The God Family Vision
Chapter 1: God Family Spokesman
Where is the beginning of the Bible narrative? It is not, as most would suppose, the first verse of the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The first verse in John’s Gospel is about a time long before human experience, long before the universe and long before even the angels. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Chronologically, John 1:1 actually predates Genesis 1:1.
Why, of all the books of the Bible, the gospels in particular, would John give this account? John wrote his Gospel long after the other three—Matthew, Mark and Luke. So he actually was able to give us a lot more depth.
John’s Gospel is the most profound of the four, because—as the Bible reveals—he had a special relationship with Christ. He had a deeper understanding of who Christ really was. And, because he outlived all the other apostles, he also had a longer time to meditate on this message.
John is the only biblical writer who talked about the Word. (He also authored the books of 1, 2, 3 John and Revelation. In 1 John and Revelation he also mentioned “the Word.”) What is the meaning of “the Word”? Who is the Word? Why was John the only Gospel writer to mention the Word?
The Awesome “Plan B”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). There are two Beings discussed here. God and the Word. As Herbert W. Armstrong made plain in his masterful book Mystery of the Ages, these two made one God—like one family. They were both God in the same sense that two members of the same family could both be Smith.
This one verse tells the story of a past eternity. Here was a “time” where there was only God and the Word. Nothing yet had been created—not even a single angel.
Could there be a more powerful introduction in all the Bible? John was one of the “sons of thunder” (see Mark 3:17), and what a thunderous introduction to this gospel—taking the reader back beyond the angelic plan to when there was only God and the Word.
Why? Why does he go back even before the angel plan? Probably because of what happened to Lucifer and one third of the angels. That plan—we could call it “Plan A”—had failed. Lucifer, whose name literally means light bringer, brought light, but then something tragic happened. He lost this light. God and the Word had lived together for all eternity in unity and in love. After the angels were created, Lucifer and one third of the angels rebelled. And for the first time ever in the universe, there was rebellion, disunity and a lack of love.
God didn’t inspire John to talk about that rebellion in John 1:1, because God now had another plan—a better plan!
The angels—who were sent to beautify the Earth, who should have then qualified to do the same to the entire universe—failed. So God had to enact another plan. He had a “Plan B,” just in case something like this were to happen. Plan B was actually a family plan. God had decided, if He couldn’t get the angels to do that job, that He would recreate Himself in man and make a family.
This was a plan that mankind alone could be a part of! It was not offered to Lucifer and the angels. Men, now, are invited into the family of God!
But Plan B involved tremendous risk! Now God was taking a chance of losing the Word, who later became His Son upon begettal in the virgin Mary. The Word would have to divest Himself of His eternal glory and live a perfect life, as a mortal, human being, to qualify as the unblemished sacrificial lamb to pay the tremendous price for the sins of all mankind (John 1:14). What if the Word were to sin? His death would then only pay for His own sins, and it would not have been possible to resurrect Him. That would have left only one God and no Savior—no family, no future for mankind!
That may very well be why God made it Plan B—because it was so risky! Imagine God, the one who became the Father, being alone for all eternity in the vast universe—with two thirds of the angels, of course, but nevertheless without the Word, His only eternal companion. Only God and the Word have no beginning of days.
Of course, that wasn’t what happened. The Word—Jesus Christ—came to Earth and succeeded.
Before the Beginning
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” What was going on with God and the Word before they created the angels and the universe? This is a good question, and one which God doesn’t really answer in the Bible. We know all about the mystery of God and the Bible, as unlocked in Mystery of the Ages. But what about the mystery before the ages?
That knowledge will undoubtedly be revealed after humans are born into God’s family as spirit beings. There is still a lot we don’t know. It is exciting to think about. John gets closer to the answer than any of the Bible’s other writers. Think about this: Perhaps God gave him a glimpse of what it was like because of his special relationship with Christ. Great things happen when you are close to God. God wants that kind of relationship with all of us.
How much did John know? How much did Christ tell him, when He was talking to him? Christ did say He loved John in a special way—he was “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20). Not that Christ loved him any more than the others, but perhaps He could talk to him about deeper subjects than He could with the others. You do wonder why the other Gospel authors didn’t write about the Word.
John says, “In the beginning.” We need to focus our attention on this time long before Genesis 1:1. Even then, the expression “in the beginning” is not quite adequate. It’s just for our sake. God doesn’t have a beginning. He inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15). That means there was no time—if you can comprehend that!
Why must we try to grasp these concepts? Well, if we are to be eternal God beings, then we will have to think about eternity! You need to have God’s perspective; God doesn’t think about time the way we do (2 Peter 3:8). God, through John’s opening statement in John 1:1, is grooming us to think in terms of eternity! What inspiring depth we must strive to comprehend!
The Word—the Logos
In the “beginning” was the Word—the Greek word being Logos, meaning Spokesman. The Logos is the Spokesman for the Godhead. Therefore, He came to Earth with a message. The first chapter of John makes that undeniably clear. Yet how many understand that?
Please try to comprehend this: The phrase “the Word was with God” does not refer to place or space; it means He was with Him spiritually. He was with Him in unity. He was in submission to God for all eternity. He set the example for all people of how to submit to the one now called the Father!
We understand that there are two beings but one absolute Godhead. Two beings, with one in submission to the other. It worked this way for all eternity. God then wanted to expand this way of life to include other spirit beings.
So God created the angels and gave them an opportunity to do an amazingly wonderful work. But one third of the angels rebelled. Lucifer and these angels declared war against their Creator (Isaiah 14:12‑14; Revelation 12:3-4). Such a thing had never happened before!
Satan really believed he could make a way other than God’s way work successfully—that somehow he could rebel against God and could make his way of competition work. Look at the results in Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep”—destruction! The other two thirds of the angels were able to witness that destruction and to see by the fruits of Lucifer’s rebellion that his way didn’t work.
We also must learn these lessons! Compare that with what is happening in God’s Church today. Many have become Laodicean, or lukewarm, and it won’t work. They ought to know that. They were taught that it wouldn’t work, but most of them don’t believe that. The evidence is all around them—they can’t do the work of God, because they’re in a state of rebellion.
Despite the angelic rebellion, God still wanted to expand His beautiful way of life. God saw that the angels were not capable of ruling this Earth and the universe. The only way to achieve that goal was for God to recreate Himself in man. After Lucifer became God’s adversary, God came in human form and spoke to John and the other disciples about the Father and the Son. It was not just God and the Word anymore, although they still fulfill these roles too. The Son is still the Spokesman. It is, however, a Father-Son relationship now—a family relationship!
Why the change? Why would God want us thinking of Him in family terms? Not just as God, but as Father and Son? The reason, as you will see throughout this book, is profound: It is because He is now opening up His family to human beings!
This is very deep, and you are going to have to really concentrate to comprehend this incredible truth!
The angels were never given the opportunity to be members of the God family. As it says in Hebrews 1, God never called the angels His sons. But when referring to man, He uses terms such as Father, Son, family, children, sons of God, bride of Christ. This is something dramatically new and wonderful!
Think about this opportunity! God and the Word became Father and Son—and the family of God is now opened up to all humanity! That is something impossible to imagine without God’s help! It is too awesome, too wonderful, to understand unless God helps you.
John used the Word four times in his writings: John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 19:13. Let’s look at the three remaining verses.
The Logos Made Flesh
John understood what a marvelous thing had occurred with Christ’s life; He was in awe. John 1:14 states, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” The Word was the only God who ever came to Earth, was begotten by God in a woman and born as a human child. There was a time in the Godhead when the Word was gone—He left to become a single cell within a woman, later a fetus and then a child!
God—the one who became the Father—created us through the Word (Ephesians 3:9; John 1:3). One of these immortal beings gave up all this power! Why? Out of love for a family—even if it meant risking everything.
This is why John was in such awe. You can’t fathom this concept unless you do a lot of praying! If you don’t understand this vision, you will be in spiritual trouble. That’s why there is a Laodicean Church today. Revelation 3:20 shows that members of God’s own Church in the end-time age have lost this vision—the family vision. They don’t remember the Word, nor do they remember what He did for them and how much God loves them.
Vesture Dipped in Blood
Notice Revelation 19:13. “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” The Word came down to Earth and dwelt among men, and men killed Him.
Of course, He planned it that way. He was the Creator of all mankind, and since the Creator’s life is worth more than all His creation, His death could pay the penalty for the sins of all humanity upon their repentance. That is what it took to get one or a million or a hundred billion people into God’s family! There wasn’t any other way. There was a law, and God had to die—not a man, not a goat, not a bull, as it says in Hebrews 10:1‑4—but God.
Realize that this was all done to make it possible for you to be a member of God’s family! You will never understand this unless you are on your knees, frequently praying about it, studying deeply into this incredible truth—that a God had to die to make it all possible!
This great Word always submitted to God—for all eternity. That is an incredible truth. Even more remarkable, however, is the fact that this eternally perfect, resplendent Being died for you.
But the awesome depth of this Logos vision doesn’t end with His sacrifice. Notice Revelation 19:7: “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.” Those called into God’s Church before Christ’s Second Coming not only have all these other blessings, but they have the honor and the opportunity to be the bride of the Word! That God came and died, His vesture was dipped in blood, and now He is going to marry those with the courage and the vision to see what He is doing today.
