Ezekiel—The End-Time Prophet
Chapter 1: Knowing the God of Ezekiel
Current events in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Libya and countries all over the world are building toward a super catastrophe. Already we are living in a new horrifying reality! Politicians, analysts and even regular news watchers can see that more plainly every day.
What they don’t realize is that the Prophet Ezekiel forecasted this modern situation we face—and he accurately illustrated what is about to happen and how it will all end.
Ezekiel of the Old Testament is somewhat of a counterpart to what the book of Revelation is to the New Testament. Ezekiel contains a story flow of prophecy as the book of Revelation does. Understanding what God revealed in this book will help you prepare for the prophetic events that are coming.
Ezekiel covered some territory that the other prophets usually did not, and on a rather large scale. He described a lot of horrifying events that God prophesied. He also balanced that terrible news with good news, such as one of the most beautiful chapters in the Bible about the Bride of Jesus Christ. But there’s no escaping the stark detail with which Ezekiel prophesied what is coming on the modern descendants of Israel and the world.
Never in the history of man has the book of Ezekiel had such a profound meaning as today!
Getting to Know God
Getting to know the true God is a dominant theme in the book of Ezekiel. The people of this world have many different ideas of who and what God is. But their words and actions prove they don’t know God. In a few short years, Ezekiel prophesied, the whole world shall come to know God! That is where everything is leading. This world is about to know God for the first time ever. (Note such verses as Ezekiel 6:7, 10; 12:15, 20; 16:62; 34:27; 37:13-14.)
Before that happens, God says His end-time very elect will send out a warning message. They will declare the book of Ezekiel in its entirety and help lead the world to get to know the true, living God. There is nothing more thrilling than truly knowing God! God reveals Himself in Ezekiel.
We really need to understand the introduction to Ezekiel, especially the first three chapters. It helps us get the priority right: It describes the great God and what He is doing through His people.
You can’t understand Ezekiel unless you understand the most remarkable part of the book: its first chapter.
Ezekiel 1:1 is about getting to know God: “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.” God revealed awesome visions to a slave! I don’t believe anyone has ever seen such visions as Ezekiel did.
Ezekiel begins by describing an incredibly fiery spectacle. “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself [a fire inside a fire], and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire” (verse 4). This was some of the most intense brightness you can imagine. Ezekiel was seeing God in a vision.
God’s Spiritual Vehicle
“Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle” (Ezekiel 1:5-10).
This is a description of the spectacular, resplendent vehicle that God rides in. The creatures transporting God are cherubim, and they each have four faces—one looks like a man; the others look like animals: a lion, an ox, an eagle. The ordinary angels apparently resemble men. But cherubim are not ordinary angels—“every one had four faces.”
“As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning” (verse 13). This must have been most impressive—living creatures lit up like fire, and lightning coming out of the fire!
“And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. … And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings” (verses 14, 24). Ezekiel saw this great, luminous vehicle with wings and revolving wheels moving at lightning speed. It never had to turn; it would move instantly in any direction. Men had never seen anything like this—it looked like torches or lightning darting around. This was quite a vehicle—so awesome that Ezekiel had trouble even explaining it.
Has anyone else ever had such a vision?
This has a parallel in the book of Revelation. In the first chapter of that book, the Apostle John describes a fiery vision of God he received—much like Ezekiel. Then he went on to use the name “Lord God Almighty” 10 times—more than any other book in the New Testament (aside from quotes of the Old Testament). Seeing that vision put John’s mind on the “Lord God Almighty,” and made John a different man! It helped him see God far more deeply than he ever had before.
Ezekiel also talked about “the Almighty God” (Ezekiel 10:5). When you get visions like that, you begin to see things differently! The visions Ezekiel received really stirred and changed him, just like the visions John received.
Do you know God as these men did? We in God’s Church see God working all the time. The miracles that empower this Church are not from men—God is doing them. But we sometimes don’t see Him as He really is—the Lord God Almighty behind this Work who accomplishes everything we do!
The God of Ezekiel
Look closely at what was on top of God’s amazing transportation system. “And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings. And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it” (Ezekiel 1:25-26). Sitting upon this vehicle is the God of Ezekiel—the great God whom all the world will one day come to know.
Notice: This great God of Ezekiel 1, riding atop this awesome transportation system, looks like a man. Study Genesis 1, and you know that man is the only creature in the world that looks like God! God created us in His own likeness. We look just like Him, because we were created to be part of the God Family! Mankind is truly part of something so splendid and unique it is hard to even describe. Man is something magnificent in potential. We look like God, and He wants us to develop the very character of God also (Genesis 1:26; image means God’s character).
It’s hard to read the amazing description of the living creatures and realize how far superior in potential we are to them. We are to become sons of God. Angels never had that potential (Hebrews 1:5).
“And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain [a rainbow], so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake” (Ezekiel 1:27‑28). Compare this description with Revelation 1. How impressive God is to behold!
This is the God of the Bible. This is not little Lord Jesus in a manger, or Christ riding on a donkey. This is the God of Ezekiel and Revelation and the whole Bible! This is what He looks like and how He travels. How many people know this God?
Ezekiel fell over in shock when he saw this vision. He could do nothing but prostrate himself before this resplendent Being. And it was then that God spoke to him.
If you were Ezekiel, wouldn’t you listen? I believe I would if I saw a vision such as this. Well, we are, in fact, receiving a vision like this—though not directly as Ezekiel did. God is revealing Himself to us today in powerful, miraculous ways—even in this message you are reading.
The Point of Ezekiel
In this first chapter, Ezekiel introduces us to God. This world is about to know God for the first time ever. If we don’t know God, we know nothing of real value! And if you don’t know the God of Ezekiel 1, you don’t know God!
If you gathered all the angels and demons together, and all of the physical creation, including man in his incredible potential, you would see just how wonderfully unique we are! How often do we thank God for our potential? We should thank Him every day for that!
Before we can really understand anything, we must understand the connection between this spectacular, fiery God and man! This is the real point of Ezekiel! When the spiritual creation of man is complete, man will be God’s masterpiece!
Again, only man has the potential to become like God in character.
No other message compares in excitement and exhilaration to this one. People who fail to grasp this truth come up with all kinds of wacky interpretations when they study the book of Ezekiel.
Lange’s Commentary says, “In the whole of the Old Testament, there is nothing more obscure than the beginning and the end of the book of Ezekiel.” In this book I will show you that it is not obscure.
Chapter 2: A Change in Commission
Ezekiel frequently mentions that the “word of the Lord came to me.” In whatever age, it’s important to find the man God is working with. Ezekiel had special visions that God was to reveal to a man in this end time. Then the very elect would declare that revelation to the world.
It is amazing—and significant—that God always does His Work through a man. “And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee” (Ezekiel 2:1). Ezekiel was prostrate before God, and God instructed him to stand. But notice, He called him “son of man.” I’m going to speak to you, God was saying, and I want you to be my mouthpiece—but you’re not God yet; you’re just made of clay.
God repeats that phrase son of man 87 times throughout this book. Some translations render it “you mortal man.” God was emphasizing that His servant was just a mortal human being, a lump of clay. He really hammered Ezekiel with that point! But think about it: If you are going to receive such visions, you’re going to have to be humble. Humanly, it is so easy to become vain. When you have a God like this leading you, you must have humility. We can do nothing apart from Him. We’re just lumps of clay! We ought to listen to God! “You mortal men!” That’s all we are—mortal men!
We must keep God’s perspective of how helpless we are apart from Him! At the same time, we must not forget our potential to become born sons of God and to look like the God of Ezekiel 1! (1 John 3:2; Philippians 3:21; Psalm 17:15).
Ezekiel had been in captivity five years before God began revealing these prophecies to him. Not only was this very humbling to Ezekiel, I believe God was also demonstrating what He will have to do to humble most men. Many will experience war and captivity before turning to God.
God traveled in His spiritual vehicle to the river Chebar in Babylon and began giving visions to a slave. Most people would believe God speaks to the mighty first, but in fact God works with the lowliest of the Earth (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). If you know how God works, you’re going to look for the one man He’s using. In this world, God always works through a man. The whole world ought to be looking to God’s man.
The full understanding of Ezekiel’s prophecy has been revealed to a man in this end time. God said it would be so! This man must deliver that message just before the Great Tribulation.
God Sends a Prophet
What revelation was Ezekiel given? God reveals that He has a problem with His people: “And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation [the Hebrew reads nations, plural—more than one modern nation descended from ancient Israel] that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear [refuse—New King James Version], (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them” (Ezekiel 2:3-5).
Note the story flow: Right after the fiery vision of God in Ezekiel 1, it launches into this message. Realize that this is specifically for the people of God today. What is written here will happen to us in a specific way, just as it is described.
The modern Israelites are the peoples of the United States and Britain—a fact that our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy will prove to you. The Bible contains many prophecies of a future punishment of terrifying magnitude to come upon these nations for their rebellion against God. This warning message is primarily directed to Britain and the U.S. But it is also to be delivered to Canada, New Zealand, Australia and most of the English-speaking democracies of the world.
Regrettably, most people won’t recognize God’s prophet before God’s punishment strikes. But before it is all over, all will recognize that the God of Ezekiel 1 sent a prophet in the end time to deliver His warning. The nations of Israel are going to know that God sent this Ezekiel message through His chosen prophet today! (For more information, request our free booklet Who Is ‘That Prophet’?)
Whether they will hear or not, God says we must deliver His message. Logically, if they have a chance to hear, then someone must be speaking to them. God is prophesying to them! When the Tribulation comes, they will know vividly that they have heard God’s true prophecies. After the Tribulation storm begins, then they will know from whom they heard the truth.
God says, “I do send thee [an end-time prophet] unto them.” God is sending the Ezekiel message to the nations of Israel today through the Philadelphia Church of God! This message must be delivered when all these events are being fulfilled. Herbert W. Armstrong could not do much of this work because he died before many of these prophecies were fulfilled.
I don’t believe there is a single instance in the Bible where God sent a prophet to say, Hey, you’re all doing great! The fact that there is a prophet on the scene shows correction is necessary. That’s why God sends one—to warn. If a prophet has a message from God, you know there must be bad news in the short run. But every prophet of God brings wonderful news in the long run.
A Tough Job
Things won’t be easy for that prophet; he is bound to run into all sorts of problems. “And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 2:6).
This verse says not to be afraid three times and not to be dismayed. Events are about to happen that could cause us great fear! We are in the nations of Israel—primarily referring to the birthright nations of America and Britain—and God says we are going to experience intense times, facing briers, thorns and scorpions. This is reality!
It is natural for someone to be afraid, but God says, don’t be afraid! Remember who you have behind you. The wicked people—the briars, thorns and scorpions—are the ones who should fear! The God of Ezekiel 1 is sending a message, and God help the people who fight against Him. They will lose.
Still, scorpions do inflict acutely painful stings. God tells us not to be afraid of their looks or their words. People will respond angrily to our words. We are entering into hard times, with hard looks and hard words!
As life gets harder, our message will become more difficult to accept. Mr. Armstrong wasn’t confronted with the intense anger that we will face, because Israel didn’t face such intense problems when he was alive. He was a watchman in a general way, but his message was not delivered in such terrifying times. (However, without his foundational work, we could not do what is required of us today.) The United States today is terribly different from how it was before he died in 1986. It is ready to collapse, and it will shortly. The radical left is attacking conservatives with all sorts of lies. What do you think they will do about our message? Once they focus on us, it will be much worse, at least for a short time. I don’t know when that will be, but I do know we must pay attention to what God revealed through Ezekiel. It was revealed to the Philadelphia Church of God (pcg) and there is not another book like it on this Earth!
We have to believe Ezekiel’s prophecy: A storm is coming. We must go through this storm and thrive in it! This might seem negative, but Ezekiel is full of good news. God’s people need to balance these prophecies by seeing the whole picture. Ezekiel was a slave and he received revelation about some dire things, but he wasn’t depressed. He was inspired and moved because he saw a vision of God and what He was doing.
We have the God of Ezekiel 1 right here with us! That is why the book of Ezekiel begins in this order: God is first—the top priority! Everything flows from there.
Even the persecution God’s Church members face will have a positive side because it will cause those who witness it or even participate in it to feel ashamed when the world continues to unravel just as God prophesied. This will help them repent, and probably many of them will become part of the great multitude (Revelation 7:9).
“You [one man] shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious” (Ezekiel 2:7; nkjv). God commands us to speak His words to them whether they listen or not!
“But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee” (verse 8). Sometimes God must get pretty blunt with the person to whom He is revealing prophecy. It can be easy to get a Jonah complex and just want to flee. But God specifically warns us not to turn our backs as these rebellious people of God have done.
God gives similar instruction in Ezekiel 3: “But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted. Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house” (verses 7-9). God promises to make us the toughest Christians on Earth! God will use us to deliver this difficult message, and He tells us in advance that Israel won’t hear it!
However, our message and their response is only stage one. It’s not the end result. Stage two is the Great Tribulation, when many of God’s rebellious people and the nations of Israel repent. They will respond belatedly to the pcg’s message.
The Little Book
Let’s notice what God instructed Ezekiel to eat and to then speak. “And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein … and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. … Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness” (Ezekiel 2:9-3:3).
In a November 19, 1976, co-worker letter, Herbert W. Armstrong made an interesting observation about this passage in Ezekiel. After noting that God instructed Ezekiel to speak to “the house of Israel,” Mr. Armstrong wrote, “Nowhere in the Bible are Jews called ‘the house of Israel.’ This term applies only to the 10-tribed kingdom of Israel taken into Assyrian captivity more than a hundred years before Ezekiel and the Jews of the house of Judah were taken to Babylon.
“Nowhere in the book does Ezekiel record his journey from where he was in Babylon to those of the house of Israel who were then in Britain and Western Europe. [They had already been in and then come out of captivity.] Nowhere does he record his giving of the message to them. He merely received the message. He merely recorded it in writing.” In other words, this prophecy was to be fulfilled in the end time.
Then Mr. Armstrong turned to the book of Revelation, and homed in on Revelation 10: “This chapter 10 has been virtually overlooked. I did not comment on it in the earlier days, or expound it when I wrote the outline of the book of Revelation or the full booklet on the revelation. There was no way it could have been understood then—until after subsequent events—just as we could not have understood how Satan sways the entire world, as explained in Ephesians 2:1-2, until we had radio and television.”
Mr. Armstrong then talked about the little book. He concluded, “The Apostle John in his vision is told to take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel, and eat it up.
“How like Ezekiel’s prophecy!”
There is a good reason Mr. Armstrong thought Ezekiel 2 and 3 sounded like the little book of Revelation 10—because it is talking about the little book! (Though Mr. Armstrong didn’t know it.)
Here is the passage in Revelation 10: “And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter” (verses 9-10).
Now let’s look again at those verses in Ezekiel. “And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe” (Ezekiel 2:9-10). The emphasis here is not on preaching the gospel. The message of this book is also bitter—it is a message of lamentations and mourning and woe. Our message is very difficult to deliver. But it’s better to speak about lamentations, mourning and woe than to experience it! And that is exactly what is going to happen to those who fail to heed this message!
“Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 3:1). Ezekiel couldn’t have fulfilled that command—he was in captivity among the Jews. This is a message God wants delivered to the “house of Israel” in the end time.
Ezekiel’s prophecies use the term “the house of Israel” to describe Britain and America in our day—and also to describe His Church. Why? There is something important we must understand here. Spiritually, the house of Israel is God’s Church. We must see what God is doing with His Church and what He wanted to do with the nations of Israel but wasn’t able to the extent He desired.
“Eat this roll,” God said. Before we speak, we must eat and digest God’s spiritual food. Then we will have the faith to deliver the message. As we know, we must take this message to spiritual Israel first.
Revelation 10:10 says this message is sweet in the mouth, but bitter in the belly. Why is it bitter? It reveals that Satan the devil has taken over God’s Church through an Antiochus, a son of perdition, in this end time! He is doing everything he can to destroy the faith of God’s people and destroy them spiritually! That is an extremely serious reality.
“So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness” (Ezekiel 3:2-3). As bitter as the message is, it is also just as the little book in Revelation 10—sweet in the mouth, when you know what God is doing in this end time. These two passages use virtually the same language. They are describing the same message!
The Sons in Captivity
“And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear” (Ezekiel 3:11). God instructed Ezekiel to speak to the Jewish captives who were right there with him. He was personally able to go only to the people in captivity—the Jews. He never delivered his message to Israel. Spiritually, there are people today who say they are spiritual Jews and are not (Revelation 3:9). They were at one time but aren’t anymore.
In Ezekiel 33, God sets a watchman who is to warn the people of Israel before they go into captivity. But in Ezekiel 3, he is to speak to some who are already in captivity. This is not a watchman message; it is something altogether different.
Where it says “the children of thy people” (Ezekiel 3:11), the Companion Bible says it should read sons. The Hebrew word is ben, which is the same word used in such verses as Psalm 2:7—“… Thou art my Son [ben]; this day have I begotten thee.” These are sons of God—God’s own Family. He is talking about spiritual captives in this end time, people who have been taken captive by Satan the devil: the Laodiceans. Read Revelation 3:14-22 for Christ’s prophecy of this terrible spiritual tragedy. Spiritual Israel has gone into captivity. Spiritually God is saying that some of His own people in this end time—the Laodiceans—are captive to the devil! Yet the Laodiceans strongly disagree: They don’t believe they are captive. They believe they are religious and are worshiping the true God!
A message of lamentation, mourning and woe needs to be delivered to God’s people. (To understand this, I recommend you first read Malachi’s Message.) God commands us to tell them—whether they will listen or not—that if they don’t get free from their captivity, they will lose their eternal lives! Fifty percent will lose their eternal lives; and even the 50 percent who do not will still experience terrible slavery. That is the greatest crisis in God’s Church in this end time by far.
The problem with the Laodiceans is they have forgotten who they are! They have forgotten that they are the sons of the God of Ezekiel 1! That is why even Mr. Armstrong said to the members and ministers of God’s Church, “Most of you just don’t get it.” They wanted to follow the god of this world and still be in God’s Church. The powerful God of Ezekiel 1 would not tolerate that!
Who was willing to deliver the message of the little book to these captives? Our work did just what God instructed Ezekiel to do. For seven years we went to the Laodiceans with God’s message to them. That was our primary message for that period. Financially we were not yet able to reach out to the world. Only the rebellious Laodiceans have the background to really understand Malachi’s Message. We did a good job of warning those spiritual captives.
“Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place. I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing” (Ezekiel 3:12-13). This is all tied in with the little book. That book is elsewhere likened to a lion’s roar and the seven thunders. It creates quite a thunderous, tumultuous spiritual noise—like the noise heard here.
“So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me” (verse 14). Here Ezekiel uses the same word that John did. This message was sweet as honey in his mouth, but bitter in his belly once he had digested it. He is talking about a very distressing calamity.
Ezekiel fulfilled this commission. “Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days” (Ezekiel 3:15). He was exiled among these captives and just astonished, I would presume, by their attitude.
Numbers 14:34 reveals God’s prophetic principle of a day for a year. That chapter shows how Israel sent spies for 40 days into the Promised Land, and when they came back only Caleb and Joshua were excited and full of faith—the rest were negative and fearful. So because the people wouldn’t follow the leaders, God punished them for 40 years—a day for a year in fulfilled prophecy. All of the adults in Israel—except Joshua and Caleb—died in the wilderness. Today 95 percent of God’s people are dying in the wilderness, but this is not just physical death—it is spiritual death—eternal death! That is a message of lamentation, mourning and woe! That is bitter! It is a message of seven thunders and a lion’s roar.
Ezekiel 4:6 also shows that day-for-a-year principle.
The seven days Ezekiel was among those captives represent seven prophetic years. Who was astonished for seven years at what was happening within God’s Church in this end time? Who experienced the worst trauma of their lives because of what was happening to God’s own people? These are people we know—our own Family! Nothing could be more distressful.
Throughout those seven years, we were delivering the little book to those former spiritual Jews.
Then what happened after the seven years? Notice now how the story proceeds.
A Change in Commission
Something changed at this point in the story. “And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying” (Ezekiel 3:16). God came back and had something to say at the end of those seven days, or the first seven years of the pcg’s work. What was it?
“Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me” (verse 17). Now comes the watchman work! He wasn’t a watchman when he went to the captives, because they were already in captivity. The watchman’s warning is an attempt to keep people out of captivity.
Remember, there are two captivities. The Philadelphian remnant warns God’s people after they’re in spiritual captivity, and the nations of Israel before they’re in physical captivity. After seven years, God’s watchman was to begin to give the whole house of Israel warning from God! But the warning given to God’s people is about losing their eternal lives!
This describes a strong message and a lifesaving work, physically and spiritually: “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand” (verse 18). If this watchman doesn’t deliver the message, the blood of Israel will be on his head. And if God’s own people don’t get behind that message, it will be on theirs as well! God says, Get out there and save lives. Get out and do your job or you’re going to end up being guilty of blood! Their blood will be on our hands. Either we work to save the lives of others or we lose our own lives! If we fail, God will hold us responsible!
This is a deadly serious Work that God has chosen us to do! It is really why a lot of people turn away from God’s commission. They think it is too tough—but it is the greatest of honors to be chosen to do it.
At this point, the primary commission is no longer directed at the Laodiceans—it is to be a watchman to all Israel, and even, to some degree, the whole world!
At the seven-year mark of the pcg, this is what I wrote in the February 1997 Trumpet: “The first seven years of our work were concentrated primarily on warning God’s own Laodicean churches. There was a massive falling away, and Christ directed us to knock on their door with a strong warning message (2 Thessalonians 2:1-11; Revelation 3:20). Malachi’s Message was the centerpiece of our work. That meant the emphasis was on reaching God’s own people.
“Now that emphasis has shifted to the whole world and only secondarily to God’s Laodiceans. We have entered a new phase in God’s Work. We are now printing, and giving away free, Herbert W. Armstrong’s book Mystery of the Ages. It is difficult for any new convert to come out of the world and be led by God through Malachi’s Message only. What they urgently need is to read and study Mystery of the Ages first. Notice this quote from Mr. Armstrong in a letter to God’s Church dated September 23, 1985 (emphasis mine throughout): ‘Since last December I have been working diligently on the largest and most important book in my life. In real fact I feel I myself did not write it. Rather, I believe God used me in writing it. I candidly feel it may be the most important book since the Bible! We want to reach the largest audience possible with this book. I know you will feel the same way when you read it.’ …
“Mr. Armstrong wanted it to reach ‘the largest audience possible.’ If you comprehend the message of that book, this has to be God’s desire also. We must let God use us to get this book to ‘the largest audience possible.’
“I believe ‘the largest audience possible’ should become our battle cry today! … Mr. Armstrong asked the ministers to have each prospective member read Mystery of the Ages before he or she was baptized. This is the most important book a prospective member could read before baptism. These people can then understand the whole Bible. It will no longer be a mystery. …
“Malachi’s Message was mainly revealed for Church members and those familiar with what Mr. Armstrong taught. So you can see how, suddenly, we now have a message for billions of people, not a message for a few hundred thousand!”
That article clearly revealed our change in commission after seven years. At that point, the watchman commission started, and we began to warn all Israel, and the rest of the world, to whatever degree we could! That was mainly done through Mystery of the Ages. But God also gave us television stations and other printed publications to reach most of the world.
The Righteous Man
In late 1996, we knew we had to do a watchman work, so we had to print Mystery of the Ages. Nobody else really even wanted it. But Satan didn’t just allow us to have it. And God tested us. After the Worldwide Church of God sued us, we had to battle them in court for years and, at one point, even temporarily cancel our television broadcasting. God was saying, I want to see how much you want to give this message to the world. I’m going to test you and see if you really are a soldier willing to fight! We had to show Him we were—and most of that proving happened in court.
God always wanted His people to deliver that mystery. “Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand” (Ezekiel 3:20). What a warning to those who were abiding in righteousness and then turned away from it! This could only apply to the end-time Laodiceans.
God has some biting criticism for some who were to be keeping charge of His spiritual temple in this end time. Notice briefly a passage in Ezekiel 44: “In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations. And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves” (verses 7-8).
What covenant is God talking about? The marriage covenant that He has made with His Church. Clearly, He is speaking to the Laodicean leadership. They have not kept His holy things, like Mystery of the Ages and Mr. Armstrong’s other books and booklets. They have scorned the holy revelation God gave His people!
If we fail to warn them about the consequences of these actions, God will hold us responsible for their blood! “Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezekiel 3:21). Who is giving God’s warning today? God help me if I don’t do it. These verses are about Mystery of the Ages (we have already mailed more than a quarter million copies!) and Malachi’s Message, which represent our two commissions.
We can see there is a close tie between the work of Herbert Armstrong and the pcg today.
Thanks to all the very elect who have been loyal in the midst of all the disloyalty, who support this warning message and make it possible. It simply wouldn’t happen without those loyal saints.
Because of what God’s true Church has done, and are doing, 50 percent of the Laodiceans will repent in the Great Tribulation. They will remember the warning. And some of the people of Israel will remember the watchman work and also repent in the Tribulation.
Mystery of the Ages
We can see in retrospect what God had prophesied all along: that for seven years the little book, Malachi’s Message, would be going to His Church. At the end of that seven years we still go to the Laodiceans, but that is our second priority; number one is getting God’s warning, through the watchman work, out to the world. And the thrust of that commission has been Mystery of the Ages.
God is personally endorsing the work of the Philadelphia Church of God by giving us this revelation!
A court injunction temporarily stopped our mailing of this book. But God intervened and gave us the victory in that court case.
How can people really understand our message without Mystery of the Ages? It is incredibly difficult to do the watchman work without that book! How could we approach the world without it? We would only be able to do it in a piecemeal way with much less impact. All the time, people write or call us and say, “That book changed my life!”
This passage in Ezekiel 3 supports the whole message of Revelation 10. It begins with the little book. But then when you get to verse 7 it begins talking about the mystery, and by verse 11 it’s talking about prophesying again—getting Mystery of the Ages out there again.
I have been criticized for making the decision to reprint that book. But I don’t believe it was my idea—it was Christ’s! Ezekiel wrote, “And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the Lord came unto me …” (Ezekiel 3:16). That’s just what happened to me. I didn’t understand these scriptures at the time. I just tried to go where Christ led. But now, because we stepped out in faith, God has revealed these prophecies with tremendous clarity! These revelations don’t come from a man, they come from the God of Ezekiel 1! If people want to fight them, let them do so at their own peril!
In the midst of the court battle over Mystery of the Ages, humanly speaking our chances looked extremely bleak. But I believed we could not lose! God has now shown us He wants us to do an even bigger work. I can’t fathom how we could have done that without Mystery of the Ages.
We are about to enter the spiritual Promised Land—the Kingdom of God. We are standing before the Red Sea, and we need a miracle from God to get us across. He will surely test our faith. Remember the Israelites were only two weeks’ walk from the Promised Land on the other side of the Red Sea. But they failed and ended up dying in the wilderness, after wandering around for 40 years, because they wouldn’t trust God. We are going to have to trust God to lead us through the wilderness and continue building our faith!
