily be proved from the Bible. We are commanded to “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Only we understand what Satan is planning and doing. That is why Satan hates us most of all and persecutes us so intensely. “Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child” (Revelation 12:12-13).
This Earth has never experienced the full wrath of Satan until this end time! He has already conquered the Laodicean Church. It happened in only months after Mr. Armstrong died! How can you explain that without Satan being cast down and confined to this Earth? When God’s Church loses His protection, the Work is rapidly destroyed. The majority of God’s own people have been deceived. Satan caused a Church split. That could only happen through his unparalleled, wrathful deceit. It is one of his greatest feats in this end time! He persecutes the Church intensely until God’s Philadelphians must flee to a place of safety (verse 14). Next, Satan focuses his great wrath on bringing the nations of Israel down.
This world has changed dramatically since Herbert W. Armstrong died. Everything indicates that Satan was cast down around that time. And now this world is on a downhill plunge to destruction!
How can we protect ourselves from this powerful and violent spirit being? God gives us the solution in the same chapter that describes Satan being cast down. “What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it” (Isaiah 14:32). God has founded Zion, or God’s Church. The Laodicean Zion has rebelled. But there is a Zion doing God’s Work and resisting Satan’s powerful onslaught. And God’s people “trust in it”—the Zion that God is using. They will trust God to protect them from Satan’s attack. They are “poor,” or meek and humble. Only God can lead and protect them. The Revised Standard Version translates verse 32 this way: “… The Lord has founded Zion, and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.” Obeying God causes them to be “afflicted.” They remain loyal, and God gives them “refuge” from the Great Tribulation. A cataclysmic storm is coming—only God can protect us!
We have seen the bloodcurdling horrors of World War II. That was mild compared to the nuclear holocaust that is fast approaching (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21). Nothing has ever happened on this Earth to compare with it! Nothing!
Chapter 6: End-Time Eliakim
God often teaches through symbolism in the Bible. And only God can interpret those symbols. We move now to a chapter that has several symbols.
Isaiah 22 discusses “the key of the house of David” (verse 22). This prophecy is dual. The ancient fulfillment is only a type of what is prophesied for these latter days.
The first 14 verses of this chapter also include something we haven’t understood before. “The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?” (verse 1). The “valley of vision” could and should read “the valley of revelation, or prophesying.” When God reveals prophecy, His Church is expected to deliver that message. Most of those in God’s end-time churches have rebelled. Their leaders are not on the mountaintop (using television, radio, the Internet, etc) prophesying God’s revealed message, as they were commissioned to do. Spiritually, they are down in the valley. They have forgotten how honorable it is to be chosen by the great God to receive and deliver His magnificent message!
We must look at these verses spiritually.
The city of Jerusalem was the capital of ancient Israel. So today, God uses Jerusalem as a type of spiritual Israel, or the Church, and of the nations of Israel—America, Britain and the Jewish nation in particular. But in this chapter, God is primarily warning His own lukewarm Church today. Only secondarily does it apply to the nations of Israel. God’s people in the end time were given the revealed prophecies of God, through Herbert W. Armstrong. When he died, they turned their backs on God. That happened only a few years before the coming Tribulation, when rebellious America, Britain and biblical Judah (incorrectly called Israel today) will soon experience their worst suffering ever. Signs of disaster are all around. Still, most of God’s people refuse to deliver God’s message, a job for which they were called and chosen.
Here is how the Soncino commentary defines the expression “What aileth thee now”: “The literal meaning is ‘what, pray, (hath come) to thee?’ or ‘what, pray, meanest thou?’ The prophet, weighed down by forebodings, asks the question ironically of the city’s population who have no cares on their mind.” But the message today is primarily for God’s lukewarm people who don’t have their focus on God. They are sick spiritually.
Soncino defines “the housetops” this way: “The flat roofs of the houses were vantage ground for watching the joyful demonstrations or holiday processions in the streets below.” The Laodiceans are enjoying the pleasures of this world when they should be repenting. They have “wholly gone up to the housetops,” or given themselves over to the ways of this evil world. They love this world more than they love God’s Work.
This message is a heavy burden that revolves around God’s rebellious Church. That message is no small burden for God and His very elect.
Eternal Lives Lost
“Thou that art full of stirs, a tumultuous city, a joyous city: thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle” (Isaiah 22:2). These soldiers are not slain physically. That is because this is a spiritual war. Prophecy states that the rebels are dying spiritually. But in Isaiah 22:2, God is discussing spiritual rebels who have already lost their eternal lives in this war! They are men who have been slain, but not with the sword. Scripture tells us that 50 percent of them will die forever. Thankfully, 50 percent of them will be jolted into repentance during the Great Tribulation.
More of God’s own people may die eternally in this end time than any other time in history. Even now some of them are dying eternally!
All of God’s people must be intensely vigilant—including the very elect. This is a strong warning for each one of us!
Right in the midst of this warfare, the rebellious leaders and their followers have abandoned their responsibility! “All thy rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in thee are bound together, which have fled from far” (verse 3). They are not standing up for God or His people. All of the leading ministers cowardly ran from their responsibility! And no responsibility is more important.
How can you calculate the value of a minister who will not desert God’s people? A minister who sacrifices his life for God’s people and tells them the truth?
When Isaiah saw this vision, he was plunged into a state of deep sorrow and shame. He couldn’t even be comforted because he saw the unparalleled suffering and eternal death to come upon God’s Church. “Therefore said I, Look away from me; I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people” (verse 4). Here you can see the duality in this prophecy. The mother rebelled anciently. The daughter is doing the same today. Spiritually, it is the daughter, or the majority of God’s people—spiritual Israel—who have refused to do God’s Work in this end time. It is a massive rebellion! The evil leaders got control of the Church of God and surrendered to the devil.
Most of God’s people and the nations of Israel are heading into the worst suffering ever known to man—“a day of trouble, and of treading down” (verse 5). We should strive for the godly emotion Isaiah had if we understand their fate!
Do we go to God in deep concern and tears because of what is going to happen to God’s Family—our Family? We must also have God’s love for the nations of Israel—and the whole world. Nobody with God’s love could want to see the Tribulation come upon our people, unless they saw the happy ending.
Isaiah’s example here should severely correct every single one of us. This loving emotion that Isaiah had has rarely been experienced by any one of us, if at all! How deeply do we love God’s lukewarm people, the nations of Israel and the world? There is only one way to really measure our love for them: Our dedication to God’s Work shows how much we love them!
How much are you and I willing to sacrifice in getting God’s Work finished?
I don’t raise this subject to beat anyone down spiritually. But we must be reminded of how our love for God’s Family and the world falls far short of our Father’s love for them!
We can’t be content with our spiritual growth. We must see how much we still need to grow. We are commanded to become perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. We’re obviously not there yet—far from it. But are we really striving to become perfect as our Father is perfect?
That is why we were created and called!
These prophecies are real, and every one of them will be fulfilled!
How can God get the attention of those who are rebelling against Him? How can God show them that they can’t solve their problems? We do have a solution! There is a spring bubbling up with living water from the living God that would solve their spiritual crisis. God’s Work delivers a message that really does have a solution to all of our problems.
America, Britain and the Jews in the Middle East face an unparalleled disaster. But here is the shocker: It is “by the Lord God of hosts”! (verse 5). This trouble is sent by God Himself! God is responsible for this horrendous suffering that leaves the victims with no hope—unless they turn to God.
Most people today don’t know who Israel is. Judah, or the Jews (Jew is only a shortened version of Judah), is only one tribe of Israel. That is clearly explained in our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. There is no excuse for people not to know who Israel is today. The only question is, how much are we going to suffer before we learn that awesome truth?
The nations of Israel won’t solve their problems until they examine themselves and realize that God is punishing them because of their abominable sins! It takes the worst suffering ever to wake them up!
This example alone shows us why we must declare war on our human nature.
Who Is Eliakim?
Isaiah 22:6-14 are explained in our booklet Jerusalem’s Temples. We hope you read those verses and the whole booklet, because it contains new revelation from God!
We taught in the past that the reference in Isaiah 22:20 to an end-time Eliakim referred to Herbert W. Armstrong. We even printed an explanation of that doctrine in an earlier version of this booklet. But in April 2001, I began preparing for a sermon expounding that point, and showing how the passage referred to the Philadelphia era of God’s Church (Revelation 3:7-13).
The day before the Sabbath I was to speak, I received the new Anchor Bible Commentary on Isaiah. I thought this might give me more insight to this subject and determined to study it that night. But when I began studying it, I was startled by something I had not seen before—something that didn’t agree with our previous teaching on a part of Isaiah 22.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah” (Isaiah 22:20-21). This is God talking. But to whom is He talking?
The Anchor Bible Commentary wrote about these verses, “Note that the beginning of the Eliakim section is still referring back to Shebna” (see verse 15). In other words, verse 21 refers to Shebna’s robe, Shebna’s girdle and authority. So Shebna’s office and authority were given to Eliakim. This is different from the way I had understood this passage in the past. This is one man being given the priestly vestments of another man. When did this happen in the end-time Church of God?
The expression “in that day” (verses 20, 25) always refers to this end time. So how is all this happening in God’s Church today?
After further study, I came to realize that it is referring not to the Philadelphian era, but to the Laodicean era.
Isaiah 22 is talking about three individuals: Eliakim, Shebna and Hilkiah. We have always taught that Shebna is a type of the present leader of the Worldwide Church of God. But what I will explain in this chapter is that Eliakim is actually a type of my office, and Hilkiah is a type of Mr. Armstrong’s office.
Connection to Court Case
Interestingly, I began to understand this truth on the same day that the Supreme Court denied our appeal in the case regarding our fight to reprint Mr. Armstrong’s book Mystery of the Ages. I believe there is a reason why these events happened on the same day.
The Wall Street Journal reporter who wrote about our case and spent a lot of time with Laodicean church groups told us that the other churches were intently watching our case. The Journal, a newspaper produced by Church of God splinter groups, had five articles about the Wall Street Journal story in one issue, in addition to reprinting the article itself. One of our members from Tyler, Texas (where many of these splinter groups reside), said she couldn’t find that edition of the Wall Street Journal anywhere in town—all the copies had been bought. When she later called the Wall Street Journal headquarters to order a copy, they informed her that they too had no copies left. People were very interested in our battle over Mystery of the Ages, and not just church members.
The Laodiceans received a strong warning from our court case—even from outside sources. Why would they have been watching us so closely? After spending years in God’s Church, they still remember Mr. Armstrong and some of what he taught. Our work makes certain they don’t forget.
In a way, we are like the Israelites in Joshua 24:32: They carried Joseph’s bones out of Egypt all the way to Shechem because they wanted to remember this great man of God. We too keep thrusting Mr. Armstrong into the public consciousness through our efforts to keep his work alive.
“Thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say” (Isaiah 22:15). Here is a man over God’s house who is also a treasurer. In this end time, there is a Laodicean Church that is “rich, and increased with goods” (Revelation 3:17) and motivated by Satan. They love the riches of this world.
God is telling someone to “get thee unto this treasurer.” God has a great controversy with this treasurer. He is elsewhere called the “son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
This passage never talks about Satan. But we know that Judas, the first-century son of perdition and the only other one mentioned in the New Testament (John 17:12), was possessed by the devil (John 13:26-27). He too was a treasurer, overly concerned about physical riches (Matthew 26:14-16; John 12:4-6).
This end-time Shebna or son of perdition is likened to a treasurer because he led God’s Church to be “rich, and increased with goods.” He put money and things ahead of God. He is the ultimate treasurer, motivated by evil.
Judas and Shebna were treasurers who misused God’s money. This end-time son of perdition followed in the same path.
Who in this end time has all the money and goods? The annual income of the wcg was over $200 million just after Mr. Armstrong died. The Worldwide Church of God accused us of stealing Mystery of the Ages, but look at the goods it inherited from Mr. Armstrong’s work! Still wcg leaders refuse to teach God’s revealed truth and do His Work. Who is doing the stealing?
God instructs someone to go to this treasurer and deliver this message: “What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre [or tomb] here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock?” (Isaiah 22:16). God wants one man to go to another and say, I know you have grandiose ideas, but you are only carving out for yourself an eternal tomb! God wants this end-time Shebna to know exactly what he is doing. As Mr. Armstrong often said, this is dangerous knowledge—eternal life is at stake!
We have a heavy responsibility: We speak for God! This is not an easy message to deliver, but God commands it. We must faithfully obey and not back down.
The message to Shebna continues: “Behold, the Lord will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee” (verse 17). The King James reference says this “mighty captivity” is “the captivity of a man.” God reinforces this point with Shebna, who apparently is so mentally and spiritually off track he doesn’t even consider himself a man! That is precisely what 2 Thessalonians 2:4 states. He acts as if he were God! Is he possessed? The Scriptures certainly indicate that he is. God is saying, By the time I am finished with you, you will know that you are just a pitiful man!
“He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord’s house” (Isaiah 22:18). This man will experience the Great Tribulation. Barnes’ Notes says of the phrase “He will surely violently turn”: “Lowth has well expressed the sense of this: ‘He will whirl thee round and round, and cast thee away.’ Thus it refers to the action of throwing a stone with a sling, when the sling is whirled round and round several times before the string is let go, in order to increase the velocity of the stone. The idea is here, that God designed to cast him into a distant land, and that he would give such an impulse to him that he would be sent afar, so far that he would not be able to return again.” And of “into a large country,” Barnes says, “Probably Assyria.” That is pretty good insight for a commentary, and is probably where this man is going.