This Word, or Christ—the one who dipped His vesture in blood—is the link between the Father and man! Without Him, we would have no access to the Father, no forgiveness for our sins, and no potential to one day be resurrected, as Christ was, into God’s family as eternal God beings. But because of Him, and because of His unfathomable love for us, His creation, all that is possible. That is a special kind of love that John is trying to get us to understand.
From the Beginning
The other place John mentions the Word is in 1 John 1:1. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” The early New Testament Church had seen Him, talked to Him. They had hugged Him, patted Him on the back.
John is driving home the point that the man they knew as Christ was the Word—the Logos—who was with God from the beginning! He’s taking them back to the eternal history of the Spokesman. John wondered how these people in the first era of God’s Church could turn away from this great Word, when He had just been with them so recently! Most of those people fell away because they refused to understand. How tragic!
John was writing this letter in the midst of a horrible time. He was most likely on the Isle of Patmos, where he had been exiled. While he was imprisoned there, some ministers had rebelled against what they had been taught. They began to do some crazy things when John was not around, because they had lost this transcendent vision. Those in God’s Church today have experienced some strikingly similar problems. John lived in times that were a type of these latter days. That is why his writings are so important for us to understand deeply.
Notice verse 2: “For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.” John was asking them, do you realize this Word we knew was with the Father and came down here to this Earth? It was that great Being who became a mere man and had His vesture dipped in blood. That was the Word! That was God in the flesh. Can you grasp this?
The link between the Father and you is this Word. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23; 5:12), and thus all need His blood to cover our horrible sins. What an act of love on His part! How can you even describe the love God has for man? What a plan!
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). They saw Him; they heard Him. That is what John was declaring. And it was frustrating beyond words to John that so many of them didn’t get it.
“Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning” (1 John 2:7). John kept using the phrase from the beginning when writing the first-century Church—trying to get them to see what they were a part of.
God promised He would send Elijah to restore all things (Matthew 17:10-11). John the Baptist fulfilled that role in type (verses 12-13), but there was also an end-time fulfillment in the Philadelphia era of the New Testament Church of God (Revelation 3:7-8). When John used the phrase “from the beginning,” he was talking about the Logos. In the same sense, we should be going back to the end-time Elijah—who taught us about the Logos! Nobody talked about the Logos as Mr. Armstrong did! Because of him, God’s people heard all about it from the beginning of the Philadelphia era.
“I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father” (1 John 2:13). This was what was breaking John’s heart. They knew the Word who became a man. They knew this from the beginning—the transformed Word whom they had touched, spoken to and loved. But then they began to get away from His message. They were losing the great vision of the Logos!
Verse 24: “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.”
This is also prophecy for this end time. Whatever we have heard from the beginning of our calling and conversion must be in us. We are being held accountable for it, because we heard it from the beginning, from the end-time Elijah who restored all things.
2 John 5 states, “And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.” They were losing what they had from the beginning. It is very easy—and common—to not stay faithful to God and His truth. History demonstrates that fact. So do many prophecies about God’s people in this end time.
Verse 6: “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” John repeatedly is pointing them back to the Logos. He told them of his experiences with the Logos. He was pleading emotionally, because he spent so much time with this eternal God who came in the flesh. (For more information, write for our free booklet From the Beginning.)
Notice what John recorded in his third epistle, while he was probably still on Patmos: “I wrote unto the church [he couldn’t go there]: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church” (3 John 9-10).
What else but prison could keep John from personally dealing with such a serious Church crisis?
Has anything like this happened in this end time? Yes, indeed! There is an end-time Diotrephes casting people out of God’s Church. Most of God’s people in this end time are turning away from God, because they have blindly followed the wrong leaders. We must learn to follow the Logos—not any man.
Paul, who worked with John (see Acts 15), had a similar problem. In Colossians 2, he wrote to the Colossians and the Laodiceans during the Ephesus era. The Laodiceans, not the Colossians, were turning away, just like in this end time. The Laodicean rebellion in the first century is a type of the last-century rebellion. Laodiceanism is the same sickness in any age. That makes those books which discuss this (Colossians; 1, 2 and 3 John) prophetic!
The Ephesus era turned away (Revelation 2:1-7) and lost their first love, and some of them became Laodicean. Every era has its major sin but is also guilty of some of the sins of all seven eras. John had his Laodiceans too. They just turned away from him—and from God and the Logos. They turned away from the God who came in the flesh, dipped His vesture in blood for them and offered them a position as His bride! They turned to things, pleasures, entertainment and lusts of this world. They preferred that, rather than what the Logos offered them! What a hideous, shameful sin!
Some periods in the Church of God are not very positive—the first and last centuries, in particular.
Most of God’s people have turned away in this end time. Our job is the same as John’s: “that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.” If we understand this profound truth about the Word, then God says we’d better declare it, or their blood will be on our heads! (Ezekiel 33).
“And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (i John 1:4). The name John means “God is merciful.” God is a merciful God. He is not cruel, as many in the world see Him. He wants us to have full joy—to be truly happy. We will be, if we understand this. That is a guarantee from God.
Creating a Family
When a husband and wife start a family, it just about knocks them over emotionally. All of a sudden they see a little child come out of the mother, and there is life! A human life that wasn’t there before!
Yet some parents, having lost the natural affection that God designed into parents, will desert their own children—their own flesh and blood! Jesus Christ does just the opposite. He came and died for God’s sons. That’s how far He will go to save children. How many human beings are like that? That is a love we don’t understand, except as God reveals it to us. Our job is to follow the Word’s example (1 Peter 2:21).
The Word represents a great vision. He speaks for the Father. The Word has an impressive record of never, ever rebelling against the Father. That’s the only way He could die for you. One sin while He was on this Earth, and it would have been over for Him and us forever! It never would have been possible had He not been so perfectly obedient to God the Father. That is the perfect example that we must strive to follow.
Remember Genesis 1:26. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” We look like God, not like animals. God created the animals after the animal kind. Man is after the God kind. We look like God in our features, and we’re also going to be like Him in His image—His character. He wants us to have His character. That’s the kind of son He wants.
When a child comes out of the mother’s womb, he looks like his mom and dad, because they helped to create him, through God’s blessing. In the same manner, we are created by the Word and therefore look like our Creator, even though we don’t yet match Him in our character.
Added to all these other fantastic blessings, we get to marry Him—if we can rise to the bride level of character. What a breathtaking honor!
The Logos, a member of the Godhead, spilled His blood for us. Now He is offering the firstfruits His hand in marriage! The more I think about this, the more I am inspired to want to think even more about it. You can meditate on this for the rest of your life and still get more depth out of it! This is truly the mind of God that John was trying so hard to get the people to understand.
I hope you will think and pray about this subject a lot more. If you do, you will find it brings great inspiration into your life. I guarantee it!
The Word’s Glory
Notice Christ’s prayer the night before He was crucified: “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). What glory they had! The Word was with God, and they weren’t fighting—they were getting along, and it worked perfectly for all eternity. Only God’s love can produce that unity and glory. What a wonderful lesson and example for all humanity. Christ wants us to have that same glory.
Again, John was the only writer who canonized this prayer in the Gospel messages. Isn’t that interesting? Perhaps he just knew more about it or heard more of it; maybe Christ expounded on it more to him personally. I suspect it had something to do with John’s depth of understanding. He was not the one in charge—Peter was over all of the apostles—but he must have studied so hard and so deeply into this that he had been given a profound understanding by God.
Whereas the other gospels basically started with the birth of Christ, John went back long before that—when there was just God and the Word. Why, I ask again, did God inspire John to begin there? Most certainly because God wants us to think about and understand eternity, and have eternal goals! Nothing will change your life more than having this understanding and this vision in your mind! It will cause you to stand up and face any difficulty, any trial, if you understand this from God’s perspective. How much do we think like God? Philippians 2:5 states, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”—the same mind!
Genesis 1:1 refers to the physical creation. But John 1:1 is talking about the spiritual creation. What is happening in the lives of the very elect today is a spiritual creation. God is recreating Himself. It is happening right now! Christ is getting His bride ready.
Made Through Him
“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). God made the universe, and He keeps it going. If you were to make a car or a train, something would have to sustain it to keep it moving. Likewise, God is the Sustainer of life and of the universe.
The phrase “all things were made by him” is an inaccurate translation. Lange’s Commentary translates by as through, as do several other translations. That changes everything; it puts everything in perspective. “All things were made through him.” That means somebody was on the other side. Christ is the link to the Father, who is doing this work through Him.
The Greek word for by or through is dia, which is where we get the first part of our word diameter—meaning “through.” The Companion Bible reads, “Dia governs two cases: 1) with the genitive it has the general sense of through, as through dividing a surface into two by an intersecting line, or it denotes the passing through whatever is interposed between the beginning and the end of such action.” There is a being on the other end—the Father.
Lange’s has considerable insight about this (emphasis mine): “The Son never works of Himself, but always as the revealer of the Father and the executor of His will.” That is a profound understanding—and is exactly what the Bible says. That isn’t the message coming from most religious people today, however. Even this scholar could see that most of the translators were wrong about this verse.