I believe that reprinting Mystery of the Ages was the greatest single act of the very elect in this end time to show their love for God. Remember what Mr. Armstrong said about that book and you know it must be extremely important to God’s people! Battling for that book was the greatest demonstration to God ever in this Church that we love His truth and are willing to put everything on the line for it!
Remember the Story Flow
Keep your mind on the story flow in Ezekiel 3. Remember, the book of Ezekiel has a story flow. So the context is a key to understanding this book.
God began our work with the little book. It showed God’s Church that we were in the midst of a great rebellion. God’s people were confused, and the little book showed them what was happening and what God was doing.
First we took the message to God’s lukewarm Laodiceans for seven years. The very elect saw that God was using us to do a mighty work.
After that, God had us put the emphasis of our message on the watchman work to the whole world—we had to watch and warn.
When the watchman work is finished, we go to a place of safety (the story flow or context of Ezekiel 5:3 proves that scenario).
God’s Work today is going to “save” lives, physically and spiritually. God is going to save 50 percent of the rebellious Laodiceans when they repent during the Great Tribulation. The other 50 percent will die eternally!
Would the 50 percent who repent have done so without our warning message revolving around the little book? Surely most of them would not have known why and what to repent of without that message!
The great multitude repent in the Great Tribulation, and God saves them physically. Most of them will respond to our message, either directly or indirectly.
How many more will be impacted by our message today, even up to the Second Coming of Christ?
Also, we must not forget we save our own lives physically and spiritually by doing God’s Work today.
God is using us to do His magnificent, lifesaving Work. We haven’t finished that yet, but we are beginning to look more to the imminent and wonderful World Tomorrow. What happens after the watchman work?
“And the hand of the Lord was there upon me; and he said unto me, Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee. Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar: and I fell on my face” (Ezekiel 3:22-23). If you look at the context, the watchman work ends and God’s Church goes to a place of safety. I speculate that’s what these verses are about.
“Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house. But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house” (verses 24-26). Again, we must look at the context. The timing of the story flow indicates that this is the famine of the word during the Great Tribulation, mentioned in Amos 8:11.
“But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:27).
Chapter 3: The Ezekiel Watchman
The Prophet Ezekiel, though he wrote a lot about God’s watchman, was not a watchman. How could he have been? His warning message for Israel came over a hundred years after the ancient Israelites had gone into captivity. In fact, they were already moving out of Assyria into northwestern Europe and Britain! That’s how “out of date” his message was.
But Ezekiel did not write his book for his time. His message is for our people today. Israel, in all its history, has never suffered the way Ezekiel prophesied that it would. Great cities are to be left without inhabitants. Only a modern-day nuclear war could inflict such a dreadful outcome.
God has now revealed a deeper understanding of the book of Ezekiel.
In Ezekiel 3:17, God says, “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel ….” Again, looking at Ezekiel’s circumstances anciently, this must be an end-time commission. God has a watchman for the modern-day “house of Israel.”
Ezekiel 33 also talks about the watchman. The captivity of Judah was only a type of what is to happen to America and Britain (biblical Israel), as well as Judah (called Israel today). The watchman of Ezekiel has a special job to do. He is to watch world events and warn the nations of Israel—specifically America, Britain and the Jews in the Middle East. All these people will fall together (Hosea 5:5; this prophecy is explained in The United States and Britain in Prophecy). He also has a dreadful warning for God’s own lukewarm Church. His job is not to save them—only to warn them.
This watchman is prophesied to be present when Germany rises to power and destroys the modern nations of Israel. The watchman is on the scene when it all happens. Herbert Armstrong fulfilled the watchman role in a general way, but there is a more specific fulfillment today for the pcg.
“Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman” (Ezekiel 33:1-2). Ezekiel was in prison. He was a prophet—not a watchman. Many verses in Ezekiel tell us that this book is for our time today.
The Watchman Warns
Winston Churchill was a watchman before and during World War ii. Without a doubt, his efforts to warn the nations about Germany made a great impact on the outcome of the war.
I believe Ezekiel 33:1-6 is talking directly about what happened in World War ii: “Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman” (verses 1-2). God did bring the sword upon Israel to correct us, and a man named Winston Churchill came on the scene, and the people set him up as their watchman. God had a hand in it, but still, the people chose Churchill.
Mr. Churchill’s warning work in the 1930s fulfill those verses better than any example I know of in Israel’s history.
The only other modern leader outside of God’s Church who has delivered a watchman warning similar to Sir Winston Churchill would be former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
When U.S. President Barack Obama started negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran—the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism—only Mr. Netanyahu came to speak before the U.S. Congress, warning them of the catastrophic consequences of such a nuclear deal! This deal would open the way for the mullahs in Iran to develop nuclear weapons! Mr. Netanyahu warned Congress that this deal put the very survival of Israel and America at stake!
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote this about Mr. Netanyahu’s speech in a May 5, 2015, article: “Netanyahu offered a different path in his clear, bold and often moving address, Churchillian in its appeal to resist appeasement. This was not Churchill of the 1940s, but Churchill of the 1930s, the wilderness prophet. Which is why for all its sonorous strength, Netanyahu’s speech had a terrible poignancy.”
Unlike during World War ii, however, the people are not going to choose a political watchman like Netanyahu or Churchill. God Himself has to appoint a watchman to warn the people!
If the people of Israel do not heed this warning message, they are going to die! (verse 11).
In verse 7, God is no longer talking about World War ii or a period like that. The setting dramatically shifts to this present time: “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.” This is not a watchman that the people chose, like the one referred to in verse 2. God says boldly and strongly, “I have set thee a watchman.” This watchman is set there and sustained by God.
Why is this important? Because God has now taken the situation to another level. This is not the same as the people choosing a Churchill to save America and Britain, or modern-day Israel. That will not happen this time around. Times have changed dramatically! This time, people will either hear God’s man or suffer nightmarish catastrophe!
If a Churchill came on the scene today, he wouldn’t be telling us to repent. He might tell us some of our flaws and weaknesses, but he wouldn’t tell us to repent of our sins toward God. Only God’s watchman would do that. And that is what Israel, or America and Britain, needs.
Can we appreciate the significance of this end-time event? God takes a man and gives him words: Hear the word at my mouth, He says. The words from Ezekiel (and the rest of the Bible) are from the very mouth of God! God gives this man revelation. Then He sends him out to proclaim those words: You tell them this warning is from me. No matter what they say, unless they repent of their sins, they will go into captivity or die. This is not about a Winston Churchill; this is a direct message from God to the nations of Israel!
There is no solution in having a Churchill anymore. But God has a message that would save them if they would listen!
If you have your mind focused on God, you will know that in this “last end” for mankind, God Himself will have set a watchman in the midst of everything. Today, there is a watchman whom God Himself set, and to whom God gave words from His own mouth. How many people recognize that man? If you are tuned in to God, you won’t have any trouble discerning who he is.
Look around at the Laodiceans, and you can see that they don’t have a watchman work. They’re divided and confused. As we shall see, God also instructs this watchman to warn them about what is going to happen.
Commenting on Ezekiel 33:7, Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon says about the word watchman, “To look out … bending forward in order to view.” This watchman strains and stretches to make sure he sees what’s happening. New developments on the world scene are coming faster than ever, and he’s there to see it all. The word warn is used repeatedly in these verses. This is a message with an emphasis on warning.
Herbert Armstrong’s commission was to preach the gospel around the world (Matthew 24:14). His message emphasized the gospel and included a warning. Today, our commission is to “prophesy again” (Revelation 10:11). The pcg emphasizes the warning, which includes the gospel.
Mr. Armstrong fulfilled the watchman work in a general way. The pcg fulfills it specifically. I emphasize the warning, as the Ezekiel watchman was prophesied to do. Time is running out, and there has been a change in commission. Also, Israel’s sins have grown so much worse that only repentance toward God will save them.
Verse 11 of Ezekiel 33 states, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” God is talking about the death of nations! Times are different from World War ii. God used Winston Churchill, a political watchman, to save America and Britain from destruction. Israel does not have a political watchman as World War iii approaches. No such man is on the world scene. That fact alone would frighten our people if they understood world conditions!
There is a much greater danger today than when Mr. Churchill warned us in the 1930s. Today our people are too degenerate to choose a Churchill to lead them. But there is no hope in such a political watchman anyhow. Our sins are much worse.
God, through His watchman today, pleads with America, Britain and modern Judah specifically to turn. A powerful message is being sent out to Israel and the world.
How could our message to them be more important?
After that happens, the rest of the world will receive the same warning from the two witnesses (Revelation 11:3).
Seeing the Sword
Mr. Armstrong understood prophecies about the sword and saw the direction world events were moving. But did he actually see the sword coming? The answer is no; only we can fully see that happening today.
“Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand” (Ezekiel 33:4-6). Mr. Armstrong thought the end of Israel would occur in his lifetime. He was exactly right about the prophecies, but his timing was off a few years. God did not reveal to him many of the specifics of Ezekiel’s book. For example, Mr. Armstrong didn’t understand about the Laodicean Church era in these prophecies. Most of that truth was to be revealed after his death.
The blood of the people is going to be on the head of the watchman if he doesn’t warn. This is repeated several times in the book of Ezekiel. This is a strong warning, repeated again and again. God does that because His people in the final era of His Church, the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-19), are failing to warn Israel. They are condemned for failing to do their job. So the Philadelphia remnant must deliver the warning message.
The word trumpet is mentioned in verses 3, 4, 5 and 6 of Ezekiel 33. In ancient Israel, the trumpet was used to sound the alarm of war! The monthly magazine of the Philadelphia Church of God is called the Philadelphia Trumpet. That name was derived from verses like these in Ezekiel and in Amos 3.
The Philadelphia Trumpet name reveals that our work is a warning work. We warn because, as Ezekiel says, people are in danger of losing their blood—their physical lives! Some are even in danger of losing their eternal lives!
There is a group of Philadelphians who “sigh and … cry … for all the abominations” (Ezekiel 9:4) and warn the Laodiceans and Israel. And there is also a sanctuary (temple or church) of God that God has to punish for not doing its job as a watchman (Ezekiel 33:6). Both of God’s end-time churches will be on the scene when Israel falls apart. One group will be protected, and the other will be punished in the Great Tribulation. More on this later.
This warning to all Israel by the Philadelphians will be a very short work. The modern nations of Israel are collapsing extremely fast, and their enemies are rising equally fast.
Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah who restored all things (see Matthew 17:10-11). He preached the gospel around the world (Matthew 24:14). He taught us how to build proper physical families. He also built the Church Family (Malachi 4:5-6). And he was a watchman in a general way, but he did not specifically fulfill this role in Ezekiel. That is because he died before these final end-time events were to occur. We are keeping his name and memory alive to help people remember the prophecies God taught through him (request our booklet He Was Right).
God’s watchman will be on the scene when it all happens.
“When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezekiel 33:8-9). In verses 3 through 9, God tells us eight times to warn Israel!
The emphasis in Ezekiel is to warn. The emphasis is not on preaching the gospel to the world, or restoring all things, or building the Family. Mr. Armstrong often warned Israel while preaching the gospel. But his emphasis was on the gospel.
God personally set the watchman there to warn (verse 7). If people can’t detect what God has done and is doing, then they condemn their own relationship with God!
Some people fail to even recognize God’s own warning message. And what a terrible penalty they must pay!
Delivering Your Soul
“When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand” (Ezekiel 33:8). The watchman has the responsibility to watch and warn. That includes speaking out to those who are captive to the devil—whether it be a nation or a church.
Much like the Laodiceans, modern-day Manasseh is in captivity—only on a carnal level. (For more on this, request my free booklet America Under Attack.)
That is explicit: If you don’t warn the wicked—and I mean speak out—then I will hold you accountable! His blood is on your head. That is good motivation to speak out!
Would you rather face a mean person in the world? Or do you want to cave in and then have to face God? I’d rather face anything in the world than face an angry God! He makes it clear that we must deliver that watchman message!
This watchman is going to be there when the nations of Israel die! If he fails to warn them, he dies with them! If he warns them, God protects him. He sees the enemy rise and conquer. This is the prophetic work of the pcg today.
Why does God word this so strongly? Because He knows that, humanly, we won’t do it! It takes the power and courage of God to do it! Look at the Laodiceans: They are lost in their human reasoning. When you’re delivering a message like this in the end time, it is obviously difficult. You may think it’d be easier if you could somehow walk away from it, but it really isn’t. Delivering the message is the easy way. I don’t know what the future holds—you never really know the kind of trial God might bring upon you—but doing it God’s way is far better in the short run and the long run.
One of the reasons the watchman warns the Laodiceans and the world is to save his own life! The pcg delivers this warning message, and God takes it to a place of safety during the Tribulation (Revelation 12:14). We are not bashing people. The purpose of our work is to save physical and spiritual lives! And God says the only way we can do that is to warn! Israel’s last watchman doesn’t come on the scene until the enemy is rising and preparing to attack Israel!
“Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezekiel 33:9). This warning that we give will save the lives of others. But it also saves our own lives.
You have “delivered thy soul” if you deliver this warning message! This is how you save your life! It’s your ticket to a place of safety! If you don’t support God’s warning to the Laodiceans and Israel, you will pay with your blood!
God says this watchman group will be there when the blood is spilled. That is why we must be protected by God.
Learning the Hard Way
“For I will lay the land most desolate, and the pomp of her strength shall cease; and the mountains of Israel shall be desolate, that none shall pass through. Then shall they know that I am the Lord, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed” (Ezekiel 33:28-29). This is prophecy for the very end—just before Israel collapses. To their great shame, our people won’t come to know God until they have suffered through the complete desolation of their land!
“Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord” (verse 30). The expression against thee should be about you. People are talking about the watchman message. They even know it’s a message from God!
Some people are urging others to come and hear God’s word. Perhaps that message is on radio, television or the Internet.
“And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness” (verse 31). They actually “sit before thee as my people.” This message is mainly to God’s people. It appears that many Laodiceans will hear God’s message from the Philadelphia Church but will refuse to apply it! They talk endlessly about love. However, it’s only “religious” talk. Their deeds are lacking.
Why are these people in verse 31 so eager to hear God’s word? It’s extremely hard to find people who are interested in God’s message during good times. These people would never be willing to heed God’s warning in prosperous times. They are eager to hear God’s prophecies only because Israel is collapsing! National problems are multiplying quickly. People will listen to our message mainly as a result of those problems.
“And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not” (verse 32). They love to hear his voice. Mr. Armstrong said the people of the Sardis era of God’s Church enjoyed his sermons but they would not apply the words! The same is true of many Laodiceans and worldly people today. They hear the words but won’t do them!
Then Shall They Know
“And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them” (Ezekiel 33:33). When the prophecies come to pass, then they will know! Then it will be too late physically! But many will repent of their rebellion against God. When the holocaust comes, they will immediately know that the prophetic message they heard was from God and that they should have repented when they heard the message.
When the Tribulation comes to pass, then they will know that a prophet was among them! Obviously, the prophet has been on the scene warning before it began. The phrase “lo, it will come” is translated in the Soncino commentary as, “Behold, it comes.” The Interlinear Bible reads, “Behold, it is coming.” Yes, it is coming. It is coming speedily! God warns us to either submit to His government now or learn a big part of that lesson when we are conquered by the Holy Roman Empire.
Verse 33 reveals that there is a modern-day Ezekiel watchman on the scene who is a watchman and a prophet. He prophesies about the sword coming. He says, “Behold, it is coming!” Even Mr. Armstrong, though he was a watchman in a general way, did not specifically fulfill Ezekiel 33 because he could not see the sword as this man can today. This individual comes at the “last end.” He is called a prophet in Ezekiel 33:33 and a watchman in verse 7. He is termed a prophet in Ezekiel 2:5 and a watchman in Ezekiel 3:17. His job is to watch and prophesy. He is not here to restore all things. That has been done by Mr. Armstrong. The watchman is on the scene to warn the Laodiceans and the world of what is coming—behold, it is coming!
Who is this watchman—this prophet? Haven’t I given you revelation about Ezekiel and all the prophetic books? Almost every book and booklet I have written is filled with revealed prophecy. Has anyone else done that? Is revealed prophecy present in any of the Laodicean churches? Do they have even a smattering of the new revelation God has rained down on His people through me? They have no new revelation.
How many true prophets are there on Earth today? Only one. People may scoff at that, but soon they won’t. When the Tribulation comes, they’ll remember a man who was out there with a powerful message that probably got him into some measure of trouble internationally. Then they will know who he was—after it is too late physically! As Mr. Armstrong often said, most of the fruits of our work will come during the Tribulation, not today.
How could people possibly know that a prophet had been among them unless he had a powerful work? If we weren’t making much of an impact, once the Tribulation started, would people really remember what we did? Our responsibility is to make sure they know a prophet was in their midst!
Only a very few know there is a prophet in their midst today. But a great multitude is about to know! If you ask the Laodiceans today, they wouldn’t say they know it. These are great prophecies of God, and He will bring them to pass before it is all over.
Chapter 4: Terrorism and Race Riots
America, Britain and Israel have a terrible problem on their hands: violence. Violence from domestic troubles like race riots—violence from terrorist attacks.
Many people in these countries have been affected by this scourge. I believe they are much more likely to recognize the seriousness of this issue. If you have not been personally affected, it is easy to want to pass such problems off as isolated incidents. In this chapter, I will show you that this violence is a much more serious danger than most people would ever imagine!
The Head Is Sick
There is deep racial division and hatred in America. The Philadelphia Church of God doesn’t take sides. We teach God’s prophecies.
The Prophet Isaiah tells us about the terrible times in the “last days” just before Christ returns (Isaiah 2:2). “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” (Isaiah 1:4-5). This passage is mainly about the U.S., Britain and the Jewish nation in the Middle East.
“The whole head is sick.” God is saying the power structure that leads these nations of Israel is sick! And the “whole heart faint.” Neither the leaders nor their followers have the will or the strength to get to the roots of race riots or terrorist attacks and solve them once and for all (see Daniel 12:9; 9:13; and Leviticus 26:19). Their “heart” is so weak and unhealthy that the governmental system is about to “faint,” or collapse!
“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” (Isaiah 1:6-7). “Your cities are burned”! And who does it? “Strangers [Gentiles] devour it in your presence”!
This is a terrifying passage! Because of the sin these nations are laden with, and because of the weakness of our leaders, we will experience desolation and burning—all at the hands of “strangers.” In other words, race riots and terrorism are going to get much worse.
“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). Sodom and Gomorrah were burned and leveled because of their sin! Before this is all over, only a small remnant of Israel will be left. And they remain only because God will spare them!
Remember, ancient Israel never received this message. These prophecies are for the end time—just before Israel’s second captivity.
God gave Ezekiel some peculiar instructions that provide a graphic illustration of the future downfall of the modern nations of Israel. “And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair. Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them” (Ezekiel 5:1-2). Israel’s destruction, illustrated by what was done to Ezekiel’s hair, is divided into thirds. The first third will be burned with fire! The second third will be killed in a nuclear attack (request a free copy of The Lion Has Roared). The last third will be taken as slaves and sent all over the world.
But notice these very important facts. The first third is burned with fire in the midst of the city, which is under siege. The burning is related to a siege. Herbert Armstrong prophesied for many years that the siege would be our economy being battered by foreign competition (see Deuteronomy 28:52). The siege means “something hemming in … distress” (Strong’s Concordance). It can also mean “to urge to press upon anyone in pursuit, to besiege a city” (Gesenius’ Lexicon). The U.S. and other Israelite nations are surrounded, or besieged, by fierce and often unfair competition.
Prophecy indicates that the German-led European Union will soon join forces with Russia, China and Japan to shut the U.S. out of more and more markets (see Isaiah 23). As the U.S. and Britain become less and less competitive worldwide, unemployment will steadily increase. The fact that the U.S. and Britain have lost control of the world’s most strategic sea gates—like Panama, Gibraltar, Suez and Singapore—will make it much easier for foreign powers to choke off these nations’ supply lines. God prophesied in Deuteronomy 28:52 that the nations of end-time Israel would lose these sea gates if they turned away from Him!
The United States and Britain are going to be left out in the cold as two gigantic trade blocs, Europe and Asia, mesh together and begin calling the shots in world commerce. These nations of Israel are going to be literally besieged—economically frozen out of world trade!
As that happens, domestic rioting and violence will become much more prevalent. Already in America today, instances of rioting and burning are occurring more regularly, often associated with racial hatred.
Race is a highly charged subject in the United States today, and in many other nations. Past wrongs and present inequalities create fertile ground for hurt, frustration and anger. Many prominent leaders, both black and white, are deliberately fueling those grievances for their own political gain. They are using race as a deadly weapon! The problems that will result are far more dangerous than they realize.
Remember the Los Angeles riots in May of 1992, sparked by the acquittal of four police officers in the beating of Rodney King. Those were some of the deadliest riots in U.S. history. Close to 60 people died in the violence. Property damage was estimated at $1 billion. That is just one example of the destructive potential of a siege coupled with burning. Much of that cost was goods stolen by the looters. Some 40,000 jobs were lost because of the rioting. The Los Angeles police and National Guard did virtually nothing—rewarding the rioters with stolen goods and an opportunity to commit violence—even murder!
More recently, in 2012, a Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer killed Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old, and was later acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges. Protests sprang up across the nation. About 150 local rioters in Los Angeles stomped cars and broke windows. In Baltimore, a Hispanic man was chased by a mob of black youths shouting, “This is for Trayvon.” Accusations of widespread racial profiling flew; the entire justice system was broadly criticized for its supposed inherent racism. President Obama inserted himself into the tense situation: “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon,” he said at a White House press conference. Without facts, the president maligned the police with ugly statements and exacerbated a very public race issue.
In the summer of 2014, a white police officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Violent protests started immediately, before the case could be heard in court. Then they intensified after the policeman was acquitted. Rioters burned down some 25 businesses. The total value of buildings destroyed amounted to nearly $4.6 million. Police and local residents reported that more than 150 shots were fired shortly after news broke that Officer Darren Wilson would not be charged in the shooting of Michael Brown.
In April 2015, after Freddie Gray, a young black man, died in police custody in Baltimore, protests against the police began. These soon erupted in riots, in which downtown storefronts were smashed and police cars were damaged. Rioters cut fire hoses that firefighters were using to put out a fire at a cvs pharmacy. Damage from this rioting cost the city of Baltimore almost $9 million. A survey by the Small Business Administration found that more than 30 businesses and one home sustained major damage. About 130 police officers were injured during the riots. Yet Baltimore’s mayor at one point called on police to stand down. “[W]hile we tried to make sure that [police officers] were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that,” she said (emphasis mine).
Other angry minorities seeing such lack of forceful intervention will be greatly encouraged to riot elsewhere in the future! This is the truth that no one wants to admit!
In May 2020, George Floyd, a black man, was killed while being arrested in Minneapolis. Immediately protests began. Minneapolis went up in flames largely because the police were commanded to stand down. The city’s radical-leftist mayor even ordered the police to evacuate the Third Precinct so rioters could smash up the station and burn it down. Similar scenes of mayhem and devastation spread across America, particularly in cities where left-wing mayors told law enforcement to give “protesters” space to destroy. New York City became a war zone. Once the Floyd protests began, people filled the streets to march, provoke, smash store windows, steal—and scream at, attack and shoot at New York Police Department officers. Dozens of police vehicles were damaged or burned, and dozens of officers were injured, including two struck by vehicles in hit-and-run attacks.
Los Angeles, Ferguson, Baltimore and Minneapolis are only four of the largest, most high-profile race riots to occur in recent decades. Flash mobs composed of primarily black teenagers have become a common occurrence at malls and convenience stores across the nation. In Louisville, Kentucky, some 2,000 black youth rioted at St. Matthews Mall in December 2015. Shoppers reported several gunshots and the mall was forced to close early. That same weekend, over 200 black youths had to be dispersed from a movie theater in Jacksonville, Florida. There have been hundreds of similar cases of mob violence around the country in recent years.
As the economy grows worse, besieged by foreign powers, the rioters will burn more and more—because God’s wrath is upon us! And God is far more wrathful toward the white people in the modern nations of Israel than He is toward the black people. These problems will intensify until our people repent!
“A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them” (Ezekiel 5:12). Notice that pestilence is mentioned first. In the past, we thought the pestilence would be disease resulting from the famine. In this case, the pestilence is actually the leading cause of the famine!
The word pestilence just means destruction or death (see the Gesenius’ Lexicon). One definition of the root word is “to lay snares, to plot against, to destroy.” So this pestilence could be a plague of violence or burning—not necessarily a physical disease at all! It can be defined as a plague of violence or rioting—such as the George Floyd riots in 2020 or the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks! Why would the first third be burned with fire (verse 2) if it referred to a disease epidemic?
The pestilence, or plague of violence, will cause many health problems that lead to famine. Sewage disposal will be disrupted. Gas lines will be broken. Jobs will be lost. Society will unravel and the collective panic will bring a stock market disaster! It will get so bad that violence and famine will take millions of lives!
The rioting in Ferguson and Baltimore is just a type of what is going to happen to major cities in the whole nation! It is a stark prophecy of our future! Terrorist attacks, rioting and burning are the main thrust of the pestilence described in Ezekiel 5. And this rioting will spread to other Israelite nations! God will get our attention one way or another. The worse the violence and burning become, the worse the famine will get. The worse the famine becomes, the more intense the violence will get. It becomes a vicious cycle.
“The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him” (Ezekiel 7:15). The pestilence will afflict only those in the city. Those in the country or field will die from an attack by the European beast power led by Germany (verse 24). The pestilence, or plague of rioting, terrorist violence and burning, afflicts the cities primarily.
The seeds of this future calamity have already been sown. The government has lost control. There is a breakdown of law and order. When the riots in Baltimore were at their peak, the mayor instructed the police to stand down and give protesters “space” to “destroy.” There was virtually no show of governmental force. In the future, when this violence spreads, will this be our main hope for peace? How pathetic! We are getting dangerously close to social anarchy and chaos!
It was the Rodney King court case, in which white policemen were acquitted of using excessive force in arresting a black man, that triggered the L.A. violence. The riots in Minneapolis, Ferguson, Baltimore and New York began with highly publicized cases of police acting against minorities. Serious rioting in London, England, in 2011 was also sparked by racial incidents. The public outcry has been intense and sustained. Now, as a result, the police fear to act, even more than they have feared to in the past. Many policemen only feel secure if they do almost nothing. Other authorities also fear to act, thinking riots may be ignited in other cities. Our government is paralyzed by fear. The “whole heart” is “faint”! We no longer have control of our cities. U.S. citizens already have nearly 400 million guns. As a result of the race riots, more guns will be sold. The people see that the government won’t protect them—and they don’t trust God to protect them either!
These riots would still have been controlled by the police and National Guard only 40 or 50 years ago. Trying to negotiate peace without using some force only encourages a certain criminal element in our society to riot more.