The last part of verse 18, the Chaldee renders, “And there the chariots of thy glory shall be converted into ignominy, because thou didst not preserve the glory of the house of thy lord” (ibid). This is what we’re really talking about: preserving the glory of God’s house! Look at what Satan has done to God’s Church. Even while Mr. Armstrong was alive, Satan had a real stronghold inside the Church (Revelation 3:9). We have to work exceedingly hard to preserve the glory of God’s house inside this Church!
“And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down” (Isaiah 22:19). God will forcibly strip this end-time Shebna of his office.
In all the book of Isaiah, no one is singled out for such severe punishment as Shebna. God does not take his sins lightly!
It is in the context of this message to Shebna, warning about the Great Tribulation and being stripped of his office, that God says, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy [Shebna’s] robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah” (Isaiah 22:20-21).
This prophecy was delivered three millennia ago; yet, look at its detail! There are three specific personalities prophesied here, all connected very closely with God’s Church in these end times.
Eliakim means “God establishes.” If we really know God, we should be able to see God and how He establishes. That places responsibility on my shoulders, and also on yours, to ensure that we allow God to establish Himself in our lives. He wants to rule us and be our Father.
This is the opposite of what is happening with the Laodiceans. They are tossed to and fro, in confusion and misery. They know they are wrong, and they just watch God’s very elect to see what is happening! They sense that God is establishing this Work, and that we have the truth they ought to be keeping.
When did God strip this end-time Shebna of his robe, girdle and government? Revelation 11:1-2 discuss an inner court and an outer court. That prophecy was fulfilled quickly after John Amos and I were fired from the wcg. The inner court is where God dwells. God established His Church. And where He dwells, you will find one-man government, an exciting work and dedicated people. These people will have new revelation from Isaiah and all the other major and minor prophets. It will be given through Eliakim. There will be persecution—Satan will be attacking that group—but you will also find people who are bold as a lion! And where God dwells you will find the key of David vision.
The Transfer of Authority
When John Amos and I were summoned to Pasadena headquarters over Malachi’s Message, the one who dealt with us was Joe Tkach Jr. Though his father was in town, he never showed up.
At the time, I didn’t know just what God would do, but I knew that He was behind me. I had thought that God might use this meeting to help straighten out the Church. But after I saw the direction everything was going, I realized that was not going to happen. That was terribly discouraging to me.
On December 7, 1989, Joseph Tkach Jr. was already in charge of the wcg in spirit. Two ministers were being fired, and would later be disfellowshiped, and the top leader of the Church (Joseph Tkach Sr.) didn’t even show up! I believe that indicates he had already lost control. We were dealing with Shebna.
I have already fulfilled Isaiah 22:15-16 in part—delivering a warning to this end-time Shebna. As we left, I told Mr. Tkach Jr., “This is only the first sip of a very bitter cup you’re going to have to drink.” I may as well have told him he was carving himself an eternal tomb! But the warning didn’t stop there: Mr. Tkach Jr. was one of the first to receive a copy of Malachi’s Message, in which there is a chapter about a man of sin inside God’s own Church acting like he is God! (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
There was something I didn’t understand then, but do now. According to these verses, I was given Shebna’s authority—his priestly vestments. When did that happen? It must have happened that very night when I was fired—December 7, 1989. Joe Tkach Jr. was given a final chance to repent. He did not, and God stripped him of his authority. From that time to the present, God has been using me to resurrect and do His Work! The fruits prove that statement absolutely!
Conversely, look at the free fall the wcg has experienced since that night!
When God started the pcg, He transferred Shebna’s priestly vestments and His government over to Eliakim. God’s government is here! That is not a casual statement. If you take God’s government from the Church, it will wreck the Church! That is exactly what happened to the wcg. After that night, it no longer had access to God’s government.
John Amos followed that government from the beginning. We were two nobodies in the ministry, and yet he never argued over who was in charge. He was one nobody submitting to another nobody! That is to his eternal credit, and it demonstrates that we had the government of God right at the start.
Look at the context of these verses in Isaiah 22: It speaks of “in that day” and the Great Tribulation. That clearly puts it in these end times.
Understanding Eliakim does not mean following a man. It means following what “God establishes”! We dare not follow a man. But you know that if I really let God rule me and make the decisions Christ wants me to make, there will be a few decisions that you don’t agree with. Even I probably won’t like all of them, initially. But if we ever fail at this test, like Shebna we will only be carving out for ourselves an eternal tomb!
This is also a strong message for me. When God says He has given His government, that means I had better use it! God forbid that I should ever abuse His Family. But things will only work if we use this government. Can we prove which man on Earth is truly using God’s government—the government that will one day rule the world and the universe?
In Revelation 3:8, God praises the Philadelphians for not denying His name—His authority or government. Think about that. Philadelphians are not establishing it again. They are keeping God’s government that was established by God through Mr. Armstrong.
If you understand prophecy—true prophecy the way God reveals it—you are ruled by God! You have been given revealed prophecy because that prophet has been ruled by God. Of course, you must be careful, because Satan is always trying to counterfeit God’s government. But the Laodiceans do not understand God’s prophecies simply because they have denied God’s authority.
When you have God’s government, the doors will swing open for you. What doors do the Laodiceans have opening for them? Most of their open doors have already been shut. They are spending their time watching doors swing open for us!
I believe we will not lose the court case. Yes, our chances of winning are small. But that only makes greater odds for God. He is like the Supreme Court in that He only takes certain cases. But He usually takes them when you’ve already gone into the fiery furnace! Mystery of the Ages was an open door for us. God has put it on hold temporarily. But Isaiah 22:22 says that when Eliakim opens a door, none can shut it. We must have faith in that.
Eliakim is a father “to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” Jerusalem is a type of Israel and Judah. Looking at this spiritually, it is talking about the Church of God (spiritual Israel) and the very elect—the spiritual Jews of Revelation 3:9.
I have written many times that Mr. Armstrong is a spiritual father to us in the Church, as I covered in the last chapter. That is one reason I had trouble seeing this truth initially. He certainly did fulfill that office.
But is that the end of the story? Mr. Armstrong completed the work of an era of God’s Church before he died. Today, even if you had all of Mr. Armstrong’s material, could you come to God and do His Work with just that understanding? Some today say yes. But the answer is no. You need also to come into God’s true Church with Malachi’s Message and other new revelation God has given me. That is, people come into the pcg, directly or indirectly, through what God revealed to me. In that sense only, I am a father.
Given the importance that God places on the father in the God Family vision, doesn’t it seem logical that He would give us a father-type today?
Remember Elisha’s attitude toward Elijah when he said, “My father, my father” (2 Kings 2:12). We must retain that attitude. Elisha really understood the depth of the Family of God. We must realize that we are in God’s Family, and sometimes our heavenly Father charges a man to bring people to Him. The job makes that man a father to those people.
How well do we understand our spiritual Father? “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). What does that mean? This is more than just looking to Christ. God wants us to see everything through His mind—the mind of a Father. He is a Father with a Family; Christ will be the Husband, we will be the Bride, and we will help bring billions of people into the Father’s Family.
If you understand God the Father, you will have no trouble understanding whom He is using. But understanding the Father requires fervent prayer and deep study.
Think about it: How much do you love your children, just as a physical parent or grandparent? I feel I love children more and more as I grow older. How could a father not love his children? They bring such joy into your life. And look at how much children need their parents. It is a rough world out there—people are willing to abandon their children to go into the workforce, neglecting them and leaving them to grow up alone. That creates terrible problems in this world!
As I go out and face this world, I want to know that I have a Father there, guiding me, encouraging me, helping me! I know God will always be there, because He is a Father! If He weren’t a Father, He would probably be out in the universe doing something else. But because He has children, He looks after them. Yes, Christ is the Head of the Church, but He constantly points us to the Father. We must capture this tremendous family vision!
The Key of David
“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” (Isaiah 22:22). Mr. Armstrong received the key of David from Christ. Here it speaks of the “key of the house of David,” which means descendants from David.
The Laodiceans today are disgracefully divided. They don’t want The United States and Britain in Prophecy, which reveals the key of David. That would unite them. In 1987, about a year after Mr. Armstrong died, they chopped out 70 percent of that book. A year later they shelved it completely while officially saying they were only “reviewing” it. That was a lie! Neither do they want Mystery of the Ages, which also talks about the key of David. The real reason is, they don’t want God’s rule! God says they are like a dog returning to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11).
Some of them ask, Why can’t we all get together? The only way that would be possible is if we all united through the key of David. That is the vision that will unite this world! It will unite America and China, Arab and Jew.
It truly angers Satan when we talk about David’s throne. He knows that his reign is about over. He has nothing to lose. He is composed of pure hatred. He is stirring up all kinds of hatred in this world—racial and other problems that can only be solved with the key of David. The tighter we hold on to that vision, the angrier he gets—but the less he can touch us.
“And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house” (Isaiah 22:23). When you talk about this throne, you’re talking about God’s government.
God will make this Eliakim as a “nail in a sure place.” But in principle, as we support Eliakim, that is what God will do to all of us! People look at us and say, That Church just won’t give up! As we encounter more persecution, they will really think we are crazy! But we simply are giving ourselves passionately to God, and we are thankful to be honored by God. We look forward to being placed into headquarters, ruling beside Jesus Christ forever. This empire will extend into the universe! That is quite a future. No wonder we can be so strong and dedicated—such a nail in a sure place.
All the Glory
“And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons” (Isaiah 22:24).
Barnes’ Notes says this about the phrase “The offspring and the issue”: “All that proceeded from the family; all that were connected with it. Kimchi and Aben Ezra render it, ‘Sons and daughters.’ … The Chaldee, ‘Sons and grandsons, youth and children.’” God is talking about family. The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary says, “[R]ather, ‘the offshoots of the family, high and low’ (Vitringa). The Hebrew for ‘issue’ (… to put forth, especially vile things, as, for instance, worthless shoots, excrement [Ezekiel 4:15]).”
The “offspring and the issue” refer to two groups: the Jacobite Laodiceans and the Edomite Laodiceans (see Malachi 1:1-3; request our Obadiah booklet for a detailed explanation). Both groups are rebelling. One is called “offspring.” This group will repent in the Tribulation and be born into God’s Family. But the others—the “issue”—are so far gone, God calls them spiritual dung! That’s all they are to God now! They have no future.
Why would the issue or spiritual dung be part of “the glory of his father’s house”? This is all a part of the spiritual war necessary to build God’s Family. Eliakim and his supporters exposed and defeated the Family enemies from within. This helped them to qualify for headquarters positions for all eternity in Jerusalem. They serve as a good example for God’s people today. The Eliakim work in this end time will serve as inspiration and a warning to people during the Millennium. All of these events add to God’s glory.
The wcg had property worth about $200 million; yet, when you compare that to what we have spiritually, it is just so much dung! Assets worth $200 million amount to nothing more than a measly bowl of soup—what Esau gave up his birthright for. The Edomite Laodiceans have given up eternal glory for nothing more than dung!
What are the “vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons”? Anciently, these were items used in the temple service. What do we use today in the temple service? These must refer to all of our books and booklets. All the glory hangs on Eliakim—all the revelation from Mr. Armstrong, plus all the new revelation God has given to me. That is quite a lot of glory! We have it all!
It requires great faith to believe this truth. I have faith that these verses show we will get Mystery of the Ages and those other works back. If I am wrong, I will change my views as God directs. I am following the pillar of fire, just as the Israelites did, and if it changes direction, I will still follow it. Perhaps there are things I don’t understand at this time. But I do know this: It also says that all of this glory hangs on the office of one man. We must make sure God has established that man. If He has, there is a lot of glory there.
How could God’s people talk about the evils of one-man rule? That is out of the mind of the devil! You don’t read that in Isaiah 22—you read just the reverse! That is the reasoning they use to reject God’s government. We must follow where God has established His rule!
As we enter rougher times, it will take power and boldness and courage to survive. I need your prayers, because without God’s power I am just as weak and cowardly as anyone. We are in this together. We must all be as bold as lions to accomplish what God has given us to do!
This is not an easy job. The longer we go on in this Work, the more intense our trials get. And yet, our blessings are being magnified even more quickly. Being denied by the Supreme Court, and then receiving this revelation on the same day, helps me to realize more deeply that God is alive and truly loves us. Christ is about to return and bring all His saints with Him.
But to be effective, and to really have God behind us, we must remain pure. “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord” (Isaiah 52:11).
When Solomon’s temple was destroyed, Gentiles stole the temple vessels. In Ezra 1:5-7, when the Jews rebuilt the temple, God made those men bring the vessels back! Those vessels are a type of Mr. Armstrong’s books and booklets. Ezra is a prophetic book, because it is about temple building. The characters in Ezra are also discussed in the minor prophets. I believe we are certain to receive those stolen vessels back.
Remember, though, what a battle those Jews had to rebuild that temple! They built with one hand while they held a weapon in the other! (Nehemiah 4:17). We simply will not finish this Work without a war. Anciently, the temple building actually stopped. But they didn’t give up at that point. Just because Mystery of the Ages isn’t here right now doesn’t mean God wants us to stop fighting. We must fight and fight and fight until we know that God is the one who has stopped it. He doesn’t want us to let Satan-inspired men stop His truth! He wants people who will stand up and fight to give this world the truth it so desperately needs!
Some Laodiceans call us and say, “We really hope you win this court case.” I have to wonder, do they really? They are sitting out there on the fence doing nothing. They don’t have the courage to join the fight for God. Doesn’t God expect more? He wants deeds. How can we be neutral in a time of war?
Remember Amos 9:11: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.” If you’re going to build this tabernacle “as in the days of old,” you would have to have the books and booklets you once had. “That they may possess the remnant of Edom …” (verse 12). That must include Mystery of the Ages and Mr. Armstrong’s other books and booklets. That is what I believe, and faith firmly dictates that I continue to believe that until God says otherwise.