Ephesians 3:9 also shows how God created the universe through Jesus Christ, the Word. It was all done by the Father through the Son, because—I repeat—the Son is in submission. He has never been anything but submissive to His Father. He is our example. Our Husband wants His wife to act like He does. What a calling—what a responsibility!
The Light of Men
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Psalm 36:9 states, “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” If you stay in God’s light, you will see the light, and others will see the light in you. We can only have that light if we stay in the fountain of light.
The Word is this light. “And the light shineth [present tense] in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). The light shines when someone does the work of God. Through God’s end-time apostle, Herbert W. Armstrong, the light really did shine. Through the Philadelphia Church of God it keeps shining today. It still shines if we’re doing our part.
Just as it takes energy and power to make an electrical light shine, it takes spiritual energy, the power of God and real effort, to make this spiritual light shine in your life! We also know that we are called to be a light to the world.
Lucifer, who was the light bringer to this world, turned to darkness. He then used all his powers and energies to bring this world into darkness. His dark influences have prevailed throughout human history. Christ—the light—came right into the midst of it. “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” Comprehend can be translated overtake, as in John 12:35: “lest darkness come upon you [or overtake you].” The darkness didn’t overtake Christ’s light. If the light is shining in darkness—if we are doing God’s work and getting His light to the world—the darkness can’t overtake us.
Getting Mystery of the Ages to the largest audience possible is one major way we can let our light shine—or, if necessary, fighting in court to be able to do that. If you pour your heart into that, then darkness will not—cannot—overtake you! But if you are not letting your light shine by doing this work, then the light is overtaken by the darkness.
Jesus Christ said, “My meat [or delight] is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34). That was how He let His light shine. That was His delight—to do what the Father wanted done. That is what made Him great. He supported His Father and set an example for His bride and for the world.
John 1:5 states that the light “shineth”—present tense. Lange’s comments about this word: “Present, denoting continuous activity from the beginning till now.” Daniel called God’s work the daily, or continual. That is exactly what John 1:5 means. We must continue to let the light shine!
Where did this light come from? It came from God, through the Logos. How was the fire, or the light, started for the Old Testament sacrifices—which are really a type of the spiritual continual today? Leviticus 9 gives the answer: “And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (verses 23-24). How impressive! This fire came from heaven like a bolt of lightning and just consumed the sacrifice!
How, then, did this spiritual fire start today? It was started by the Logos—by God. That’s what John was telling the people. Jesus Christ, the Logos, said He would build His Church (Matthew 16:18). He started the Church fire (after the Father called or begot His sons—John 6:44). He said the gates of hell, or the grave, would not prevail against it! He was the same Being, the Logos, who started the fire in Leviticus!
In the end time He sent an Elijah to restore all things. He started a great spiritual fire by restoring all things through that man. The great tragedy is, most of God’s people don’t believe the Elijah has come yet!
We have access to all things—all the doctrines of God. Where did they come from? After writing Mystery of the Ages, Mr. Armstrong said he didn’t feel he wrote that book, but that he was like a scribe as God poured the thoughts into his mind. Where did those thoughts come from? They came from God, through the Logos! He was the origin of that book. He was the origin of those restored truths.
A Witness of the Light
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe” (John 1:6‑7). John the Baptist’s purpose was to be a witness.
God’s people today serve the same purpose. Every man on Earth will have to receive the message of the Logos.
Remember, John means “God is merciful.” It was God who gave John the Baptist his name (Luke 1:13). When we sin, how merciful God is to cover those mistakes with Christ’s blood and forgive us. He wants us to get up and move on—to go forward, putting the sin behind us and becoming a better witness to the light!
That witness can be more powerful than preaching, because it is a person letting Christ live in them, and thereby letting the light shine! That is the kind of witness John was—“that all men through him might believe.” Although some don’t want to believe yet, in time our witness will have more of an effect on people. That is the strongest message of all.
The word witness is grossly misunderstood in religion today. What it truly means is to have the Logos live within you—to have the mind of Jesus Christ, the Word, in you so this light shines! Christ is trying to get this light into us—this Word into us—so we will all be a witness, and we’ll all live like the Logos! That is what we must do—live as Christ did when He was on Earth. He was perfect. He was following His Father’s example. He said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). He was a doer of the Ten Commandments and the written Word of God, the Bible. He didn’t just parrot empty, syrupy words about loving God.
If you have a mate who doesn’t believe as you do, your example can be a wonderful light and have a dramatic impact on that person’s life. The Bible says it might even change them and bring them into God’s family (1 Corinthians 7:16; 1 Peter 3:1-2). That’s how powerful this example—this light—can be!
“He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:8-9). Every single person who has ever lived will sooner or later have to be lighted by this Light, or he has no future; he will go into darkness forever. There is no other hope, no other way to live, no other light. There is only one light. There will not be any other for all eternity.
“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (verse 10). Christ created men, and men killed their Creator. “He came unto his own [the Jews], and his own received him not” (verse 11). Even the Jews, who should have recognized Him by the prophecies He fulfilled, rejected Him.
Still, for a very great purpose, Christ endured the chastening of deceived men. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (verses 12-13). It was all for the purpose of bringing human beings, upon repentance and conversion, into God’s own family!
It says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son ….” You’ve heard that so many times. God the Father loves this world, and He loves you. He loves all of us—and He has proven it by giving His only begotten Son, who was also God. Through our sins, we slaughtered Him. Something is tragically wrong with human beings. If we recognize that this includes ourselves, and bitterly repent before God, He will help us correct the problem. He will rear us, in love, as His own children.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He had to be full of grace and truth or He wouldn’t have allowed man to beat Him until He didn’t even look like a man before killing Him, so that we might be healed by His stripes (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5).
Did God love the world? Do we need any more evidence? Now it is time for us to love God and the Word—the Father and Son—and enter into their family.
“John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:15-16). We all have access to grace on top of grace, love on top of love! Because of what Christ did, we can have that grace—and truth (verse 17).
Declaring the Father
Now verse 18: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” What a wonderful, wonderful verse. The Word revealed the Father! He was the only one qualified to do that, for He was in the Father’s bosom—the closest, most intimate relationship they could have. The Son came to this Earth, showing the eternal love He and His Father shared for all eternity.
Christ didn’t declare Himself, as so many believe; He declared the Father—thus declaring that beautiful family vision that mankind can be a part of!
This is Plan B, and it’s far superior to Plan A. But always remember the incredible risk involved in this plan! What brutal suffering the Son had to endure. On the night of that crucifixion, He cried out to His Father and asked Him to take this cup away, because He was in such agony—sweating blood before He spilled His blood (Luke 22:42-44; Hebrews 12:3‑4). Yet He said, “[N]evertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). What a Son! What a wonderfully inspiring message; and we have to get this so deeply—that it will be with us forever—because it is going to change the whole world! Then soon after that, it will change the whole universe!
This is the message of John 1:18. Christ, the Son, is in the bosom of the Father! It doesn’t say He was in the bosom of the Father again, which was what it would say if He had been in the bosom of the Father before as the Word. Why? Because now there is an expanded, family vision! Billions of human beings can now be brought into the God family. Jesus Christ has totally embraced the family relationship. He is not going off on His own, doing His own thing. He has already proven Himself for all eternity that He’ll be loyal to God.
The more you study this, the harder it will be for you to remain in your seat!
Why would men destroy this vision? Because they don’t understand it. They don’t know what they are doing. This is the family vision; this is what the Bible is all about. It is about bringing mankind into God’s family!
Nobody knew the Father, verse 18 says, until the Word came in the flesh and revealed the Father. What a revelation that is! He came to declare—or reveal—the Father. So many want to put Christ in the spotlight. Who even knows about the Father? That just shows that the world doesn’t really know Christ, the Word who came to declare the Father. What a Son—and what a Father! What a family!
God wants us in His family. He came to this Earth to open up the family of God to man—to invite man into His family. This was radically different to anything He ever did with the angels—but this was now the ultimate and supreme plan of God—a plan that not even God could exceed in greatness. The plan of recreating Himself!
Who could write such an astounding truth? It would have to be someone like John, who really got to know the Logos, while He was on Earth, in a way that most of the other disciples didn’t quite understand and measure up to.
There probably is not, in all the Bible, a more meaningful verse than John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Chapter 2: Hannah’s Family Vision
Now we need to look at one of the most inspiring examples in the Old Testament. It should become etched in our memories forever.
“And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. … Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days” (Acts 3:20‑21, 24). Here God is talking about the restitution of all things to the world. Jesus Christ is just about to return to this Earth to fulfill that prophecy. And in this passage, Samuel is singled out. He must have had something important to say about restoring all things to the world.
Samuel is classified as one of the former prophets, and at least 90 percent of Bible prophecy is for this end time.
Tradition says that God first appeared to Samuel when he was only 13 years old. So this is a message for young people and old people alike.
Acts 13:19-20 states, “And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.” Until Samuel came, there was the terrible period of the judges when everyone did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25)—which is why Israel was ruled, most often, by the Philistines. It was Samuel who made a big change in Israel, through God’s direction. He helped establish the monarchy—the throne of David which Christ will sit on when He returns to restore all things to the world.