Many blacks want peace, but often they have little control of the situation themselves. After the King verdict, a caravan of blacks in L.A. went from one area to another throwing fire bombs and doing much of the burning. During the Ferguson riots, a Communist group in Chicago sent protesters to Ferguson by bus. Many black people had their own property destroyed by such criminals.
Some of these criminal leaders know how to play public discontent like a fiddle. The news media help them spread their destructive messages.
There is only one solution to this nightmare! Our people, black and white, must repent and turn to God. If we fail to do that, the suffering is just beginning!
One of the greatest sins I believe the United States ever committed was enslaving the blacks. Enslaving people and splitting up families is one of the most horrible things you can do. That sin is just the opposite of God—it is satanic!
I think God is letting that be reversed in some ways today: White Americans are becoming victims more than they have ever been. In many ways, we are doing it to ourselves.
But Ezekiel prophesies that everybody in the United States—whites, blacks, Hispanics—all will go into the worst slavery ever on Earth. He says that after a horrifying siege and a devastating foreign attack, the surviving third of our people will be sent around the world as slaves. Imagine how these people are going to be treated! It will be a horrific slavery like this world has never seen.
Many Laodiceans today say The United States and Britain in Prophecy is a racist book and that we are racist. Where is that coming from? They say that because the devil says it—and they are in captivity to the devil. Satan and the demons are doing everything they can to influence people’s attitudes about the pcg.
Just a look at the pcg’s membership shows that we are not racist. God’s Church includes all races. We are in unity and harmony—we love each other and work with each other. If we don’t, then we won’t rule the world! We have all races because we are going to rule the world! That’s why we are here!
That’s why we have students come to Herbert W. Armstrong College from around the world. We are all here as God’s Family, the spiritual house of Israel. It doesn’t matter what color you are. We are here to bring all nations together and show the world—in a small way even today—that we know how to make it work. We know how to keep the races together in peace. That is worth fighting for!
The Laodiceans were taught that too, but they rejected God’s truth. So they call us racists to do anything they can to hurt us. They spout off these claims that are right out of the mind of the devil. If you let some shallow person inhibit your spiritual progress by calling you a racist, then you do not really understand what it’s all about.
This world is about to see the end of all liars, racists and hatemongers. They will soon be obliterated from this Earth. That is why Satan is in a rage—because he knows his time is running out!
America has been warned like no other nation throughout history. Mr. Armstrong preached unceasingly to America. The message has been proclaimed on television stations all over the United States. Satan hates this message—he wants to destroy this superpower—he wants to destroy this message and cause a famine of the Word of God. Yet the message still goes out. In spite of all the warnings, though, America keeps plunging headlong into sin and violence—and problems and difficulties. Finally God says, Manasseh has ignored enough warnings. I am going to allow Satan to take them captive too.
As I point out in America Under Attack, the political Antiochus is committing the most treacherous, treasonous acts you can imagine! God is allowing it because the American people received—and ignored—all those warnings.
Hosea 5:4-5 reveal that America, Britain and the Jewish state will all fall together. But notice: It refers to them as Israel, Ephraim and Judah. The one called Israel here is Manasseh. Why would God call Manasseh Israel? I think because it is the superpower. At times, God uses Manasseh to represent the house of Israel—the U.S. and Britain—because of its superpower status.
Verse 13 says: “When Ephraim saw his sickness [it finally sees it], and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim [and Judah, it should read] to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound.” No one could cure or heal either one of them—only God can do that.
In this prophecy, Judah and Ephraim don’t go to the U.S. for help. I’m sure that by that point, the U.S. will have already collapsed! I suppose there is a possibility that the U.S. refuses to help—already under the Biden and Obama administrations it hasn’t helped Ephraim and Judah. People from the Jewish state have said there is something about President Obama that really doesn’t think kindly toward them—a built-in malice.
This is all building toward the siege that Ezekiel prophesied. It will usher in the crisis of crises—the worst ever on Earth!
Chapter 5: Superpower Under Siege
In the past, we believed the Great Tribulation would begin when America, Britain and Judah were attacked militarily. Yet Ezekiel 4 describes the Tribulation as actually beginning with an economic siege against these nations. One third of the people inside that siege against Israel will die! That equates to more than 100 million people in the U.S. and more than 21 million in Britain, plus some of the Commonwealth nations.
The siege is primarily against the house of Israel, but as this prophecy goes on to show, the Jewish state in the Middle East will also experience a shorter siege.
The Great Tribulation begins immediately after we conclude the watchman work and go to a place of safety. Chapter 4 discusses the siege and the Tribulation.
Notice what God commanded His Prophet Ezekiel to do: “Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel [primarily America and Britain] upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 4:4-5).
God is getting very detailed and specific here. He doesn’t want people to suffer any more than they have to in order to realize they don’t know the way to peace apart from God’s law. The Tribulation starts with an economic siege, and this siege will last exactly 390 days—about 13 months!
Verses 6-8 specifically address the house of Judah—the Jewish nation—not the house of Israel, or America and Britain: “And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year. Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it. And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege.”
The main prophecy here is that the much longer siege happens against the United States and Britain. I’m sure the worst of the siege is against the U.S. because it is the superpower. While the siege against America and Britain lasts 13 months, the siege against the Jews will last only 40 days.
The siege against the Jews will begin 350 days after the siege against America and Britain has begun. Both sieges end at the same time, when all three nations are invaded militarily. Hosea 5:5 says that America, Britain and Judah will fall together. That is referring to the military attack!
The story flow continues into Ezekiel 5, where the three successive parts of Israel’s destruction are discussed.
When fire begins to burn the cities, that concludes the siege. The siege will keep intensifying until the cities burn with fire. It concludes with the economy being absolutely destroyed, and with a lot of burning, race wars and other forms of societal meltdown.
A lot of mind-splitting terror is about to grip this land! This is building even now—you can see it!
When the siege ends, then comes the attack, so the situation gets far worse. The siege of these three nations leads to an attack that will leave cities without inhabitant!
America is weak and bitterly divided already. This makes it extremely vulnerable for a foreign power to lay siege to it. With the threat of terrorism and racial hatred, it is easy to see how the siege will lead to a third of Americans dying. One third of the British peoples will die at the same time. The siege of Judah will end at the same time, but it begins later and is much shorter. One third of the Jewish nation will also die.
This devastating military attack of Hosea 5:5 will occur 13 months after the German-led European Union forms an alliance with the nations of Asia to besiege the Anglo-Saxon nations. This military attack will come from the revived Holy Roman Empire!
Siege Prophesied in Deuteronomy
This siege is also prophesied in the book of Deuteronomy. And this prophecy also indicates that the siege is part of the Tribulation.
Deuteronomy 28 is the “blessings and curses” chapter. In it, God promises many wonderful blessings if the nations of Israel would obey Him. “[T]he Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth,” it says, “and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow” (verses 1 and 12). Is America experiencing this blessing today? This nation is more than $30 trillion in debt! That figure keeps soaring, and the government is not even trying to control it! Where will it end? In massive destruction.
The nations of Israel were once married to God! He is going to hold them accountable for that! We and our ancestors should have taught God’s way to the Gentiles, who never had a history with God. But we rebelled and disobeyed.
The curses that God promised for that disobedience are described beginning in verse 15. In verse 20, God prophesied “cursing, vexation, and rebuke” in everything we set our hands to do. “[T]hou shalt not prosper,” He says in verse 29.
When you look at this list of curses, you can relate them to the events described in Ezekiel 5.
By the time you get to Deuteronomy 28:34—“So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see”—it is talking about the effects of the siege! God says that seeing this happen will make you mad—it will drive you crazy!
“The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low” (verse 43). Is that happening before our eyes?
For many years, Mr. Armstrong said the siege prophesied in verse 52 symbolized America’s economy being battered by foreign competition. “And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates ….” The target here has to be the nations of Israel—not Judah. Who has those gates? America and Britain have or had the gates, and we are going to be besieged in all of them. We have already virtually lost control of all of them. This is a prophecy for this end time.
The Holy Roman Empire, along with the kings of the east (the Asian nations), will cause economic problems and bring on destruction in many ways “until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee” (verse 52). The real pressure is coming from without. “In all thy gates” refers to a trade war.
Why do these nations even have all this prosperity? God gave these gates, cities, power and wealth to the modern house of Israel! Not to the Gentiles, but to Israel! But now He is taking it back because of our ingratitude and rebellion!
Look at the conditions that this siege will cause: “And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body …” (verse 53). Verse 55 adds that “thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.” Verses 56-57 describe the horrible cannibalism people who are suffering inside this siege will commit.
This is the same siege that Ezekiel 4 and 5 describe.
Notice Deuteronomy 29:14-15: “Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; But with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day.” That means us—the modern descendants of the nation that covenanted with God! It especially applies to those of us living in the latter days.
Moses also warned, “For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands” (Deuteronomy 31:29).
Tidings Out of the East
The Prophet Daniel shows us what will happen to the brief Euro-Asian alliance: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south [a radical Islamic Middle Eastern power, led by Iran] push at him: and the king of the north [a revived European Holy Roman Empire, led by Germany] shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many” (Daniel 11:40-44).
The king of the north—the Holy Roman emperor—will hear troubling news from the east and north. These tidings come after the king of the south has been destroyed. They come from the Asian axis! The Holy Roman emperor will be disturbed about what the Russians and Chinese are doing.
Before this, when the Tribulation began, this emperor was cooperating with the Russians and the Chinese to besiege the Anglo-Saxon nations economically. But perhaps he hears rumors that the Asian axis is planning to invade North America and conquer it for its own.
Regardless of what the exact tidings are, the Bible is clear that it will be the Holy Roman Empire that single-handedly invades North America. And this passage is clear that these tidings will provoke the emperor to go forth with great fury to destroy!
This is the big picture! This is what will happen at the end of the 390-day siege. Europe and Asia will work together to economically besiege America, but their alliance will fall apart once the revived Roman Empire conquers America, Britain and Judah.
Back in World War ii, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan worked together to conquer the world. After the war ended, however, historians found that each empire had plans to go to war with the other after the Allies were defeated. Let’s not be naive: This is the way it has always been with these powers. That is why, in biblical terminology, the “times of the Gentiles” is so horrific!
This is what we have to be concerned about! Two empires are building right now that are out to conquer the world!
God Is Against Israel
In Ezekiel’s prophecy, two other specific groups are given special attention. “Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts” (Ezekiel 5:3). A “few in number” are hidden in God’s skirts and are protected. The word skirts could be translated wings. This is referring to the fact that God will protect His very elect from the Great Tribulation.
There is still another group. “Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel” (verse 4). This group is God’s Laodicean Church that must be punished in the Tribulation. These same prophecies are found in many other Bible scriptures.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations. And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations” (verses 8-9). God is going to do “that which I have not done.” This prophecy is also found in several other scriptures (Matthew 24:21; Daniel 12:1; Jeremiah 30:7). God is going to punish Israel as no nation has ever been punished!
Surely this ought to sober and humble anyone—especially God’s own people!
“Behold I, even I, am against thee.” This statement should strike terror in people! God puts special emphasis on the statement—“Behold I, even I, am against thee.” We should read that with deep concentration; God is against the nations of Israel! They are not up against mere foreign armies. These nations have made the omnipotent God into an enemy! There is no defeating Him! They will lose in a spectacular way because God is bringing them down.
There is no hope that we will escape the Great Tribulation if this statement doesn’t shake us!
“Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds” (Ezekiel 5:10). That is horrifying. It must wake us up! How can anyone fail to carefully examine his or her religious views after reading such frightening prophecies?
“Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord God; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity” (verse 11). The expression detestable things would be better translated detestable practices. The sanctuary is speaking of the most holy place in God’s temple, or Church. Remember, the time setting is just before the Tribulation, and somebody has defiled God’s sanctuary!
This is not referring to the world, because the world’s “sanctuary” has always been defiled! This verse is referring to God’s own Church, which at one time was undefiled! Then it became defiled!
Who in this very end time has defiled God’s holy place? This is referring specifically to the Laodiceans—people who knew God and turned away from Him. There is no other logical explanation.
Remnant of Israel Repents
The suffering, death and destruction will be beyond anything imaginable, because God is very angry with us. “Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the Lord have spoken it in my zeal, when I have accomplished my fury in them. Moreover I will make thee waste, and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, in the sight of all that pass by. So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment unto the nations that are round about thee, when I shall execute judgments in thee in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I the Lord have spoken it” (Ezekiel 5:13-15).
This is how bad it will get! The U.S. economy has helped to fuel the world’s economy. When it collapses, it will deeply affect the whole world.
“And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them” (Ezekiel 6:1-2). We are told to “prophesy against” Israel. The Laodiceans have failed to do that. The pcg must not fail.
“In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished” (verse 6). The cities were not laid waste in ancient Israel. This is referring to a modern-day nuclear attack!
This is the severity of punishment it will take to turn Israel to God! (verse 7).
“Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries. And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations” (verses 8-9). God says this rebellion includes His people who “departed from me.” This world has never known God, so it could not depart from God. This expression can only apply to God’s own Church.
The last third of Israel will be taken captive and made slaves around the world. In their captivity, these slaves will tell their captors about the prophecies of the pcg! The Gentiles will learn about God from their slaves! (e.g. Psalm 137; Zechariah 10:9; Revelation 12:11; you can read more about this in “By the Waters of Babylon,” available at pcg.church/articles/4419). So we see that even Israel’s slavery will serve God’s Work.
There is a big lesson Israel and the world must learn. “And they shall know that I am the Lord, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them” (verse 10). The people of Israel will be punished. Then they shall know all the prophecies of Mr. Armstrong and the pcg were not in “vain”! These warning prophecies have been written and spoken because they were inspired by God. The words of Mr. Armstrong and the pcg are from the great God, who doesn’t speak words in vain! People either listen or pay a terrifying price!
Then “they shall know that I am the Lord.”
Chapter 6: Ezekiel Exposes Satan
It is extremely urgent that we understand Satan. The book of Ezekiel exposes him in an exceptional way.
Lucifer was one of only three archangels mentioned in the Bible. He was one of the highest-ranking angels God created, if not the highest. His prestigious position was that of a covering cherub, and he directly served at God’s throne.
After God set him on the throne of this Earth, he rebelled. Today he still retains a lot of that power as the evil god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). How does he operate? Specifically, how has he destroyed God’s Church? As you examine the Scriptures, you will see that he follows a pattern of deception. The only difference is, he is much more wrathful today than ever before (Revelation 12:12).
Remember that vision of intense brightness in Ezekiel 1. As we shall see, God almost repeats that same vision later in Ezekiel.
But there is another god discussed in Ezekiel. It is important that we keep bringing that vision of the true God back into our lives, because there is this other god, a great deceiver, who knows God and knows His plan and is trying very hard to foist upon us a counterfeit of the true God.
This other god is deeply involved with God’s Church as it turns away from the true God. Let’s get some background on this god.
The Garden of God
Ezekiel 28 describes a very interesting scene: It starts talking about a man—a king over a giant commercial enterprise—and then morphs into talking about the devil. God does that for a great purpose, to teach us a tremendous lesson.
“Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12). This prophecy about “the king of Tyrus” is clearly not speaking of a mortal man. In fact, this is referring to Lucifer, who became Satan.
The way this is explained, it almost looks like a science-fiction scene: a man who is part-man, part-Satan. But God tells us it is actually about politics in this world.
Ezekiel is an end-time book. Chapter 28 is about the end-time Holy Roman Empire and a powerful leader, a man who rules over it and is heavily influenced by Satan the devil—maybe even possessed.
This shows you the power that the devil has! Satan knows the value of controlling a king. This political leader will have Satan dictating his every move. That man would never dream this would happen, but Habakkuk 1:11 says he will have a mind change. Daniel 8:24 says this end-time Antiochus is mighty, but not by his own power. He doesn’t even have his own power, though he probably thinks he does. Perhaps he attributes a lot of it to his god, but he doesn’t know who that god is!
This is an alarming scene when you see what is happening on Earth today. Herbert W. Armstrong explained these end-time events throughout his ministry, and it seems all of it is converging in the time we are living in right now. This world is not like it was 15 or 20 years ago. Satan—the father of liars, and a murderer from the beginning—has been cast down. His time is very short, and he is full of wrath! (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9-12).
Many strange things are happening because of this reality. Media commentators try to tell you what is happening, but frankly, not one of them knows. They are confused. They don’t really understand what is happening because they don’t believe in the devil.
2 Corinthians 4:4 calls Satan “the god of this world.” What we are seeing today goes even beyond that: Many leaders in America and other nations are in captivity to the devil! They won’t do their job; they won’t uphold their responsibility to protect the supreme law of the land! This is the equivalent of God’s people saying, “Let’s get rid of the Ten Commandments!”
Satan the devil is tearing this nation down and casting the truth to the ground! He and the demons have been cast down, and he knows his time is short. He hates the spiritual house of Israel most of all—followed by the superpower among the physical house of Israel. He knows that if he can take down America (Manasseh), he can take down Ephraim and Judah much more easily.
The earlier part of Ezekiel 28 prophesies of the end-time Holy Roman Empire. “Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness” (Ezekiel 28:6-7). This is speaking about when the kings of the east will attack Europe, humbling it.
“They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee” (verses 8-9). This political leader is very arrogant, but he will be severely humbled.
This is exactly what we experienced in the Church (2 Thessalonians 2). This little man sat in the very Church of God showing that he was God! It is horrible when you have a man thinking that way.
Eden, the Garden of God
“Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold …” (Ezekiel 28:12-13). Lucifer was right there in Eden, the garden of God. But he turned against God and tried to overthrow Him in what had to be the greatest crisis ever in the universe to that point.
God is always trying to get angels and men to create “Eden, the garden of God.” That is what we are here to create and what we will be creating in the World Tomorrow.
Satan tried to destroy that garden of God, but wasn’t able to. He was able to conquer Adam and Eve because they hadn’t kept the Garden of Eden as the garden of God. He worked on Eve, got her on his side, and then Adam just weakly went along.
Mr. Armstrong was given several “gardens of Eden,” and he turned them into gardens of God. He transformed the three campuses of Ambassador College into examples of godly beauty—physically and spiritually. Today, God has given us some land to create a garden of God. He wants to see us create that garden and conquer Satan in the process—something at which the first Adam failed, and the second Adam, Christ, succeeded.
What vision there is in the Garden of Eden! God wants to make the whole Earth and universe blossom like a rose. But that won’t happen until angels and men fulfill their God-given potential.
“Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire” (Ezekiel 28:14). Lucifer had a very responsible position. What did he cover? The very throne of God—“in the midst of the stones of fire.”
Let’s look for a moment at the instructions God gave on building a type of that throne here on Earth—the mercy seat on top of the ark of the covenant. “And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof” (Exodus 25:17). Remember, inside the ark were the Ten Commandments, the rod of Aaron, and some manna (Hebrews 9:4). It all revolves around the government (symbolized by Aaron’s rod) and the law. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would enter the holy of holies in the tabernacle and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat. This was a type of Christ’s blood, which is what it takes to truly cover the sins of the people who break the Ten Commandments that were located inside that ark.
Notice what was on top of that seat: “And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be” (Exodus 25:18-20). Here is a representation of the exalted position Lucifer held at one time. He was the covering cherub before he rebelled.
“And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony [the Ten Commandments] that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel” (verses 21-22). God was making a covenant. What a history Lucifer had with God! It is hard to even fathom.
The terrible tragedy of Lucifer’s failure forced God to change His whole plan. He went from Plan A to Plan B, because He could see by the fruits that the angelic plan simply wouldn’t work. The angels didn’t have a high enough level of character. Request a free copy of my book The God Family Vision to understand this history.
Men have been repeating this terrifying history throughout the ages! In the 1970s, when Mr. Armstrong was traveling a lot, some rebellious ministers exploited his absence from headquarters as an opportunity to liberalize the Church. After some tumultuous years and multiple disfellowshipments, Christ put the Church back on track through Mr. Armstrong. At the end of his life, Mr. Armstrong warned the Church that if they didn’t learn from the history of the ’70s, they were doomed to repeat it. Most of God’s people have done just that! They failed to learn from their history and the history of Lucifer’s failure.
We must also be aware of how a great cherub can deceive one third of all the angels—apparently all of those who were assigned to Earth with Lucifer. And again, how can Satan deceive almost all of God’s people in this end time? As we will see, he used a similar pattern in both deceitful rebellions.
One day, everything will be set right again. Here is the prophecy spoken by the Apostle Peter: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21). This is talking about the restoration of everything that the fallen Lucifer took from this Earth—most importantly, God’s government.
Before the restitution of all things to this Earth, all things must be restored to God’s Church. Then we can help Christ to restore all things worldwide. God has called us to reverse what Lucifer did!
Winston Churchill once said that the farther backward you look, the farther forward you can see. He understood the importance of history.
Satan is very hostile to history and works extremely hard to destroy it. He wants Israel to forget its history. He wants the Church to forget its history. Most of all, he is working to destroy his own history. He has been quite successful in these endeavors. When you forget your history, you lose your perspective and you don’t know what is happening. If you are lost in the present, you can never cope with Satan’s deceptions! Either we learn history or we will repeat it—and that includes the history of this fallen cherub. Without context, you’re just like Eve—making your decisions based on whatever looks good.
I would suggest you think deeply about that paragraph.
Let us not underestimate the power of this great fallen cherub. Satan knows how God works with His people. Satan works to destroy their history with God. He knows that if God can’t get His people to learn from their history, they are easy targets for deception. (To learn about that history, request my free book The True History of God’s True Church.)
Ezekiel 28:14 says, “[T]hou wast upon the holy mountain of God,” and the word for God is Elohim. Why would God mention Elohim in the context of Lucifer? To God’s people, Elohim means family. God and the Word wanted to create a type of family with the angels. If you look at that Ezekiel 1 transportation system, the living creatures—in addition to having the faces of the lion, ox and eagle—had the face of a man. God was trying His best to unify Himself with the angels. If you know Elohim, you know that was His fervent desire. God wanted family unity as much as possible. That didn’t work out, and He had to resort to the much more difficult Plan B.
The only real difference between when it was God and the Word and when they became Father and Son was that God had opened up His Family to all mankind—those beings who were made in His “likeness” and “image” (which means God’s character). God had to re-create Himself—develop His own character in man!
Satan hates Elohim. He hates the God Family idea. He has tried to obliterate it through the false trinity doctrine, which excludes everyone else from the God Family.
God risked a great deal for the chance to have mortal men enter the God Family. He risked losing the Word! That would have left the Father alone in the God Family for all eternity!
It only makes sense that He is very concerned about our character development. So He gives His people charge over certain things—college campuses, acreage, a global work. He wants to see how we will handle these responsibilities, because He never wants to risk having another tohu and bohu, a wasted and desolate Earth, as described in Genesis 1:2.
Look at what Mr. Armstrong was able to do with those blessings. What a vision God had for us in those beautiful campuses. Then look at what happened to God’s Church after he died! What a difference! Their legacy has been one horrific disaster! We must learn from these past successes and failures.
Learn From History
“Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (Ezekiel 28:15). The word iniquity should be translated lawlessness. Sin is transgression of the law. God found lawlessness in Lucifer. That exalted cherub broke the covenant God had made with him. God’s people have made a covenant with God and are obliged to keep it.
“By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned …” (verse 16). Look at the world today! Why do we see all this violence around us? Why are our major cities plagued with crippling violence? Because Lucifer was filled with violence after he rebelled. He is the god of this world. It is a lawless way of life that will never work.
Verse 16 concludes, “… therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.” God is simply reminding Satan of his history. His responsibility was to cover the majestic throne of God. No angel was closer to God! Look what he had, and look where he is now! “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more” (verses 17-19). It is all over for Satan. He has no future, no hope. God promises that he will never rise again.
We must look closely at what happened to Lucifer and to the Laodiceans, because Satan is still in power on this Earth! He despises having his failures exposed. He detests the thought of being cast into outer darkness. He knows his time is short. He is discouraged, depressed and passionately hateful! He has terribly deceptive power, and his primary target is the very elect of God—that means you, if you are in that category!
Sometime you ought to read what the commentaries say about Ezekiel 28. That will surely make you go to your knees and thank God for the revelation given to Mr. Armstrong about Ezekiel 28 and Satan the devil! How wonderful that we can understand this! The people of this world have no concept of the God of Ezekiel 1, and they are hopelessly deceived about the god of Ezekiel 28!
Those angels who are loyal to God are developing a level of character, but it isn’t the God Family character. Still, of course, God will use them, we will love them, and we will all work together to make the universe blossom into an Eden, the garden of God.
Chapter 7: ‘Begin at My Sanctuary’
Chapters 8 through 11 in Ezekiel are all one vision. I believe it is one of the most important visions in the Bible for us in this end time. It talks about the failure of God’s Church in some striking detail. It also tells us how we can conquer the god of Ezekiel 28.
If we are to understand these chapters, we must do some spiritual digging.
“And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me” (Ezekiel 8:1). Here are some very religious people. In fact, this is a vision of God’s Church in the end time. This prophet was transported right into our times, in vision. He saw and explained it all, so we don’t have to be in the dark about what has happened.
“Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber” (verse 2). Ezekiel immediately brings the God of chapter 1 into the picture. That is what this is all about—always keeping the God of Ezekiel 1 in the picture! When we do that, everything becomes very clear. As powerful as the devil is, we have far more power on our side. It is as if God is telling us, Don’t get discouraged or depressed. Yes, horrible things are happening in the Church, but that doesn’t mean I’m far away! Only lukewarm people think that. Realize that I am right here!
This is not something of this world. This is the great power of God demonstrated! God wants us to pay close attention.
As this vision proceeds, it isn’t long before we see that things are terribly wrong. “And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy” (verse 3).
God is jealous—and rightfully so! After all, this is His Bride, and she is getting involved with idols! But here in Ezekiel 8 is a counterfeit, an “image of jealousy.” This verse shows what Satan has done in God’s Church and how God responds. Satan comes across looking like God—“the image of jealousy”—to many people. And God is very angry about that! Soncino commentary says of that last phrase in verse 3, “the image of outraged, [evil] authority [Satan], which provokes Him [God] to vindicate His exclusive rights.” God has rights. Those rights are being violated by a devil doing all he can to destroy God’s people. And God’s very elect stand up and claim those rights for God!
2 Corinthians 11:14 shows that Satan comes as an angel of light. Most of God’s people in this end time have bought that deception! Image is from the Hebrew cemel, which can be translated idol (2 Chronicles 33:7, 15) or figure (Deuteronomy 4:16). It is a counterfeit of God! That’s why God hates it so much! This is the kind of dangerous being that we have to fight.
When the word temple is used in the New Testament and in end-time prophecy, it refers to God’s own Church! (Ephesians 2:19-22). If we are to understand these end-time prophecies, we must remember that temple is referring to God’s Church—not a false church of this world.