Famine of the Word
“In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 22:25). I believe this is talking about the famine of the word (Amos 8:11), when God’s continual Work is taken to a place of safety. If there is more to it than that, then God has yet to show me.
When I saw the appellate court decide against us in our battle for Mr. Armstrong’s writings, I got a taste of what the famine of the word will be like. Some people called in who were genuinely upset that they could not receive Mr. Armstrong’s books. You mean, I can’t even get a copy and read it? they asked. They experienced a famine of the word to a degree.
I firmly believe that in the future we will face an even more significant battle with this end-time Shebna. Amos 7:10-11 show a priest of God going to the leader of the land and trying to get God’s Work shut down. In verses 12-13, he speaks directly to God’s prophet telling him to prophesy not. We do have a work of prophecy, and we are not trying to hide it. We talk about the rising beast of Revelation 17, and we warn that the nations of Israel are quickly losing their power. We are making ourselves a target for some intense persecution.
I was wrong about two personalities and which era Isaiah 22 refers to. But I again ask, Why would God give me this understanding on the very day that we were denied by the Supreme Court?
Remember the example of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were being cast into the fiery furnace, which was so hot that the guards who brought them there were burned alive. The three must have believed they were going to die. Then they were actually thrown in. Surely that would have seemed like the end. But then Nebuchadnezzar and the others looked into the furnace and saw them still alive, walking around in the fire. Even more amazing, they saw a fourth figure walking around with the three they had just thrown in. Jesus Christ was right there in the furnace with them! (Daniel 3:23-25).
Christ wants us to know that we are His Family. When we trust Him, He will get right into the furnace with us. We must see where He is. This is a test of our faith. We need these tests. They indicate how truly precious we are to God. He is saying, It’s ok—I’m right here in the furnace with you. What else matters?
Mr. Amos has these words written on his gravestone: “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” (Revelation 3:21). I know Mr. Amos is going to be there with Christ on that throne. Will we be there with him?
Chapter 7: Building Toward a World Catastrophe
In Isaiah 22 we have seen where Satan destroyed God’s Work, and then it was raised back up by the very elect. But following that scene, Satan and the Holy Roman Empire destroy three nations of biblical Israel: America, Britain and Judah (the Jewish nation in the Middle East).
Holy Roman Empire Destroyed
Isaiah 23 discusses the destruction of the destroyer of Israel—the Holy Roman Empire. But whom does God use to destroy it? Russia, China and Japan ally themselves and do that deed. They are called the kings of the east.
“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared” (Revelation 16:12). God dries up the Euphrates River so these massive Asiatic armies (200 million soldiers; Revelation 9:16) can cross to attack the Holy Roman Empire and its allies. Only the kings of the east could amass such an army.
“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:13-14). The Holy Roman Empire worships the devil (Revelation 13:4) and it is infested with demons. The good news is this is all leading these nations to their final war! Why final? Because it is against Almighty God!
And guess who wins. In the Valley of Jehoshaphat, blood is up to the horses’ bridles for 200 miles!
What a bloody ending!
So the kings of the east are greatly afflicting the Holy Roman Empire at that time. It is recorded in Isaiah chapter 23. “The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them” (verse 1). The spiritual center of the Holy Roman Empire is called Babylon in your Bible (Revelation 17:5; 18:1-3). But here in Isaiah, the Bible refers to Tyre (and its allies Zidon, etc) as the commercial center of this European power. By understanding the spiritual and the commercial powers, you can understand what a colossus is rising in Europe.
Russia and China understand that reality far better than America and Britain do. The kings of the east know what Germany has done in recent wars. They also know the Germans have many U.S. nuclear bombs stored in their country, which the Germans could (and Mr. Armstrong believed they would) take and use as their own.
Russia remembers how it suffered when Germany attacked in World War ii, and it is nervous about what is happening in Europe today. Still, Russia and America are going to make the colossal mistake of trusting Germany again.
“Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste” (Isaiah 23:14). Herbert W. Armstrong’s Ambassador College taught over 40 years ago that Tarshish is Japan in Bible prophecy for today. So this verse is referring to the supertanker fleet of Japan. Even in 1980, you could see one of these tankers every 25 miles on the high seas. The Japanese are the inhabitants of the “isle,” or island, of Japan (verse 2).
This powerful nation belongs to a mart of nations (verse 3), including Europe. And what a dynamic market of nations it is. All of them are going to besiege America, Britain and the Jewish nation. The Gentiles have most of the oil. But the U.S. guzzles a huge percentage of it.
Chittim (verse 1; biblical Kittim—Genesis 10:4) gave birth to the land of Chaldee, or southern China. China and Japan were prophesied to be powerful nations in this end time (see “Who Is Chittim?” page 88). They are trading mightily with the Holy Roman Empire and suffer greatly when it collapses.
I believe that these modern economic powers help to prove what Ambassador College taught about these nations many years ago. God intended that we know who most of these nations are today.
Mighty modern powers like Japan and China had to be mentioned in end-time prophecy!
“Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth?” (Isaiah 23:8). Businessmen of the Holy Roman Empire are becoming the honorable of the Earth (Revelation 18:3).
All of this is fulfilling God’s purpose (Isaiah 23:9-11). The “daughter of Tarshish” (verse 10) is Japan today. The word daughter shows how these prophecies are dual.
Two great trading blocs are positioning themselves to control the world. Both power conglomerates are discussed in Daniel 11:40-45 and in Isaiah 23. But that trading partnership won’t last long. Soon they will clash, just before Jesus Christ returns and destroys both of them.
Let’s briefly look at what they are doing today.
Kings of the North and East
A 2007 Der Spiegel article reported on a spike in the global demand for new ships, explaining that Germany had benefited most from the boom. Especially in the realm of increasingly important container shipping, German companies have become a dominant power. In 2006, German-owned ships had a capacity of over 1 billion 20-foot equivalent units (teu), making Germany’s fleet the largest in the world. China ranked at a distant second with 0.26 billion teu. In conformity to the national mindset, the German companies were not content with the significant margin of their lead, but worked to expand it even further. In recent years, Germans have consistently placed the largest number of orders for all types of new ships. In 2016, the capacity of German container ships was still the largest at over 4 billion teu. China maintained its second place at 1.9 billion teu.
Herbert Armstrong long prophesied, and we expect, the alliance between Europe and South America to grow extremely strong. The most significant factors that will cement this connection are religion and language: Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion of Latin America; and next to English, Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the world. But it will not be a union of equals: The Latin American countries will become vassal states to Europe!
With a German-led Europe (the king of the north) possessing great maritime power, North America will be surrounded on the east by Europe and the south by Latin America. The Bible contains many prophecies of that European power attacking America—and many other prophecies of America being besieged.
That is where China and the giants of Asia enter the picture. When the Holy Roman Empire attacks North America, there will be no help or sympathy from Asia. In fact, considering that China has come to possess most of the world’s strategic sea gates (which, ironically, at one time were held by Britain and America), we believe there may be a brief alliance between the German-led Holy Roman Empire and certain Asian powers (Russia, China, Japan—the kings of the east). Should Europe, the resurrected Holy Roman Empire, find a way to take advantage—even for a moment—of key resources and strategic holdings of China, Russia and Japan, it would have more than enough power to besiege the Anglo-Saxon nations and enslave them.
This is why Isaiah’s prophecy of an end-time “mart of nations” that includes both European and Asian powers is so intriguing. And why the trend of collusion between these two great economic blocs is worth watching.
In recent years, the European Union’s economic powerhouse overtook the U.S. and Japan to become China’s biggest trading partner. China and Europe have undertaken myriad joint ventures, including the Galileo global satellite system, which is a direct challenge to American’s gps monopoly in space. Europe and China are also cooperating in nuclear research, motivated in part by the desire to form a strategic alliance as a counterweight to Washington’s nuclear power.
In May 2010, then European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, noting China’s rapidly growing role in the global economy, said Europe wanted to collaborate with China in addressing global problems. ‘’One tree is not enough to build a temple. We need multilateral governance—we need China as a strong partner,” the Polish politician said.
The relationship we see developing between the “king of the north” and the “kings of the east” is exactly what Isaiah prophesied over 2,700 years ago!
Fall and Rise of the Catholic Church
“Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin” (Isaiah 23:13). The land of the Chaldeans (Babylon) is Italy—especially around the area of Rome.
Has Assyria, or Germany, really founded the Catholic Church in this end time? Germany was the strength of Italy in World War ii. Any historian knows that.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot” (verse 15). Tyre refers to the Holy Roman Empire, but specifically here to the Catholic Church, which guides the whole system—religious, political and commercial (Revelation 13:1-12). She shall again “sing as an harlot”—a woman is the symbol of a church.
How was Tyre, or the Catholic Church in this verse, forgotten for 70 years? How did the church lose its power (symbolized by Tyre)?
That 70-year period is 1859–1929. The pope once controlled the states around Rome. In 1859, the Italians wanted to start their own country of Italy. They were trying to get together and unify their country. The pope was using his power to achieve this same goal. But the governments resisted and their attempt fell apart. Then the pope sulked and forbade all Catholics to have anything to do with politics. The next three or four popes would hardly even leave the Vatican.
In 1929, however, the Vatican signed a concordat with Mussolini. The church and state compromised, and the Vatican began to grow in stature and power. Mussolini built the road, which is a beautiful entrance, straight into St. Peter’s Basilica so the world could see its “spiritual” leader.
Then Mussolini allied himself with Germany, and Italy became a world power. This alliance also gave enormous power to the pope. It was all “founded” by Germany. This is how the Vatican became such a force in World War ii.
The Vatican’s power has soared since that time. Where is all that power leading? Request our free booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire to fully understand.
“And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth” (Isaiah 23:17). The last half of this verse links closely with verses in Revelation chapters 17 and 18. The false church is back in politics and committing spiritual fornication with leaders of countries.
The European Union started as the Common Market in 1954. Its founding document was called the Treaty of Rome. The union was started and continues because of the Vatican’s power. It will soon become a union of 10 kings, guided by the Vatican and empowered by Germany.
Who Is Chittim?
Isaiah 23:1 has a prophecy about “the land of Chittim.” To which modern nation does this end-time prophecy apply? This biblical name refers to both the island of Cyprus and to the nation of China, whose progenitors first populated Cyprus and gave it its name.
As Herbert Armstrong taught throughout his ministry, Noah’s son Japheth married a woman of the yellow race, and went on to father the Mongoloid people. The Hebrew word Japheth means enlargement, and a glance at the modern world shows that the Oriental populations have been enlarged and multiplied to an unparalleled degree. The descendants of Japheth have long been the most populous people on Earth, with the bulk living in China, Southeast Asia and Japan.
The enlargement of Japheth began with the patriarch himself siring seven sons and an untold number of daughters. Obviously, these sons and daughters were a mix between the Caucasoid and Mongoloid races, the latter of which grew more definitive in subsequent generations. Soon after the tower of Babel, some of Japheth’s descendants, such as Magog, migrated through Central Asia to the lands they occupy now. Other Japhetic families took a longer migratory route.
Research by Dr. Herman Hoeh in his Compendium of World History shows that descendants of Japheth, such as the families of Gomer, Tubal and Togarmah, first settled in south and central Europe before they migrated east into Asia. Kittim was one such family, originally settling lands to the west of Mesopotamia before moving to the Far East.
Genesis 10:4 lists the sons of Japheth’s fourth-born son: “The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim” (New King James Version). Kittim is synonymous with the Chittim of Isaiah’s prophecy. Verse 5 mentions that these sons of Javan settled the isles, or the coasts, of the north Mediterranean; this occurred shortly after the dispersion of the tower of Babel. These tribes gave their names to various cities and islands, such as Cyprus and Rhodes.
The Mongoloid types of these families, including the Kittim, did not stay there, however. Over hundreds of years and many generations, some of these families migrated east into Asia where they are found today.
Thus, the descendants of Javan’s son Kittim came to Asia some time after many of their cousins had already settled there. After their migration through Central Asia, the Kittim made their appearance in modern-day northeastern China and Mongolia under the name of Khitan in the fourth century a.d., according to research by Dr. Ernest Martin of Ambassador College. In the 10th century, the Khitan people managed to create a dynasty that subjugated the peoples, including the Chinese, in modern-day northern China. Their territory stretched from what is now Korea to eastern Kazakhstan, including Beijing, the seat of government in China today.
During their reign, the Khitan, a fierce but poorer nomadic people, adopted the richer Chinese culture. After the collapse of their kingdom 200 years later, many remained in northeast China, where they were absorbed into the Chinese people. Some fled to Central Asia, where they created the Qara Khitan empire, which lasted for another hundred years before they were conquered by the Mongols in the 13th century.
Because the Khitans controlled the overland trade and communication route from China through Central Asia to Europe, China was called Cathay, after the Khitans. The designation first applied to north China, but later designated all of China. It is a name the Russians still use for China today.
Chapter 8: The Most Important Question in Education (and Educators Don’t Know What It Is)
“In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people, And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate” (Isaiah 28:5-6). This is an end-time prophecy. In that day always refers to the latter days just before the Messiah’s coming. Only a residue of God’s people retain a spirit of judgment and win the spiritual battle. The very elect fights for God and turns the enemy from the gate.
The majority of God’s people have rebelled. They started looking to men and fell away from God’s truth.
“But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean” (verses 7-8). The priests, or the ministry, became drunk spiritually. They erred in vision and stumbled in judgment. Now all of their spiritual tables are full of vomit!