David laid the foundation for Israel’s greatest glory as a nation. That was only a little foretaste of what Christ’s rule will be like in the Millennium and over the universe forever!
“And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:21-22). Samuel anointed David, the man who fulfilled all of God’s will. What a rich blessing David was for all Israel.
So Samuel had quite an impressive life. Let’s look at where it started.
“Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite” (1 Samuel 1:1). The first word of this book, instead of being now, should be and, because it continues the story from the terrible period of the judges. It was about 1140 b.c., and there was quite a negative history being recorded (as there is in this end time with God’s spiritual nation). The Word of God was rare. Israel didn’t receive many revelations. God wasn’t able to work with them much at all during the judges period, with few exceptions.
“And he [Elkanah] had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children” (verse 2). The relationship with these three was somewhat like Abraham and Sarah and her handmaid, where the handmaid was brought in to have children (see Genesis 16). Hannah could not have children, so Peninnah was brought into the marriage, which was a mistake. Still, it provides an important lesson for us today.
“And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there” (i Samuel 1:3). When Israel entered the Promised Land (about three centuries earlier), God used Joshua to establish headquarters at Shiloh. He wanted all of Israel looking to Shiloh. God wants everyone focused on Shiloh, or where the ark is—where His headquarters is. That is the kind of government that should rule the nations of Israel, as it does rule spiritual Israel, God’s Church.
“And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy [or double] portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb” (verses 4-5). Hannah was the love of Elkanah’s life—not Peninnah.
“And [Hannah’s] adversary [Peninnah] also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat” (verses 6-7). Note that God closed Hannah’s womb. This was a significant trial for Hannah, and she received a lot of grief over it.
Husband Comes First
Notice how Elkanah handled this situation. “Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?” (verse 8). Elkanah was teaching his wife a very important lesson. Is a husband not more valuable than ten sons? For a marriage to work, the supreme love must be between the husband and the wife. Serious problems arise in marriages when one of the parents exalts the children above the other mate.
But this example is about much more than a physical marriage—it is really about our spiritual marriage. Jesus Christ is our Husband, and He wants to be certain that we don’t look to any individual, any man, more than Him—that we will never exalt a man or ten men above Jesus Christ. That is what created the Laodicean condition today! We are Christ’s helpmeet. We are to love God, our Husband, above the members in the Church. It is vital that we understand this lesson.
If we love our Husband the way we should, then we have that family love and family vision. You must always keep the God family vision in mind.
Understanding Why Children
Hannah waited many years for a child. This was an immense trial she struggled with. But God was making her wait for an important reason. He was developing tremendous, godly character in this woman. After many years of being barren, Hannah had come to have an entirely different view about children.
One year when the family went to Shiloh, Hannah made a special prayer in the temple. “And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head” (verses 10-11). She vowed to God that, if He would give her a son, she would dedicate him to God forever. That’s right—forever. She understood what she had to do with that son. In the years God made her wait, she had learned that.
How many people, even in God’s Church, understand that as deeply as they should? Child rearing should start long before the child is born, in that sense. Parents must first understand why God gives children. Hannah learned that. By the time her son came on the scene, she was ready to dedicate him to God. She was ready before the child came! That is the kind of understanding it takes to be a proper parent God’s way.
We must be prepared for children. By the time of the marriage, Jesus Christ’s wife will have made herself ready (Revelation 19:7). We must get ready before the children are there. What God wants us to do is to get ready to rear and teach billions of people. That is the wife’s purpose: to help Christ rear all those who will be called into God’s Family in the future. They are our spiritual children in this sense: They must come through Christ and His bride to get to the Father, who begot them (John 6:44).
Our job is to help build the Father’s family. Everybody will have the same Father and the same family—or no family at all!
The Father rules His family. He reigns supreme.
Having physical children helps prepare the firstfruits to get ready to have billions of children in the World Tomorrow. Those converted in the Millennium are likened to children of the Husband (Christ) and His wife, the Church. Rearing physical children is a type of what we will be doing spiritually in the World Tomorrow! We are called to help Christ in this job—to be His helpmeet. God wants us to focus our minds on all the children to come on the scene in the future and to get ready to rear them and dedicate them all to the Father, the way Hannah did her son.
Rearing children is a trial and a test. There is struggle involved. We have to struggle to teach our children. Likewise, it will be a struggle to teach all the spiritual children in the future. So God has us start small, learning many wonderful lessons with a few physical children. Even if you don’t have children, you can still learn this all-important lesson by studying God’s Word and observing other families.
Are you ready to rear and train billions of spiritual children? That is why we are here in God’s Church today. We must get ready for that awesome responsibility. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).
God heard Hannah’s prayer, and allowed her to conceive as soon as she returned home. “[A]nd Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:19-20). God gave this remarkable woman a son. Samuel means heard of God.
Hannah was committed to this child. Samuel was properly reared. Hannah fully intended to follow through on the promise she made to God. She spent the first few years preparing him to be brought to Shiloh, where the tabernacle was. She knew that when the time came to bring him to Shiloh, it would be permanent. “[T]hen I will bring him” she said, “that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever” (verse 22). We don’t know exactly how all this transpired. But her husband was very compassionate and supportive toward his wife.
Finally Hannah brought Samuel to Shiloh, along with a sizeable offering. She presented him to Eli, the priest, who had heard her prayer in the temple several years earlier. She told him, “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent [given] him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there” (verses 27-28).
Hannah said she would give her child to God as long as he lived. The astounding part of this is that neither the Nazarites nor the Levites ever dedicated their children to God as Hannah dedicated Samuel! She had a marvelous attitude. How well do we teach our children to honor and please God?
Did Hannah dedicate her child to God? Did she ever! She gave birth to and reared a prophet!
There should be no chapter break at the end of the first chapter. I Samuel 2 is a prophecy about the Feast of Trumpets, which pictures Christ’s return. The Jews still read this chapter on Rosh Hashanah even today. Notice what Hannah begins to prophesy after she has had this child. “And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation” (1 Samuel 2:1). A horn is a symbol of strength and power. We’ll see what Hannah meant by that a little later.
“There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God” (verse 2). The Hebrew word for God here is Elohim, which refers to the God family. She understood so much about God’s family. She probably understood God’s family plan more deeply than the most righteous women of God in the Bible—and this is before God gave her a child. When you understand their potential, you know those lovely children are gifts from God.
God used Samuel to deliver Israel anciently, as He will use the firstfruits to deliver Israel and the whole world in the future. We will give them a vision about the Rock—our Husband.
“Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed” (verse 3). God is watching all our words and deeds. When Christ returns, every person will be judged (Matthew 12:36). The time to rid ourselves of our vanity and arrogance is now. We are getting ready to rule the world and later the universe with Jesus Christ.
“The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble” (1 Samuel 2:4-5). Remember, this is an end-time prophecy.
The second and third chapters of Revelation describe seven successive eras of God’s true Church from Christ’s first coming until His Second Coming. (Our free booklet The Royal Book of Revelation will explain this to you.) The final era, the Laodicean (Revelation 3:14-22), is a colossal failure. That is the era currently on the scene. Look at this spiritually. The Laodiceans are “full”; they are rich and increased with goods (Revelation 3:17). They have lost this awesome, magnificent vision God gave them through the end-time Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong, during the Philadelphia era (Revelation 3:7-13).
Notice the phrase “they that were hungry ceased” in i Samuel 2:5. There is a cutoff when a man such as the end-time Elijah comes along. While Mr. Armstrong was preaching God’s truth, people who were hungering and thirsting spiritually would come along to develop and grow as members of God’s family. There were prospective members, donors, people who only had a slight interest in God’s work. Then, all of a sudden, they that were hungry just ceased being fed. When “they that were full” turned away from God, it spelled disaster for the many people who were being nurtured spiritually!
If God’s people—those whom He called out of this world and gave this vision to—don’t get out and proclaim His message to the world, they will lose their own blood (Ezekiel 33:7-9). That is how important God’s message is. But on top of that, they will be guilty of the blood of those to whom they should have been giving this message—the whole world! This is all there is. This is why man. This is why God gives physical children. When people turn away from that, they turn away from God.
God’s work always continues, though. We can’t escape the responsibility God has given us. It is up to us to do the work. This world desperately needs the message God has given us to deliver. There is so much sadness in this world. Hannah said that the woman with many children is waxed feeble. The Hebrew means to droop or hang down the head, or a drooping heart. As tragedies in this world increase, a mother with many children who doesn’t know about Elohim will be bereaved. Look at what is happening to our children today with the drugs and violence in schools. Yes, many women are hanging their heads. Although they may have many children, there is something missing. Do they know about Elohim? Do they know about the God family? If they do, are they heeding what Elohim says so they can become a part of His family? This is the message God has been teaching man from the beginning—all the way back to Samuel and even before, to the very first man and woman.
On the other hand, Hannah said that if you are barren, and you go to God and try to understand this, He will give you seven children! Your joy will multiply.
This world’s women don’t think the way Hannah did!