In verse 3 of Ezekiel 8, the inner gate means the gate of the inner court. The inner court is where the priests served in the temple. The laypeople, or members of the congregation, were in the outer court. So the inner gate is referring primarily to God’s own ministers today.
The Image of Jealousy
The vision of Ezekiel 8 and 9 is about Christ and His wife—God’s Church—with the main focus on the end time. In Ezekiel 8:3, Christ is being provoked to jealousy because His Church is committing adultery with another god like Tammuz (verse 14). Christ gets jealous when His wife turns to another god—Satan, “the image of jealousy.” Christ is very jealous when His wife, or the Church, commits adultery! (The vision of Ezekiel 16 is also about Christ and His wife, with the main focus on the end time.)
In Bible prophecy, a woman is a type, or symbol, of a church—including true and false churches. Christ wouldn’t be jealous over a worldly church! But He is jealous over His own wife, or Church, just as a man is often jealous over his own wife but not over other women.
The very fact that Christ is jealous tells us this verse is referring to His wife—the Church of God—not a false church. God’s own Church is sinning and provoking Christ to jealousy. A man gets jealous if his wife turns to another man in lust, and Christ gets jealous when His wife turns to another god! Christ wouldn’t be jealous if this church wasn’t His Bride—His own Church! And she is turning to another god. She is committing spiritual adultery.
False religions of this world have never been God’s Bride. He is not jealous of them. He is only jealous of His own Church that is turning its back on Him!
“And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain. Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry” (Ezekiel 8:4-5). Look at this spiritually: This evil image of jealousy is blocking the way of the Philadelphians into God’s own Church!
“He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel [spiritual Israel, God’s Church] committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? …” (verse 6). So much evil went on in the sanctuary, it simply drove God out from being able to dwell there. If we don’t fight for God’s rights, then He just allows that fallen archangel to conquer God’s own Church.
God goes “far” from His sanctuary—a type of His Church. He couldn’t tolerate such ghastly evil. God leaves because of the abominable image of jealousy!
So we see it was prophesied that God would actually leave the physical location of His Church in this end time. So it is not strange for God’s faithful people to leave with Him! It is strange that some of God’s people don’t leave the Laodicean Church with Him!
This is the way it happened in the Ephesus Church (Revelation 2:5). It’s nothing new for us to have to do the same—leave the physical presence of a sinning church. This has happened throughout the history of God’s true Church! (Read The True History of God’s True Church for proof.)
As God’s people turn away from His truth in this end time, God leaves the physical location where He once resided with them. This is a tragedy of staggering magnitude! What is a church without God’s leadership? It is a church headed for disaster.
In Revelation 2, God removed His lamp from the Ephesus era. He did the same thing today to the Laodicean era—because of its abominations! Yet many think God wouldn’t do this. The Bible says otherwise.
Where did God go when He left His sanctuary in this end time? He removed His lamp to another physical location where He then started revealing Ezekiel and other prophecies to the people who didn’t leave God spiritually—but who did leave the Laodicean Church along with Him!
Who understands Ezekiel? Who has new revelation published in books and booklets on all the major and minor prophets? We have these and other prophetic books that tell us what is happening today. That is where you will find God’s sanctuary.
God went far away from His temple because of the evil. If God goes far away, His people ought to follow! People may think they can take on Satan by themselves, but they are terribly wrong. If Church members want to be casual in their religion, they will not last long. These verses show a takeover by a very evil being! The people were acting “to drive me far from my sanctuary,” says the Revised Standard Version, and God is allowing that to happen.
Could there be anything worse than that? Ezekiel 8:6 concludes, “but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.” The evil just keeps getting greater and greater. I want to show you why, and how we must deal with it.
Abominations in the Temple
“And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall. Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door” (Ezekiel 8:7-8). God wants us to fight for Him and vindicate His rights, but it is going to involve some digging. We must do our part. The more we dig spiritually, the more God will reveal to us individually and collectively.
We must look at these verses spiritually.
The door of the court here is the door to the inner court. That is where the priests were and where the ministers are today. These verses are specifically addressed to the ministry of God that is committing these abominations.
“And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about” (verses 9-10). Let’s not be naive. One third of the angels became demons. Where are they today? If you take a close look, you will see all kinds of creeping demons and abominable beasts right inside God’s Church! You can see that only if you look at it spiritually. God must reveal this to you.
This is the horrifying spiritual picture of God’s Laodicean Church today. It is filled with creeping things, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel! It is a demon fest!
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says the root word for idols in verse 10 has “the basic meaning … to sever.” Idols sever you from God. “It connotes a violent severance from a former way of life. It refers more generally to death or destruction” (ibid). The Laodiceans don’t see it this way, but that is what God is telling them: You have severed yourself from me! You are following Satan and his demons!
That same source says creeping things refer to “a reptile, reptiles or whatever creeps upon the ground”—like serpents and crocodiles. This is an ugly picture! This was God’s Church! You have to view what has happened there the way God does.
Verse 11 continues: “And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.” There are 70 elders in this ruling body. That means the top leaders in God’s Church.
There were 70 elders chosen to be the most exalted leaders when God led the physical nation of Israel (see Exodus 24:1). But here in Ezekiel 8, God is discussing the spiritual nation of Israel—His Church.
Numbers 11:16 states, “And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.” Anciently, 70 elders had meetings with God! The number 70 is God’s way of revealing that these end-time elders also had meetings with the true God! But then they betrayed Him and turned their backs on Him. God used this number 70 for a very special reason. He is telling us these are His own ministers going astray! It is a revealing sign!
God speaks in coded language. Then when the time is right, He breaks the code. God reveals all of His truth. We can’t discover it for ourselves (Amos 3:7).
The word ancients in Ezekiel 8:11 means spiritual elders in God’s Church.
The greater abomination mentioned in verse 6 is referring to the majority of God’s own ministers in the end time leading God’s people astray. This is a very ugly abomination! Few horrors could surpass this one! Most of the top leaders in God’s own lukewarm Church are committing abominations in God’s Church—the very highest leadership council!
Even the name Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan (verse 11) has an interesting association. Shaphan was a scribe during the reign of Josiah. This scribe read the text of the newly discovered book of the law to the king (2 Kings 22:8-14). This is also a coded expression revealing that this Church had a good beginning with God’s law. Then Jaazaniah, the son of Shaphan, turned away from the law.
This simply means a good beginning and a tragic ending when you apply it to God’s Church in the end time. It started and flourished under Mr. Armstrong. During the 1970s and after Mr. Armstrong died, there was a turning away from God’s law.
This is the same scenario revealed in the book of Malachi, 2 Thessalonians 2, Zechariah 3, Revelation 3:7-20 and other Bible prophecies. Is there an end-time Jaazaniah who had God’s law and then led people away from it? Yes, there is! (see Malachi 2:2, 8).
Ezekiel 8:11 also says that “a thick cloud of incense went up.” Leviticus 16:1-2 discuss the cloud of incense, and God was in that cloud! It is another sign that God is discussing His own people.
The Lord Has Forsaken the Earth
“Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients [elders] of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery [of his perverse imagination]? for they say, The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth” (Ezekiel 8:12). These elders are doing abominable things in the dark recesses of their perverse imaginations, harboring evil in their minds. They believe God doesn’t see them—that He has “forsaken the earth.” Because of their wrong thinking, they are not as close to God as they once were. Their faith is eroding. These are the liberal ministers who were in hiding. Mr. Armstrong’s death opened the way for their thoughts to be brought out into the light.
One of the first doctrinal changes that came after Mr. Armstrong’s death was with the healing doctrine. Spiritually they were saying that God has forsaken the Earth. They couldn’t rely on God to heal them. Those men couldn’t see the God of Ezekiel 1! They had a monumental faith problem, and they afflicted the whole Church with it! Remember how it all started with weakened faith. Allow your faith to weaken, and that’s when Satan can really begin to work on you.
Mr. Armstrong’s successor as pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God (wcg), Joseph Tkach, wrote this: “It is not appropriate to assign various scriptures to Mr. Armstrong or me, personally, as though our leadership were specifically prophesied in the Bible.” That is quite different from what Mr. Armstrong taught! What is he essentially saying? That God has forsaken the Earth!
“In the past, we (and I include myself in this!) have mistakenly assumed that Christ directly guides His Church ….” Those words are essentially saying God has forsaken the Earth! The evangelist who said those words was claiming that Mr. Armstrong and God’s Church had made a mistake in the past. No—in fact he is pushing aside God’s government the same way Lucifer did! As the Laodiceans have rebelled, God has removed His presence, His blessings and protection from them. The problem is, rather than taking God’s absence as correction, they simply say, Well, God doesn’t directly guide us anyway. What a terrible mistake!
Can we see what Satan is doing?
The Philadelphians know that God has not forsaken the Earth! They are constantly led by Him, taught, instructed and guided by Him. God reveals an abundance of new truth to them. They are strong and continually growing stronger in faith. They are childlike enough to love God’s government, and they know it is the only government that will ever work.
If you think the abominations in the temple thus far have been bad, notice what happens next. “Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz” (Ezekiel 8:14). What is this talking about?
For clues, look at verse 16: “And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.” Here are 25 of the top ministers who have willfully turned their backs on God. Let’s see the connection between these two verses.
Who is Tammuz? Nearly every commentary says it is a different god: Osiris, Adonis, the pagan Babylonian messiah, an Assyrian divinity. Lange’s Commentary says it is a hidden or obscure religion.
It is a religion where there are “women weeping for Tammuz.” These are God’s own women weeping for another god. The women of this world have always been following Tammuz or some false god. So this has to be God’s own Church! They are not happy with God and His religion. They want to follow the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), and, like Eve, they are used by Satan to lead the weak men astray!
Cosmetics were a big issue in the wcg. Mr. Armstrong had ruled against the use of them, and then in the 1970s some people convinced him to allow them. In the November 16, 1981, Worldwide News he wrote the article “How Subtly Satan Used Makeup to Start the Church off the Track.” In it he said, “Some of us have weakened. Some of us have been caught off guard. I am human like all of you, and I was caught off guard and, without at the time realizing it, allowed this liberalism to creep stealthily into God’s flock! I now repent of that and the living Christ leads me to do what He inspires me to do to correct it and get this holy Body of Christ back completely on the track.”
The issue was makeup! Remember, Mr. Armstrong said this was the issue that started the Church off track!
At that time, Joseph Tkach Sr. was very supportive of this decision. Even a year and a half after Mr. Armstrong’s death, he wrote this: “Mr. Armstrong restored the rule on makeup with even greater clarity. So it behooves all of us to faithfully support and back this ruling as He [God] has led it to be made” (Worldwide News, June 22, 1987; emphasis mine).
Less than a year and a half after writing that, Mr. Tkach expressed drastically different views on the subject, and changed the ruling. Something radical must have been going on in the Church at the time for him to have had such a drastic, Habakkuk 1:11-like mind change. Again, in the 1970s, that was the issue that started everything on the wrong track.
You may think this is not a big issue. But look at the fruits! In retrospect, we can see that Satan was working on the women, just as he worked on Eve in the Garden of Eden. This is not unprecedented. Now, it is one thing to be weak in faith, and it is quite another to turn away from God! We have witnessed an Adam-and-Eve scenario all over again. And just as it did in the 1970s, it has derailed the whole Church.
The god of this world has great power, and he can apply pressure and make you feel like nobody, when you are actually sons of the living God! This is what happened in God’s Church—this is our pitiful history! Ezekiel is very specific here, when you look at it spiritually and look at the history of the Church. Ezekiel 8:16 shows that it was all happening in the inner court. Families within the Church were upside down.
The families within God’s Church should be quite different from the families in this world! Where do the Philadelphians stand on this doctrine? I can tell you that very early on in the pcg, the cosmetics issue created some division. A decision had to be made. I studied to make sure I really understood what God said about it, and then took a stand. That is what we must do, regardless of the pressures we may face. (For more information on this subject, request our reprint article on cosmetics, “Is Makeup Sin?”)
When Mr. Armstrong put the Church back on track, the women said, “You need to see our view.” Mr. Armstrong responded, “I’m not looking for your view, I’m looking for God’s view!”
This issue is really not about cosmetics—it’s about women weeping and wailing for another god! What does this say about God’s Church? Isaiah 3 talks about the families in Israel (physical and spiritual Israel) being upside down; it even talks about the wanton eyes of the women (verse 16) and about how fashion created serious problems in Israel and even within the Church of God. Ezekiel 23:40 also addresses this issue.
Those women turned to another god! In verse 16 of Ezekiel 8, it talks about 25 men. I would have to believe that, about the time Mr. Armstrong died, there were around 25 ministers, right at the top—Joshua and his fellows (Zechariah 3), we could say—who went along. Then, adding abomination on top of abomination, they turned their backs on God. We can well imagine, at that point, that core group intimidated and threatened the other 45 or so ministers into going along with the rebellion. Altogether there were 70 Adams at the top who weakly just let it all happen!
Ezekiel 13:22 says, “[W]ith lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad ….” Soncino renders that, “You have cowed the heart of the righteous.” That’s what this is about. People are easily cowed and led around like sheep. Look what happened in the Church: Some 100,000-plus people were led astray by 25 of the top men who turned their backs on God!
Those aren’t the type of people God will put at His headquarters for eternity! The very elect will not allow themselves to be led astray. Can you and I be intimidated away from the God of Ezekiel 1? We should be unflappable.
Satan repeatedly follows this pattern. This is the inner temple, where only true ministers are supposed to serve God, and yet we see some women are there having a wrong influence on God’s ministry! It is God’s way of saying women are having a sinful and damaging effect on the Laodicean ministry today! It’s the same trend that affects this world. It is terribly abominable because these leaders had the truth and turned away from it!
This vision gets even worse. “Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these” (Ezekiel 8:15). Think about this. These are prophecies that God recorded millenniums ago. He knew exactly what would happen in the Church and had it all written down. He knew just how Satan would conquer His people. And He knew that His very elect would rise up and fight against that.
Verse 16 shows those 25 top ministers in the inner court, but their faces are toward the east. The entrance to the temple was on the east side. The holy of holies—where God was located—was on the west side! These ministers commit a wanton affront by turning their backs to God! This is the worst abomination of all!
These have to be God’s own ministers who knew God intimately and then turned their backs to Him! They knew the great God “face to face”—and then turned away! This is the most abominable crime in the whole book of Ezekiel!
God is not addressing false ministers of this world in these verses; He is discussing ministers who knew God and turned away. These rebelling ministers think they are changing the doctrines of Herbert W. Armstrong, when actually they are turning their backs on God! A big difference!
The expression “between the porch and the altar” refers to where the ministers prayed to God in the temple (Joel 2:17). That means the prayers of God’s own ministers have become sin! Of course they still pray. But they don’t get through to God, because their backs are toward Him. What a grotesque spiritual disaster!
They Have Returned
“Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose” (Ezekiel 8:17). “Provoke me to anger” really should read “provoked to be bitter or rebel against.” And the older texts correct that last phrase to read “God’s nose.” That’s how it should read. These Laodiceans are taking a branch and sticking it up into God’s nostrils—the area that gives the Church its breath of life. They are trying to cut off the life of God’s Church!
The leading rebels are trying to destroy all of God’s revelation given to Mr. Armstrong and the pcg!
But notice, they have returned to do this. People rebelled and turned away, and then returned to try to cut off the very breath of life in God’s Church! Where is that happening? Might it have had something to do with the court case? They don’t just want all the riches and goods from that formerly great Work of God (about $250 million worth of equipment and property). They returned and got right in God’s face and tried to cut off the life of the Church!
They have become antichrists (request your free copy of The Last Hour).
What a bitter battle we are in the midst of! But God will always let us know what is going on, and He will always give us whatever power we need. We don’t have to worry about judges or armies. We do have to throw down the gauntlet and let them know we won’t take their intimidation! Verse 18 talks about the only power that will make this possible.
There are details in these scriptures that we must understand, or we won’t know how to handle these events. I prophesy that events will get even worse. As the Work gets more exciting, our adversary gets more wrathful. We must know how to combat our enemy.
A Massive Slaughter
There should be no chapter break as we enter chapter 9 because this next chapter gets into the specifics of God’s punishment for what is happening in the temple. God begins to condemn national Israel as well.
“He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar” (Ezekiel 9:1-2). The incense altar was made of solid gold. But here we have the brasen altar, which is where the burnt offerings were slain and sacrificed in the temple. This is a warning to be delivered to God’s Church, as well as to the world!
The context of Ezekiel 9 shows us that these “men” are actually angels who report directly to God (verse 11). So, we see six angels with slaughter weapons standing by the brasen altar about to slaughter, not animals, but God’s own sinning ministers and people! A massive slaughter is about to begin!
Sigh and Cry
“And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” (Ezekiel 9:3-4). God puts a mark on those ministers and members who sigh and cry about the abominations committed in His own Church!
Notice the wicked “abominations” in God’s Church spoken of in Ezekiel 8:9, 13, 15 and 17. People say we are bashing the Laodiceans. Actually we are “sighing and crying” about the abominable doctrinal changes! Then we warn them, in love, about the great slaughter on the horizon unless they repent! It is the same slaughter Mr. Armstrong warned us about for over 50 years! God’s people are without excuse.
First of all, God’s loyal people are emotionally moaning over what the sinning ministers have done to God’s own Church! They are also deeply disturbed by what is happening in the nations of Israel, which includes most of the English-speaking democracies of the world.
The words sigh and cry are strong verbs. Sigh is from the same Hebrew word used as groan in Joel 1:18, which talks of beasts groaning, or sighing, because they are starving. The same word is used for people sighing because of starvation in Lamentations 1:11. God also says that “when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2). Mourn is from the same Hebrew word. In principle that certainly applies to the Philadelphians who had to experience the Laodicean changes.
The word cry is from the same Hebrew word as groan in Jeremiah 51:52, which depicts wounded people who are groaning or crying. The same Hebrew word is used in Ezekiel 26:15, where people are crying because they are being slaughtered!
These are the kinds of strong emotions in God’s people who “sigh and cry” because of the abominations committed in God’s Church, first of all, and secondarily in the nations of Israel. Only these people who sigh and cry receive a mark and are delivered to a place of safety. God’s people must be moved deeply about the sins of spiritual and physical Israel!
Do we sigh and groan like a starving animal about the Laodicean sins? Do we cry like a wounded person in a bloody slaughter over what is happening to God’s Church?
What is happening in the Laodicean Church is the worst problem on Earth! People are perishing spiritually! (2 Thessalonians 2:10).
We occasionally get letters from people who want to be in the Philadelphia Church of God, but don’t want any fighting or confrontation. These people must repent in order to be a part of the pcg. There is no neutral zone. God has called us to warn the people of spiritual and physical Israel. Almost all of them are about to be slaughtered! God always warns His people. If we really know the Ezekiel slaughter is coming, and we have God’s love, we must warn!
Those who think it is wrong to warn have a self-righteous attitude and little love for the slaughter victims!
“And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men [elders] which were before the house” (Ezekiel 9:5-6). God tells the slaughtering angels to begin at His sanctuary—God’s Church today! These are not words we can take lightly!
The sanctuary was supposed to be the most holy place in the temple. It should be the most holy place in God’s Church. It is a place where the ministry serves. It pictures the very place where God dwells! But in this prophecy, the terrifying punishment begins at the sanctuary. It is the ministry and people of God who have gone astray. The greatest, most abominable sins have been committed in God’s sanctuary, or Church. The ministers receive God’s greatest blessing—or His greatest curses—depending on their behavior.
God only starts His punishment at the sanctuary. All Israel will be punished as never before. Those who receive God’s mark are to be protected supernaturally by God.
The time setting is at the very end. And the story is the same as many other prophecies. God will protect the Philadelphians and will punish the Laodiceans in the Tribulation.
In verses 3-4, God tells an angel with a writer’s inkhorn to put a mark on His saints who remain loyal. God is making certain that all of His loyal people are protected. We can trust God—even in the worst time of suffering ever!
Notice verses 7-8: “And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?” This is a horrifying vision, and it is for our time today!
God will have His destroyer inflict punishment on His Church and on the nations of Israel.
Ezekiel thought God was going to kill all Israel! Before this is over in the end time, many in the U.S. and Britain will think the same thing! No punishment will have ever been so devastating.
“Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not” (verse 9). The word exceeding is translated from the Hebrew expression miod-miod. That means it is doubly vehement! Our cities are full of blood and evil deeds! That is the way God views things.
“And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head. And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me” (verses 10-11). God’s punishment will be carried out.
The Throne of God
Ezekiel 10 pictures God and His fabulous transportation. He reveals clearly that He has not forsaken the Earth, as many believe. By chapter 10, Ezekiel has begun to better understand things. In chapter 1, he called the beings used as God’s vehicle living creatures. In chapter 10, he realizes that they are cherubim (verse 20). As he puts things together, he sees that these beings are just like Lucifer was before he rebelled—they are powerful beings who are helping us in many ways. In Genesis 3, we see cherubim keeping the way to the tree of life. They inhabit the mountain of God (Ezekiel 28:13-14). They serve as God’s chariot. And they cover the throne of God.
Ezekiel’s vision included a view of God’s throne. “Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne” (Ezekiel 10:1).
Ezekiel is connecting the ark, the Ten Commandments and the government of God—God’s throne. That is where everything went wrong in the first place.
Verse 2 talks about coals of fire that will come upon Jerusalem. The nations of Israel will be treated just as Sodom and Gomorrah were.
“Now the cherubims stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord’s glory” (verses 3-4). This is the brightness of God, and the indescribable glory of the very elect, who reside in the inner court!
Remember, this is all one vision. Before we get to chapter 11, God, through Ezekiel, again gives us a chapter 1-type vision. Verse 19 again talks about Elohim. If we are going to be successful, if we are to have power to face and overcome problems, we must continually keep that God of Ezekiel 1 in the picture! If we don’t, we cannot combat the god of Ezekiel 28—and that is why the whole world is deceived! What power God’s people have if we keep our focus on God. There is unlimited power available to the Philadelphians! This is the solution to all these embarrassing, terrifying problems!
“This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims” (Ezekiel 10:20). Chebar was where he first saw this God in chapter 1, zipping around like lightning. This is more real than anything in this world! And this is the future for man made in the image and likeness of the God of Ezekiel 1! “Every one had four faces apiece, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. And the likeness of their faces was the same faces which I saw by the river of Chebar, their appearances and themselves: they went every one straight forward” (verses 21‑22). In the midst of all the problems and catastrophes, God brought Ezekiel right back to that wonderful vision of chapter 1. And Ezekiel is passing it right on to us. Ezekiel is emphasizing that in the midst of this terrible apostasy, we must keep God in the picture.
In Ezekiel 11, we see a similar problem to that in chapter 8:
25 men leading God’s people astray. “Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the Lord’s house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur [different from the first Jaazaniah, but still an evil man], and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people” (Ezekiel 11:1). We will look at this instance again later in this book. But God repeats this for our benefit. Thousands of people turned away by just 25 men who turned their backs on God and then intimidated the rest into submission! We saw this happen. Now we know in more detail how it happened and how to keep it from happening to us. But God repeats this as a warning to His people.
“Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city” (verse 2). Devise means to weave or plot.
“Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh” (verse 3). Anciently, some of the Jews stayed in Jerusalem and decided to revolt. Some went to Egypt—contrary to the warnings of the prophets—and were all killed. Ezekiel is warning the Laodiceans; and when they go into captivity, many of them will accept this as correction from God. Those who don’t will lose it all, just as those Jews did anciently (see also Jeremiah 29:7).
This should never happen to God’s people. “Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man” (Ezekiel 11:4). Can we see God’s love behind this warning? Can we see God’s love behind the correction that is coming? “Ye shall fall by the sword; I will judge you in the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord” (verse 10). Then they will return to God, and really know Him. In verse 15, God calls them your brethren—our God Family. That’s who they are—we must never forget that.
When the Laodiceans go into captivity, God will not leave them alone. “Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come” (verse 16). God will be a little sanctuary to them. They are His Family, and He loves them and will be right there with them. He is saying, Don’t fear and give up because of the terror. I’ll get you through this if you look to me, repent and become as a little child. Fifty percent of them will believe Him and come through it, dying in the faith and securing a place as part of Christ’s Bride. “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh” (verse 19). At that point they will be childlike—submissive and teachable.
Sidebar: Write It in Their Sight
In ancient Israel’s temple, God had the Israelites build the inner court higher than the outer court. That symbolized the fact that the people in the inner court of God’s spiritual temple today will have a greater reward. We are qualifying for that reward now.
“Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them” (Ezekiel 43:10‑11). This is referring to the spiritual temple. God says there is a measuring going on, and He wants everything measured.
This is clearly a companion scripture to Revelation 11:1-2. God’s spiritual temple—His obedient Church—is being measured. A great part of this occurred with the great falling away of the Laodicean era. When God measured, if any of us became ashamed, turned ourselves around and gave ourselves to God, He then put us in His inner court with the rest of His very elect.
Being measured is an intense process. But if we allow God to do it, then we too can measure spiritual issues. We can prove all things, and confidently know that we’re doing what God wants done. Ezekiel 43:10 in the Soncino commentary reads, “[L]et them measure accurately.” If we are measuring correctly, we know where God is today.
Once the measuring is done, God instructs, “[W]rite it in their sight.” Put it out where everyone can see it—where they too can measure by it. Write it. Who will do this? There is always a work to be done! There must be loyal people submitted to God’s measure who can carry on with these instructions. God’s true Church has a job to do. If God gives revelation, as He did here to Ezekiel, He wants the recipients to write it, publish it, so that all Israelites—physical and spiritual—have a chance to measure themselves by it—so they can keep God’s laws and ordinances. That includes following God’s government and sticking to all the doctrines of the Church.
Chapter 8: ‘A Stormy Wind’
Herbert Armstrong died in 1986. Subtle doctrinal changes in the Worldwide Church of God began to occur almost immediately afterward, and quickly increased in speed and severity. Not even a decade after his death, the church Mr. Armstrong founded was virtually unrecognizable. How quickly his own followers forgot what God taught through him!
The Philadelphia Church of God is keeping Mr. Armstrong’s message alive. Still, so many more prophecies are being fulfilled now that Mr. Armstrong didn’t see. Ezekiel 33:33, for example, is referring to a final warning message immediately before the holocaust! God intended that message to be delivered by the pcg after Mr. Armstrong’s death.
This may seem like a difficult prophecy to understand. But it becomes much easier to comprehend when you know the time frame. Almost all of these prophecies occur just before Christ’s return.
Seducing God’s People
Let’s look at another revealing scenario. “And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!” (Ezekiel 13:1-3). God commands us to “prophesy against” the false prophets in the Laodicean churches and in the world! We receive criticism for doing so, but God commands it! We are to tell them to hear God’s word and repent!
“And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord God” (verse 9). This is at the very end, after the holocaust. Then they will finally get to really know the true God!
“Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter” (verse 10). We must remember this warning is about a holocaust just before Christ returns. God says at that time, “they have seduced my people”! God’s own people were seduced away from God. This makes no sense unless it applies to God’s own Church! You can’t be seduced away from God if you never knew Him! That is the spiritual condition of most of the world’s religious people—they don’t know the true God. Only God’s people can be seduced spiritually! Only they have God’s truth from which they can be seduced.
The subject here is false prophets and false religion. God’s own people are being seduced—but how? By saying peace when there is no peace. The wcg members have been told to get their minds off prophecy. They have been asked to pray for the success of the Middle East peace conferences. I can tell you absolutely that there will be no real peace between the Jews and Palestinians! Just the opposite is prophesied to happen. Mr. Armstrong taught us Bible prophecies for years which state that the Middle East will soon explode and trigger World War iii.
Still, God’s own people are being lulled to sleep by getting their minds off Bible prophecy! They are being told it will be 30 to 40 years before these prophecies will be fulfilled. They are tragically wrong! The book of Ezekiel will illustrate that truth as we go along.
Ezekiel 13:10 discusses the building of a wall. The English word wall is found several times in this chapter and many times in the Old Testament. But in verse 10, the Hebrew word translated wall is chayits, a word found only once in the entire Old Testament, and unique in meaning. It is from the root word chuwts. Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon says the meaning of both words is “without”—or “without as opposed to within”—or “without the camp.” There is an inside camp and an outside camp, just as there is an inner and an outer court in Revelation 11:1-2. Or, one might say, a Philadelphian camp and a Laodicean camp. Both groups are building. One builds the Philadelphian way, and the other builds the Laodicean way. The Laodiceans have a government problem with God. That’s why they build outside God’s camp. They are building outside of what God built through Mr. Armstrong! That is obvious to even worldly observers.
It is implied that the Laodiceans were once inside the camp—then moved outside the camp and started building! They are not just moving away from what Mr. Armstrong taught, they are moving away from what God taught! Many walls are discussed in the Bible, but this one is unique.
God’s own people are being seduced just before the Great Tribulation. Their spiritual seduction is directly connected to the building of a “wall.” This wall is “without the camp”—which means it is not within the camp in which they have built in the past! These false prophets are building outside of God’s spiritual camp.
This is the same prophecy mentioned in many other scriptures (Amos 3-4; Zechariah 3-4; Malachi 1-4; 2 Thessalonians 2; Revelation 3).
A Crack in the Laodicean Wall
“Say unto them which daub it with untempered morter, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it” (Ezekiel 13:11). God is discussing a spiritual wall that will be rent by a “stormy wind.” The New Berkeley Version reads, “A violent hail shall crack it.” Strong’s Concordance defines rend as “to … break, rip or … tear.” Gesenius’ Lexicon defines it, “to break through to anyone.”
The pcg warning message of truth is breaking through the Laodicean wall. Members are leaving and coming to the pcg.
“Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it? Therefore thus saith the Lord God; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it” (verses 12-13). God’s destruction of the wall is broken into three parts: 1) a strong wind in God’s fury, 2) an overflowing shower in God’s anger, and 3) great hailstones in God’s fury to consume it.
Before this wall is destroyed by God, it is ripped, torn or cracked by a stormy wind. This has to be the work of God’s Philadelphia Church today! God brings the pcg on the scene in His fury and rips the Laodicean wall. This stormy wind comes suddenly, then leaves just as suddenly to go to a place of safety.
Then the Laodiceans will go into the Tribulation. God sends an “overflowing shower” in His anger. During God’s punishment on the nations of Israel, He will pour out His Spirit, typed by the showers. Many of the Laodiceans and the great multitude will repent by using God’s Spirit (read Revelation 7).
Finally, God pours out great hailstones. This is the Day of the Lord. All of the rebels will die. More people will repent. Then Christ will return and begin the Millennium.
“So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered morter, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 13:14). Then everybody will know God. Certainly this could not apply to today! This is prophecy for the future. The word untempered means false, silly or foolish. The Revised Standard Version uses “whitewash” for untempered mortar. Those false ministers are daubing the wall with false doctrines. If you examine the wall carefully, you see how false and foolish the doctrinal wall is. This is not just speaking of the Worldwide Church of God. The other Laodicean churches have also rebelled against major doctrines of God. Their walls of doctrine appear to be strong, but examine them closely and you see they are like mere Hollywood props!
The work of the Philadelphia Church of God is going to be like a strong wind—a sudden, short-lived outburst. We expose this great leadership betrayal in God’s Church! Through the pcg, God reveals to those with an open mind what is really happening to all of the Laodicean members. The stormy wind is only the outer edge of a devastating hurricane of tribulation that is rapidly approaching, followed by the Day of the Lord!
“Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter” (verse 10). How do the Laodicean leaders seduce God’s people? By talking of peace instead of sounding a warning. Actually, we are entering into the worst time of suffering and bloodshed ever on this planet! The wcg leaders say the Tribulation is far in the future (Amos 6:3; Matthew 24:48). Many Laodiceans assume that the world is going to have peace now. Nothing could be further from reality!
The wcg leaders ask their people to pray for peace in the world. But the Bible prophesies of an explosion of bloodshed until Christ returns. They are preaching contrary to Bible prophecy!
The pcg is a strong wind—just before the most massively destructive tribulation, or hurricane, ever to strike this Earth!
God says the Laodicean rebellion is a wondrous sign that Christ is about to return (Zechariah 3). We are extremely close to the end. God will tear down the wall and reveal to all that it was built upon a faulty spiritual foundation.
The pcg is only the beginning of a far greater storm. This world is about to see storm after storm after storm. Then Jesus Christ will return and give the Earth a thousand years of fabulous weather!
The Laodiceans have frequently claimed that they are building on the foundation laid by Mr. Armstrong. That is false, and God is going to expose them to the whole world!
This principle applies to almost any time God’s Church turns away from God. The deceivers routinely say they are building on the foundation laid in the past, when they are actually destroying the foundation by building a new, but false, work. This is how they deceive God’s people. Throughout the Bible, God warns us of this danger. “Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered morter, and will say unto you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it” (Ezekiel 13:15). God’s wrath is inflicted on the wall. God is intensely emotional about what is being built in His name! He will consume the wall in His wrath. Then the leaders will no longer seduce God’s people.
Chapter 9: The Marriage Covenant
The most urgent prophecies in the Bible are directed at God’s Spirit-begotten people. Why? Because eternal life is on the line. If they rebel and fail to repent of their sins, they will lose the opportunity to live forever in God’s Family.
A few have asked, “What is so bad about being dead for all eternity?” Looking at it physically, it isn’t that bad at all. But if you look at it spiritually, it’s catastrophic! It’s like turning away from a pile of precious jewels to a pile of dung. But even that comparison is inadequate to explain the firstfruits being called to marry Christ and then obscenely rejecting that invitation!
In this chapter I hope to help you see just how utterly fantastic the firstfruits’ calling really is.
“Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations” (Ezekiel 16:1-2). God says the Ezekiel watchman must cause Jerusalem to know her abominations. In the end time, there is a work warning physical and spiritual Israel.
Jerusalem is a type of national Israel. But there is also a Jerusalem above, “the mother of us all,” which is the Church (see Galatians 4:26). In Ezekiel 16, God’s primary focus is on Jerusalem above—the end-time Church of God. God’s Church receives truth from Jerusalem above. This is probably one of the most inspiring chapters in the Bible! Of course it also applies generally to national Israel. However, the main focus is on a wife who has broken her marriage vows.
Ezekiel 16 discusses two marriages: first, an Old Covenant marriage with ancient Israel; second, a New Covenant marriage with God’s Church today. The main focus is on the New Covenant marriage. There are two Israels—physical and spiritual. The ancient Israelites should have kept the letter of God’s law, but failed. They didn’t have God’s Holy Spirit, as spiritual Israel, God’s Church, does today, so they could not have kept God’s law spiritually. However, God’s Church today should keep the spirit of God’s law.
“Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine” (Ezekiel 16:8). The expression “spread my skirt over thee” is a sign of marriage.
The best explanation of that expression is in Ruth 3:8-11. Ruth met Boaz at the time of the firstfruit harvest in Israel, and that meeting culminated in a marriage on the day of Pentecost. That day of Pentecost pictures Christ marrying His wife—who is to help Him rule the world. The marriage of Boaz and Ruth was a type of Christ’s marriage to the Church. “I spread my skirt over thee” also means that God protects His wife as any good husband should, if His wife is loyal.
God’s loyal people who are in this marriage relationship are protected by Christ from the Great Tribulation—in His “skirts”! Remember Ezekiel 5, where, in the midst of the threefold destruction of Israel, God will take a few and bind them in His skirts (verses 1-3). God will protect His loyal Philadelphians. Those who aren’t protected (verse 4) will be cast into the fire. The Laodiceans are not bound in God’s skirts. They have rebelled against God and must also be punished in the Great Tribulation to get them to repent.
To be bound in God’s skirts is God’s coded way of saying the Philadelphians grasp the marriage covenant with God and the Laodiceans don’t! The Laodicean Church has lost sight of this mind-staggering future as Christ’s wife.
In Ezekiel 16:8, God says you became mine—you became my wife. That happened to only two groups: ancient Israel and the firstfruits called before Christ returns. Both groups became Christ’s wife by entering into a marriage covenant. However, the book of Ezekiel was written after God’s marriage to ancient Israel.
“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). Christ’s wife must be ready when He returns. We are now to be preparing for that fabulous marriage—which Christ looks upon as already being consummated! That’s why we are called His “wife”—not His fiancée. We must think about this marriage as our Husband does! It is extremely urgent that we get ready to be Christ’s wife for all eternity! This is the most exalted reward ever offered to any human being at any time!
At baptism, the firstfruits make a marriage covenant to obey God and be born again as Christ’s wife. This far transcends the marriage covenant He made with the physical nation of Israel! Ours is a special marriage covenant available only to the firstfruits.
“Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil” (Ezekiel 16:9). Water and oil are types of God’s Holy Spirit, which applies only to His marriage to the firstfruits. Ancient Israel and the nations of Israel today never received God’s Holy Spirit.
“I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk” (verse 10). Fine linen is an inspiring expression. Exodus 39:27 tells us that Aaron and his sons—the highest level of priests in the tabernacle—were the ones who wore fine linen. Of course, national Israel failed as a kingdom of priests for God.
The highest level of priests for God in the World Tomorrow will be Christ’s wife! His wife has the responsibility to be king-priests forever—for all eternity! That is our calling today. This is why we must be tried and tested. This is the highest calling God has to offer! We can’t stumble into this responsibility. “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. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. …” (Revelation 19:7-9).
Since this is an end-time prophecy, the “fine linen” symbolizes our righteousness today. God is clothing His Bride with the fine linen of righteousness!
Our biggest challenge is to let God’s Holy Spirit expand our minds to comprehend this magnificent calling!
Christ’s Bride is now making herself ready. This is the ultimate calling God will ever give to any human being! How can we become lukewarm about such a majestic opportunity?
The Bride’s Beauty
“I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head” (Ezekiel 16:11-12). A crown was put upon her head. The crown indicates she is a queen—Christ’s own royal wife! She has all the finery of the bridal adornment! This lady is going to rule with Christ!
“Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom” (verse 13). This is history and prophecy. Ancient Israel prospered into a kingdom, but still failed God. The Church of God today and all of the firstfruits are the Kingdom of God in embryo—to be born again as the Kingdom of God! Rejecting this incredible firstfruit calling is the real tragedy of turning away from God, not merely dying for all eternity. It’s the missed opportunity that is so terribly sad.
Some Laodiceans think God will give them this mind-splitting reward if they just stay in a church! A church is not our husband—Christ is! We must learn to follow Him wherever He goes.
“And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God” (verse 14). This applies far more to Christ’s spiritual Bride. God’s perfect comeliness, or character, comes through His Holy Spirit—through letting Christ live in us (Philippians 2:5). Conversion is thinking like God and becoming godly—ultimately to be born into His Family! That comes only through God’s righteousness in us.
There is a serious problem though. God sets a very high standard to prepare us for this fabulous future. The sad part is, many of God’s people fail to live up to His standard.
Christ’s Bride Today
“But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by …” (Ezekiel 16:15). The word fornications should be translated adultery! This is a higher level of sin. Ancient Israel was married to God. True Christians are married to Christ today. If we turn away from God to another god—as the end-time Laodiceans have done—it is adultery!
Remember, this is prophecy for today. Only God’s firstfruits can commit adultery in this end time, because only they are married to Christ.
Bible translators don’t understand about God’s marriage and God’s Family. That’s why they use the word fornications instead of adultery.
We are not officially married to Christ until He returns. We must prove ourselves before Christ marries us, under the New Covenant. (That was not the case under the Old Covenant.) However, God already looks upon the Church today as His wife. Revelation 19:7 says “his wife hath made herself ready.” It doesn’t read “His bride-to-be has made herself ready.” The time frame here is just before our marriage to Christ. This verse alone reveals Christ’s thinking. This lady was His wife while she was getting ready for the marriage. This is what God’s Word says. We must believe it. That is how we walk by faith. God still looks upon us as Christ’s wife, and if we do as He says, that is our destiny. He sees our covenant and marriage to Him as already consummated—even when that technically is not true. But God’s part of the covenant is absolute and is as good as consummated because He is God.
Of course, God’s part of the covenant is absolutely assured. But we must be tested first.
“… God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17). That is why Christ calls us His wife—even though the marriage itself will not actually be official until the marriage supper is celebrated (Revelation 19:7-9). John 6:47 states that he who believes on Christ “hath everlasting life.” Do you have eternal life now? Technically no. But God still looks upon His people as already having eternal life. That’s because we do—if we uphold our part of the covenant. At the same time, many other scriptures indicate that we don’t now have salvation.
The sin in Ezekiel 16:15 is called adultery in the Hebrew. Why? As I have said, ancient Israel had already been in captivity for over 100 years when Ezekiel prophesied to the Jews. Yet the book of Ezekiel is directed to Israel. So it has to be to an end-time Israel. Many scriptures say this message is to the end-time nations of Israel. Yet end-time physical Israel has never been married to Christ. Only the Church is—as Christ views it. The primary meaning in this verse could only apply to God’s Church.
God views the marriage as already consummated. That is why He describes our turning away from Him as adultery.
Revelation 19:7 and Ezekiel 16:15 reveal how God views our calling now. This is why we can view this marriage as already consummated and also yet to be consummated. All too often, we view this marriage humanly. We need to view it through God’s Holy Spirit. God views the marriage through perfect character. God made a covenant. It is as good as done. By calling His people His wife, God is teaching us to build His character and think as He does. When God says He will do something, it is always done. He never breaks a covenant. So when we are engaged to Christ, it’s the same as a marriage. A covenant to be married is the same as a marriage—the way God views it. With God’s Spirit we should view it the same way.
However, there is the human element. We can fail and never be a part of that wedding. The lesson God is trying to teach us is that a covenant is a promise to keep your word. And our word should be fulfilled, if we manifest the character of God. Our word should never be broken. So God judges us on the basis of our promise, or our covenant. At baptism we said we would marry Christ and meet all the covenant conditions. So God judges us on the basis of our word, or covenant, to become His wife. Once we actually become His wife, we cannot commit adultery, because we’ll be God—members of the God Family—and God cannot sin. Viewing it spiritually, we can commit adultery only during the engagement period.
Carnal-minded men can’t grasp the magnitude of our reward. It takes the Holy Spirit of God to grasp what God is offering His firstfruits! The Laodiceans have lost this marriage-and-Family-of-God concept because they are spiritually blind. This is the greatest mistake they or anyone on Earth can make today! God says this adulterous sin is no “small matter” (Ezekiel 16:20). We know that many of them will repent before or during the Tribulation. But why must they be so rebellious that they allow Satan to turn them away from their most noble, majestic crown?
We must not forget who we are! Christ is our Husband. The firstfruits are His Bride—forever! Satan wants to blur or destroy that wonderful, most inspiring vision! We must not let him do that to us.
“[T]hou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them” (Ezekiel 16:21). The Laodicean children must go through the Great Tribulation—mainly because of their rebellious parents! What a horrifying penalty for God’s people who had the truth and rejected it!
“Thou has built thy high place at every head of the way, and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred, and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms” (verse 25). Ancient Israel sinned by associating closely with the world. The Laodiceans today invite the world into their churches and commit adultery. They have forgotten that they are Christ’s own wife!
“But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!” (verse 32). Again, this warning to those in God’s Church is far more serious than any warning to the nations of Israel, because their salvation is at stake! His wife is taking “strangers” instead of her Husband. That is what all the doctrinal changes are about in the Laodicean churches! Christ says this is no “small matter”! He is condemning the end-time Laodiceans—His wife—who have left Him! That is their cardinal sin!
“And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy” (Ezekiel 16:38). Note that God says He “will judge”—that is in the future! This is referring to Christ’s end-time spiritual wife.
And note, He is judging her “as women that break wedlock”! The Laodicean rebels are not being judged on the level of false religions who never were Christ’s wife. God is judging the Laodiceans as His wife who knew the truth and rebelled by turning to false gods! These Laodiceans are on the highest-level relationship that anyone can have with God. God will judge them accordingly.
The more we are given, the greater our responsibility toward God. When we are called to be Christ’s wife, God expects us to act like His wife—not an adulterous harlot!
This is why the Laodiceans will be spewed out of God’s mouth into the Tribulation.
“And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare” (verse 39). Ancient Israel was given great wealth by God. So were the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-20). God takes it all away as they rebel.
“Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord God: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations” (Ezekiel 16:43). Notice, God says He “will recompense thy way upon thine head.” That is in the future! Ancient Israel had already been punished by going into captivity. This is referring mainly to an end-time wife who rebels and must go into captivity.
“Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter” (verse 44). The Church is typed by a woman. Israel, likened to the mother, was married to Christ under the Old Covenant. His marriage to the firstfruits, who are compared to the daughter, happened later.
When God discusses “mother” and “daughter,” He is illustrating that this prophecy is dual! The wife rebelled anciently and the wife rebels today, even though she has God’s Holy Spirit. The physical nations of Israel also go into captivity because they didn’t heed the message taught by Christ through Mr. Armstrong and the pcg.
“When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them” (verse 53). This will happen in the future. God says, “I shall bring again their captivity”! God sent His Old Covenant wife, ancient Israel, into captivity. In this end time, He must send His New Covenant wife into captivity as well! (That captivity will also include the modern nations of Israel.)
“For thus saith the Lord God; I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant” (verse 59). “I will even deal with thee”—in the future. The people of ancient Israel had already been dealt with. They had gone into captivity for breaking the marriage covenant with God!
This verse is referring to an end-time marriage covenant where some have made an oath to keep a marriage covenant with God. All of those called today enter into this marriage covenant with Christ! The word oath means it will become a curse if they fail to keep their promise. This could only refer to the marriage covenant with the end-time saints!
Jesus Christ said, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26‑27). Do you understand the seriousness of the commitment a person makes when he or she enters this covenant with Jesus Christ? Nobody but the firstfruits—those called before Christ returns—is ever offered the noble calling of being the wife of Christ! What a gloriously exalted calling they are rebelling against!
Ezekiel 16:62 reads, “And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord.” How condemning! God is essentially saying that the Laodiceans don’t deeply know Him today because they have been deceived into breaking the marriage covenant.
“I will even deal with thee as thou hast done” (verse 59). God says to whom much is given, of him shall much be required. The firstfruits have been given the highest calling in the Family of God! In God’s Family they will be on the wife level, while all the other saints will be on the children level! God will judge His wife according to her wedding covenant. That is judgment on the highest level! If only we can see what a fabulous, majestic calling God gives us today!
Monumental Job Ahead
“Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant” (Ezekiel 16:60). Notice, God remembers the covenant He made with them in their “youth.” The Laodiceans were treacherous to the wife of their youth—the Church when Mr. Armstrong was the physical leader (Malachi 2:14‑16). So the primary meaning here is for the Church. For more information on this, read Malachi’s Message.
God says, “I will remember my covenant with thee.” This refers to the marriage covenant. The Hebrew expression “I will establish” usually means “maintain a covenant” (see the Anchor Bible). This means God will punish His Laodicean wife and bring her back into this marriage covenant. All the Laodiceans who repent will be blessed by being able to maintain the marriage covenant, even though they don’t deserve it! None of us do.
This is not another covenant made in verse 60. It is the same marriage covenant that is “maintained” when the Laodicean wife repents! This covenant is “everlasting,” or eternal! What an incredibly inspiring future God’s wife has! The word everlasting, according to Gesenius’ Lexicon, “more often refers to future time.” This word is not referring to ancient Israel, but primarily to God’s wife of today and for all eternity!
“And I will betroth [or marry] thee unto me for ever …” (Hosea 2:19). The firstfruits—those called before Christ returns—will be Christ’s Bride forever! An unparalleled calling.
When we are married to Christ, what will our job be? “And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel” (verses 21-22). God’s physical and spiritual laws will be in harmony. The heavens and Earth are here personified as needing each other’s cooperation. Everything in the heavens and Earth—the whole universe—is brought into harmony with God’s laws! This is the monumental work that Christ and His Bride will direct for all eternity!
We are not getting ready to marry Christ so that we can pluck on harps forever! Our future job is of such magnitude only the mind of God can comprehend it!
“Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant” (Ezekiel 16:61). By this God means that others will come into His Family, but not on the wife level! Those who come into God’s Family later will be daughter churches—likened to children in God’s Family. They will not be on the wife level as the firstfruits are!
Can we grasp the mind-staggering promise God is making to His saints who are called now? Nobody else for all eternity will be on the wife level! They will be children of the wife who enters into a marriage covenant with God today! “And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord” (verse 62). God says “I will establish,” but it should read “I will maintain my covenant with you.” Then all of God’s people will know God and not be deceived anymore by Satan, as God’s Laodiceans are today.
“That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God” (verse 63). The Laodiceans will ultimately repent in shame for committing adultery and breaking their marriage covenant. Of course, in principle, this applies to all Israel and the whole world.
The firstfruits must be preparing fervently now for their marriage to Christ. We must have the vision to see beyond the marriage. Our great work isn’t ending when we marry Christ—it’s just beginning!
Chapter 10: How Near to the End?
In this chapter we will look at the prophecies and events that lead into the Tribulation and a deep repentance by Israel. This is at the extreme end to the evil of man’s 6,000 years on planet Earth.
First, God laments the failure of His own people. “There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof. Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them” (Ezekiel 22:25-26). God’s law has been violated. Holy practices have been profaned. God and His “sabbaths,” His holy days, have been profaned.
How many churches keep God’s holy days? Only God’s Church keeps them properly. God is condemning those who have profaned His holy days and His law—His own Church! The world has never really kept God’s law and holy days. God is discussing His own people who once had an unviolated law and unprofaned holy days. Then, in the very end time, they violated the law and profaned the holy days.
First, God condemns His own Church. Then He foretells a German double cross that will correct all Israel—including the Laodiceans.
German Double Cross
Ezekiel 23 explains this heinous double cross. Israel is represented by Aholah, and Judah (separated from Israel at that time) is Aholibah (verse 4). Israel (mainly the U.S. and Britain) and Judah (called Israel today) become lovers to the Assyrians, today’s Germans (verses 5-7, 11-12). God then delivers Israel and Judah into the hands of the Germans (verses 9, 22).
“And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea. And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them” (verses 16-17). The Babylonians are the end-time Holy Roman Empire, which is the European Union, allied with a great false church. Please read our free booklets Germany and the Holy Roman Empire and The Holy Roman Empire in Prophecy for a thorough explanation of the identity in history and prophecy of these entities.
“The Lord said moreover unto me; Son of man, wilt thou judge Aholah and Aholibah? yea, declare unto them their abominations” (verse 36). God says we must declare Israel’s abominations to it. We must prophesy about Israel’s abominable sins and the violent double cross by the Germans! We must declare it! No other church can or will do so!
The Laodiceans and Israel will fight against this message. Still, God says declare it!
“Moreover this they have done unto me: they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my sabbaths” (verse 38). Just before Germany attacks, God’s Laodicean Church defiles His sanctuary and profanes His holy days! God commands that we declare the Laodicean abominations as well. Even though they accuse us of bashing their churches, we are only obeying God!
The wonderful news is, if they heed our warning, they can escape the German nuclear attack! What a blessing.
“Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, that all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness. And they shall recompense your lewdness upon you, and ye shall bear the sins of your idols: and ye shall know that I am the Lord God” (verses 48-49). The nations of Israel are about to get to know the majestic God! They certainly don’t know God now. We can clearly see that these prophecies are to be fulfilled just before Christ returns.
‘The Days Are Prolonged’
“Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off. Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel 12:27-28). God says none of His words will be “prolonged any more.”
After Mr. Armstrong died, the Laodiceans began to put the Tribulation and the return of Christ far into the future—even as world events thundered that the end “is near, even at the doors”! (Matthew 24:33). The wcg began to say, “Prophesy not” (Amos 2:11-12). After many years of a strong work of prophecy, it almost totally stopped teaching about the end-time prophecies. At the same time, prophecies were being fulfilled with accelerated and alarming speed.
This is the problem God is dealing with when He says they see a vision for “many days to come” of “times that are far off.” The Laodiceans had a true vision of the end time. God gave it to them under Mr. Armstrong’s leadership! At one time they knew the end was near—but then they began to put the end far into the future!
It is the same attitude as “My lord delayeth his coming” (Matthew 24:48). They “put far away the evil day” of nuclear attack by the Germans (Amos 6:1-3). These also are end-time prophecies about the Laodiceans.
God says when the Laodiceans say prophesy not and my Lord delays His coming—look out, these prophecies are going to explode on the world scene! “There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done”!
“And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?” (Ezekiel 12:21-22). The Gesenius’ Lexicon says the word proverb is often translated prophecy. Worldly religions don’t have a true vision or prophecy of the end time! God is talking about His true prophecies that the Laodicean Church has corrupted by putting them far into the future while they are coming to pass!
Joseph Tkach Sr. said that the wcg’s approach to prophecy was wrong for over 50 years. That is a blatant condemnation of the God-inspired prophecies taught by Mr. Armstrong for such a long time. Mr. Tkach’s statement is another way of saying every vision fails. He is basically saying all of Mr. Armstrong’s prophecies failed! The truth is, the prophecies Mr. Armstrong taught are being fulfilled this very moment!
“Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord God; I will make this proverb [prophecy] to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb [prophecy] in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision” (verse 23). This is so amazing! God says when the prophecies are finally “at hand,” the Laodiceans say, “It’s far into the future”!
We thought these prophecies would be fulfilled while Mr. Armstrong was alive. So Mr. Armstrong’s timing was off a few years. Still, these prophecies are now being fulfilled precisely as he said! The time is now at hand—and the Laodiceans are too blind to see it!
“For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel. For I am the Lord: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord God” (verses 24-25). These prophecies will be fulfilled “in your days.” These prophecies are being fulfilled now!