Then God asks—and answers—the most important question in true education. “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts” (verse 9). Whom shall God teach knowledge? We must answer this question if we are to ever become truly educated! Here are the only people God can teach!
God says that the only way we can understand His doctrine is if we have been weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts.
God uses His ministry to feed newly called members. But these new members must grow beyond being a nursing infant. They must be weaned from the Church leadership and follow the spiritual Head of the Church—Jesus Christ.
God is the only great teacher. Each one of us must learn what it means to be taught by God. That is our individual responsibility. It is also the most thrilling and exhilarating experience humans ever have!
We are under a curse if we follow men (Jeremiah 17:5). God uses men to lead us, but we are to follow them only as they follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
So each one of us must be weaned from following men. That is the point where we begin to soar spiritually!
That is when the Lord of hosts becomes a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to us (Isaiah 28:5).
It is a rare person on this Earth whom God teaches knowledge. This is an extremely rare individual who does not err in vision (verse 7). He sees beyond men, and beyond today to the World Tomorrow.
The word teach is defined by Strong’s Concordance as “to found, to erect, to establish.” The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible defines teach this way: “[T]he word definitely has the connotation of aiming or controlling.”
We must always remember that God is re-creating Himself in man. (Request our free book The God Family Vision for a full explanation of that transcendent truth.) God’s purpose is to erect and establish His Family. This is the most sublime and majestic creation of God. God will control that process, but only if we submit to Him willingly. Only then can God’s character be built.
Here is education that builds and erects the very Family of God. We must volunteer to let God direct our lives to fulfill His transcendental purpose. God is building spiritual sons and daughters. Only here can God specifically show us how He conducts this building program.
The Bible Interprets Itself
“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10). The word precept refers to a command or a principle. The Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon writes of precept upon precept as “law to law.” That means we must let the Bible interpret itself.
The Bible is like a puzzle. If we study hard and put all the pieces together, it gives us the most inspiring picture that will ever be seen!
The Bible is Jesus Christ in print (Matthew 4:4). It reveals God’s mind and character—His thinking. By putting and etching these words in our minds, we are building the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5).
The Bible is the foundation of all knowledge. We must build on that foundation of pure righteousness.
The world’s education is a mixture of good and evil. Mostly, educators reject God’s knowledge. That is why man is facing annihilation. He can’t even educate himself to survive! So he has to suffer until he will let God teach him.
Most of humanity has not yet been called. That means they are not even receiving the milk of God’s Word—yet. But they will soon receive the milk of God’s Word and all the beef steak as well! (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Most of them will receive that education after they have been resurrected.
Christ said “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). Man’s fruits today are that he is about to destroy all human life. Unless Christ returns extremely soon, “not a soul would be saved alive” (Matthew 24:21-22; Moffatt translation).
This is all the result of false education. Logic should tell us that man’s education is dangerously flawed. We must learn to reason with God (Isaiah 1:18). Then we will reject flawed human reasoning.
Whom shall He teach knowledge? True education comes from the northern heavens where God dwells. It’s where the very elect get their education.
Who believes God? Who wants His education?
We must be “weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.” This is a deep concept. God uses the Church ministry to teach us. But what if one or several ministers rebel against God?
One Laodicean minister said, “The same God who inspired Isaiah also inspired Herbert W. Armstrong.” But God did more than just inspire those men. Here is an insight into how the Laodiceans were deceived and began to follow men.
God revealed new truth to Isaiah and Mr. Armstrong. Then these ministers gave it to God’s Church. At the time, God was using one man to lead the Church.
God inspires all of His ministers. But He reveals new truth for the Church to only one man—the man He sent to do His Work. The whole Church must get behind that one man and do God’s Work.
God does not reveal new truth to a woman, or to the Church in general. He gives new revelation for the Church to one man. Then God holds that one man accountable.
This is exactly how it is done in the Philadelphia Church of God today.
Those members who are not “weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts” will stay with the church if it rebels against God.
Many of God’s churches have rebelled throughout history. The primary reason was that they stopped looking to the man God chose to lead them. They rebelled against God’s government, which taught God’s law.
Those who were not weaned followed men and stayed in or joined a rebellious church. Isaiah 28:9-10 are addressing that very problem!
What is the real cause of their going astray? “How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man” (Jeremiah 31:22). This is a “backsliding daughter,” or God’s Church who knew Him and then rebelled. The word backsliding in the Hebrew means “turned away.” God is specifically addressing His end-time Church.
How does God solve this problem? “How long will you go about” should read “turn yourself away.” God has “created a new thing in the earth” to solve their problem. This new thing prevents His very elect from rebellion, but not the lukewarm Christians.
What is that new thing? Whatever it is, it’s a new creation—one the world and God’s rebellious Laodicean Church does not accept. This new thing is “A woman shall compass [or surround] a man.” The woman is God’s Church. Christ prophesied that He would build His Church (Matthew 16:18). But that is not the whole story. That Church will surround, or be built around, “a man.” The root word for “surround” is revolve. So God’s Church revolves around “a man.”
This is one of the most profound concepts in the Bible. It is a very strong statement about God’s government.
Here is an astounding fact that the Laodiceans overlooked: Isaiah is pointing to himself and how God reveals new truth for the woman. You must become weaned from the woman and follow God and the man He is using.
Do as it says in verse 10 and you will reach that conclusion. Then you will know how God revealed truth for the Worldwide Church of God under Mr. Armstrong and how He reveals new truth to the Philadelphia Church of God today.
New revelation does not come to the woman or Church as a collective body—it comes through an Isaiah or the man God is using.
You and I have the responsibility to know whom God is using and follow him!
One Laodicean minister said that “only the Church can understand” prophecy for this end time. But God reveals new prophetic truths to a man, and that man gives it to the Church.
The Laodicean churches do not understand new revelation that has been given to the Philadelphia Church. More than that, they have lost much of what God revealed to Mr. Armstrong.
The new truth and the government is given to one man. Only 5 percent of God’s people understand that today.
God never gave a vision apart from the Bible to Mr. Armstrong or me. But God has revealed an abundance of new truth to both of us from the Bible. You can easily understand that by reading and studying our writings.
When God reveals a lot of new truth to a man, He must also give that man His government to proclaim that truth. The Laodiceans’ rebellion revolves around government—they refuse to submit to God’s one-man rule!
The Laodiceans talk about the “evils of one-man rule,” and there are such evils. But they never talk about the righteous blessings of one-man rule, which we received under Mr. Armstrong.
“The evils of one-man rule” is usually a negative statement inspired by the devil. He rules this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). His downfall revolved around rejecting God’s government. That is why this world is so hostile to government—especially God’s government.
We must learn to love God’s government, or we have no future!
The Church received over 60 years of wonderful blessings under Mr. Armstrong’s rule. Look at the bountiful fruits of that government.
How blessed each one of us is when we are under God’s rule.
“To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear” (Isaiah 28:12). God’s education will cause the weary to rest and be refreshed. But most people refuse to hear and heed. That makes the problems intensify, and people get more and more weary.
Israel hated God’s message taught by Isaiah. Tradition says he was sawn into two parts.
How men hate God’s message! And how they suffer because of that!
In Isaiah’s time, the Assyrian (German) shadow was hanging over Israel. Today the German shadow is hanging over biblical Israel, or America, Britain and the Jewish nation.
We have been prophesying this message for over 80 years. Still our people refuse to heed.
One of the Laodicean ministers made this statement just before Mr. Armstrong died: “If you can’t relate to Mr. Armstrong’s office, then you should not even be here.” But relate is not a strong enough word. We must commit ourselves to the office God uses to reveal His new truth and to the government used to establish that truth. We must commit ourselves to support God’s government through a man.
This minister I quoted quickly turned away from God’s truth when Mr. Armstrong died. He had not been weaned from the milk. He was not following Jesus Christ, the Head of God’s Church.
Chapter 9: God Punishes With Earthquakes
Isaiah 29 has a definite end-time focus on the Millennium and the time just before (verses 17-18). We now get back to some temple language. “Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices” (verse 1). From year to year they killed sacrifices. The Hebrew can mean “let the feasts go around another year.”
“Ariel” means Jerusalem, the city where David dwelled, and in prophecy a type of all Israel. But it means more. “Ariel” also means hearth or altar of God (see A Commentary: Critical, Experimental and Practical on the Old and New Testaments). It is the hearth of the great altar of God! It refers specifically to the highest tier of the altar, where the altar fire continually burned (see The Interpreter’s Bible commentary). Ariel also means the lion of God.
This all refers to the temple service. The temple today is God’s own Church. But God is very angry with Ariel, or His own Laodicean Church today. It was the “highest tier” where the spiritual fire burned brightly for over 50 years. Now the fire has gone out! There is no lion’s roar in the Laodicean Church today! If David were alive, he would not dwell there in these latter days.
Then God describes how He will punish the Laodiceans and Israel. “Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire” (verse 6). God said they would be punished by storms, fires and earthquakes.
Did I Predict the California Earthquake?
A 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck Northridge, California, on January 17, 1994, at 4:31 a.m. The area it rattled covered 2,192 square miles, including Los Angeles, causing an estimated $25 billion worth of damage.
I made some astounding statements about that earthquake—before it struck! Let me quote from a sermon I gave to our Church on December 21, 1991 (the tape was sent to congregations around the world): “Amos began to speak about his visions two years before the earthquake. And I mean they had a massive earthquake ….
“Well, I think it’s kind of interesting that the book of Amos is going to be put into the mail and I’m sure many people are even going to get it on January 16th , which is not something we planned, but still, we know that Amos is really a book that we’re fulfilling to a great extent in this end time. When you’re talking about duality, you never know in detail how much—to what extent—God is going to use you, let’s say as a type or a counterpart of Amos in this end time. But we know we are fulfilling much of what is in the book of Amos. What if there is another massive earthquake on this Earth—maybe from two years by the time this booklet goes out? I’m not saying that’s going to happen. I don’t know. But I know that the lion has roared, brethren! I know that the lion has roared! And when the lion roared in Amos’s day, they had a massive earthquake two years after he started [proclaiming his message]. … I just want you to be thinking about that. I tell you this, brethren, I wouldn’t even be surprised if within the next two years you don’t see a massive earthquake in this world, perhaps even in Pasadena, California. You read the book of Amos …. I don’t know in detail exactly what God is going to do. But I know that two years after Amos started prophesying there was a massive earthquake. So it is something to think about.”
Here is another quote, from an October 30, 1993, sermon: “The booklet on Amos will have been published two years at the end of this year. You could say a lot of people even got it around January 16th. Is it possible that God could strike with an earthquake the latter part of this year; maybe the first part of next year or maybe even on January the 16th, 1994? Is it possible something like that could happen? Well yes, I would say it’s possible, especially in the state of California.”
Here is one more quote, from my article in the December 1993 Trumpet: “Isaiah 29 is also an end-time chapter (verse 18). God does punish us with ‘natural’ disasters. ‘Thou shalt be visited [punished is a better translation] of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire’ (Isaiah 29:6). God says He visits, or punishes, us with ‘the flame of devouring fire’!
“Notice, God also says He will punish Israel with the earthquake. Will an earthquake be the next California disaster? When it strikes, will the people of Israel repent? Probably not. Still, we control our own destiny. The curses will continue until we repent. That is God’s plan, and nothing can change it.
“How much we suffer is in our own power to control. God help us to repent soon. Only then can we avoid the far greater curses that are prophesied to strike very soon!”
It just so happens that an earthquake was the next disaster to strike California.
God Backs His Work
Many people were deeply stirred by my bold statements along with the mind-numbing earthquake. Of course, I only said there could be a major earthquake around or on January 16, 1994. January 17 is the day the Laodicean Church officially began. So that date also is of great interest to God. The quake struck 41/2 hours after January 16 ended, or on January 17, essentially two years after January 16, 1992! That is a striking similarity to what happened to the Prophet Amos. Let me give you a little background on January 16 from a quote in my book Malachi’s Message: “Malachi’s Message was first received by many people on January 16, 1990, the very day of the anniversary of Mr. Armstrong’s death (January 16, 1986). We didn’t plan it, but we were happy it happened that way. You are going to see the date of Mr. Armstrong’s death take on more significance as time goes on. John Amos and I were disfellowshiped on December 7, 1989—40 days before the anniversary of Mr. Armstrong’s death. The number 40 is significant in the Bible. The third 19-year time cycle of the work of the wcg ended in January of 1991—the same month as the fifth anniversary of Mr. Armstrong’s death. In the original version of Malachi’s Message we asked this question: ‘Will we see some dramatic event in the world or within God’s Philadelphian and/or Laodicean churches then?’ The Persian Gulf War began on January 16, 1991! God considers the date of Mr. Armstrong’s death to be very significant” (emphasis mine throughout).
That was also a mind-splitting statement of a potential disaster! Are all these events that are occurring on or around January 16 just coincidence?
Reporters describe events such as the California quake as “natural disasters.” But if we take a closer look at the Bible, we’ll see that is not the way God views such disasters.
“And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness” (Isaiah 29:18). Again we see “in that day”—referring to the end time.
“Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire” (verse 6). The word “visited” would be better translated “punished.” God prophesies that He will punish Israel (mainly the American and British peoples, including Canada and Australia) in this end time with earthquakes!
After the Northridge quake, humorist Argus Hamilton wrote in the Daily Oklahoman, “Eighty percent of all porno videos are produced in the San Fernando Valley, most within a mile of the epicenter. These studios were flattened by the earthquake. God has such good aim” (Feb. 2, 1994).
Pornography has grown mightily since that time. It now seeps into every phase of our culture. It’s so common, journalists rarely even discuss it as the abominable sin it is.