“The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up” (1 Samuel 2:6). God kills, and He makes alive—He resurrects! He will do it even to people in His own Church. Many of them will be killed and brought back to life shortly after that. The Laodiceans who are full and have no need for God will soon face death. Because they have hired themselves out for bread, exchanging this God family vision for the evil of this world, they will have to repent before God will resurrect them to a place in His family. Otherwise, God will “bring them down to the grave”—forever!
Pillars of the Earth
“The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them” (verses 7-8). Hannah is prophesying about the first resurrection, when God will raise up His firstfruits from the dust. He will raise them from the dunghill and make them royalty. He will make them pillars and set the whole world on their shoulders.
These verses picture a time when Samuel, Hannah, Elkanah and many others will be resurrected as pillars at headquarters—pillars for God to set the rule of the world upon. Revelation 3:12 is a companion scripture, showing that God will make the Philadelphians into pillars.
Hannah also talks about them inheriting the “throne of glory”—David’s throne. In Revelation 3:21, Jesus Christ promises His Philadelphian bride that they will share this throne! In addition to being pillars, we will rule the world. We will be with Christ, ruling with Him, under our Father. That is the God family vision.
This is what Hannah saw! She saw that she could have a son, and God would make him a firstfruit pillar—and God would resurrect him to set the whole world upon his shoulders. This is no fantasy—it will certainly happen! That is what God will do: raise people right up out of the dunghill—those the world so scorns and hates. They will be pillars. Most of the commentaries say Hannah was just being poetic. No, she was not! God will set the whole world upon those pillars—those Philadelphians who remain loyal in this end time. They will be pillars at headquarters, and God will set the whole world upon them! The very purpose for our calling today is to teach and rule the entire Earth in the near future—and, after that, the universe. That is our incredible human potential as firstfruits today!
That is a lot of responsibility. If God is going to give us this kind of glory, He must try and test us to prepare us.
But notice: “He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail” (i Samuel 2:9). We cannot get through this with human ability. God must keep our feet from slipping. So don’t worry about your trials and tests. You are Christ’s bride! He will not let you slip. He will not let you fall.
The Horn of His Anointed
“The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed” (verse 10). This is a prophecy about David.
Remember, Hannah is talking about dedicating her son to God’s plan. Samuel ended up anointing David to sit on that throne and become God’s anointed. She must have understood that prophecy quite well. Recall verse 1. Hannah knew her horn would be exalted. And it was indeed: She gave birth to this prophet.
Make this personal, ladies. Realize that if you follow Hannah’s example, your horn will be exalted! You will be a part of David’s throne, just as Hannah and her son were.
Hannah knew about the prophecy later recorded in Luke 1: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest [the Father]: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (verses 32-33). This is about an eternal family, and it has to do with David’s royal family throne. It is about a family forever—a royal God family vision.
Again, Samuel actually helped to originate this throne—the very throne which Jesus Christ, the Son of the Highest, will sit on at His return. He will rule with His bride to expand God’s family over all this Earth, and He will restore all things.
This is about you! God will exalt your horn in that day. We shall be His kings! He will give strength to His kings and priests! Jesus Christ soon will thunder out of the heavens to usher in His Kingdom to restore all things to the Earth!
Can you imagine having a vision like this after you’ve had a child? Hannah was some wife. She was desperately unhappy for a while; but it was because of that unhappiness that God could teach her this deep spiritual lesson.
Now, think far in advance. Think past the Millennium, past the Great White Throne Judgment—when the rest of humanity will have been resurrected and brought into God’s family. Then they will be prepared to rule the universe. Human beings will have been glorified into sons of God, a family of God beings! That is what Hannah saw.
She saw that if she had a son, it would be a total waste to rear him without God’s truth and let the devil have him. Hannah realized God gives you a child as a gift, so you can give the child back to Him spiritually! If we don’t dedicate our children to God as Hannah did, we will droop when we see what happens to our family. Of course, the children have a responsibility in that too.
Do we see the spiritual connection? If you have a son, can you look into his eyes and begin to educate him about the resurrection and the God family vision? Can you really help him see why he is alive? Can you see as Hannah saw?
What wonderful and precious truth this is!
Desiring Spiritual Children
Now, consider this inspiring parallel. It is natural for us to desire physical children. In fact, some women have such a strong maternal desire that they have children even when afflicted by grotesque health problems. Still they have children, because that desire is so strong within them.
What about having spiritual children? We don’t naturally desire spiritual children. That is an unnatural desire. How much time do you spend thinking about all those wonderful children that you’re going to have with Jesus Christ, your Husband? How much do you yearn for sons and daughters in the family of God? Do you desire with all your passions to have children in the family of God? We must build that yearning for a spiritual family.
That is so unnatural that it takes the Spirit of God to truly yearn for that; yet that is the purpose Christ’s bride will fulfill!
If you understand that deeply, you can understand why we are so concerned about the Laodiceans. After that, you can understand why we are so concerned about the world—because they are the potential family of God! Meditate on it, pray about it, study it, because it is unnatural to deeply yearn for the world to be in God’s family! We do not spend nearly enough time thinking about it the way Hannah did. God put her through a trial so she could realize this astounding parallel!
The bride of Christ must build a natural yearning, a natural desire, to have spiritual children! That desire, however, must come from God. Remember, spiritually we are the woman; we must be building this spiritual yearning within us, where we feel we must have spiritual children. The real family is the God family! That’s the family God wants us to really get passionate about.
The physical family is here only to help us get into the spiritual family.
This God family vision really stretches your mind. It is unnatural for us, but it is the way Christ, our Husband, thinks! We must think that way too if we are to marry Him! (Philippians 2:5).
Imagine what Christ would say if we married Him and then told Him that we didn’t really want children. Of course, this is hypothetical; we would not even be Christ’s wife if we thought that way. If we don’t want children, then we are in the wrong spiritual family! And we won’t be the bride of Christ.
Christ is determining now if you want to have a lot of children; and by a lot, He means all of humanity. Multiple billions of people will be given the opportunity to be a part of the God family before this is over.
That is the lesson that God taught Hannah when He closed her womb. We have our trials and tests so we can be prepared for the family of God. We must be ready; we must come to think like the wife of Jesus Christ. Hannah was barren, and God would probably have left her that way if she had not passionately desired to dedicate her son to Him.
God is teaching us that we must understand our purpose for being created, or our life is shamefully wasted. That is what this world is now learning by excruciating experience!
When you plan to have a child, do you think about it with God’s perspective? Do you think about it with this vision? There really is not another example quite like Hannah’s in all the Bible. Mary, Sarah and other women of the Bible were no doubt even greater than Hannah in some respects. However, I don’t see any woman like Hannah who had such a transcendent vision of why God gives us physical children.
What an awesome vision she had! She had her child and began prophesying about the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Look at all of God’s feast days—especially Pentecost, Trumpets, Tabernacles, the Last Great Day. What are they about? Sons of God being born into God’s family!
Some women are bored by and perhaps even hostile toward the notion of being a housewife and mother. Some women want to establish a career in the work force. But look at the vision in Hannah’s home! Look at what Hannah saw. She didn’t want another career. She knew she had the greatest career God had to offer. Her job was to get her son ready to be born into God’s family. And she bore a prophet! She really knew how to rear children. She realized what a wonderful career it was. But women even in God’s Church can lose that vision—and what happens to the children then? What an awful sin it is to sacrifice our children to the world and to the devil!
Having a child is about bringing the whole world at one with God—one child at a time! We are supporting Christ in this effort. Why are we bringing them at one with God? So they too can be members of the God family. That’s the only reason. When we see a little child, can we connect him or her to the God family vision? Children of converted members in God’s Church, even if not baptized when Jesus Christ returns, I believe will still be a part of that firstfruits group, because they were sanctified before Christ’s return. Our children have such a wonderful future!
If we do our part as parents, generally speaking we will have great young people who yearn to be taught about the God family vision and what it means to their future. What other vision will cause them to stand up to this evil world? This vision makes it real in their minds. How heartbreaking it is when you see parents who will not dedicate their children to God and will not teach them the God family vision. In some cases, maybe they need to go through a trial worse than Hannah’s to learn that lesson.
As the adversary, Satan too has a message for young people. He also can teach his way effectively. How quickly he can turn them away if they are not grounded and established in this vision! It is so simple for him.
As parents, we should make it impossible for Satan to do that to our children. Just being parents brings a great responsibility. If you understand God’s plan—the most luminous vision you could ever hear—it puts great responsibility on your shoulders.
Chapter 3: High Priest’s Rebellious Sons
Hannah gave us a marvelous example of child rearing. Her focus was on the God family first and foremost. Conversely, Eli showed us how not to rear children. He put the human family above God’s family. And the end result was horrifying. I believe you will be shocked, and hopefully inspired, at how specific God gets.
When Joshua and the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, Joshua established the tabernacle in Gilgal. After they completely conquered the land, he moved it to Shiloh. That is also where the ark was. Shiloh is where God had all Israel look—to headquarters, to the tabernacle, to the ark. That is how God will rule the world in the Millennium. He will have people focus on headquarters.
Those who work for God at headquarters are judged more severely. In 1 Samuel, we see that this was the case for Eli and his family, who served at the tabernacle at Shiloh. Eli put his family above God and brought disaster upon the nation. He and his sons had Israel focus on themselves instead of on God. God judged them according to their deadly sins.