‘It Is Not Near’
“Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the Lord’s house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people” (Ezekiel 11:1). This is the Lord’s house, or temple—the Church of God today. “Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city” (verse 2). There is some wicked counsel being given in God’s end-time Church. What is the wicked counsel?
“Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh” (verse 3). The Laodiceans are saying, “It is not near.” What is not near? The German-led captivity, followed by the return of Jesus Christ! So they actually encourage their people to “build houses”—or get more involved in this present evil world!
Mr. Armstrong taught that the end was near. He knew that the next European power would be the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire.
Joseph Tkach Sr. said that we could have another world war and it still may not be the end! He made several similar statements about end-time prophecy. God calls it “wicked counsel”! It led the wcg into a Laodicean condition. It got people’s minds off God and onto doing their own thing.
What are God’s very elect to do? “Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man” (verse 4). God commands the pcg to “prophesy against” this Laodicean heresy! The wcg says, “Don’t prophesy against us.” God says, “Prophesy against them”! We must obey God and not man.
“And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the Lord; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them. Ye have multiplied your slain in this city, and ye have filled the streets thereof with the slain. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Your slain whom ye have laid in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and this city is the caldron: but I will bring you forth out of the midst of it. Ye have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord God” (verses 5-8). This is true prophecy. This is what is going to happen. The end is very near—and any other prophecy is “wicked counsel” and false prophecy!
“And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?” (verse 13). To Ezekiel, it looked like all Israel was going to die at the hands of the Germans! And that is how it will look to many in modern Israel before it’s all over!
There Is Good News
We can see that God gives us explicit instructions to deliver His warning to physical and spiritual Israel. But God’s message doesn’t stop with the gloom of these prophecies of tribulation. It goes beyond that, to the prophecies of the joyful conclusion.
“Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:16-20). God also commands us to declare the good news.
We must warn the Laodiceans and Israel. But we must also declare that beyond the holocaust is the greatest event ever to occur in the universe—the return of Jesus Christ!
We must work hard to deliver God’s warning—and His gospel—in a short span of time!
How near are we to the end? The fact that we are declaring these prophecies shows that we are right at the doors!
Chapter 11: Ezekiel’s Call for Urgency
The Philadelphia Church of God has 170 acres of beautiful property at its headquarters campus. We started Herbert W. Armstrong College in 2001, building a multipurpose student center, dormitories, an administration building, a music center, a mail processing center and various other buildings. In 2010, we completed the campus’s crown jewel—Armstrong Auditorium, one of America’s finest performing arts venues. It is adorned with Baccarat crystal candelabra commissioned by the shah of Iran, Swarovski Strass® crystal-trimmed chandeliers, American cherrywood veneers, Spanish marble and Azerbaijani onyx. A soaring Swans in Flight bronze sculpture by the late sculptor Sir David Wynne greets visitors in front of the building. In 2014, we opened a sister campus in England. We also have staff stationed in Jerusalem, Israel, supporting our work there. In January 2017, God gave us the new stone of destiny and new throne of David (request my free book The New Throne of David to understand). I suspect God will continue to make this Work so dramatically different from any other that even those who are spiritually blind will have no excuse for not recognizing where He is working.
God is helping us to develop things quickly with the generous help of His people. When Nehemiah built the wall around Jerusalem, it took 52 days. It takes extremely committed workers to accomplish such a job that quickly. They didn’t let opposition stop them: They worked with one hand and held a weapon in the other (Nehemiah 4:17). That’s the way we need to approach our job as well.
Just before Judah went into captivity, Jeremiah bought a plot of land. He didn’t buy it to build on; he just bought it to let Judah know that there was hope in the future (Jeremiah 32:24-25; request our free booklet Jeremiah and the Greatest Vision in the Bible). God may be using us to do the same thing. The land God has given us is a symbol of hope. I don’t believe that’s all it is, but we must always try to have God’s view.
When you see the way world events are unfolding, you know an explosion is about to happen. It is only a matter of when. We live in a time “when the transgressors are come to the full” (Daniel 8:23). There has never been evil as there is today! And the Bible prophesies that it will all culminate in a nuclear World War iii.
Of course, God will use that earth-shattering episode to bring the whole world to finally know Him.
But God does not want us to focus on a date or on 170 acres. Not at all! Let me underscore that point in this chapter.
Do we have the urgency we need in these dangerous times? I want to help you get God’s perspective and make sure you are as urgent as the times demand.
Utter a Parable
Ezekiel 24 contains one of the Bible’s strongest, most astonishing messages addressed specifically to God’s people.
Before we see what that message is, let’s note how the chapter ends: “In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him which is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: and thou shalt be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 24:27). Keep this in mind. This is the point of this chapter, and, again, a dominant theme of the book of Ezekiel.
Now, the beginning of the chapter: “Again in the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, the word of the Lord come unto me, saying, Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this same day: the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day” (verses 1-2). The day God gave this revelation to Ezekiel commemorated the day of the siege of Jerusalem. Some Jews still fast on this day annually. It was a terrible time in Judah when Jerusalem was besieged. In many ways, that time parallels the time we live in today. Just look at the tumult happening in the Middle East and the terrorism that has struck the U.S.!
“And utter a parable unto the rebellious house, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Set on a pot, set it on, and also pour water into it: Gather the pieces thereof into it, even every good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder; fill it with the choice bones. Take the choice of the flock, and burn also the bones under it, and make it boil well, and let them seethe the bones of it therein. Wherefore thus saith the Lord God; Woe to the bloody city, to the pot whose scum is therein, and whose scum is not gone out of it! bring it out piece by piece; let no lot fall upon it” (verses 3-6). Here is the parable: God says, take the fleshiest part of the meat and the strongest bones, and burn them all!
God is talking about all of Israel becoming bloody. Jerusalem’s fall was only a type. Even their bones will be burned in this nuclear catastrophe—if they don’t listen to God’s watchman when he warns them! The very framework of our society will be burned like a pile of dead wood. That is a sober message.
But that is not all. In verse 6 God says to empty the pot—because He is going to empty the people of Israel out of their own country!
The word scum is sometimes translated rust. It really means green corrosion. If you want to know how God feels about the sin of Israel, listen to what He says in this parable! He says our sin is like rust or green corrosion—it clings to our people, and it seems you can’t get it off unless you burn it off! That is indeed what God will do if they don’t heed this message.
Burn the Pot
“For her blood is in the midst of her; she set it upon the top of a rock; she poured it not upon the ground, to cover it with dust” (Ezekiel 24:7). God is still talking about the sins of Israel. Its people just put their sins out on the top of a rock—on the Internet, on television—where the whole world can see how vile and depraved they are!
People can call their pollution freedom, but it is poisoning our nations as never before! God will show the people of Israel just how vile their deeds are! These are the only nations that have had a history with the God of Ezekiel 1, and He will not be silent over their wickedness! He is getting ready to deal with it, and burn out the scum! Of course, He does not relish the thought of such severe punishment. But the problems are so serious, God knows this is the only way He can get rid of them! That’s how bad this green corrosion is.
Here is what God will do. Because the people of Israel want to expose their sins to all the world, God will expose their blood to all the world! “That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance; I have set her blood upon the top of a rock, that it should not be covered. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Woe to the bloody city! I will even make the pile for fire great”! (verses 8-9). Israel takes the greatest imaginable evils and spews them into the mind and psyche of the world! God will punish it in the same way. God prophesies, You like to publicize your evil? Then I’ll publicize your bloody punishment! I’ll put it out where the whole world can see it!
God never says something like this without meaning it! It will certainly happen! And if we yawn our way through this Work, we will be right in the midst of it! We simply cannot allow ourselves to become Laodicean.
But God’s wrath won’t stop there. “Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and spice it well, and let the bones be burned. Then set it [the pot] empty upon the coals thereof, that the brass of it may be hot, and may burn, and that the filthiness of it may be molten in it, that the scum of it may be consumed” (verses 10-11). After the people have been burned, God says, I want you to set the pot upon the fire and burn the pot!
If you think God doesn’t have an opinion about what is happening in Israel, listen to these words!
I don’t know how anyone who claims to follow God can read these words and not be afraid! He is talking about a despicable people and explaining why the Tribulation and Day of the Lord! God cannot lie. He prophesied this, and He will fulfill it. No one will stop Him. All Israel will crumble before Him when these prophecies are fulfilled.
No Stronger Message!
This world has so little to offer, and it will only get worse. What is the value of human life if you don’t give your life to God? You are not even safe unless you have God watching over you. Without God, there is no future for your children, your family; it will get to the point where there will be so much slaughter, human life will be worth no more than animal life!
There is so much more to life than that, and the nations of Israel should know it! But they don’t want to hear about it. They are so lost in sports and pleasures, you can’t even reach their minds with God’s message—or any message of value!
“She hath wearied herself with lies, and her great scum went not forth out of her: her scum shall be in the fire” (Ezekiel 24:12). This is not ordinary scum, but great scum! Lawlessness is intertwined into the very fabric and constitution of our being! It will take the crucible of a holocaust to burn it from our system!
God prophesies that the “great scum went not forth” when they were warned by God’s Work. They bring the evil upon themselves. But God must get the scum out before we can know Him!
There has never been a stronger message to be delivered than this one! And we are the only people with the courage to stand up for the God of Ezekiel 1. When God says, “Thus says the Lord God,” we must tell people what God has on His mind. We must not be afraid to tell the peoples of Israel that their filth is the worst on this planet! This is the job God says we must complete. This is what being 100 percent behind this Work is about!
God prophesied about our delivering this message: “In thy filthiness is lewdness: because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee” (verse 13). I have purged thee, God says. The people heard God’s message and weren’t corrected by it. God sent an end-time Elijah to preach the gospel around the world. Now He’s sending a prophet to warn people one last time. What kind of response are we getting? Comparatively, very little. (Of course, when you realize just what this little group will become, what we’ll be doing in the future, that makes us a good-size group of qualified headquarters personnel!)
In truth, Israel is not interested in being purged! But God says, You’re still going to be purged. I will purge you—this time through my fury! Even though you wouldn’t hear my end-time Elijah and watchman, before it is over, you will wish you had.
“I the Lord have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord God” (verse 14). How has God “spoken it”? In person? No—through His human leader and God’s very elect! God speaks through a man, and that man speaks with the support of a body of people who follow and support him.
Nothing has ever been more serious than what we are talking about here. There have never been more heinous sins than what God sees today in Israel. The sins are extreme, and so our message is going to sound extreme. Unparalleled filth requires unparalleled punishment!
You can see anti-America and anti-Israel sentiment quickly building in the world today. Satan is stirring up tremendous hatred as never before! People the world over have a deep, deep hatred for you. Only God can protect you.
I say this with all the love of God, because it’s the truth of God, and it will happen.
Why is it important for us to know these prophecies? Yes, we must get this message out, but there is something deeper that God is getting at here.
Neither Mourn Nor Weep
God had to implant within Ezekiel a special sense of urgency. How did He do it? As we look at this, we may see His method as heartless, but again—we must get God’s view. Let’s realize what this is really about.
“Also the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down” (Ezekiel 24:15-16). “The desire of thine eyes” is Ezekiel’s wife. God took her away. Ezekiel’s wife died. Then God instructed Ezekiel not to mourn or cry. He wasn’t saying Ezekiel should have no emotion over his wife’s death. But He wanted him to keep his emotions in check for a very important reason.
God is trying to teach us a deep lesson here, deeper than we have understood before.
God continued, “Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee [in other words, do the Work], and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men” (verse 17). Don’t act like normal men in those circumstances. Go right on and do the Work. Yes, you have lost a loved one, but put your shoes on those beautiful feet (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15), get busy and continue the Work.
God is saying this to all His very elect. If one of us loses a loved one, and he or she was converted, we don’t really need to mourn a lot about that. God says the death of a saint is precious in His sight (Psalm 116:15). When someone dies in the faith, that adds one more member to the God Family. How can you calculate that blessing? In a very short time, that person will be brought right back up from the grave, and we’ll all be together again—this time, for eternity!
This command to Ezekiel gives us a view of God’s love. We must expand our love if we’re to understand this.
We know that 50 percent of the Laodiceans will lose their eternal lives. And that number would probably be much higher if you and I didn’t deliver this message to God’s Family! We have family members in Laodicean churches and in the world who are in danger of losing their eternal lives!
That is what God is concerned about. We must think the way He does, and keep our perspective. From time to time someone in the Church will die. Sometimes it shocks us severely, because we love them so deeply and dearly, and they were so dedicated to God. But God tells us not to lose our balance and our focus. We’re involved in something much bigger than that.
We must think like God, and love like God. God loves the whole world. Jesus Christ died for the whole world! He didn’t just die for the very elect. That’s what we need to keep in mind when some personal crisis occurs.
This episode with Ezekiel’s wife was really a chance for Ezekiel to set an example for us today. And that is just what Ezekiel did. “So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded” (Ezekiel 24:18). What an example!
Losing a loved one isn’t really a great crisis when you consider the scale of suffering that is about to occur. We’re talking about one life versus many millions, plus all the Laodiceans who will lose their eternal lives.
I must admit, looking through these scriptures makes me realize that I don’t love the people in God’s Family as God does. I don’t love the world as God does. I know I need to grow and think more like God. How easy it would be to get overwhelmed at the personal loss of a loved one. I’m not saying that it is wrong to mourn. Perhaps there is nothing more painful, in a family context—there is no getting away from that. Please understand: We should not be hard-hearted. We should simply believe Ezekiel. We need to keep our godly perspective in this end time. We cannot have “normal” emotions. We must keep in mind the scope of the disaster that is coming upon the whole world.
“And the people said unto me, Wilt thou not tell us what these things are to us, that thou doest so?” (verse 19). The people were puzzled. He was going on with the Work and acting like his wife didn’t even die! So Ezekiel had to explain it to them.
In responding, Ezekiel put the focus right where God’s focus is. “Then I answered them, The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Speak unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will profane my sanctuary [the Laodicean Church], the excellency of your strength, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters [your own spiritual Family] whom ye have left shall fall by the sword” (Ezekiel 24:20-21). All of the Laodiceans are going to fall by the sword! There will be no escape for them!
Many Laodiceans scoff at us. They don’t believe God would send a prophet in our day. Their criticisms are worse than those from people in the world. The reason is that about the only way you can fight against the people who have God’s truth is to demonize them and their leader.
God says He will profane His sanctuary. He is going to profane His very own Bride! Can we see why God says, Don’t get too caught up in mourning if you lose your bride? What about God’s Bride? Half of them will die forever! What about Christ’s Bride—our Family? We must not lose sight of the big picture.
This is a huge job. I can’t do it myself. But when I see people responding the way God’s people do, I know we can do it. I know God will see our labors—our work of faith—and there will be nothing to stop us! If the effectual, fervent prayer of one righteous man avails much, what about the prayers of a whole Church of such people? If we are people who walk by faith, we can get the job done! I am weak; I know it will take the power of God to do what I need to do and what you need to do. But as we pray for each other and ask God for that power, we will confound this world. With the power of God, we can do it.
Give Yourself Wholly to God!
Never forget: Things could end suddenly. I don’t know exactly what God’s time schedule is. I don’t know how much time we have left. I just want to make sure we keep God’s perspective and never let some date or some land deter us from giving our all to God. We can never afford to let up in this Work.
This job is a test of how much we love the people in the world. Are we willing to put our lives on the line for them? Do you love them enough to give yourself as a sacrifice to the great God of Ezekiel 1? To give Him your all, with no restrictions—nothing holding you back from Him, not even the death of a loved one? We must examine ourselves for areas where we may be holding back God’s Work.
Some of God’s people, for example, still drink too much alcohol. Yes, God sanctions and encourages the right use of alcohol. But I know that some people would be better off without it. I haven’t had a drink of alcohol in many years. Why? Because I feel I can be more effective in the Work without it. Am I against alcohol? Of course not; I love to see people enjoy alcohol, as God instructs us. But if something is getting in your way, it is better to eliminate it. “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee …. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30). For some, that offense may be alcohol.
Look seriously at yourself and see those problems you need to overcome. If something is getting in the way of God’s Work, it is serious—even if you’re not aware of it.
God told the people of Israel, “And ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men” (Ezekiel 24:22). That is His message to us today. Don’t act like other men. Follow Ezekiel’s example. Nothing must get in the way of God’s Work—not even mourning the loss of a loved one. We must put in check any emotion or anything else that holds up God’s Work.
Remember the contract we made with God at baptism: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). We must be willing to give it all up if necessary. That is in the contract. We must pray to God that He will prepare us for whatever is coming, that we will be able to handle any trial or decision we may face.
This is not a small exercise God has called us to do. This is the most important Work on Earth—perhaps even the most important Work in history, because we get to introduce Christ to this world! We cannot push God into a corner of our lives. He must fill our lives.
God wants our best sacrifice. He wouldn’t let the Israelites bring their old, diseased animals to the sacrifice. He wanted the best they had (see Leviticus 1:3, 10; 3:1, 6). He wants your best time in prayer, when you are most alert and can really get through to God.
We don’t have to be a part of this. This is a difficult calling, and we don’t have to do it. The Laodiceans aren’t doing it. But how much do we know about God’s love? Do we see the whole picture of what the Work is supposed to achieve, as God sees it?
“And your tires shall be upon your heads [in other words, go on and let’s work], and your shoes upon your feet: ye shall not mourn nor weep; but ye shall pine away for your iniquities, and mourn one toward another” (Ezekiel 24:23). Be mourning about your sins. Try to help one another, God said. And all that Ezekiel did, we’re to do. That is a command to us! He is an example of what we must do to get this Work done.
This is an opportunity we will never, ever have again! I believe if you asked all God’s saints throughout history to choose a single time to have been called by God, they all would choose the time just before the return of Christ! We have the greatest opportunity God will ever give to anyone, coupled with the best time to be called.
Mr. Armstrong said that we grow spiritually in proportion to how much our hearts are in the Work. The pcg must demonstrate a real commitment to God’s Work!
As we continue to put our hearts into this Work, we’ll begin to know God much better, and we’ll begin to love the world and the Laodiceans as He does. Then we will mourn like God. We will become so giving that we’ll be wrapped up in serving the whole world. We will have a vision so great that nothing can slow us down. That is when we will be people who can help God accomplish His goal by educating the whole world to “know the Eternal God.” What a wonderful calling we have.
Place of Safety
“Also, thou son of man, shall it not be in the day when I take from them their strength, the joy of their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that whereupon they set their minds, their sons and their daughters” (Ezekiel 24:25). This verse is very interesting: It is talking about the Laodiceans. God will “take from them their strength”—or, as the Soncino commentary reads, their stronghold. The International Critical Commentary states stronghold is also defined as, “to flee for safety.” We flee to God for safety all the time, even now. And one day, we will flee to God to take us to a place of safety from the Great Tribulation.
The Laodiceans have lost that stronghold. God is not going to protect them from the Great Tribulation.
These are our Family members. God wants us to love them and to express that love through this Work. Your dedication to this Work shows your degree of love for the Laodiceans and the world.
“That he that escapeth in that day shall come unto thee, to cause thee to hear it with thine ears?” (verse 26). If someone is going to escape, it will be because he or she came to the Philadelphians. Are we not important? God has put us in the inner court. He says the Laodiceans will have to come to the Philadelphians, or they will have no future! The same is true of every person on Earth. They must come to God’s royal sons and hear that message, or they will have no protection or salvation.
One day, God will cause all of them to do just that, if they choose not to do it before. “In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him which is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: and thou shalt be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I am the Lord” (verse 27).
Day of Reckoning
There is a day of reckoning coming for the Laodiceans and the world. All those who speak arrogantly against God today will have to give account for every word.
As I mentioned earlier, one Laodicean evangelist said it was a mistake to think God directly guides His Church. Here is what Ezekiel wrote about that: “So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me” (Ezekiel 3:14). God’s hand was strong upon Ezekiel; it was strong upon Mr. Armstrong. Anyone who restored all things had to have God’s hand strong upon him! It is pure vanity and arrogance for someone to push all that work aside and deny that God directly guides His leader and Church!
God’s hand is directly guiding me today as well. It must be, for us to fulfill this job. “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me” (verse 17). A man is doing that job. (For more information, request our free booklet Who Is ‘That Prophet’?)
All the people of Israel need to hear God’s judgment against them. This terrible message must be delivered! And yet there are people by the thousands failing to deliver it, arrogantly speaking against God’s revelation—the mighty God of Ezekiel 1 who will surely bring it to pass. There will be a day of reckoning!
Here is God’s message to those Laodicean evangelists who failed at their super-important commission: “Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations. [A]nd ye shall know that I am the Lord that smiteth” (Ezekiel 7:8-9). They like to talk only about a God of love. They usually won’t even discuss the God who smites! They don’t want to know that God. Those Laodiceans and the world must hear this message! The arrogance will stop! “All hands shall be feeble, and all knees shall be weak as water” (verse 17). They will be so scared, they will have urine running down their legs.
Is God justified in these judgments? “And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations” (Ezekiel 6:9). Here is God’s evaluation of us: “I am broken with their whorish heart.” They have committed adultery, and God says He is broken! Look at how much damage adultery does just on a human level. Can we grasp the damage it does spiritually? Imagine how much it hurts God, who has given everything for His people!
The great God of Ezekiel 1 has every right to rebuke and chasten them for what they have done!
Set It in Majesty
Ezekiel 7:20 shows us just how specially God really treats His people. “As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it in majesty ….” We are part of God’s royal majesty. We are kings and priests. God isn’t just saying that. He has adorned His Bride—made us an ornament.
In verse 22, God refers to His “secret place”—His holy of holies. It is there spoken of as being polluted by God’s people. But when we are loyally serving God, that “secret place” is a refuge for God’s people. God loves us and wants to invite us into the most special place in His life. Imagine the most majestic people on this Earth and multiply it by thousands, and that’s where we are in God’s mind. We are His special possession.
Realize who you are! Do your utmost to understand what it means to be God’s very elect—to have that kind of majesty and royalty! Take on the urgency called for by the times and by the magnitude of the job God has given to His royal Bride!
Chapter 12: Laodicean Ministers
The most shattering condemnations in the Bible are aimed at the ministry. Ezekiel is as condemning toward the ministry as any Bible prophet. God makes it very clear in the Bible that the ministers are going to be judged more harshly because of their position.
You must know your Bible and your pastor. Because it is through the ministerial office that most people are deceived!
Ezekiel 34 is about Laodicean ministers who have rebelled against God. It has some bad news and some exceedingly good news about God’s ministers.
This chapter is introduced by the last four verses of Ezekiel 33, which, as we saw earlier, discuss people who are lukewarm and uncommitted about God’s message. Ezekiel 33:33 concludes the thought: “And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.” So this is an end-time setting—just before the Great Tribulation. These people will hear the watchman message but won’t act on it until the Tribulation comes to pass—if they act on it at all!
Then God points out who the real cause of the problem is—the shepherds, or ministers, of Israel. The ministers of Israel are the biggest cause of this problem described in Ezekiel 33:30-33!
“And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” (Ezekiel 34:1-2). These pastors are simply self-centered. They are not deeply concerned about God’s Work or His people.
Satan is always working to get to God’s ministers. He can deceive many sheep by first deceiving the pastor.
“Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock” (verse 3). How did Satan get to these ministers? Through self-centeredness. “The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them” (verse 4). Many of God’s own people have been “driven away.” Driven away from what? From God—by their own pastors! You can’t be driven away from God if you never really knew Him! These people knew God and were driven away from Him!
Gesenius’ Lexicon says the word driven means “to thrust forth, expel, scatter, an outcast, driven to darkness” (emphasis mine throughout). If they were “driven to darkness,” that means they were in the light! Do we really grasp what this means? These are God’s own people, who were in the light, but are now driven into darkness by ministers who at one time served God! This is a monstrous sin!
How did they drive God’s people away? They have not sought that which was lost. That means spiritually lost, of course, but there is a much more specific meaning. Ezekiel is a book to the lost tribes, or nations, of Israel. God revealed Israel’s modern identity to Herbert Armstrong, and that opened up one third of the Bible to his understanding—that third of the Bible which is prophecy.
Without an understanding of Bible prophecy, any church is lost concerning God’s master plan for man—and these people are lost when it comes to understanding Bible prophecy.
The United States and Britain in Prophecy was the most requested book in the wcg. That means it probably did more to build the wcg than any other book it has ever published! Over 5 million copies were mailed.
Read what Mr. Armstrong said about the knowledge contained in this book: “[T]he one central master key to prophecy as a whole is the identity of the United States and the British nations in these prophecies for today!” (The United States and Britain in Prophecy).
Mr. Armstrong wrote that “the all-important master key has been found!
“That key is knowledge of the astonishing identity of the American and British peoples—as well as the German—in biblical prophecies. This very eye-opening, astounding identity is the strongest proof of the inspiration and authority of the Holy Bible! It is, at the same time, the strongest proof of the very active existence of the living God!” (ibid).
As shocking as it may sound, the church that Herbert Armstrong founded has discontinued that book and rejected his understanding of prophecy!
The expression “neither have ye sought that which was lost” deeply concerns that book. The wcg stopped printing The United States and Britain in Prophecy. It is no longer fulfilling its commission to reveal to the nations of Israel who they are in Bible prophecy. God revealed this book to Mr. Armstrong so he could seek the lost nations of Israel! It was by far the main tool he used. But the wcg removed this book from print in wicked defiance of God. Without The United States and Britain in Prophecy, everyone is in the dark about the third of the Bible that is prophecy! That is how serious the wcg sin is.
But this Ezekiel 34:4 prophecy is directly aimed at all the Laodiceans. They also fall into this category: “neither have ye sought that which was lost.” A version of The United States and Britain in Prophecy written in 1945 had no copyright, and was therefore free to reprint. Yet the pcg was the only church that did so. The Laodiceans don’t even want that booklet! We also stood alone in our fight for the 1980 edition, which we have since acquired. This edition contains far greater detail and proof on the identity of the modern nations of Israel (request your own free copy of the 1980 edition, if you don’t already have one).
This means that none of the Laodiceans are doing God’s Work of warning. The whole book of Ezekiel is about warning Israel of a coming nuclear attack and enslavement! But if you don’t know who the nations of Israel are, how can you warn them? God says in Ezekiel 2, 3 and 33 that if the people of Israel aren’t warned of the coming Tribulation, then their blood will be on the head of the watchman! That is a direct warning to all of the Laodiceans and the pcg!
When God’s people get their minds off the Work of warning, then they become consumed by the sin of selfishness! They don’t even know what the Work of God is—they too are lost! This prophecy is being fulfilled right now!
Ezekiel 34:4 says, “The diseased [or spiritually weak] have ye not strengthened ….” So many have come to the pcg from the lukewarm Laodicean churches and said, “I was starving spiritually.” The ministers can no longer detect and help cure spiritual disease! The people are perishing spiritually (see 2 Thessalonians 2:10).
Ezekiel 34:4 continues, “… neither have ye healed that which was sick ….” The Laodiceans are not being healed because of a watered-down healing doctrine. Ministers have gotten the people’s minds off faith. The wcg discontinued Mr. Armstrong’s healing booklet and replaced it with a very deceitful booklet with no focus on faith. The new booklet destroyed the faith of wcg members!