Have we forgotten what God says about pornography? The Apostle Peter said if we live like Sodom and Gomorrah, we will die like Sodom and Gomorrah! (2 Peter 2:6).
When will we wake up and see that God is punishing us for our sins? God also says He will punish with the storm—like devastating hurricanes, tornados, droughts and floods. God also sends the flame of devouring fire—like firestorms that have occurred in several places around the world, devouring miles of land, including forests and farms. And don’t forget the fires caused by events such as rioting and earthquakes.
These disasters are not “natural disasters.” The only “natural disaster” is man! He just naturally hates God (Romans 8:7).
God is punishing Israel with these disasters, but He promises to protect His obedient people. Not very many people are being protected in these catastrophes. That ought to tell us something.
Former Sen. Barbara Boxer of California said, “California has gone through too many tragedies and too frequently.” I agree. But why? Why all these disasters?
God is wrathful with Israel because of our sins. We must come to see that.
After that 1994 quake in California, an article titled “L.A.’s Children of Fear,” with the subhead “‘Why Is God So Mad at Us?’ Girl Questions,” ran in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It said: “Three-year-old Oscar Abrago sleeps with his shoes on now, just in case another earthquake comes in the middle of the night, his family says.
“Each time a new aftershock rumbles through the San Fernando Valley, 6-year-old Aurora Ortega reaches for her aunt’s big white toy bear and hugs it until long after the ground has stopped moving.
“And little Julissa Laredo, 3, with long ebony hair and wide brown eyes, prays for God to stop shaking her family’s house. ‘Why,’ she asks her mother, ‘is God so mad at us?’
“They live in trucks on school playgrounds now, in tents made from bedsheets that sit in the middle of Little League fields, and inside a myriad of church shelters that have sprung up throughout Southern California.
“They are the children of the earthquake, and although there seems to be no good estimate of how many of them have been left homeless, the number easily could reach into the tens of thousands, an American Red Cross spokesman said” (Jan. 21, 1994).
That little girl may understand more about God’s anger than all of our worldly scholars. God tells us to “become as little children” (Matthew 18:3). We could prevent unparalleled suffering if we would respond as this little girl did! But most people in this world are blind. They refuse to hear and heed God’s warning!
Chapter 10: How to Recognize God’s Only Work
God continues to discuss His Church, or Zion (Isaiah 29:8). “Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink” (verse 9). God is addressing His own Church. His people were sober, but they got drunk—and not on wine or strong drink. They became spiritually drunk. Only God’s own Church could get drunk. Only His people have ever been sober in this world. The whole world has always been drunk (Revelation 12:9; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
“For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered” (Isaiah 29:10). This is another way that God reveals that He has removed His lamp (Revelation 2:5). Their eyes were open. Then God “closed” them. God “covered” the eyes of the Church leaders, whose eyes were once uncovered. This verse is discussing a colossal change in God’s own Church! It is the worst possible disaster to strike God’s own people. They “are perishing,” as the Greek reads in 2 Thessalonians 2:10. They are dying spiritually! They have fallen away from God’s truth. They have passed from light into darkness!
“And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed” (Isaiah 29:11). Their vision of prophetic understanding is gone. They now say “prophesy not.”
The Bible has become a sealed book to the Laodiceans. It was unsealed, but now it is sealed. This is the ultimate catastrophe!
When Mr. Armstrong died, God stopped revealing the Bible to the Worldwide Church of God. God also is not revealing His truth to any of those churches that left the wcg, except the Philadelphia Church of God. And that includes those churches that still teach quite a lot of what Mr. Armstrong taught. Look at any of the Laodicean churches and compare them with the pcg. You can absolutely prove what I am writing.
God has given new revelation in every book or booklet I have written that is published today. That includes the major prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. God has revealed new truth to us from all of the minor prophets and the former prophets, as well as from Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, the Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Daniel, Matthew 24, the Gospel of John, Colossians, James, Peter’s epistles, John’s epistles, Jude, Revelation and other books.
Does the wcg have any new revelation since Mr. Armstrong died? No. Do the other Laodicean churches? A resounding no! You need to know why! “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). It is so obvious to whom God has revealed His secret! It is so obvious, it’s shocking.
One evangelist of the Living Church of God said the minor prophets were mainly history. He did not learn that from Mr. Armstrong! Here is a quote from the Worldwide News, March 6, 1981, by Mr. Armstrong about Haggai 2:6-7 (the words in brackets are Mr. Armstrong’s, not mine): “‘For thus says the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land [What’s He talking about? He’s not talking about the time in which Zerubbabel lived: He’s talking about our time; this was a prophecy. Haggai is not a book of history, it’s a book of prophecy]; And I will shake all nations [He hasn’t done that yet. He didn’t do that in Zerubbabel’s day. Zerubbabel lived about a little over 500 years before Christ], and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts’” (emphasis mine).
Mr. Armstrong said that Haggai is not a book of history. It’s a book of prophecy. He said the same about all the major and minor prophets. But if Laodicean leaders can reject the revelation from these prophetic books, then they can easily reject God’s greatest revelation to the pcg—Malachi’s Message!
What does it mean when an evangelist says the major and minor prophets are mainly history? It is dishonoring those prophets and God. Let’s try to be logical. A cook cooks. A trucker trucks. An engineer engineers. And a prophet prophesies! That’s what his job is all about, and over 90 percent of Bible prophecy is for this end time. God is simply not revealing His prophecies to the Laodiceans.
“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13). They draw near to God with their mouth—they talk a lot about God. But their heart is far from God. They are following men—not God.
There are two Zions discussed in this chapter. One Zion is doing a powerful and wondrous work. “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid” (verse 14).
Our continually expanding Work would be worthless if we weren’t teaching God’s inspiring prophecy and revelation! Only those people who don’t thoroughly understand their Bibles will fail to see that. The difference between any Laodicean church and the pcg is the difference between God’s Work and a man’s work!
And whoever is a part of a man’s work—regardless of what he teaches—is headed for the frightening Great Tribulation! No man can prevent that.
The Story of Urijah
Some of God’s people in this end time do not see any significance in supporting the right work. Another Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, wrote about a man who was apparently teaching much of the same truth as he was, but was not supporting God’s Work.
“And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath-jearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah: And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death: but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt; And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt. And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people. Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death” (Jeremiah 26:20-24).
Remember, these are prophecies mainly for the end time. There will be Urijahs who will rise up today also! Urijah prophesied in God’s name and against Jerusalem and Judah. But there is no indication he was working with Jeremiah. He probably wanted his own following instead of supporting God’s Work through Jeremiah. That means he really lacked faith in what God was doing through Jeremiah. Some leaders who have left the wcg today proclaim many of Herbert Armstrong’s teachings, but reject the Philadelphia Church, which God raised up to succeed him! What will happen to them? They don’t have God behind them, so they will probably panic when real persecution comes. Like Urijah, they don’t stay with God and Jeremiah, but run—and it may get them killed!
They lack faith in the living God because they are not supporting His Work. God said He would raise up a work in our day that many would not believe even when told (Habakkuk 1:5). If we can’t even recognize where God’s Work is, then something is tragically lacking in our spiritual lives! It’s not enough to be preaching God’s Word and prophecies. All of us must find Christ’s true Work—there is only one—and then back and support that endeavor. Only then will you have the faith and power to stand and fight for God! God will support you only as you support Him and His Work!
Jeremiah didn’t run. He was imprisoned, then released, by the enemy, Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon.
That could happen to some of God’s people in the end time. The point is, we must know where God’s Work is and never leave it. God will always take care of His loyal people.
Many people know about God’s Word and prophecies in the end time. But that is not the big issue. The only vision that will save us from physical destruction is knowing where Christ and His Work are—then following that Work! Only then are you walking by living faith. You must back and support God’s Work, or you could get yourself killed in this end time. God only supports us if we support His Work.
Philadelphians Have an Open Door
Only the Philadelphians have an open door. All of God’s people must follow the man God uses to walk through that door. “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (Revelation 3:7-8).
God reveals His prophecy to the Philadelphians. They have the key of David. That key revolves around Mr. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. The pcg continues to publish the very text that God inspired only Mr. Armstrong to write. Nobody else was commissioned by God to write The United States and Britain in Prophecy!
The United States and Britain in Prophecy is available to all of the Laodiceans. But they either reject it or want to produce their own uninspired version!
There is a major reason why God has given the pcg an open door. We accept all of the truths God restored through Mr. Armstrong (Matthew 17:10-11). And that includes the number one restored truth—God’s government, based on God’s law.
As long as we submit to God’s government, God will continue to open doors for us. The Bible will remain unsealed. God will continue to do a “marvellous work and a wonder”!
Chapter 11: Laodiceans Asleep
Because the Bible is sealed to them, the Laodiceans don’t understand about the earthquakes, storms and fires! And they don’t prophesy and warn Israel! That means that Israel’s blood will be on the Laodiceans’ heads (see Ezekiel 3 and 33) and that they must give their blood, or their physical lives, in the Tribulation! What a horrifying penalty.
Why did this happen to the Laodiceans? Because they “removed their heart far from” God (Isaiah 29:13). God reveals His secret to His servants (Amos 3:7-8). He wants us to understand and proclaim His prophecies.
God does have a little remnant who didn’t turn away from His revelations. “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid” (Isaiah 29:14). What is this “marvellous work and a wonder”? It is God’s Work that is proclaiming the beautiful World Tomorrow—God’s Millennium and beyond. That same Work also prophesies about the end-time calamities to strike—the earthquakes, storms and devouring fires! God reveals His prophecies, and this little group is not afraid to roar for God!
If a church doesn’t understand God’s revelations and His prophecies, God is not with it! One former evangelist of the Worldwide Church of God stated: “In the past, we … have mistakenly assumed that Christ directly guides His Church ….” Of course that is another put-down of Mr. Armstrong. We all must see clearly that God did “directly” guide His Church under Mr. Armstrong. And God “directly” guides the pcg today, as long as we submit to His government.
When you look at the pcg work, its prophecies and even potential prophecies, people should be able to see that God is directly involved. Anybody who says God is not directly involved in His Work is not doing God’s Work!
God says He will “shake terribly the earth.” That statement is made and repeated within three verses (see Isaiah 2:19-21). God will continue to use the earthquake as punishment until mankind repents. It will get much worse than the earthquake activity we have had until now.
God doesn’t want to be violent. Out of love He sends His warning message now to give man a chance to repent before the coming catastrophe. But man is so hardened by sin that he rarely ever heeds God’s warning. When it’s all over, mankind will wish they had listened!
‘Sons Who Deny Their Sonship’
Isaiah delivered his message anciently, but it was primarily for the end time. As I mentioned earlier, God commanded him to write it in a book. “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever” (Isaiah 30:8). “[T]he time to come” in Hebrew reads “the latter day.” So what is the main reason the book of Isaiah was put in the Bible? Because it was a message for the end time—for today, right now! The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary writes this about “a book” in verse 8: “a parchment roll, containing the prophecy in full, for the use of distant posterity”—specifically for “the latter day.”
The book of Isaiah will have been written in vain if we fail to understand that it is for us today! Indescribable suffering can be avoided if we heed its message.
The crisis is far greater than most people think. That’s because these verses refer to God’s own people who are in danger of losing their salvation! This applies to Israel in a general way, but to God’s own Church specifically.
“That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord” (verse 9). The expression “lying children” is translated this way in the Interpreter’s Bible: “sons who deny their sonship.” That is a terribly serious charge.
Many of the Laodiceans have adopted the trinity doctrine, which rejects the God Family! The trinity doctrine pictures a closed godhead of three beings. But God is a Father, Christ is His Son, and we have the potential to become members of the God Family. Today, we are begotten sons of God, soon to be born sons of God, if we remain loyal. (This is fully explained in our free booklet God Is a Family.)
Even from His youth, Christ was doing His Father’s business (Luke 2:49). All of the Laodiceans are failing to do their Father’s business. The wcg has refused to do God’s Work. So have the other groups that left the wcg. Only the Philadelphia Church of God has a clear commission of what it is to do. That is because only the pcg is doing God’s Work. We spurn our sonship when we refuse to do our Father’s business! That is sin of the greatest magnitude!
The greatest truth God ever revealed to us was about His Family! The greatest gift God could ever give us is to be His own sons—members of the God Family! We are called to be Gods! The Laodiceans have lost the true meaning of who they are and the work God has commissioned them to do! We have the most supreme calling God could ever give anyone. That means we also have a heavy responsibility. Satan’s number one goal is to destroy our God Family understanding. It’s a real battle, and the Laodiceans are losing.
The Laodiceans “will not hear the law of the Lord.” God’s government is based on the law of God. God taught that government through Mr. Armstrong. Then God did a great work through him. Mr. Armstrong was blessed with almost overwhelming fruits because he kept and taught God’s laws and government.
However, every Laodicean group today rejects that government! That is a major way in which they are denying their sonship. Nobody who refuses God’s rule will be in His Kingdom. God the Father will rule His sons—His Family!
When you see God’s own people rejecting His government, they are rebelling against their own Father. We see that happening to many thousands in this end time.
It is a very obvious sign when God’s own people refuse to do His Work. “Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us” (Isaiah 30:10-11). Notice, this was God’s own Church. God was with it, but then the people caused God “to cease” from among them! No sin is greater than that! Unless they repent, the lake of fire awaits them. They turned away from God and His truth. This is the rebellion discussed in Revelation 3:14-19. God spews them out of His mouth into the Great Tribulation.