As we have seen in the previous chapters, this example is prophetic. God’s end-time Laodicean Church is making the same mistake that Eli made; they are exalting men above God. The results have been disastrous!
Satan is moving quickly in this end time. But God is also. Make a list of all the revelation the Philadelphia Church of God has received in its short existence, and you can see that God is moving at lightning speed, trying to educate us. This is some of the final instruction we will receive before entering the God family. It is our responsibility to receive that education, or we will die spiritually! We must see how marvelous and wonderful it is to be with our Father and our Husband, Jesus Christ. We all need to be educated more deeply into the God family vision.
This is serious business. Most of God’s people are dying because they lack this God family vision! (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Everything revolves around this vision!
Sons of Belial
Notice Eli’s story in 1 Samuel 2. “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord” (verse 12), or, as the Hebrew reads, they were worthless. They didn’t know God. Their names, Hophni and Phinehas, were Egyptian. Perhaps they never were converted.
Verses 13-14 reveal that, while performing their priestly duties, Eli’s sons were taking more of the people’s offerings than was their portion. Even worse, “Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw” (verse 15). Also means even. So they were even taking from God’s altar! God puts the word even there to show the enormity of their sin.
Eli’s sons were not afraid of God, just as the Laodiceans do not fear God as Levi did (Malachi 2:4-5). They are unafraid to interfere with God’s work and God’s sacrificing. God says they have robbed Him (Malachi 3:8). They have taken people’s tithes and sacrifices, which should have been used to warn the world, and have used them for vain purposes.
Eli’s sons, and the Laodicean ministers today, have stolen from God’s people—and from God. And stealing from God is far more serious.
“And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force” (1 Samuel 2:16). Eli’s sons were getting brutal with God’s people. The people wanted to serve God. But the priests took more than their portion—by force.
This is prophecy for today. When we look at this history spiritually, there are many lessons for God’s Church today. What do we do when we see this happening spiritually in God’s Church? Do we get discouraged and drop out? No! God promises to work something out. God had a plan. We often have to wait to see what God is doing. “Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord” (verse 17). The Hebrew shows that men abhorred the offering of the Lord because these ministers caused the people to abhor it! Have we seen this happen in God’s Church?
Malachi’s Message is about ministers being condemned for causing God’s Church to go astray. Ministers are held more accountable. But still, we must wait for God to correct the problem—through a man whom God uses, as He did Samuel.
Ministers have a grave responsibility on their shoulders, and they will be held accountable. There are so many ways they can abuse God’s work and God’s people. That is what the Laodicean ministers have done. They have scattered God’s people, causing a major disaster in God’s Church! In Ezekiel 34, God likens them to shepherds who don’t feed the flock and who allow them to be scattered.
Problems at the Top
“Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” (1 Samuel 2:22). This was no small sin! Yet Eli’s sons didn’t even care if people saw them. And people did; and they talked.
When Eli found out about it, he rebuked his sons only mildly: “And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress” (verses 23-24).
The highest man in Israel at the time didn’t have the courage to replace his sons. “If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them” (verse 25). Only one man—Eli—could have stopped his two sons. And because he failed, the whole nation began to fall apart. Jesus Christ prepared Samuel to replace Eli. Then God had Eli and his sons killed.
Anciently, God had people put to death physically. Today, men die spiritually and eternally if they commit the unpardonable sin.
Here is an important lesson for God’s Church today. Jesus Christ really is the Head of God’s Church. If the physical leader fails, we must wait for Christ to correct the problem.
The Laodiceans refuse to be led by the man God is using today. Our job is to warn them. But it is Christ’s job to correct them.
Some people call God’s government harsh. But it is through government that God protects and saves His Church, and soon the whole world! It is a government of pure love!
Men only see the present. God sees the whole picture. We must see through God’s eyes. In time, the fruits will be obvious to everybody.
Where verse 25 says “the judge shall judge him,” it should read Elohim shall judge him. The God family! That is what Elohim means to us, and that is what it meant to Eli. He knew about the God family. Eli knew he wasn’t to put his sons above God. When we made our covenant with God, we said we would give up our physical mother, father, sister, brother and even our own life if it was necessary (Luke 14:26). Eli made that covenant, but he didn’t live up to it.
Eli could not keep the God family structure in his own family, despite the authority God gave him. So God vowed to slay his sons. Still, that didn’t bring Eli to repentance.
If the physical leader at the top won’t correct the ministers, then God will deal with all of them.
God’s Family Government
Though the Laodiceans sit back and criticize God’s family government, it is a basic truth that without this government, physical and spiritual Israel falls apart!
The gospel is the good news about the coming family of God, which is to administer the government of God. God’s Church is this kingdom in embryo. It is ruled by the same government that will rule the Earth in the World Tomorrow. How blessed we are to be a part of a Church where Jesus Christ is the Head.
The Laodiceans chose not to administer the government of God. Some of them will die forever because of it. That is how serious this matter is.
If I do not implement my role in the government of God, I know what my future is.
When His people go astray, God mercifully gives them every opportunity to repent. As we will see shortly, God gave Eli two supreme opportunities, yet he would not take them. The Laodiceans have been given all kinds of opportunities to repent, and they will not do it. Time is running out. We only have so long to get ready for God’s Kingdom.
In the midst of these problems in Israel’s priesthood, God was preparing a solution: “And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men”
(1 Samuel 2:26). Samuel was brought on the scene to replace Eli.
“And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house?” (verse 27). Here, a nameless prophet comes to Eli—before Samuel comes. This was the first prophet in Israel since Judges 6:8. So God was giving Israel ample warning.
The unhappy story of Eli and his sons stands in stark contrast to the inspiring story of Samuel’s mother, Hannah. The opening chapters of 1 Samuel deal with two types of families, just as there are spiritually today. While Hannah had the proper love for her son, Eli had a kind of selfish love that became a curse to his sons and the nation.
Eli was the high priest of all Israel. God had all Israel look to this man. Every year, he would take the ephod and, on the Day of Atonement, would go into the holy of holies and do many holy services for God, where God’s throne was—from where Samuel would hear the very voice of God!
Christ’s sacrifice opened the holy of holies to all God’s saints. We are kings and priests today (Revelation 1:6). We have access to God’s throne daily.
As with the high priest, the stakes are very high for us. Eternal life is at stake for God’s people today.
Eli was the top man in Israel and he wouldn’t restrain his sons. He wouldn’t dedicate them to God the way Hannah did her son, and God didn’t take his sin lightly.
Eli wouldn’t listen to God. He listened to what was popular and politically correct in Israel. Had he restrained his sons, people might have said, “Oh, you harsh man!” So he just let them go, and Israel would have been destroyed if not for God’s intervention. Which was more harsh?
A Breaking-Through Vision
1 Samuel 3:1 states, “And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious [should read rare] in those days; there was no open vision.” The Hebrew reads that there was “no breaking-through vision.”
Everything in Israel revolved around the tabernacle, which is a type of God’s Church today. All of our work revolves around headquarters.
The nation of Israel became discouraged because Eli’s sons were sinning. Many of the people wouldn’t even come up to Shiloh where the tabernacle was.
This is essentially what happened when the Laodicean leaders rebelled against God in this end time. Our people saw the very bad examples of the leaders. God’s work began to falter and soon failed.
How can we overemphasize the importance of righteousness and loyalty in God’s leaders?
When Mr. Armstrong died, the Laodicean leaders began to change all of the major doctrines of the Church. The revelation God gave through Mr. Armstrong was suppressed, and our members saw no new revelation. Over 95 percent of God’s people eventually turned away. God’s family was shattered!
But God had a solution He revealed in the book Malachi’s Message. (If you don’t have a copy, write for one. It’s free.) Imagine what it would have been like if there had been no Malachi’s Message to break through that confusing morass. What would we have done? We would have been in confusion and darkness.
The Laodiceans are terribly divided now, and it is because they don’t have any breaking-through vision, which God gives to His loyal family. We are blessed to see what we see because God gave us a breaking-through vision.
In the midst of these problems in ancient Israel, where was God? Why was He not doing anything? Well, He was doing something—just not the way people expected. While the priesthood was in chaos, God had been working with Samuel the entire time. Likewise, God had been revealing Malachi’s Message to me for many months before anyone else knew about it. God was doing something. He was working things out. The revelation was breaking through, though no one else knew about it.
Malachi’s Message is still breaking through. There are several counterfeits of this book, because Satan wants to destroy the link between the Elijah and God’s work today. If he can do that, he can destroy God’s breaking-through vision and condemn the people to blindness.
When the headquarters leadership began changing what Mr. Armstrong taught, there was a span of time, however short, when there was no vision breaking through. God’s people were wondering, what is wrong? Why no revelation? Where is the God of Elijah? They said in their minds, your family is falling apart, why don’t you do something, God?