It takes faith to be healed! (Request Mr. Armstrong’s edition of The Plain Truth About Healing.)
Verse 4 says the leaders have ruled with force and cruelty. Why? They didn’t just lead people away from God, they drove them away from God with doctrinal changes! Those who honestly disagreed were dealt with unmercifully. One minister was demoted to a layman because he wouldn’t preach the new healing doctrine. Other ministers and members were intimidated into supporting the healing change and other doctrinal changes.
“And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered” (Ezekiel 34:5). The sheep were scattered, so they must have been unified at one time. You can’t scatter something that is already scattered! This is an end-time prophecy! Do you know when this happened? It is all explained in Malachi’s Message.
These people of God were scattered because they had no shepherd. That means they did have a shepherd, then lost him—and the sheep were scattered. If they were scattered because they had no shepherd, then logic tells you they had a shepherd before they were scattered! God is talking about an event that occurred primarily in the end time—right now!
“And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd” (verse 23). This is how God will correct this problem. He will resurrect David and appoint him the leading shepherd of all Israel under Christ.
So if God corrects the problem by the shepherd David, then there must have been a shepherd similar to David over God’s sheep before they were scattered in the end time!
This prophecy is referring to an end-time shepherd—a man who led God’s people as a shepherd. His name was Herbert W. Armstrong. He was taken from the scene, and then God’s sheep were scattered! The leader who replaced Mr. Armstrong did not serve the wcg as a shepherd. He drove God’s people away from God—the opposite of what a godly shepherd would do!
“My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them” (verse 6). God says, “My flock was scattered”! Yes, this happened anciently to Israel, but it happened to God’s spiritual Israel, or Church, today—just before the Great Tribulation and the return of Christ. This is the primary meaning.
“Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; As I live, saith the Lord God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock” (verses 7-8). God condemns the shepherds for failing to search for or feed His flock! These ministers allowed God’s people to become “prey” to Satan and his demons. Without an understanding of Bible prophecy, God’s flock will be scattered quickly by Satan!
“Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them” (verses 9-10). These shepherds are about to lose their jobs because they feed themselves, not the sheep. And they feed themselves because they don’t have a strong shepherd like Mr. Armstrong over them.
“For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country” (Ezekiel 34:11-13). God will gather His people from the countries where they were taken as slaves. The people of Israel are about to be driven out of their land! But after they experience that nightmare, God Himself will bring them back to their own land and personally see that they are fed.
This same prophecy is repeated over a hundred times in your Bible as happening at Christ’s return. “I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel” (verse 14). This is terrific news! No more fear of being attacked by enemies. Peace and abundance at last!
“I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment” (verses 15-16). God will seek the lost nations of Israel. He will also bring back those from spiritual Israel who were driven away but then repented.
“And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet?” (verses 17-18). God asks some very hard questions of His ministers. Is it a small thing to have the “good pasture” and the “deep waters” and then turn from them? God is saying this is a monumental sin! It’s not a small thing. We ministers must take note!
Which people in this end time have had the “good pasture,” or good spiritual food, and then polluted it? If you have “good pasture” by God’s own standard, then you must be in God’s true Church. He gave His people “good pasture,” which the ministers polluted in this end time. This could only refer to the Laodiceans.
God also gave His people “deep waters”—a type of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2 talks about using the Holy Spirit to search out the deep things of God. This is God talking, and He says they have drunk of the deep waters—that is, deep waters by God’s standard! That means primarily the Holy Spirit, which is made available to God’s Church in the end time. But the ministers have poisoned the “deep waters.”
Satan wants to get us away from strong Bible study and deep spiritual understanding. Then he can use ministers to deceive us! The whole Laodicean Church has experienced this tragic ordeal.
God is not talking about worldly religions here. They have never had deep spiritual waters! Even when the ancient Israelites were led by God, they didn’t have God’s Holy Spirit! Spiritually, the nations of Israel have never had “deep waters.”
“And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet” (verse 19). They drink water that was “fouled” by the ministry! God puts the blame squarely on the ministers! So there must have been a time when the food and water were not polluted—until the ministers made it that way! That means there also had to be a time when the ministers fed the flock—and then turned away from God and polluted the spiritual bread!
“Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle” (verse 22). God’s people will no more be a prey! This end-time scattering of God’s people is the last time it will happen. How wonderfully majestic!
“And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd” (verse 23). This is all happening just before David is resurrected. The suffering is about over! Thank God.
“And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods” (verse 25). We are all about to have peace with God and peace among all mankind. What could be more noble and inspiring?
“And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them” (verses 26-27). When God brings His people Israel out of slavery, then everybody will know and follow Him! God’s millennial reign will then be a reality.
“And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord God. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God” (verses 28-31). What a God-inspired ending!
Chapter 13: Sons of Zadok
The book of Ezekiel discusses much about a physical temple that will be set up in the World Tomorrow, when Jesus Christ will establish the Kingdom of God on Earth. But there is much more about a spiritual temple. That is what God is most concerned about.
If you are going to build a spiritual temple, where do you start? We can know where God would start just by reading Ezra 3: The Jews rebuilt the temple by starting with the altar. That may seem strange, looking at it physically. But it is a type of the firstfruits: Today God is building His altar for the World Tomorrow—for the temple that will one day consist of the entire multitude of humanity! God’s Philadelphians will be part of that altar.
Zadok the Priest
The Philadelphians are labeled as sons of Zadok in the book of Ezekiel. Who was Zadok? What does it mean to be considered his sons?
Two of the most loyal priests under King David were Abiathar and Zadok. Abiathar was the chief priest, and Zadok served under him. A rebellion rose up under the leadership of David’s son Absalom, and many in Israel turned against David to follow Absalom. Abiathar and Zadok did not.
Later, when David was getting quite old, another son, Adonijah, rose up against him. This time Abiathar made the mistake of siding with the rebellion. Perhaps he believed David really had gotten too old for his job. The high priest turned on the king! For David, that betrayal must have been one of the most depressing moments of his life.
But Zadok remained faithful. He was made chief priest because of his loyalty. Shortly after, he was given the honor of anointing Solomon king. Unlike all the other priests, Zadok stayed loyal to David all the way into Solomon’s reign, until he died. His sons followed his example.
That is why God calls His very elect sons of Zadok today: We are loyal to the throne of David from beginning to end. Even if we faltered for a time, we repented. Sons of Zadok is a perfectly fitting name for the loyal Philadelphian remnant in this end time. God is referring to the ministry first of all, but that label also includes all of God’s faithful people, because we all will be kings and priests—God’s royalty. This is a special honor.
God is addressing those people who are called and converted in the end time. Of that end-time calling, only the Philadelphians are, and will forever be, called sons of Zadok. Only they remained loyal to David’s throne. Only these Philadelphians from the end-time firstfruits will rule from God’s headquarters temple forever! They will be honored with that position, because they remained loyal when most of God’s people rebelled against Him. They will be a part of God’s very elect headquarters altar, or priests, in the World Tomorrow. Sons of Zadok will be added to their royal title. Most of God’s end-time saints will not be honored with that title.
Who was Ezekiel? We really don’t know much about him except for one interesting fact. He was the son of Buzi (Ezekiel 1:3) and a descendant of the priestly family of Zadok. Ezekiel, even though he was in captivity, was still loyal to David’s throne all the way through. That’s why God can use him as an example. He was a son of Zadok in two ways—of that physical genealogy and of the spiritual genealogy.
A Watershed Event
“But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel 44:15). God is talking here about something we have lived through: when the children of Israel—the spiritual Israelites, virtually the whole Church—went astray from God.
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). A great apostasy was prophesied to occur in God’s own Church—one that would deceive many people. A son of destruction would gain control and begin destroying God’s truth in the name of God!
These verses show that God’s own people would be forced into head-to-head combat against satanic forces within the Church. They point to a fierce battle over God’s truth!
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now [restrains] will [restrain], until he be taken out of the way” (verse 7). Mr. Armstrong was taken out of the way, and 95 percent of the people succumbed to Satan in this spiritual war. “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that [are perishing]; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (verse 10). Why are they dying spiritually? Because they don’t love the truth. They don’t believe they need to look to David’s throne. They don’t believe they need the government of God!
But let’s focus on the 5 percent—those who truly do love the truth! Who love the government! Let’s focus on the people who remain loyal to God, who fight for God.
All through that treachery, a noble group, the sons of Zadok, were loyal to God’s throne. Ezekiel 44:15 is specifically about the ministers, but it applies to all of us as we follow God’s loyal ministers. It began through me, and I was strongly supported by John Amos. We weren’t men of stature in that church, but we clung to what Mr. Armstrong had taught! Now many others have followed. God says His sons of Zadok kept the charge of His sanctuary when everybody else was turning away. That impresses God! That makes those sons of Zadok very special to God. What a noble title. Even though it means nothing to the people of this world, there is no other title I would rather have!
We became sons of Zadok in the midst of that watershed event. That Church split was a special moment in our history, one that will ennoble us for all eternity—the greatest moment in our spiritual lives! Developing and displaying loyalty in the midst of that betrayal was really an act of qualifying for very prestigious positions.
We must qualify to become an eternal son of Zadok! What a vision this is! This is a job God will give us for all eternity because we remained Philadelphian in the midst of the Laodicean rebellion. God is challenging us with this vision. Our eternal reward depends on the choices we make now, on a daily basis!
Why won’t the Laodiceans be at headquarters in God’s Kingdom—even if they repent in the Great Tribulation? Because they are not qualified! They don’t have a headquarters mentality today! The people who will be at headquarters in God’s Kingdom are the people who have a strong headquarters focus now.
Think about this in practical terms. Government is everything, as Mr. Armstrong often said. Government is the first of the Ten Commandments: You shall have no gods before the true God. When Laodiceans say they are experimenting with another government, that means they are turning to another god! How could God rely on them in headquarters positions in His Kingdom?
“Where there is no vision, the people perish …” (Proverbs 29:18). It doesn’t say, where there is no government, the people perish. The reason is that in order to follow God’s government, you must have far-reaching vision! The reason why that fundamental doctrine trips up so many people is because they lack vision! They can’t see, as the sons of Zadok do, how everything today is preparing us in very specific ways for being a part of God’s royal family government in the Kingdom. They have lost this vision.
Why does God have us look to headquarters today? Because He is preparing us to teach the whole world to look to headquarters in the future! How else could we prepare for such a job? No wonder God places such importance on being a son of Zadok.
The Key of David
Each time a monarch is crowned in England, a song titled “Zadok the Priest,” by G. F. Handel, is sung. Why would this song be used?
Queen Elizabeth ii was crowned Queen of the British Commonwealth on June 2, 1953. As you read what the Chronicle-Telegram of Elyria, Ohio, wrote at the time of her coronation, imagine yourself in a much higher position someday: “The communion service after the opening ‘recognition’ ceremony changes the atmosphere of the coronation to one of devotion and deep religious significance. It is from this point that the sovereign, having dedicated herself to the service of her peoples, is solemnly consecrated, like a bishop, for her task. … Meanwhile the choir sings, as they have sung at this point in the ceremony since the earliest known English coronation service, the anthem, ‘Zadok the Priest’” (May 21, 1953; emphasis mine). A song about Zadok the priest has been sung every time a king or queen has been crowned since “the earliest known English coronation service.”
The United Kingdom and the United States would not face national disaster if they had Zadok’s vision! This is the greatest need of our nations.
Why would this song about Zadok be so bound together with the coronation ceremony for the throne of David? I believe God inspired that to help God’s people understand who they are! What we are part of is worth giving up anything, anywhere, anytime on this Earth!
What makes us sons of Zadok? Consider, as an example, the fact that we printed The United States and Britain in Prophecy. I believe God reserved that for us because it was absolutely essential for doing His Work. The copyright of the 1945 version had expired, and anyone could have reprinted it. But no one else did. We wanted that book passionately, and no one else was interested.
Only the sons of Zadok wanted the version that God inspired Mr. Armstrong to write! Why? That book is about David’s throne! The Laodiceans are turning away from it just as surely as Abiathar turned from David. I could stake my life on the fact that God inspired that book. Can we casually push aside such revelation from God?
Why would we call our television program The Key of David? Because we are the sons of Zadok. In truth, we don’t make those decisions. The great God is preparing us to sit on the throne of David as He uses us to do His Work today.
Look again at that newspaper report: It says that Queen Elizabeth “dedicated herself to the service of her peoples.” That is a noble cause, and I do not mean to belittle it; but when you look at it from our perspective, it is actually somewhat shortsighted. The sons of Zadok are to dedicate themselves to the service of the whole world! When we sit upon that throne of David with our Husband, Jesus Christ, it is the world we will serve! What a tremendous honor!
David’s throne is the only throne from which this world will be served. Can you imagine it being served by the Jews or Palestinians in the Middle East? By the governments of the United States or Britain or anywhere else? The politics of this world have become extremely corrupt. There must be a massive change to bring this world the rest and peace that it cries out for. Only God, supported by His faithful people, can accomplish that.
“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” (Revelation 3:7). Revelation 3 really gives us the big overview of who we are. The Philadelphia name goes with the key of David, and both are associated with a powerful work that walks through the doors God opens. This is all one package—Philadelphians, key of David, open door to the whole world—because that’s what we’ll be teaching in the World Tomorrow. We must reach the world today to be ready for the future. We must be world-oriented!
Don’t ever let this vision slip—this is what makes you who you are. We must know who we are and how much Jesus Christ loves each one of us. Even in times of trial, we must recognize God’s love for us. Every trial will pay off in the long run. God is working to prepare us for eternity! Don’t ever let Satan make you believe otherwise. God has a love we can’t even fathom.
Pillars in the Temple
“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out …” (Revelation 3:12). What a majestic honor for the sons of Zadok! They will forever be headquarters personnel, because they learned to look to headquarters today, from where Christ is leading the 5 percent of His people who have remained loyal. How beloved they are for their loyalty.
Hannah said this of her son Samuel: “[T]he pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them” (1 Samuel 2:8). She saw that vision! God wants strong people—people who can have the world set upon them and who will remain stable in difficult times. Realize that such pillars must be built over time. They will be in God’s Kingdom because they were built before Christ’s return. It takes time, and God must put those pillars through some tests. That is exactly how the Philadelphians are proving themselves today. They won’t be intimidated by a son of perdition or a whole church going astray! They will stay with God even if it gets them killed!
Think for a moment of the flip side of this picture: The Laodiceans turned away as if this was a casual religion or a game. How could God possibly use those people at headquarters? “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). God is sickened by their treachery!
Ministers and members in far-flung areas must keep their headquarters focus. Losing that focus is their biggest danger. Christ leads His Church, which is His prerogative as the Head of the Church.
Can we clearly see how having a headquarters mentality today leads right into being part of the headquarters temple in the World Tomorrow? Everyone on Earth will be looking to the place Christ is ruling from. This vision goes beyond Jerusalem in the Millennium—it goes out to new Jerusalem, out into the universe and on and on forever! It all revolves around the First Commandment. All people must first look to God—which means having no other gods and no other government! We can’t experiment with another government. Once we understand this basic truth, God can do so much with us.
Preparing to Build
“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” (Amos 9:11). This verse is about the sons of Zadok being loyal to David’s throne. This happens before the Tribulation. The tabernacle of David is a temporary structure, and it has fallen in this end time. Ninety-five percent of God’s people have been toppled by the devil in their spiritual lives.
But there are some pillars still standing, surviving in the midst of spiritual ruins all around. These pillars, these sons of Zadok, are the only people on Earth who can raise up these ruins.
Look at the work God has been raising up! God has given us 170 acres because He wants us to build! Christ is preparing us to build throughout the World Tomorrow—and we will one day finish building the universe! We can raise up these ruins because we are empowered by the great God. This is a prophecy about us! We’re raising up the tabernacle of David like it was in the days of old, the days of Herbert W. Armstrong. We keep on raising up those ruins even if we have to fight in court to do so! If we have to go so far as to face death, I hope and pray that we remain loyal to this cause!
What a beautiful prophecy this is. The sons of Zadok simply won’t let go of the tabernacle of David, which is attached to a monumental vision of God. These are our fruits. As long as we have God in us, strengthening us for this Work, I know that we cannot be defeated. When Christ returns, His wife will be ready. She will know how to build, because she’s been doing it all along. He will marry her and then direct her, and she will go out and lead in God’s building program forever.
“For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually. … If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers” (Jeremiah 33:17-21).
God will always have ministers teaching about the throne of David! He will always have a number of loyal, Zadok-like ministers. And as you follow those ministers, you also become sons of Zadok. God says if you walk outside and see that it is either day or night, this covenant is still binding—you can be absolutely sure that there still are sons-of-Zadok ministers to lead you to God and prepare you to rule on that throne of David forever! Follow those men, and at the end you will be kings and priests for God—kings and priests who know how to solve the problems of this world, who know how to implement the government of God, who point people to Christ and to the Father, and who know how to build the Family of God! That is the true gospel.
There are simply no people on Earth more noble than these sons of Zadok!
Chapter 14: Millennial Headquarters
Ezekiel was used by God to write nine chapters about a temple—Ezekiel 40-48. This awesome structure will be the headquarters of God’s Work in the Millennium. However, there is probably no vision in the Bible more misunderstood.
This temple is obviously God’s, but we will call it the Ezekiel temple for simplicity.
We must remember, Ezekiel was a prophet for the end time. A prophet prophesies. That is his primary job. And so Ezekiel did prophesy—mainly for the end time. God wants us to understand about this physical temple now, or it would not be in the prophetic book of Ezekiel. In fact, as we will see, He gives His very elect the job of proclaiming about this temple.
The Ezekiel temple gives us great insight into God’s heavenly temple, because it is patterned after that temple. Ezekiel’s temple gives us a vivid insight into the heart of new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-2). This vision even reaches into the whole universe beyond new Jerusalem!
The world pictures Ezekiel as a prophet of doom. If people just understood this one vision about Ezekiel’s temple, such shallow thoughts would be dispelled.
For the remaining chapters in this book, I would like to study Ezekiel’s temple.
God grabbed Ezekiel’s attention. He also wants to get ours. “In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of the Lord was upon me, and brought me thither” (Ezekiel 40:1). If we have faith that there is a God and the Bible is His Word, this verse should sober us. On a particular day, God’s hand was on Ezekiel and he knew it. That hand brought Ezekiel these end-time prophecies. It appears to have been God Himself. This is the origin of the temple subject.
“In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south” (verse 2). Here God begins to unfold this glorious vision of His millennial headquarters.
God always has a work that emanates from His headquarters. God gave beautiful headquarters buildings for the Work under Mr. Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong built a house for God—Ambassador Auditorium. None of the other buildings at Pasadena headquarters remotely compared to that house.
However, God’s Work in the World Tomorrow will be titanic compared to what we are doing today. The King of kings and Lord of lords and His kings and priests will not rule from a shack!
When God has a powerful work it is always accompanied by impressive buildings at headquarters. Generally a physical house or temple dominates the landscape. Solomon’s temple clearly demonstrates God’s thinking in His building program. Ezekiel’s temple in the Millennium will be the first building to eclipse its majestic beauty!
Even though this is a physical temple, it will be built by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, as Solomon’s was (1 Chronicles 28:11-12). These two temples—Solomon’s and Ezekiel’s—have very similar designs. God always makes certain His temple is built His way.
It is time for us to begin thinking about our future majestic world headquarters building. And since God is the real architect, you can be sure it will be an inspiring sight like this world has never seen before!
Can you imagine how the Ezekiel temple will alter the course of this world? How it will capture the imagination of all earthly inhabitants? The whole world will have this temple as its major focus in the world to come! Such a magnificent structure will help everybody look to where Christ is! People of the world will focus on the Ezekiel temple and their thinking and way of life will be revolutionized! All people will be stirred and inspired to obey God.
The Ezekiel temple will give the whole world a vision of God’s plan on this Earth and for eternity. God will finally become real to all humanity.
No matter what men say, this is the great and only hope of mankind!
‘Let Them Measure the Pattern’
God wants us to teach people about His temple—both the physical and the spiritual. “Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them” (Ezekiel 43:10‑11). Here Ezekiel discusses people being ashamed. In the Millennium, we know that all people, in general, will be ashamed. But that is not the case before Christ returns.
This is a prophecy stating that we are to learn the truth about the Ezekiel temple and the spiritual sacrifices in this end time. God has now revealed more truth about this temple. His own Church must understand today, in order to teach this glorious vision in tomorrow’s world. This message is in this prophetic book because God wants us to understand it now!
This is written to an end-time Ezekiel work. God says we are to show the physical temple to the nations of Israel. Of course it is also to be proclaimed to God’s Church, or spiritual Israel. God hopes that they “may be ashamed.” This is before the Great Tribulation. We know that Israel will be ashamed during the Great Tribulation. Many prophecies tell us that.
In this verse, God says we are to “let them measure.” If people are willing, they can measure and prove everything about God’s temple—both physically and spiritually. God is not yet ruling with a rod of iron (Revelation 2:27). They are to be shown the temple in detail. But only if they are ashamed. Repentant people will be shown the form and fashion, the goings in and comings out, the laws and ordinances of this temple. God wants them to get the specifics of this inspiring vision of hope.
God will “write it in their hearts” if they repent. It will definitely be written in the hearts of all Israel after the Tribulation, when all of them have repented (Jeremiah 31:33).
Those who respond today will have an office in that temple.
We must write the laws of this physical temple “in their sight.” We must proclaim the “form of the house” to them. Again, this is both physical and spiritual.
Even in the Kingdom of God, we will be proclaiming God’s temple to the world. Though we will be spirit beings, we will manifest ourselves in the flesh because our students will still be human beings (Isaiah 30:20).
This is a prophecy that we will proclaim Ezekiel’s temple to all the world. Of course, it all revolves around the spiritual. Even the physical temple is only a type of God’s temple in heaven.
The true Church today must learn about the law to be applied in God’s house. “This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house” (Ezekiel 43:12). In all of these end-time prophecies, law-breaking is the main problem! It transcends all other problems. Even God’s own people today are stumbling all over His law upon which God’s government is based (Malachi 2:8). Unless they repent, God can’t use them to teach His law to the whole world from the Ezekiel temple! What a tragic loss that will be.
God’s true Church always teaches the truth about God’s government and laws.
A Pattern of the Heavenly Temple
The physical temple is patterned after the heavenly temple. “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount” (Hebrews 8:5). The tabernacle in the wilderness had the same general pattern as Solomon’s temple. Whether tabernacle or temple, if it is God’s, it is patterned after the heavenly temple. “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:23-24).
The heavenly temple is God’s dwelling place. His temple is mentioned several times in the book of Revelation. New Jerusalem, or God’s temple, was Abraham’s ultimate goal. “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). That temple is coming to Earth when God creates the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21:1-2). All of God’s tabernacles and temples should point us to that godly, royal destiny.
That was the goal Christ discussed with His disciples. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2). The expression “many mansions” should read “many offices.” God has many offices to fill in His Ezekiel temple. These same king-priests will later have offices in new Jerusalem!
I hope this destiny stirs us far more than anything else in our lives! The reward given to these pillar-priests, the highest-level offices in God’s Kingdom, is magnificent beyond words!
Right now, we are working to fill these very real offices. Unless we clearly grasp this breathtaking vision, we can’t possibly qualify! That is why the Laodiceans—even those who repent in the Great Tribulation—fail to qualify to share Christ’s throne. We must overcome and conquer now (Revelation 3:19-21). We must not take this calling lightly! It is worth any sacrifice—any trial God gives us to endure.
If we have a sharp vision of the Ezekiel temple, we can gain insight into God’s heavenly temple and into our future beyond even the Millennium and Last Great Day! It’s about our future eternity with God. Only this vision will inspire us to qualify for the highest offices God has to give! If we understand Ezekiel’s temple, we can get a much better understanding of these offices.
It is easy to get bogged down in the present-day drudgery of this world. God has an unbelievably exalted goal for all of us. He wants to lift our thoughts out of this world into an illustrious future world that He will rule. Many people think it is just another fantasy. But they are wrong. Soon Christ will be here to bring peace, joy and abundance to this wretched world.
The Holy of Holies
We need to understand the importance of the most holy place in the temple: the holy of holies. It was located in the inner court of the temple. “And he built twenty cubits on the sides of the house, both the floor and the walls with boards of cedar: he even built them for it within, even for the oracle, even for the most holy place” (1 Kings 6:16).
The ark of the covenant was kept in the holy of holies. The ark, covered with gold, was a type of God’s throne—a symbol of His presence. It was covered by two olive wood cherubim with outstretched wings. If the Israelites lost the ark, they knew that the glory of Israel had departed from them.
Inside the ark were the two tablets of stone, upon which the Ten Commandments were written. It also contained a pot of manna and Aaron’s rod (Hebrews 9:4-5).
Of course, there is great symbolism in all of this. God’s people must eat manna, or spiritual food, today. They must be ruled by the Ten Commandments, or the law. That means there has to be government based on the law—symbolized by Aaron’s rod. That government must always emanate from God’s throne. The ark of the covenant is all about God ruling man.
God’s Church is His temple today (1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 2:21). God is building His spiritual temple now—this very moment!
Jachin and Boaz
God had two pillars built at the entrance of the temple. The pillars were named Jachin and Boaz (1 Kings 7:21).
These two pillars will also be in Ezekiel’s temple. “The length of the porch was twenty cubits, and the breadth eleven cubits; and he brought me by the steps whereby they went up to it: and there were pillars by the posts, one on this side, and another on that side” (Ezekiel 40:49). In Solomon’s temple these two pillars contained at least 130 tons of brass. That helps us understand why Nebuchadnezzar broke up those pillars to carry them to Babylon (Jeremiah 52:17). The two pillars weighed 266 tons and stood 36 feet high. There was a huge bowl on each pillar which was 10 feet high and as large as a room.
What do these two pillars with the bowls on top symbolize? Christ is referred to as a man with the appearance of brass (Ezekiel 40:3). Christ is pictured as one of these pillars in the Bible. “And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick [lampstand] all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof” (Zechariah 4:1-2). The word candlestick should be translated lampstand. There is a pillar, or lampstand, with a bowl on top. The bowl contained the oil which fueled the lamp. “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (verse 6). We do God’s Work through His Holy Spirit—typed by the bowl of oil—not by human ability.
There are seven lamps, or Church eras. The pillar, or lampstand, here is obviously a type of Jesus Christ. “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle” (Revelation 1:13). Here Christ is pictured as being in the middle of the seven Church eras. He is the pillar and bowl that fuels the seven lamps. “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass [the two pillars in Solomon’s temple contained 130 tons of brass], as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. … The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks [or lamps] which thou sawest are the seven churches” (verses 14-16, 20).