In this end time, only the Laodiceans could cause God to cease from among them! God has never been with this sinning world (Revelation 12:9; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Only the Laodiceans could deny their glorious Father today! Only they could commit this most horrid sin of all! There is no greater crime! The most tragic sight ever seen is that of God’s people perishing spiritually (2 Thessalonians 2:10).
When God’s people rebel against Him, it is a clear sign of the very end. They say “prophesy not.” (You can read more about this problem in our free booklet The Lion Has Roared.) When God’s people become weak, they want “smooth things”—an easier message.
And please notice, these people say “prophesy not” because they once prophesied God’s message! They prophesied when Mr. Armstrong led them, but then they stopped! That is why God commanded the pcg to “prophesy again” (Revelation 10:11).
The Laodiceans want to “prophesy deceits.” God’s way is too hard for them. God’s prophetic message for today is too strong for them. They want human government and an easier message to deliver. They don’t want to warn the world of the coming Great Tribulation and the great and dreadful Day of the Lord!
This lukewarm attitude causes the most enthralling prophecy of all to grow dim in their minds—the prophecy of the beautiful world to come. God no longer reveals prophecy to them because they rebel against His law and government. Again, God only reveals His prophecy to very humble people (Matthew 11:25; 18:1-3).
God has given the pcg abundant new prophetic revelation, shown in almost all of our literature. That is the most powerful sign of where God is working today! That means Christ is the Head and is speaking to His very elect!
There is a strong reason why the Laodiceans can’t see where God is working today. They love “deceits.” They refuse to face the difficult prophecies of the Bible and warn the world. They are blind because they choose to be blind.
The Laodicean works will end suddenly and violently. “Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant” (Isaiah 30:13). There is a breach in the Laodiceans’ spiritual wall that is about to collapse suddenly. It will be like a levee breaking from a flooding river. The danger keeps building and building—until finally the levee bursts and falls in seconds!
God will “scatter [or shatter] the power of the holy people” (Daniel 12:7). That will happen when the Tribulation comes. “And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters’ vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit” (Isaiah 30:14). All of these Laodicean deceits—the false doctrines—will be destroyed violently, suddenly and forever.
Thank God there is great news beyond the bad news. “For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers” (verses 19-20). There will be no more weeping. God will teach His truth to the whole world. What a wonderful future for God’s true Christians today. We are being trained to teach the whole world! We will be on center stage—not in a “corner” anymore.
We will teach the world what God taught us through Mr. Armstrong—and a great deal more. God’s colleges will be established all over the world. Multiple millions of Church congregations will be established. We will fill this Earth with God’s truth! We have the enviable job of helping to change a world full of tears into a world full of rejoicing and laughter!
“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left” (verse 21). God’s loving guidance will be administered. The whole world’s population will be taught and directed toward God’s way and away from sin. That’s what it will take to produce the Millennium.
“Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures” (verse 23). The animals in the Millennium will be better fed than most people are today! What a glorious future man has! Why do men rebel against such glory?
People will keep God’s holy days. “Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound” (verse 26). This is a figure of speech. The 15th of Tishri is the brightest day of the year. You can read by the moonlight. It occurs during the Feast of Tabernacles. This is a type of the spiritual light that God will give the world when Jesus Christ is here in person. What a fabulous change this world is about to experience!
Chapter 12: Hezekiah Is Tested
There are many lessons we must learn from Israel’s and Judah’s history. Hezekiah was considered one of Judah’s greatest kings. At one point in Hezekiah’s reign of Judah, Assyria was about to destroy the nation. Hezekiah appealed to God through Isaiah and God miraculously saved the nation by destroying the entire Assyrian army (2 Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36). God had said in Isaiah 37 that He would defend this city—and He did! God solved this major problem for Hezekiah and the nation of Judah. You can study more about this incident in Isaiah 37, 2 Kings 18-19 and 2 Chronicles 32.
During this same time, Hezekiah had to face another big problem. “In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live” (Isaiah 38:1). Isaiah came to Hezekiah and told him that he would die as a result of his sickness. This came as quite a shock to Hezekiah, but he humbly appealed to the Eternal!
“Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, And said, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, 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” (verses 2-3). Hezekiah turned to God and prayed. Look at how God responded to Hezekiah’s prayer. “Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying, Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years” (verses 4-5). God saw that Hezekiah was walking by faith. He saw Hezekiah’s tears. Isn’t it impressive that God took note of his tears? God added 15 years to Hezekiah’s life.
This was another great miracle that God performed for Hezekiah. “And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he hath spoken; Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down” (verses 7-8). God reversed the rotation of the Earth to prove to Hezekiah that He would fulfill His promises to him. Although God performed some mighty miracles for him, Hezekiah had more testing to endure.
A Serious Mistake
Not long after his healing, the king of Babylon sent communication and a gift to Judah’s king. But was he really concerned about Hezekiah?
“At that time Merodach-baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered. And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not” (Isaiah 39:1-2).
Notice what 2 Chronicles records about what was actually taking place: “Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:31). Hezekiah was being tested here and he made a serious mistake! He became puffed up knowing that the king of Babylon was so concerned about him. In his vanity, he showed the king’s messengers all of his treasures—a terrible error.
Isaiah was more suspicious and wise about the king of Babylon’s message. Isaiah came and asked Hezekiah some hard questions. “Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon. Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them” (verses 3-4).
Notice here that Hezekiah did not answer Isaiah’s first question (“What said these men?”)—he completely ignored it! He did answer Isaiah’s second question. Why did Hezekiah not answer the first question? Could it be that Hezekiah did not answer the first question because he was cozying up to Babylon?
Too Close to Babylon
Hezekiah was dealing with a real vanity problem. Notice that he answered Isaiah’s question in a boastful manner. A king from a far country was interested in him. He told Isaiah that they were come “unto me.” Hezekiah showed them all of his treasures. In his vanity, he allowed potential enemies to see all that God had blessed him with. Never did it dawn on Hezekiah that these men could possibly want to destroy him and carry off his treasures.
Isaiah was concerned about Hezekiah’s actions because he could see far better than Hezekiah could—spiritually speaking. Isaiah did not trust the king of Babylon. He recognized that Hezekiah was getting too close to Babylon. He prophesied about the end result of Hezekiah’s relationship with the king of Babylon. Isaiah showed that this relationship would prove to be fatal, not only for Hezekiah’s descendants, but for the nation of Judah as well. “Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon” (Isaiah 39:5-7). His actions were the beginning of the undoing of his family’s lives and of the nation of Judah. About 100 years later, the king of Babylon destroyed God’s temple and carried the nation of Judah away captive.
Facing Hard Questions
There is a clear lesson here for all of us. What was Hezekiah’s main problem? He evaded some hard questions from God’s prophet. He did not want to tell Isaiah what the messengers from Babylon said. At times it is so easy for us to evade hard questions. Carnally, we want to let the hard questions slide. Facing, or not facing, hard questions generally marks a turning point in our lives. Being willing to face hard questions can turn our lives around spiritually. Evading hard questions can take us away from God.
Hezekiah evaded a hard question from Isaiah. But Isaiah pinned him down (Isaiah 39:4). Isaiah wanted to show him that he was relying on his own treasure or strength instead of on God. Isaiah wanted Hezekiah to recognize that, in reality, he was relying on and cozying up to Babylon as an ally—and eventually the whole nation ended up being conquered by Babylon. What a terrifying punishment!
What about us? Sometimes God, through His ministers, has to ask us some very hard questions. Do we evade the questions or do we face them? What is the main problem with the Laodiceans today? They do not want to face the really hard questions like why all of these doctrinal changes? They don’t want to face the really hard question: Was Herbert W. Armstrong God’s end-time Elijah? The reason is that they want to be a part of Babylon. They want to rely on their own treasure and Babylon. God’s Laodicean Church isn’t much different from the people of the United States and Great Britain. They are all trusting in Babylon. And they are all going to be enslaved by Babylon—modern Germany and the European Union.
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. This will be a terrifying punishment.
Today, the Laodiceans are making alliances with Babylon and destroying God’s temple in the process. They have forgotten that God is measuring His temple now (Revelation 11:1). God’s Church is His temple on Earth today. God is not going to allow the Laodiceans to destroy what He built through Mr. Armstrong without punishment. The history surrounding Hezekiah teaches us this lesson.
Thankfully, however, there are indications that, ultimately, King Hezekiah responded to the correction from God and repented.
Notice how the account in 2 Kings 20 concludes: “And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?” (verse 20). God ends the Hezekiah account with all of this man’s good works, so he must have repented!
Sennacherib corroborates the biblical narrative of King Hezekiah digging a 1,700-foot tunnel 2,700 years ago for the Gihon Spring to enter the fortified walls of Jerusalem. This water is a type of the Holy Spirit. For God to mention this feat at the close of the story, Hezekiah must have fully repented and returned to properly using the Holy Spirit. So the book of Kings concludes Hezekiah’s story positively.
King Hezekiah knew how to use God’s power.
Speaking of Hezekiah’s life, 2 Chronicles 32:25-26 read, “But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.” This seems to be an explicit reference to Hezekiah’s repentance.
Another reference might be Ezra’s comment a few verses down in verse 33: “And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death.” The Hebrew indicates this is a position higher both in elevation and in honor. The fact that he received such honor also strongly indicates the spiritual state in which Hezekiah finished his noble life, in service to the great God.
Perhaps the best evidence indicating that Hezekiah repented is found in 2 Kings 18:5-6, which provide an overall summation of Hezekiah’s life: “He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses.”
Chapter 13: Voice in the Wilderness
We see the world’s nightmarish suffering daily on our tv sets. We have seen so much that we are calloused to it. We can’t change it, so we just reason, “That’s the way it is.” We become resigned to the status quo. But God isn’t resigned to accept this world’s indescribable suffering. This world is filled with horror and misery because of man’s rebellion against God. But all that is about to change.
Desert to Blossom as the Rose
The most barren deserts will become like rose gardens. “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1). “[S]olitary place” literally reads “dry place,” or a barren desert. Springs of water will fill the dry places. All of the world’s deserts will become like flower gardens.
“It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God” (verse 2). Carmel was a rich, fertile land with luxurious vegetation and fruit orchards. Sharon was famed for its snowcapped mountains year-round. There will be newly rushing streams, flowers of all kinds, lush shrubbery and trees. Lebanon was known for its beautiful cedars and fir trees. But that was anciently. God prophesied a big change.
“Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest? And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness” (Isaiah 29:17-18). “[I]n that day”—after Christ’s return—“Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field.” God knew that Lebanon today would be one of the worst botches on this Earth! That is probably why He prophesied specifically about Lebanon. God wanted the world to contrast the squalor of today with the glory of the World Tomorrow! Lebanon conjures up a picture like few other nations could today. God will make Lebanon a gloriously beautiful nation very soon.
Men and women will get down on their knees and plant roses—they will make this Earth beautiful. Mankind will see what they can accomplish when their energy has a godly focus.
What a magnificent change this Earth will experience. The Earth is about to burst forth in joy and singing! People will be singing vigorously all over the world because they are so filled with joy! What a miraculous change from today’s world.
This vision gives God’s true Church strength today. “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:3-4). The time here is just before the Millennium. This prophecy is aimed at you right now!
The Philadelphians are God’s pillars. God expects the Philadelphia Church of God to strengthen “the weak” and “feeble knees” of prospective members and new members. God is proving and testing His very elect to see if they are real spiritual pillars. We do what the Laodicean ministers fail to do. God is preparing us to be king-priests. We must fulfill this prophecy and prove to God that we are His very elect! The whole world is about to be converted. Only those who are strong today will qualify to be the top rulers of God’s future world.
Can you help people today who are weak and discouraged? We all need such help at times. But we must be pillars today if we are to be pillars in God’s headquarters temple (Revelation 3:12). God is preparing His Philadelphia Church to share Christ’s own throne! (verse 21). This is the ultimate calling from God! There is no greater calling. Now is the time to be strong for God!
If we succeed now, we shall be prepared to rule in the Millennium.
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes” (Isaiah 35:5-7). For “And the parched ground shall become a pool,” the Hebrew could read: “The mirage shall become a real lake.” We have seen the sun’s rays refracted on the glowing desert sands at midday. It gives the appearance of a lake. In the near future, those desert mirages will be replaced by real lakes! That mirage is only a type of the illusions that fill this world. Men see mirages in marriage, race relations, education, religion and peace endeavors—they see hope that later proves to be a dreadfully disappointing mirage! Soon all of those mirages will become reality—real successes and fulfillment.
In God’s coming world, even the least educated shall find great success. “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein” (verse 8).
Jeremiah says not one Israelite will be found laughing during the Great Tribulation. Not one! Every face will be white like a woman giving birth to a child (see Jeremiah 30). But suddenly, that will change. “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10). Under Christ’s rule, people will sing with “everlasting joy.” That is joy that lasts forever! “[S]orrow and sighing shall flee away” forever! What a glorious future.
Voice in the Wilderness
John the Baptist was a voice crying out in the first century. But few heeded. Herbert W. Armstrong was the voice crying out in a wilderness of religious confusion during the 20th century. Only a few heeded his message as well.
These two men had a powerful message, but it didn’t shake the world. However, God will shake the world because it hasn’t heeded! “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). John the Baptist fulfilled that role before Christ’s first coming. But there is also an end-time John to prepare for Christ’s Second Coming. “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain” (verse 4). This is referring to an end-time John. Valleys were not exalted and mountains were not made low at Christ’s first coming. They will be, however, at Christ’s Second Coming.
Mr. Armstrong prepared the way for Christ’s Second Coming. He restored all things (Matthew 17:10-11). God used him to restore at least 18 major truths. He preached the gospel to the whole world for the first time in almost 2,000 years (Matthew 24:14). He also restored the great, foundational truth of God’s Family to the Church (Malachi 4:5-6). These are mountainous, towering prophecies that were fulfilled in this end time!