When God was revealing Malachi’s Message to me, I didn’t know where it was leading. But I decided to have weekly Bible studies with my congregation in 1987 and 1988, as headquarters did. (Most field congregations had them bi-weekly.) I especially felt I needed it, because that was the time when God was revealing a lot to me from the book of Amos. So there was a time when I was preparing weekly Bible studies and sermons. Apart from occasional messages from my assistant, John Amos, I was doing most of the speaking myself. God was preparing me to get more deeply into the Scriptures. That is where we all need to be when spiritual crises hit. We need to know what God says to do, because you cannot get through a crisis like this when you lack closeness to God. He was preparing me.
If you are close to Him, He will prepare you and work quietly behind the scenes to ensure you are ready for the crises that you must face.
The Lamp of God
“And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; And ere the lamp of God [Elohim] went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was …” (i Samuel 3:2-3). There is an abundance of symbolism here that we must grasp. We must keep the focus on the God family.
The lamp was about to go out in God’s end-time temple, or Church. We must keep the lamp, God’s work, going with our prayers and our offerings. This is about the lamp and the ark of Elohim—of the God family. Our job, as God’s family, is to shine the God family lamp—God’s message—into the world as brightly as we can. It is the only light calling people out of this world.
Elohim is the most common word for God in the Old Testament. God taught Israel that they were His family—referring to the nation as a “son” (Deuteronomy 8:5) and Himself as a Father (Malachi 1:6; Jeremiah 31:9).
We are also taught about the Father and Son in the New Testament (Luke 1:30-33; John 1).
We are to be born into the God family. Now we can better see why it is the “lamp of Elohim”! This God family is the light of the world! We were born to become members of the God family! (Genesis 1:26).
None can come to God unless the Spirit of the Father draws him (John 6:44). This family light begins with being begotten by the Father. Not even Christ can beget or call sons into the God family. Everybody has a specific job in God’s family.
We are also taught about “the ark of Elohim.” The ark of God is a symbol of God’s family throne. It depicts the God family rule. On top of the ark was a replica of God’s throne between the two cherubim; inside was the manna, the law and the rod of Aaron (depicting God’s government). God spoke from the ark to ancient Israel, and He speaks to us today through revelation and feeds us spiritual manna! (John 6:58).
God wants to deepen our conversion. Knowledge is not conversion. It must be used, however, to produce conversion—to make us a part of the God family government.
Knowing God Intimately
“And it came to pass at that time, when … Samuel was laid down to sleep; That the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him” (1 Samuel 3:2-5, 7). The word know means to know in an intimate way; it is even used to denote sexual relations in the Hebrew. So Samuel would get to know God very intimately. He would know God through revelation, and would then take that revelation to Israel as a warning.
This has to do with the man to whom God is giving the revelation. God gives the revelation to a man and has the Church look to that man. Then God holds that man very accountable. Because it is through him and the revelation God gives him that we get to know God intimately.
How well do you know God? How well do you want to know God?
God gave Samuel revelation concerning what He would do to Eli and his sons. “And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end” (verses 11-12). “In that day,” which refers to the end time, God will perform these things! It will make the ears of all Israel tingle! This is a prophecy against a physical family in Israel—the physical descendants of Eli. What is happening to this physical family in Israel will make even carnal people’s ears tingle!
God’s condemnation continues: “And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever” (verse 14). It will never be purged! This is something God will keep in His heart forever. That family is under some kind of curse forever, as long as they are physical.
People who have new revelation from God are those who spend time in the holy of holies—where God spoke to Israel. God is telling us, so clearly, what will happen today, because He wants to save us from physical—and spiritual—destruction. That is the love of God. Where is the ark today? Where are you hearing a prophecy like that given to Samuel today? Where on Earth are you hearing the God of revelation speak to the world, to the Laodiceans and to His very elect? Where is that holy of holies today? Where is the inner temple?
Samuel was a young teenager at the time he got this vision about Eli’s family, and he feared to tell Eli about it. We could fear to tell the world today about the ear-tingling events that are coming upon them. But Eli still had the presence of mind to ask Samuel to tell him what God showed him, saying that if Samuel didn’t, those things might come upon Samuel. And, remember, Samuel was actually the second prophet to warn Eli of his problems (i Samuel 2:27).
Likewise in this age, there have been two messages which have gone out from two different men. Still God’s family is not heeding. What is next? After the first two men have come on the scene, what happens next? What is the third event to happen to God’s people today? It is the same thing that happened to Eli and his sons, only in a more serious spiritual context. This is the Word of the living God!
There was a man who came and fulfilled the end-time Elijah prophecy, and now there is another work which has followed him. For over 60 years, the nations of Israel have been warned repeatedly about what God will do to Israel if they don’t repent. If they don’t begin to understand the God family vision, they will never know the real solution to all their problems. With the God family vision, they could solve every single one of them.
All of this is tied to the return of Jesus Christ, when He will restore all things to the world. Right now, though, His great work is giving more revelation to His bride. What a future we all have. What a future all Israel has.
The Destruction of Israel
The word tingle is used in only two other places in the Old Testament: 2 Kings 21:12 and Jeremiah 19:3. Both of these prophetic books refer to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. That destruction is only a type of what is coming upon all Israel in these latter days, if our people don’t repent. The family of Israel is about to be destroyed; that is more than just one family. That is the greatest crisis ever to occur in Israel!
This is the message we must deliver to them. God begins it “in that day” (1 Samuel 3:12), but He also says He will “make an end,” or He will stop it.
Any cursed family could stop the curse if they turned to God, deeply repentant. But the nations of Israel — specifically America, Britain and Judah (the modern nation called Israel)—are also under a curse today! (Daniel 9:12‑13; Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28).
In Jeremiah, God prophesies that all Israel will be destroyed. In Jeremiah 31:15, Rachel, the mother of the nations of Israel, is crying for her family and refuses to be comforted. God wants us to warn Israel about this terrible catastrophe while there is still time!
It is a ten-fold warning to God’s own ministers today—those men who serve in the tradition of Eli! It is time all men heeded God’s message. Are we so steeped in deception and lust that we can’t be reached with God’s warning?
Israel is about to come to an end! People can scoff, but God will bring them down as He did Eli and his sons! God told Eli and his family that He would slay them, and He did. That is what He has told all Israel too. If they don’t repent, He will do it!
God warned the nations of Israel for many years while Mr. Armstrong was alive. Now, through us, He is giving them one final warning before He sends the horrendous Tribulation. We cannot take this message lightly. We must have the power of God working in our lives so we can deliver this message to Israel.
“For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not” (1 Samuel 3:13). Eli knew. That is the same word used previously—to know intimately. Eli knew about Elohim’s revelation, yet he would not restrain his sons. For that reason, God said He would bring a curse on Eli’s family forever. That applies physically and spiritually. The Laodiceans knew what we know. They have a memory that the world lacks—the memory of what Mr. Armstrong taught them. Yet they wander back into the world, after knowing the great God. What a tragedy! And it could easily happen to us.
Lessons From Shiloh
“And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth. … And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground” (verses 10, 19). We must follow Samuel’s example and never let God’s words fall to the ground in our personal lives or in this work.
“And all Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord” (verses 20-21). God appeared to Samuel in some form or another in verse 10—perhaps just a sliver of Him. Here, God appeared to him for a second time. These verses make more vivid the reality that we are getting closer and closer to seeing God.
This second time, God appeared in Shiloh. God uses Shiloh to teach us something in the end time. In those days, the whole nation was focused on Shiloh, just as God’s people were spiritually focused on Pasadena, California, the Worldwide Church of God headquarters, while Herbert Armstrong was alive. The word Shiloh means “rest.” Pasadena was a place of rest while Mr. Armstrong was there. That was where the spiritual ark and the house of God were.
Today, though that house is still standing, there is no spiritual truth pouring out of Pasadena as there used to be. What a heinous sin those ministers committed. Is God harsh when He deals with them? If God puts them out of their misery for all eternity, is that bad? God wants to bring us into eternal glory, and He gives us every opportunity to achieve that goal. But He will not have rebels sitting at headquarters with Him.
In ancient Israel, when the ark left Shiloh, it never returned to that city again. Jeremiah 26 mentions Shiloh in an end-time prophecy. This is also about God’s Church and the nations of Israel in the latter days: “Thus saith the Lord; Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word …. If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; Then will I make this house [the Laodicean house] like Shiloh, and will make this city [Jerusalem, a type of all Israel] a curse to all the nations of the earth” (Jeremiah 26:2-6). The whole book of Jeremiah was written specifically for this end time (Jeremiah 30:1-3).
If you visit Shiloh today, you notice there are massive boulders strewn everywhere. You can see there was glory there at one time—God appeared to Samuel twice in Shiloh—but now it lies in total ruins. Why? Because God destroyed it. And He promises that He will make the Laodicean Church just like Shiloh! They are already that way spiritually! God’s law was set before them by Herbert W. Armstrong. They had God’s government, but rejected it. Now they have no man to implement God’s law. They are no longer fed spiritually.
This prophecy applies physically as well—to all Israel. Right now, the nations of Israel are impressive in many ways to the world. But soon they will be in ruins! Just like Shiloh.
“Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord” (Jeremiah 26:9). Understand: This is not ancient history; this has never happened! Shiloh was not left “without an inhabitant” anciently. This is prophecy for the near future!
Anciently, Shiloh was left in ruins, but not “without an inhabitant.”