How many people truly see the great power behind God’s true Church? This is where we get the spiritual fuel that makes our lamp burn. This is the pillar that supports God’s Work! This is the government that rules God’s Church! We can’t survive unless we realize where the source of our power really is. This is the earthshaking might behind God’s little remnant today. Revelation 2-3 prophesy about God’s seven Church eras, or lamps. The first three chapters of Revelation portray the same picture we just read about in Zechariah 4.
In Ezekiel’s temple, Christ is clearly one pillar and God the Father is the other. When people approach this temple in the World Tomorrow, they will enter between these two pillars. They will be taught that God the Father and Christ are the pillars and source of power behind the creation of the God Family! The world will know who rules and who does not!
The Source of Our Power
We are to be God as God is God. However, we are created Gods, not Gods without beginning. We are men made of clay—red mud. God created us from dust. That makes the miracle of our spiritual birth even more majestic. We go from dust to being members in God’s own Family! The Father and Christ are the source of that creation.
God’s people must never forget the Source of our power. What is a lamp without oil? Worthless. We must learn that lesson now or we can’t rule in God’s Kingdom. That is what God’s own Laodicean people have forgotten. They don’t see the true Source of all power. Their supply of oil is very low. Read the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. Fifty percent of them will lose their eternal lives. God’s own Church has received wonderful, but very dangerous, knowledge!
God and Christ are the only light in this world. There is no other source. Zerubbabel learned this in the end time (Zechariah 4:6; Revelation 3:7-8). But the Laodiceans have rejected the office of this end-time servant of God.
We Philadelphians must learn to submit to God’s government—His Holy Spirit—the way this end-time Zerubbabel did. Mr. Armstrong was a type of Zerubbabel. All of the Laodicean groups teach a government of man—not God’s government, which Mr. Armstrong taught. The great work done through Mr. Armstrong did not happen by accident! It was done through the power of God’s Holy Spirit!
God help those Laodiceans who fail to see that all-powerful miracle! The man is nothing. But what God did through that man is truly incredible!
How brightly God’s lamp burned in His Work. But the “blind” Laodiceans can’t see God’s lamp. That is why they are lukewarm.
Zerubbabel built God’s temple. He knew how to build for God. He is ready to teach the whole world. The Laodiceans are not.
The Philadelphians are going to be pillars. “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name” (Revelation 3:12). That means they have learned to look to the God Family and become like them. That means we shall be headquarters pillars forever—we will “go no more out”! Tiny pillars compared to God, but pillars nevertheless. We get to be called pillars forever like God! What a reward for being loyal!
After the message to each Church era of Revelation 2-3, God says, “[L]et him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.” The Spirit is the oil that makes the lamp burn brightly. God help the person who follows a man (Jeremiah 17:5) instead of the Holy Spirit.
The interior of God’s temple was and will be overlaid with pure gold. “So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold” (1 Kings 6:21). The altar in God’s temple will also be covered with gold. This altar is located in the inner court. Everything in the temple revolves around God’s altar, just as the Church today revolves around God’s ministry—symbolized by the altar.
God’s very elect today are being trained for a spectacular job in the Ezekiel temple. These saints are compared to pure gold in God’s present and future service. They will be on the highest king-priest level in the Millennium and throughout eternity. God wants us to deeply understand how highly He values our unswerving loyalty!
Let’s look at another prophecy about God’s Church splitting in the end time. “How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street” (Lamentations 4:1). Lamentations was written by the Prophet Jeremiah. The focus of the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations is on the end time—today. Notice the gold has “become” dim. The fine gold is changed. And God is discussing His sanctuary—His own Church and, specifically, the ministers who serve Him! They had God’s precious truth and now are losing it! They have changed from fine gold to dim gold. Thankfully, at this point, they are still gold. There is still hope!
This is temple language that obviously applies to God’s own Church. Satan has deceived the ministers and then led most of God’s people astray. “The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!” (verse 2). God likens the “precious sons of Zion” to fine gold. He is discussing His own ministers first of all. Of course, it applies to all of His people too. This same truth is covered in Malachi’s Message.
God wants us to see the value He places on His own people! Do you see how precious you are to God if you remain His very golden elect? We dwell in the inner court, where God’s holy of holies is. God is in our presence if we are doing His Work! We will belong to that group of priests, the only ones, who come near to God. Our offices will be near God’s office in Ezekiel’s temple. What a gloriously golden future God’s very elect have! But beware of Satan.
I believe we are now qualifying to be in the inner court of the Ezekiel temple. God’s people are either in the inner or outer court of God’s spiritual temple today (Revelation 11:1‑2). The inner court is where God dwells. It appears we will work in the inner court of the physical temple during the Millennium if we are in the inner court spiritually today. Regardless, those saints in the inner court today will have a much greater responsibility in God’s Kingdom.
The Focus of the World
Psalm 68 includes prophecy of God’s future world (verses 16, 18, 22). “Because of thy temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto thee” (verse 29). This verse refers specifically to God’s physical temple in the Millennium. Kings of the Earth will bring gifts to Christ. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. And we have the opportunity to work where kings come to us! God is giving us a real, majestic calling that is almost too wonderful to even comprehend (Revelation 2:26; 5:10).
God uses His temple to get the minds of men focused on Him! If He can fill men’s minds with this vision, nothing will stop them from being a part of it!
The temple project will begin even as Christ descends on the Mount of Olives. “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4). That dramatic event will alter the landscape where Ezekiel’s temple is to be built. This mountain is going to split in half. One half will move to the north and one half to the south. That will create a deep valley running east and west. The Mount of Olives will probably be a good deal higher than it is now. That miracle will immediately bury much of the filth in Jerusalem and will make our landscaping and building programs much easier.
We need to plan our future in Ezekiel’s temple with that kind of vision.
Jesus Christ planned this temple from the beginning of man’s history. He knew this temple would be the center and focus of the whole world! “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Micah 4:1-2). Christ will receive “many nations” at this great temple. God’s law will be taught to the world from this headquarters building—“the house of the Lord.” It will be ruled by the same law and government that God taught through Herbert Armstrong!
Chapter 15: The Temple Sacrifices
Many verses discuss physical sacrifices in Ezekiel’s temple. But does the Bible interpret them as physical or spiritual sacrifices? Would there be any reason why physical animal sacrifices would be going on during the Millennium?
Let’s notice some key verses in Malachi: “Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 1:7-8). We know that the book of Malachi is prophecy for the end time. God is addressing His own Church and its spiritual problems. God relates that the people offer lame, blind and sick sacrifices. Obviously He is referring not to physical animal sacrifices but to the quality of their spiritual sacrifice. You are a spiritual sacrifice for God today—good or bad (Romans 12:1). We can see by the context in Malachi 1 that God is rebuking His own Laodicean people in this end time. Their eternal lives are in jeopardy! They are “blind” (Revelation 3:17). They are also lame and sick—spiritually!
If Christ had been a sick and lame sacrifice, you and I would have no future. God wants us to imitate His sacrifice (Philippians 2:5).
Are you giving God a lame sacrifice? A sick sacrifice? Or a royal, Christ-like sacrifice? God isn’t interested now in animal sacrifices. He is deeply concerned about you as a sacrifice (i.e. Romans 12:1).
“Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand” (Malachi 1:10). This passage portrays a people who kindle fire in offering animal sacrifices. That means the Laodiceans still act very religious, but God says He has no pleasure in them. The altar refers specifically to the ministers today. They are leading God’s people astray.
God says we should just shut the temple, or church, doors if we offer sick sacrifices. When He discusses the kindling of a fire, He is referring to the spiritual lamp in His Church—in you.
House of Prayer
How fervent is your prayer? “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 1:11). Incense is a type of our prayers (Revelation 8:3). Here God is saying prayers should be offered to God in every place—all over the world.
Ezekiel’s temple is called a house of prayer. The whole world will be focused there. That is how we are going to make God’s name great among all the spiritual Gentiles. We must teach the whole world how to pray. God is discussing an earthshaking revolution in this world! Finally the world will learn how to pray and get results. This is the main way we stir up God’s Holy Spirit of power (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
Can you even imagine the whole world intently praying to God? Whether we can or not, it is going to happen very soon. We must know how to pray effectively so that we can teach all humanity.
Do we live by every word of God? Do we love God’s spiritual food? “But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the Lord is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible” (Malachi 1:12). Is any of God’s spiritual meat, or food, contemptible to us? Christ’s greatest passion was doing the will of God. His most intense passion was to please His Father—not just obey Him, but to please Him!
“Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord. But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen” (verses 13-14). God demands that we not give Him a lame or sick spiritual sacrifice.
The Laodiceans offer polluted sacrificial meat. They offer the “torn, and the lame, and the sick” animals. But again, this is really discussing their terrible spiritual condition. They offer God corrupt sacrifices. They fail to give their best to God. They have forgotten how “dreadful” God can be if He has to punish us!
So we can see that even when God uses physical sacrifices in prophecy about His Church today, it applies spiritually. Isaiah also uses physical sacrifices to prophesy about an end-time spiritual condition (see Isaiah 56, especially verse 7).
Isaiah 66 is also a prophecy for the end time (see verses 8, 12-13). “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? 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” (verses 1‑2). God says He will look to this man, or this individual. This is a very humble person who trembles at God’s Word. God doesn’t look to men of powerful stature, unless they have a great fear of disobeying His Word. These verses are obviously discussing the type of spiritual leaders God chooses.
But then He discusses sacrifices, offerings and incense. “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). Again, these statements are made in the context of the end time. This too is talking about spiritual sacrifices.
“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 says that when He spoke they didn’t hear. When did God speak? God is speaking now through His Philadelphia ministry and Church. We are knocking on their door on God’s behalf as we warn the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:20).
“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). Instead of listening to God, the Laodicean ministers cast out those who spoke for God! God’s loyal people feared God and obeyed. God says the Laodiceans will be deeply ashamed in the future.
The subject has nothing to do with animal sacrifices. God says His Laodicean ministers will not fear Him in this end time (i.e. Malachi 1:6). That is why they are a blind, lame and sick spiritual sacrifice!
The Blood of Christ
Jesus Christ not only labors over us today, He gave His own life as a sacrifice for us. “And one lamb out of the flock, out of two hundred, out of the fat pastures of Israel; for a meat offering, and for a burnt offering, and for peace offerings, to make reconciliation for them, saith the Lord God. All the people of the land shall give this oblation for the prince in Israel. And it shall be the prince’s part to give burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel: he shall prepare the sin offering, and the meat offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make reconciliation for the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 45:15-17).
Twice the expression “to make reconciliation” is used. The death of Christ reconciled us to His Father (Romans 5:10). That is the subject discussed here in Ezekiel. This is prophecy for the end time. Only Christ’s sacrifice can reconcile us spiritually. Physical sacrifices were still extant when Ezekiel wrote this prophecy. However, those sacrifices only pointed to Christ’s supreme sacrifice. The physical sacrifices were no longer required when Christ gave His life.
Why did the physical sacrifices cease? Because we can’t be made perfect by animal sacrifices. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). Christ’s sacrifice removes our sins, if we repent. Only the blood of Christ can do that—never the blood of bulls and goats. We will never go back to sacrificing bulls and goats!
Animal sacrifices cannot pay for our sins. But they pointed to the sacrifice of Christ. When He came, the sacrifices were discontinued. “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second” (verse 9). Christ came to take away the first, the Old Covenant and the physical sacrifices, and establish the second—the New Covenant revolving around Christ and His first coming to Earth. God took the sacrificial system away. He didn’t remove it so it could be reinstated in the Millennium. That would cause confusion. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (verse 10). When Christ was sacrificed, the physical sacrifices became obsolete. The sacrificial system was replaced by Christ’s sacrifice (Hebrews 8:13).
Because of what is stated in Ezekiel 40 through 48, I thought for years that physical sacrifices would be offered in the Millennium. That is simply not true.
Those sacrifices were for carnal people only. Now God gives His Holy Spirit—after His Son was sacrificed—to make us perfect (Matthew 5:48).
Christ gave His precious blood for us! And He won’t accept a lukewarm response to such a majestic, total sacrifice. He sweat blood for His Church and the world before He gave His blood! (Luke 22:44). Now it is time for us to do some sweating in gratitude for what He did for all of us.
The physical sacrifices were taken away for a great purpose!
The Levitical priesthood was removed and replaced by the Melchizedek priesthood (Hebrews 7). “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:11-12). It doesn’t make sense to go back to physical sacrifices that can never take away sins. The comma in verse 12 should be after sins, not after forever. If we overcome our sins now, Christ is offering us a share of His throne—forever!
“Whereof the Holy [Spirit] also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (verses 15-17). God never wrote His laws into their hearts and minds through physical sacrifices. That could only be done after Christ’s sacrifice.
“Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (verse 18). There is “no more offering for sin”—either physical or spiritual sacrifices! “No more” means no more. “By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God” (verses 20-21). We have a new way to live and a High Priest over God’s house. We will not go back to the old way.
Spiritual Sacrifices Forever
I have never read or heard where any man taught that the sacrifices in Ezekiel 40-48 were spiritual. But God has revealed this truth to us now to expand the great vision of our future offices.
Why would God write about sacrifices in Ezekiel’s temple?
First of all, we need to understand that Ezekiel wrote his book before Christ came. Israel was still sacrificing physically. If spiritual sacrifices had been taught, the people could not have understood because they did not have God’s Holy Spirit. But they could understand the physical sacrifices discussed in Ezekiel.
Secondly, writing about the sacrifices this way keeps the world from understanding the meaning, until the time when God wants to reveal it. The Bible is a coded book. God has hidden His truth from the wise and the prudent (Matthew 11:25). How did He do that? One way is by discussing the sacrificial system in end-time prophecies. These sacrifices are only a type of the spiritual sacrifices God requires.
Thirdly, Spirit-led people can easily understand and implement the spiritual counterpart to the physical sacrifices. For example, incense is a type of prayer. The Bible clearly states that we are to offer spiritual sacrifices in God’s spiritual house today: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Christ is the High Priest of the spiritual temple, the Church.
God can reveal this precious understanding to His “babes,” or those with a humble, childlike attitude. So when God inspired the writing about physical sacrifices in the book of Ezekiel, it could be understood by both ancient Israel and God’s Church today. When Christ stopped the physical sacrifices, it was forever.
Now is the time for spiritual sacrifices forever!
Chapter 16: Our Place in the Temple
When the Millennium begins, God will build the most beautiful temple ever seen on Earth. Then, at the end of the Great White Throne Judgment, that temple will be destroyed and replaced by the Father’s own temple from heaven! The Father’s temple will be at least a million times more beautiful than the Ezekiel temple. Ezekiel’s temple is only a small preview of what is to come. Men need to be motivated to live for God’s Family, not the world today.
God’s heavenly temple is coming to this Earth (Hebrews 11:10). The Ezekiel temple is only a step in that direction. Everything on this physical Earth is only temporary. When the Father comes to this Earth, He will begin to expand the world’s vision out into the universe (Hebrews 1; Isaiah 9). One vision leads to another and another and still another. The godly excitement is endless.
God’s firstfruits are to rule in the Ezekiel temple. Christ said His wife—the Church—has made herself ready for that marriage (Revelation 19:7). But Christ’s wife won’t get ready if she doesn’t see a future marriage. People won’t prepare for the wonderful world to come unless it is real to them. Our job is to make that vision real to those who will listen.
Made in the Image of God
The truth of God is surely a million times more inspiring than any movie you could ever see. Let’s briefly review Ezekiel 1. “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man” (Ezekiel 1:4-5). This is God’s spaceship. “And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning” (verse 14). This space vehicle moves at the speed of light. “And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it” (verse 26). This was God Himself—sitting on His throne.
Why would God remind us that this dazzling God looks like a man? We are already made in the physical likeness of God. Now God’s saints are being made into His image, or character (Genesis 1:26). The second part of that creation is going on right now in the firstfruits.
All of the animals of Genesis 1 were made after their kinds. But man was made in the likeness of God! You are not an angel or an animal. You have far greater potential than animals—even greater than angels.
Do you realize how illustrious your potential is? Satan has hidden this spectacular future from us. “And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about” (Ezekiel 1:27). God appeared like a great cluster of fire. God is not dull. He is full of fiery splendor. It is the kind of magnificent beauty that took Ezekiel’s breath away! “As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake” (verse 28). Ezekiel was so overwhelmed by the vision that he fell upon the ground.
This gloriously bright Being is the real Architect of the temple in Ezekiel’s prophecy! He is the royal Author who has revealed this new truth about Ezekiel’s temple—the very subject you are reading about right now! This revelation and all the other revealed truths of the pcg prove that this great God is with us! Such revelation is found only in God’s spiritual temple, the Philadelphia Church today. And the spiritual temple is far more important than the physical temple!
Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings were written by prophets. There is prophecy contained in them for us today. We can look at Israel’s and Judah’s history and, if we repeat it, we can expect the same results—good or bad. So these books are very prophetic. (Request our free book The Former Prophets: How to Become a King.)
Let’s look at one of these books that discusses the physical temple in ancient Judah. 2 Kings 22:3-7 show maintenance men coming to repair the physical temple. Hilkiah, the high priest, found God’s law (verses 8-10). He then delivered it to Josiah, who read it and was greatly alarmed when he discovered how badly Judah was breaking God’s Ten Commandments. “And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes” (verse 11). It appears that only King Josiah was alarmed by Judah’s sins. Since we are training to be king-priests, this is a prophecy about how God’s very elect should react to sin in God’s spiritual temple today! Tragically, only a tiny few react as God commands them to.
When we see these sins, God expects us to react as Josiah did. There were no alarm bells or thunder and lightning. God just stirred up one man by revealing His Word to him! Josiah sought God’s answer to this crisis (verses 12-20). God was full of wrath and ready to destroy Judah. Josiah commanded the whole nation to repent. Because of what he did, God said He would not destroy Judah until after Josiah died. That made the nation feel secure.
But it wasn’t long until Josiah was killed in battle. Then a pall of gloom fell over Judah. Many authorities believe it was then that Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations. Shortly after Josiah’s death, Judah was destroyed. The book of Lamentations reveals that Judah had reached the point of no return.
The primary focus of Lamentations is on the end time. A large portion of it is about the end-time Laodicean ministry and Church. (Request our free booklet Lamentations: The Point of No Return.) The story of Josiah appears to have a direct tie to the end-time Laodicean disaster (along with the collapse of the end-time nations of Israel).
There is a strong parallel to the life of Josiah and God’s end-time Elijah, Herbert Armstrong. He got the wcg back on track twice in the 1970s. God always protected that Church while Mr. Armstrong was alive. But God also prophesied that the wcg would be destroyed by Satan after Mr. Armstrong died.
Why would God take men like Josiah or Mr. Armstrong out of the way? (2 Thessalonians 2:7). It’s very simple. Today, God doesn’t want some exalted leader to carry the rest of us. God wants to see how many Josiah and Armstrong attitudes there are so He can see who the elite will be in Ezekiel’s temple. It’s almost time to start building the physical temple. God wants to know who will fill His world-ruling offices!
Another end-time prophecy tells us God is bringing “one of a city, and two of a family … to Zion” (Jeremiah 3:14). Jesus Christ wants to know who can follow Him without needing a leader of great stature. He is knocking on the Laodiceans’ door to see “if any man,” or individual, will open the door. “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 3:20). Christ is a jealous God. He wants us to look to Him—not a man.
The book of Ezekiel also addresses this individual responsibility. “Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness” (Ezekiel 14:20). Even great spiritual leaders like Noah, Daniel and Job can’t save us. God wants to know what you individually will do. Can you follow Christ? He wants you to always look to Him. This is the quality of character required to rule the Earth from Ezekiel’s temple.
We are living in a prophetic time when God is evaluating our individual dedication. There are several churches of God in this end time, but only one is doing God’s Work. Those saints who commit to Christ’s Work are going to receive a fabulous job in Ezekiel’s temple. Soon the whole world will know who is who. It will be obvious by their work.
God plans to send us to other planets in the universe in the future. He sent Lucifer to planet Earth to administer His government. Lucifer rebelled and destroyed this Earth. God then saw He must re-create Himself (Genesis 1:26). Only His character can rule the Earth and universe.
“In the land shall be his possession in Israel: and my princes shall no more oppress my people; and the rest of the land shall they give to the house of Israel according to their tribes” (Ezekiel 45:8). This is a prophecy of the future when Christ will rule this Earth. People will never again be oppressed by their rulers!
How could this not be the greatest news ever heard if we understand what is happening in this world? “Thus saith the Lord God; Let it suffice you, O princes of Israel: remove violence and spoil, and execute judgment and justice, take away your exactions from my people, saith the Lord God” (verse 9). Violence and injustice are about to cease forever! Only Christ can achieve these results.
Christ will be responsible for building the Ezekiel temple (Ezekiel 40:1, 3, 14). But He is also creating the far more important spiritual temple today and in the world to come. He does the measuring physically and spiritually (verses 19, 23, 28, 32). Christ is measuring the spiritual temple today (Revelation 11:1).
Through this Church crisis, Jesus Christ is creating spiritual pillars for jobs in the Ezekiel temple. The creative process is in progress this very minute!
God’s very elect belong to Christ. He is the Husband and we are His Bride. Christ is going to use His Bride to rule the world. She will reside in the Ezekiel temple with her Husband. Christ is laboring now to get His wife ready (Revelation 19:7).
The Laodiceans are in the outer court now because they will not submit to their Husband. That means He cannot labor over them and prepare them for their bridal responsibilities! What a colossal tragedy!
Set Your Heart on God’s Work
Let’s look again at the beginning of the Ezekiel temple prophecy. “And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 40:4). This is the introductory chapter to the vision of Ezekiel’s temple. God reminds Ezekiel that He gave him this prophecy to declare it to the house of Israel!
Ezekiel was in captivity, and Israel had gone into captivity over 100 years before. So the message is for an end-time Ezekiel work. God has given us deeper revelation about Ezekiel’s temple so we can declare it to Israel. An urgent responsibility comes with the revelation.
We must not remain silent now that God has revealed this prophecy to us. We must declare it! We are called for a purpose. God has an Ezekiel work today, or else Ezekiel lived in vain!
Mr. Armstrong made the following statement many times: “Your spiritual growth is in direct proportion to how much your heart is in God’s Work.” He just stated essentially what God inspired Ezekiel to prophesy. If our hearts are in God’s Work, we will declare His message!
This is how God judges us. How much we love and do God’s Work is a reflection of our love for God!
Beyond the Millennium
Ezekiel’s temple will house God’s kings and priests in the wonderful World Tomorrow. They will serve a world comprised of physical human beings, and every single person will look to this temple for leadership. That is how God will fill this world with peace and joy. And that God-given paradise will be here in just a few years.
Soon this world is going to be shocked to see a spiritual nation of Israel born in one day—at once! This is going to be a universe-shaking miracle! That obviously has not happened yet. It is an imminent prophecy. “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). God’s firstfruits are going to be born into His Family.
What kind of people will experience this phenomenal birth? “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? 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” (verses 1-2). God doesn’t look to evangelists and apostles—men of stature—to do His Work. God looks to the very humble man who trembles at His Word. This is where God looks—where you will find His power and His Work!
We are in temporary flesh today. Ezekiel’s temple will be physical and temporary, regardless of its splendid beauty. God’s goal, beyond the Millennium, is to make man into spirit.
Understanding that vision will cause us to rejoice today, until that glorious future arrives.
This vision reaches far beyond the Millennium. Christ said we would have “the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God” (Revelation 3:12). This is referring to new Jerusalem, when new Jerusalem is on this Earth. This vision stretches out all the way into eternity! We are to serve in the God Family and help rule the whole universe forever!
This vision pictures a time when the Ezekiel temple has come and gone. The temple upon which it was patterned will then be on Earth. Even the resplendent Ezekiel temple is only temporary. We have to stretch our minds to even comprehend the new eternal Jerusalem temple!
Our future stirs God mightily. When God sees this family plan completed, He shouts “like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine” (Psalm 78:65-72). We should be so stirred by this vision! We can overcome our marriage problems if we see our physical marriage as a type of our marriage to Christ. And we can overcome our family problems if we see it as a God-plane relationship—a type of the God Family!
If we grasp this awesome future, we can overcome any problem. This is how Christ endured, and we can do the same. We must overcome our rebellious nature to achieve this goal.
Revelation 3:12 implies that there will be a physical temple in the World Tomorrow. If we are to go no more out, we must have an office. It will be in the Ezekiel temple.
God in Our Midst
God is a Family. God the Father and Christ live in the midst of their Family. The firstfruits are actually Christ’s Bride (Revelation 19:7). This Husband and wife will be closer than any physical marriage ever could be. God loves and dwells intimately with His Family.
“Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house” (Ezekiel 43:1-5). Other scriptures tell us that God dwells in the holy of holies, which is inside the inner court.
“And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me. And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places” (verses 6‑7). God is going to dwell in our midst. The Father will be the ever present, loving Head of His Family—forever!
Only Christ will have His office in the holy of holies during the Millennium. After that, God the Father will come down from heaven, and both Christ and our Father will dwell in new Jerusalem. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7). There will be “no end” to the growth and increase of God’s government. Endless growth! Perhaps God will continue to expand His Family. What God does with His Family beyond the Millennium will make even the Millennium seem dull by comparison!
The Ezekiel temple will be so magnificent that it will dwarf any building ever constructed by a human being apart from God. But even Ezekiel’s temple will seem small and insignificant compared to new Jerusalem. Our God is a towering, all-powerful God, and He does His Work on a God-plane level.
New Heaven, New Earth
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1). This is our eternal home. This is where Christ’s focus was when He was on Earth, and where it is today. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2). Notice, it is “my Father’s house.” The Ezekiel temple is only a type of the heavenly temple.
When the Father comes to this Earth, it will be a world full of spirit beings. Then new Jerusalem with the heavenly temple will come to the new Earth (Hebrews 11:8-10). The Father will then have all of His Family together. He will be the Head.
This is the royal gospel that Christ taught!
God is always trying to get our focus on His Kingdom, the Family of God. With this vision in our minds, nothing can keep us out of God’s Family!
Satan knows he can destroy us spiritually if he can destroy this vision of our future! God never offered God Family status to any of the angels. That makes Satan hate our Family potential even more.
There is a glorious reason why Ezekiel’s temple is patterned after God’s temple in heaven. Our goal reaches far beyond this physical Earth. Ezekiel’s temple is only a type of our eternal future in God the Father’s spiritual temple. When the Father comes to the Earth, the Family of God will be complete. Then the Family will beautify the whole universe. The truly great work will begin at that time!
God has His people keep the Feast of Tabernacles each year to deeply etch this vision into our minds. We must be taught, retaught and taught again to learn this magnificent vision. That is the only way we will ever get it! Then, when Christ returns, we will be ready to teach it to the world!
Before God’s plan is complete, we will help Him teach many billions of people. This is no small concept. God keeps pounding this majestic message into our minds. We are temporary flesh, but created to live forever in God’s Family. That is why we were created!
This is God’s most noble vision. It is beyond human understanding. Only God can reveal such a future to us.