In terms of numbers of converted members and people exposed to the gospel, Mr. Armstrong probably did the greatest Work of God in 2,000 years! And yet people didn’t know it! “And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:10-13).
People didn’t recognize who John the Baptist was. And people today didn’t recognize the office of Mr. Armstrong. But what is more shocking, even most members in Mr. Armstrong’s own Church failed to recognize who he really was! That is why they are Laodicean! All of the Laodiceans reject Mr. Armstrong as fulfilling this end-time Elijah role! Christ prophesied that they would be blind (Revelation 3:17). They are blind beyond belief! But notice, the true disciples understood—just as God’s Philadelphian disciples understand today.
John the Baptist was a type of Elijah and “they knew him not.” That is a prophecy that the end-time John or Elijah (both types of Mr. Armstrong’s work) would not be recognized except by Christ’s true disciples.
Those people who understood the role of God’s man in the first century and understand who God’s leader is in the end time are the true disciples of Christ!
If you don’t understand who Christ’s physical leader is, you are not Christ’s disciple!
Christ is the Head of His Church, but He also uses a man to be the physical head. He has done that throughout the ages.
Those in the first century who “knew him not” (that is, John the Baptist) didn’t know and follow Jesus Christ. Christ’s true disciples recognized who John the Baptist really was. Likewise, you will find God’s disciples in the end time where you find God’s man.
It is through the man that Christ implements His government. Satan, the god of this world, and rebels hate that government and always work to demonize that man. This is not about following a man—it’s about following God’s man.
Christ uses this example to illustrate who is following the real Christ.
This is at the heart of why the Laodiceans are blind.
The Cities of Judah
This staggering Laodicean blindness changed God’s commission in this end time. “O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:9). The Hebrew reads, “O you that tell good tidings to Zion” and Jerusalem. Zion is God’s own Church. Today, we must deliver the good news to God’s own Laodicean Church and to all Israel. But before we can deliver good news, we must cause the Laodiceans to see how blind they are!
Mr. Armstrong stands alone as the man who prepared the way for Christ’s Second Coming. God’s true disciples know there is no other man on this Earth who came within a million miles of being the end-time Elijah. And no other man will ever come close before Christ returns.
Herbert W. Armstrong made 13 radio programs for the cities of Judah. They were to be broadcast on a new radio station from the Jordanian West Bank (at that time), but then the 1967 Jewish-Arab war erupted. Mr. Armstrong never had an opportunity to use those programs.
God wants the pcg to deliver that message to the cities of Judah. This is the same Church that delivered God’s message to the Laodiceans in the Laodicean era. The message to Judah was prophesied to be delivered in the Laodicean era, not the Philadelphia era in which Mr. Armstrong worked.
I love the way Mr. Armstrong prepared those 13 programs. He did it in intense faith that he was commissioned to do God’s Work—he thought it was time to proclaim Isaiah 40 to the Jews. But he was ahead of his time. I hope the pcg can have the same strong faith when God opens that door for us.
There is a reason why Mr. Armstrong was so successful. “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. … All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity” (verses 15, 17). Mr. Armstrong knew the nations counted as nothing compared to God—not even “a drop of a bucket”! The “nations before him are as nothing”! Mr. Armstrong believed God, and this is why the Work he did was so great.
You and I have nothing to fear—if we trust this great God. Fear destroys men. But faith in our omnipotent, all-powerful God will cause our individual work to be great.
Who can we compare with God? “To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” (verse 18). Faith in this towering God is the answer to all of our fears!
The Former and the Latter
One of the most important keys to understanding prophecy is knowing that it is dual. A theme of duality runs throughout the Bible. There is an Old Testament and a New. There is an old, earthly Jerusalem, and a new, heavenly one. There was a first Adam and a second Adam, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:45-47). Get to know this key of duality and Bible prophecy will come alive for you. Let’s examine this key a little more fully.
God tells us in the Bible that He inspired prophecy to be dual in nature. “Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come” (Isaiah 41:22). In this verse, God specifically says that we need to look at “former” events and “consider” them if we are going to understand the “latter end” of God’s prophecies. In other words, to understand prophecy for this end time, we must also be a student of history—specifically, Bible history.
There are untold numbers of books on history. Wading through them to better understand Bible prophecy would be a near impossible task. God made this task easier for us. God inspired Bible prophecy so that it gives us only the historical events necessary to help us know what is coming in the future. The Apostle Paul taught this to the Corinthians: “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).
Understanding the past is an essential key to understanding the future. Mr. Armstrong taught that fulfilled prophecy is one of the strongest proofs of the Bible. Add to this the understanding of prophetic duality: Although many prophecies have been fulfilled in the past, most of them were only a small type of the greater end-time fulfillment. This is where many Bible scholars go off track: They fail to see that many of the past, partially fulfilled prophecies still have an end-time fulfillment.
A perfect example of this is the Olivet prophecy. “Study Matthew 24! Here, Jesus answered the questions of the disciples about the end of the age and His imminent return. Many believe Matthew 24 was totally fulfilled in a.d. 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem. This is entirely baseless. They must believe, by this assumption, that Jesus was a liar! But Christ did not lie. What happened in part in a.d. 70 was merely a forerunner, a type of the real fulfillment of all the prophecies of Matthew 24” (Ambassador College, How to Understand Prophecy). We need to realize that prophecy is dual.
The Lady of Kingdoms
The Chaldeans are the ancient people of Babylon. Babylon and the Chaldeans have passed from the world scene. But the old Babylonian religion remains. The “daughter of Babylon” is very active today. “Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate” (Isaiah 47:1). Which religion of this world has a throne? I know of only one!
“And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration” (Revelation 17:5-6). This is the same old Babylonian religious system, and it will direct the killing of God’s saints in the Tribulation!
“And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast” (verse 12). The 10-nation European combine is led by Germany (ancient Assyria), but guided by a great church (verse 7).
“Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms. I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke. And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it” (Isaiah 47:5-7). As we have said, a woman, or “lady,” is a biblical symbol for a church. This church is “The lady of kingdoms”! She has no equal. (Request our free booklet Nahum—An End-Time Prophecy for Germany.)
This lady rules over kingdoms (plural). What great church has a history of ruling over kingdoms of this world? Only one—it has ruled over six resurrections of the Holy Roman Empire. This church is about to rule over the seventh. It will guide the political beast to inflict the worst suffering ever on this Earth! It will have no mercy on God’s chosen people Israel when they are in this end-time captivity—the Great Tribulation, which is Satan’s wrath (Revelation 12:12). This great false religion is Satan’s number one tool for inflicting his wrath!
“Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children” (Isaiah 47:8). This church has lost its Protestant, or protesting, children. However, it has a master plan to force them back into the fold! Most Protestants are about to be plunged into the worst “inquisition” ever! Thankfully, it only lasts for a short time. “But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments” (verse 9). Suddenly, that great church will be destroyed forever! All of this will happen in the very near future.
Chapter 14: The Bride of Christ
The book of Isaiah has a great deal to say about God’s own end-time Church rebelling against His law. Few sins are more serious than God’s own Church failing to do God’s Work. The Laodiceans will be penalized by having to give their lives in the Great Tribulation. They will be punished so intensely that they will begin to think God has forsaken them. But they will be very wrong.
Bride of Christ
It’s hard to even measure the good news God has for His Laodiceans—if they repent. “Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me” (Isaiah 49:13-14). This Zion is God’s end-time Laodicean people. In spite of all the good news to come, they think God forgot and forsook them. They need to think deeply about God’s most inspiring reply.
“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee” (verse 15). You may rarely find a woman who forgets her sucking child or fails to have compassion on the son of her womb. But God will never forget the Laodiceans, unless they refuse to repent.
It is not coincidental that God uses the word “son” instead of daughter. The Laodiceans are all begotten sons of God. They are Gods in embryo! God is having to remind them why He could never forget them! Even normal parents couldn’t forget their own flesh and blood. How much more can God never forget a begotten son?
It is the Laodiceans who have forgotten. If they remembered the God Family relationship, they would know that their loving Father and Christ could never, never forget or forsake them! But they have lost much of the God Family concept revealed to Mr. Armstrong. The Laodiceans are the ones guilty of forsaking and forgetting—not God! If they deeply understood the God Family relationship, they could never accuse God of forgetting or forsaking them! “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me” (verse 16). They are engraved into God’s memory.
“Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth” (verse 18). This is just a gentle reminder that they are the Bride of Christ. The Laodiceans were offered the most elite sonship God has to offer. If they repent, they will marry Jesus Christ and help Him rule over the children, or sons—none of whom will ever be on that exalted Bride level! God has given the firstfruits the greatest calling He has to offer! Only they have the opportunity to be Christ’s Bride. That includes all the Laodiceans. But they have forsaken and forgotten their first love for this greatest honor God has to offer! They no longer get excited by inspiring expressions like God the Father, Bride of Christ and God Family. How terribly sad. God has to jolt them back into reality with the Great Tribulation.
The Tongue of the Learned
“The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned” (Isaiah 50:4). God is all for education, if it is based on His Word.
Herbert W. Armstrong established Ambassador College as a liberal arts institution. When he was with the Sardis Church, he realized that the leaders and ministers lacked education. So this understanding helped him see the need for God’s college.
Mr. Armstrong also knew that God had called him to help prepare people to help educate the world, God’s way.
God wants us to “know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary”—know how to encourage the discouraged. Can you do that? Are you deeply educated in God’s Word?
Do you and I “hear as the learned”?
We are called today to be teachers in the World Tomorrow. Are we getting prepared for that fabulous future?
Law in Their Heart
One of the most powerful metaphors in all the Bible is in Isaiah 51:1: “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.” This refers to God’s Philadelphians today. We are being quarried from our spiritual Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4; Psalm 18:1-2). We are being shaped and cut from a spiritual Rock quarry. We must look to that spiritual Rock from which we were hewn. Christ is to live in us (Galatians 2:20). Jesus Christ is our Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). We were carved out of this Rock spiritually. This is the “hole of the pit” from which we were dug. We must always cling to that Rock from which we have been chiseled and carved.
It is crucial that we remember what made us spiritually in the first place. The Laodiceans made the mistake of getting away from what God taught them through Mr. Armstrong. We were all brought out of this world, either directly or indirectly, through Mr. Armstrong. God used this spiritual rock quarry to build our character. Never forget “the rock whence ye are hewn.” That metaphor is so beautiful and so meaningful. We must never forget how we built our first love, and we must always cling to our spiritual roots.
“Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him” (Isaiah 51:2). The Revised Standard Version says, “[W]hen he was but one I called him.” God called Abraham and Sarah “alone,” but look how they were blessed! How mightily God “increased” His Work through them. God will do the same for us today, if we remember our spiritual roots—even if we are virtually alone!
We will never leave God if we keep His law in our hearts. “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings” (verse 7). God could only be addressing His very elect here. Only they have God’s law in their hearts today and don’t fear the reproach of men in this evil world.
How Satan-inspired this world is. Most religions reject God’s law. Yet the Bible is full of scriptures describing how the law must be in our hearts. Soon, God will write that law in the hearts of the whole world! (Jeremiah 31:33). It doesn’t matter what the world does, it can’t deter us—if God’s law is in our hearts! That means we fear God, not men.
Are you afraid of living? Of men? Of losing your job or family? Human fear shapes most men’s lives! But the love of God is that we keep His commandments, or His law (1 John 5:3)—and perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
This is the towering issue in God’s Church today. Many of God’s people are turning away from God because the law is not in their hearts!
Ultimately, this is how you must control your godly life. How we eat, dress, gain pleasure, date, marry, work and play all depends upon how deeply God’s law is etched in our hearts. How we conduct our lives reveals how much we love God!
Soon we all must face God. Let’s hope and pray that God’s law is etched deeply in our hearts.
“And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people” (Isaiah 51:16). This is what man was created to do. In terms of potential, you cannot separate the Earth from the universe—God created us not only to make the Earth blossom as a rose, but to plant the heavens and finish their creation!
After we have beautified the Earth, we will be sent to the outer reaches of space to plant the heavens. What an awesome future we have! What magnificence and majesty!
Zion—God’s people—is asleep. “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean” (Isaiah 52:1). This is about our work right now! It refers to the Church as a woman getting ready to marry Christ. This is the end time, just before there are no more “uncircumcised” and “unclean” in Zion ever again. The Laodiceans are told to awaken and “put on thy beautiful garments.” The Laodiceans are naked today (Revelation 3:17). But what beautiful garments they have available. They are still the Bride of Jesus Christ! They have access to the most fabulous wedding attire God has to offer, which is offered to only a tiny few people on this Earth!
These “beautiful garments” belong only to God’s “called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14). How repugnant is the attitude of God’s lukewarm Bride! The Laodiceans have been scornful of the greatest honor God could bestow! How tragic to lose such a precious vision.
They are also told by God to “put on thy strength,” meaning they are weak. God is trying to stir them to rekindle that vision of all visions.
God is determined to get their attention. “Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion” (Isaiah 52:2). The Laodiceans have become the “captive daughter of Zion.” They are the daughter—or end-time Church of God, which will be enslaved in the Great Tribulation. It takes such punishing to jolt them back into their incredible calling. Unfortunately, 50 percent of them will be beyond saving (Matthew 25:1-13).
How difficult it is to save many of God’s own people! What a terrifying price all of the Laodiceans must pay for rebelling.
Our message is first of all intended for God’s own Church—or Zion. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7). The book of Isaiah is filled with so many stirring pictures. The Philadelphia Church of God is not attacking the Laodiceans. We are warning them and trying to rekindle their “good tidings.” Our message to them is that “God reigns!” If they want to become members of God’s Family, they must learn deeply that “God reigns.”
Why do people become Laodicean? Because they don’t want God to reign over them! Why do people come out of the Laodicean Church into the pcg? Because they want God to rule them. Why do people leave the pcg? Because they don’t like God’s rule. Why don’t the people of this world respond to our message? Because they hate God’s reign over them. The whole scenario of man’s rebellion is really quite simple! It all comes down to government!
Notice that God’s message is “Thy God reigneth.” The Laodiceans reject the government of God taught by Mr. Armstrong. It’s that simple! And you can prove that. Only those absolutely ruled by God are willing to deliver God’s message today.
Anciently, a messenger had to get on his feet to deliver the message. He often ran. The good messenger didn’t talk about delivering the message—he just used his feet to get the job done! When he delivered God’s message, it was received by God’s people with great joy. They knew he had “beautiful feet” because of the message those feet were used to deliver!
And so it is today. God talks about beautiful feet for a very good reason. He wants His messengers today to deliver His message. Many people talk about doing God’s Work. But very few simply get busy and do the job. Only a few know God’s message must be delivered by using their “beautiful feet”!
God has provided us with the most beautiful message that the mind of God could conceive. Anybody who delivers that message has beautiful feet!
God and the Laodiceans will again see eye to eye. “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion” (verse 8). Today, the Laodiceans seriously disagree with God. The “Lord shall bring again Zion.” They were with God, but turned away.
The whole Earth is about to burst forth in joy and singing! “Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem” (verse 9). Every person on Earth will see God save this world! Is it any wonder that God says the people who deliver that message have “beautiful feet”?
Declare His Generation
“[H]is appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance …” (Isaiah 52:14; rsv). After Christ’s savage beating at the crucifixion, He didn’t even look like a human being. Christ’s body was marred more than any man to pay the penalty for our physical sins and spiritual sins.
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3). Christ’s disciples ran away when He was crucified. The only one who didn’t run was Christ. He knew if He did that, everything would be over for mankind. If He sinned once, or if He ever turned and ran, there would be no future for mankind.
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (verses 4-5). He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our lawlessness.
How much we understand the sacrifice that was made for our physical sins will make a difference in how much God heals us. Christ’s body was broken so we could be healed.
We know some of that healing will be done in the resurrection. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). God has a different perspective on death than we do. When a saint dies, another son is added to God’s Family for all eternity.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). We get into problems when we turn to our own way. If we do that during our trials and tests, we will be discouraged, especially around Passover. It is time instead to think about the Passover Lamb, and God’s sacrifice for us.
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter …” (verse 7). Christ was brought to the slaughter, just like the lambs at Passover in ancient Israel.
“He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? …” (verse 8). That is a beautiful question. Who will declare His generation? Who has the righteousness of God to get up and declare to the whole world about the crucifixion of the Passover Lamb? That is what we are here to do! We must declare this sacrifice.
This question is repeated in Acts 8:32-33. Who is going to have the strength and the power to declare His generation? We have to get this message out and teach this world, even if it means we will face trouble.
“And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord [or the Father] to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin …” (Isaiah 53:9-10). The Father watched it all. He had to turn His back on Christ because Christ became sin in that figurative sense.
But it pleased God to see His Son go through all of that because now He can have a family of billions. The Father wants a family! He gave His only begotten Son to pay the price for our sins (John 3:16).
Our Children Inherit the Gentiles
“Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited” (Isaiah 54:1-3). Our seed is going to inherit the spiritual Gentiles. These verses refer to our children and how they are being trained for tremendous opportunities in the World Tomorrow.
Parents have the critical responsibility of preparing those children. Then the Church assists through ministerial counseling, Imperial Academy (kindergarten through high school), Philadelphia youth camps, classes at Church services, and Herbert W. Armstrong College.
“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (verse 13). Our children must be ready for this exciting, but sobering, responsibility!
We must never forget that our children’s educational opportunities are not just for today. Imperial Academies and Armstrong Colleges will be used to disseminate God’s knowledge in the World Tomorrow.
First, God’s educational program has to work in God’s Church. Then it will fill the entire Earth—after that, the universe!
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Our window of opportunity is closing. Soon it will be too late to call upon God to finish His Work. We must do it now while there is time. Now God is near. Soon there will be a famine of the Word. Trouble is going to intensify and people will not be able to find God’s Word as they can now.
Now is the time to repent. God will abundantly pardon (verse 7).
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (verses 8-11). God’s Word is about to fill this Earth. It will bring forth joy and abundance.
“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (verse 12). The Companion Bible explains how the Garden of Eden will spread worldwide. But it doesn’t see that then the Garden of Eden will spread into the universe!
God is about to fill the world and universe with inspiring beauty and happiness. Nothing can stop God’s miraculous plan.
A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters
God describes those people who are blessed. “Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil” (Isaiah 56:1-2). These people keep God’s seventh-day Sabbath. God is addressing His own people. But notice, God directs His message to “the man” who keeps His Sabbath and obeys. God works through individuals. God wants to know if “any man,” or individual, will hear Him (Revelation 3:20). Salvation is not a group affair.
God is seeking spiritual eunuchs—those people who put God’s pleasure above their own. “For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 56:4-5). God is appealing to His “house,” or temple. Today that means God’s own Church.
How will God give us a name better than of sons and daughters? The firstfruits are called to be the Bride of Christ. We will be on the “mother” level and help Christ lead the “children of God”—or those who are not in the firstfruits calling. God keeps reminding us of our mind-staggering, magnificent calling! The firstfruits are those called before Christ’s Second Coming. Those called in the Millennium and Last Great Day will be likened to the children in God’s Family. Christ will be the Husband and the firstfruits the Bride. It is very clear why our sacrificing today will bring us such fabulous rewards in the future!
“Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people” (verses 6-7). God discusses “my holy mountain,” “my house of prayer” and “mine altar.” God is speaking to His own converted people today. He is discussing the turbulent end time. Then He goes on to state how His house of prayer will soon be accepted by the whole world. God will bring the firstfruits to His holy mountain today, then use them to help bring the whole world into God’s spiritual house! They will teach the whole world how to pray.
“The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him” (Isaiah 56:8). This is referring to the end time, after the nations of Israel have been cast out of their own lands, when God gathers the “outcasts.” The Great Tribulation will afflict Israel very soon. The terrifying end time is being discussed. “All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest” (verse 9). The Gentile “beasts” are almost ready to devour Israel. The nations of Israel are living on the edge of disaster. We are entering into the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24; Revelation 11:2-3). If ever there was a time to warn Israel, it is now!
But then unfolds one of the strangest events ever to occur in God’s Church! “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” (Isaiah 56:10). At a time when Israel faces its greatest danger, God’s watchmen are “blind.” These are the end-time Laodiceans, the people in the last era of God’s Church who become “blind” (Revelation 3:17-18). The ministers “are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark”! Capture this dumbfounding picture. Ferocious Gentile beasts are surrounding Israel, ready to devour it, and the watchmen are dumb dogs who won’t bark!
Under similar physical circumstances, if lions, bears and wolves were about to devour the inhabitants of a home, the watchdogs would be in a barking frenzy! But not these spiritual watchmen. They are asleep, blind and dumb!
The worst time of suffering on planet Earth is about to explode! (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21). And God’s own Church that was raised up to watch and warn is silent like a dumb dog! Those are God’s words—not mine! So God had to raise up the pcg to warn the Laodiceans and Israel.
“Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter” (Isaiah 56:11). The shepherds, God’s Laodicean ministers, “cannot understand.” Why? Because “they are greedy dogs which can never have enough.” How could God ever work through such an attitude? These ministers put job and money, or “gain,” ahead of God. They have very weak faith, and God condemns them harshly!
Where did these leaders go wrong? Verse 11 calls them shepherds, but they are lukewarm ministers who are not serving the members.
God only has one watchman at a time in these latter days. “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me” (Ezekiel 33:7). These lukewarm ministers have rejected God’s only watchman. God’s watchman gets the word from God’s own mouth and warns! The other ministers are commanded to support the watchman work.
These Laodicean shepherds do lead many of God’s lukewarm people. So in their rebellion they have made themselves God’s watchmen by default.
Here is the first definition of watchmen in the Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon: “to shine, to be bright.” These shepherds have lost their shine and brightness because they refuse to look to God’s watchman. That is why they are drunk dogs that cannot bark. But they are the only “watchmen” that the lukewarm laymen have. Even though the people are lukewarm, they are still God’s Family. So in that sense, these blind “watchmen” are God’s watchmen as well.
God’s true shepherds are not watchmen, but they do deliver God’s watchman message to the flock—the same message that came from God’s mouth to His watchman.
Anyone who takes this casually is going to be severely punished!
The primary work of God’s Church is to proclaim Israel’s sins. “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1). We are to show the house of Jacob its sins. Jacob was Israel’s name before he was converted. So the main meaning of this verse is directed to physical and spiritual Israel. When God says to show “my people their transgression,” He is speaking first of all to His Church. The nations of Israel were rejected by God. They are not labeled God’s people today. Only God’s Church can be called that in this end time. So God’s loyal people must first of all warn God’s own Church of its sins. We are to “cry aloud”!
The Laodiceans often say we are “attacking” them. All we are really doing is fulfilling Isaiah 58:1. Only after we warn God’s Church are we to warn physical Israel—the nations of Israel.
God has set a watchman to the house of Israel. He is to watch and warn. That is what Isaiah 58:1 is all about.
It is not an easy job. But God tells us how to achieve our goal. We must fast for the right reason, to get close to God. Then our spiritual health will spring forth speedily! Then God will guide us continually.
“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 58:12-14). God will then cause us to ride upon the high places of the Earth. We will then build the old waste places. That is a promise from God!
The Eternal Shall Arise
“Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths” (Isaiah 59:7). One of Satan’s titles is destroyer. God is a builder. God gave America and Britain the birthright blessings because of Abraham’s obedience. Now look at what we have done with those blessings. They are being turned into curses.
God blessed Mr. Armstrong with a mighty work and a fabulous building program. Anybody can see how God has blessed the pcg with our headquarters building program and a powerful message to this world.
“For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter” (verses 12-14). Truth is fallen in the streets. Only truth can set us free. Even many of God’s own people don’t know how ugly and evil this world is. Even our democracies are black nightmares in America, Britain and Judah (the nation called Israel today). Our nations are on their deathbeds and don’t know it!
Now is the time they desperately and urgently need our warning!
“Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment” (verse 15). When you obey God, you become a target for evildoers in this current world.
Isaiah wept for this world, and so should we! When is the last time you or I cried for this world?
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:1-2). Here is the resurrection of the firstfruits being changed from physical to spiritual—when God’s glory is given to them. This pictures our birth into God’s Family—born sons of God, when our faces will shine like the sun!
“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (verse 3). Kings and people in the world will come to our light! We must get prepared for this weighty responsibility. We must be ready to teach everybody from kings to paupers. God tells us to lift up our eyes and see our future glory—the same glory God has!
What a super-incredible potential God has given mankind.
The duality of Bible prophecy is obvious throughout Isaiah. “Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation” (Isaiah 64:10). Zion, God’s Church, is a wilderness. So is Jerusalem, a type of all Israel. In Isaiah’s time, Israel turned away from God. The same problem occurs to spiritual Israel, or God’s Church, in the end time.
“Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste” (verse 11). Isaiah saw the holy and beautiful temple, where Israel once praised God, become polluted. And so it has happened to God’s Laodicean Church in the end time. There is no greater tragedy! It has become a burning fire. God established His true doctrines through Mr. Armstrong. But most of those major doctrines have been “burned.” God’s Laodiceans are perishing spiritually today (2 Thessalonians 2:10).
God even had a physical house of God established in Pasadena, California, by Mr. Armstrong. While Mr. Armstrong lived, God was praised in that building. But not today. How tragic when this happens in “[o]ur holy and our beautiful house.” What tragedy could be greater?
We must remember that Isaiah was recorded in the Bible for this latter day (Isaiah 30:8).
“I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick” (Isaiah 65:2-3). God keeps spreading out His hands to the Laodiceans, but they reject Him. Their ministers burn incense on altars of brick. God commanded incense to be burned on an altar of wood, overlaid with pure gold (Exodus 30:1-3). The ministers are polluting God’s ministry. Incense is a type of prayer. That means the Laodicean ministers are not directing people to God. Nothing is more important than praying in the Holy Spirit. That is the most important way we remain in contact with God!
These ministers “remain among the graves.” “Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels” (Isaiah 65:4). The Laodicean members of God’s Church are uniting with God’s Sardis Church, which is dead (Revelation 3:1-2). That is the church Mr. Armstrong came out of because it was dead. The Laodiceans are eating polluted and unclean spiritual food.
“Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the Lord, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom” (Isaiah 65:7). God is measuring our work today by Mr. Armstrong’s work. The Laodiceans are clearly guilty of great rebellion. Most of the Laodicean ministers are even condemned by their own taped sermons of the past, compared to those they give today.
“But ye are they that forsake the Lord, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number” (verse 11). You can’t forsake or forget God unless you once truly knew Him. This is directed to God’s own Church.
We see in Isaiah 66:5 that one of God’s churches lost the vision and one did not.
But there is great news for this world. “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children” (Isaiah 66:8). Soon a spiritual nation will be born, comprised of God’s firstfruits! They will be used by God to teach the whole world. “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord” (verse 23). What a glorious vision for those saints who understand the outcome of God’s master plan!