David wrote about the tragic fall of Shiloh: “For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images. When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men; And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand. He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance. The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage. Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation” (Psalms 78:58-64). God abandoned Shiloh. There were no more weddings or rejoicing of any type. The people were so deeply discouraged, they could cry no more!
We cannot be casual about these prophecies. We need to be more urgent than ever. The people of Israel will be destroyed very soon if they don’t repent! I know what Shiloh looks like; I made four television programs there on two separate visits. It is nothing but desolation. We can know what Israel shall look like—without inhabitant! When we hear this message, we must become more urgent people!
Eli and his sons caused Israel to obliterate the God family vision. The end result was staggering.
Satan’s Urgent Wrath
“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12). Satan has been cast down and is filled to the brim with foaming wrath! He is in a fit of rage; he has nothing to lose. He has so little time left.
We must make the most of this “short time” by doing God’s work more urgently. This verse is about a time prior to the Great Tribulation. If we do not let God’s Spirit stir us, then we will be doing what the Laodiceans are doing: Their love is waxing cold, because so much iniquity abounds (Matthew 24:12). All Israel is bathing in iniquity, shaking their fists at God, and the Laodiceans are following right along.
Meanwhile, the beast power is rising quickly. It is preparing to inflict a punishment on Israel worse than any nation has ever received. Who will warn Israel?
We need this God family vision to help us deliver this frightening message. God is preparing His family. We have a difficult job to do. We must finish our Father’s work the way Jesus Christ did (John 4:34).
“And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child” (Revelation 12:13). When Satan was cast down, he tore God’s Church apart. He persecuted God’s Church so severely that 95 percent of them rebelled against God. God allowed these attacks because He wanted to see what kind of character His people had built and how much they really had learned from His apostle.
Satan’s number-one target is the family of God! He will do anything he can to set traps for us and spiritually tear us apart. The worst news in this story is not that those who rebelled will have to suffer through the Tribulation; it’s that 50 percent of them, the Bible indicates, will not be in God’s family!
But God will protect us, if we stay loyal to Him: “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent” (verse 14).
In i Samuel 4:1-2, Israel lost 4,000 men in a battle with the Philistines. The defeat crushed their morale. “And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us to day before the Philistines? …” (verse 3). They could not understand why this was happening in Israel—why everything was falling apart.
They were asking the right question. If we keep losing battles in our personal lives, we must truthfully ask ourselves why. There must be a reason. Yes, we all have our trials, but we shouldn’t be losing battles against our enemy.
Notice the Israelites’ response in verse 3: “… Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.”
God spoke to Samuel from the ark. It was the most sacred object in Israel. The ark was not there just as a physical symbol. God spoke from there!
The Philadelphia Church of God is not here just as a symbol today—God speaks from here! We are the inner court, where God dwells.
The spiritual ark is here today. God gives His revealed prophecy through me and this Church. This very book you are reading is a small part of the abundant evidence!
God speaks from the ark of the covenant—from that throne between the cherubim—to His Church. He speaks to His covenant people—those who have been loyal to this covenant based on the government of God. We have made a covenant with the Lord of hosts (verse 4)—the God of all the angels, the God of all the universe. He is our military leader in the many battles we face. We are in the most intense warfare ever against Satan and his demons. They are trying with all their might to destroy us. Most of God’s people have been conquered because they didn’t keep the covenant. God wants us to win those battles, but we must keep our part of the covenant if we are to do so (Luke 14:26-27).
After Israel’s defeat at the hand of the Philistines, Hophni and Phinehas went to fetch the ark. They were standing beside it when they died. They thought they were righteous, standing there by the ark, being God’s leaders. But they died by the ark because of their sins.
Let me again remind you that inside the ark were two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them. Also there was Aaron’s rod (a type of God’s government through a man). The last item was the golden pot of manna. The mercy seat was on top of the ark, symbolizing God’s throne.
Where do you find the Ten Commandments and God’s government today? Who is fed spiritual manna, or revelation? Only God’s Philadelphia Church, and you can prove that strong statement.
The covenant was based on what was in the ark—God’s law and government. This is how God rules from the mercy seat. Those who submit are fed spiritual manna (John 6).
The Laodiceans can self-righteously act as if they are obeying God, but it is easy to prove that they are not! That’s why I’m sure many of them will repent so quickly in the Tribulation.
We have a choice today. God does not force anything on us. That reveals His love. We are in a marriage covenant. Christ wants to marry us. But He won’t force His bride to obey. We must return His love voluntarily.
Notice verse 10 of 1 Samuel 4: “And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.” The Israelites fled the battle. They didn’t even fight any more.
Joseph Tkach Jr. has said that 40,000 members of the Worldwide Church of God have dropped out and are not doing anything. They’ve been beaten. They’ve lost the battles, and they’re tired of fighting. If you have this problem, you’d better deal with it or you will be conquered by the devil.
There was a time when humanity became so bad that God was sorry He created man (Genesis 6). So God flooded the Earth and destroyed all mankind, save eight people. Later, God saw the way man became in Sodom and Gomorrah and He destroyed those cities (Genesis 19). God used both of these events as types of the end time (Luke 17:26-30). Man became worse than even God expected! Look how shocked we have been by what God’s lukewarm Church is doing today. Once you get away from God, there is no telling what human nature will do.
The Stone of Help
Consider what a sacrifice God and the Word made so that we can have our sins wiped out and actually be reconciled to God, that we may have the opportunity to enter the God family. For the sake of the God family plan, the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. And even when He was facing weakness, wanting to give up, Christ said to His Father, not my will, but your will be done. He wanted to do the Father’s will. He really set us an example. This family vision got Him through everything.
If the Father and Christ can do all that, can’t we do our part? This is a family endeavor. Look what God has done for us. Look what Jesus Christ went through. God was determined to have either a created family or a born family, that is with the angels or by recreating Himself through mankind. Two thirds of the angels have remained loyal, but they won’t be born into God’s family. If we choose to turn away from this incredible potential, then we can die forever, and we won’t have to suffer any more.
Can we understand how deeply God yearns for a family?
Can we not overcome discouragement? People who are conquered by negative thinking are being beaten down by Satan, and they are not using the power of God! There is no way we can ever make it beyond this life without the power of God.
Understand what God has put on the line for you! Does God love you? He not only says so, His actions prove it. He sent His only begotten Son to suffer and then die for you.
Doesn’t He have a right to ask us to endure our trials?
Eventually, Israel got the ark back (1 Samuel 7). After 40 years, Samuel led Israel back to where they had lost it, and he used the power of God to conquer the Philistines and retrieve the ark. And then he set up a huge stone and labeled it Ebenezer, or the Stone of Help (verse 12).
We have a Stone of Help. Israel should never have lost the ark. Samuel got Israel back on track to where they had the ark and many other blessings again. Samuel brought them back into that family covenant with God, and God gave them His power.
Let us remember the covenant we have made with God—our Stone. Let’s get our minds on His work and off ourselves. Let’s love God and His family today—and also His potential family, those billions and billions of people who will be resurrected on the Last Great Day. Let’s give our lives to the God family and yearn for a family as God does. If we can really grasp that and think like God, there won’t be anything that can stop us. We will be there to help bring all of those people into the glorious, wonderful and majestic family of God.
Sons of Zadok
Hear God’s answer to Eli and to the Laodiceans of the end time: “And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever” (i Samuel 2:35). Commentaries agree that this is referring to Zadok the priest—who was utterly loyal to the throne of David from beginning to end.
In 1 Kings 2:26-27, we see how Abiathar the priest failed. Zadok then became the sole high priest. This was 100 years after Eli died. Abiathar fell victim to that Eli curse (verses 25-35). But Zadok was loyal to David’s throne—which Samuel helped set up. Zadok was the “faithful priest” of 1 Samuel 2:35.
In the end time, God says there are spiritual sons of Zadok. “And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the Lord to minister unto him” (Ezekiel 40:46). This is an end-time prophecy. These are spiritual sons of Zadok. Today, only they come near to God.
“So he measured the court, an hundred cubits long, and an hundred cubits broad, foursquare; and the altar that was before the house” (verse 47). Today we measure the temple, God’s Church (Revelation 11:1-2).
Here is the message that comes after the measuring: “And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations, 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” (Ezekiel 44:6-7). These “rebellious” ministers have polluted God’s house just as the sons of Eli did.
“And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves. And the Levites [the Laodicean leaders today] that are gone away far from me, when Israel [spiritual] went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity” (verses 8, 10). They are going to pay for those sins. They knew the great God and then turned away. God just says, “when Israel went astray”—as if the whole Church fell away. And about 95 percent of them did! The Laodicean churches are scattering all over the place. Something is terribly rotten in God’s Church today. What is wrong?
Verse 12: “Because they [the ministers] ministered unto them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity; therefore have I lifted up mine hand against them, saith the Lord God, and they shall bear their iniquity.” There is a cause for every effect, and they caused God’s people to turn away from God. They were also ministers who rebelled and are therefore doubly guilty. God’s family has been torn apart.
“And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed” (verse 13). God does not take this lightly. They won’t even come near to the holy of holies in God’s headquarters today; they won’t have headquarters offices in the future. They have lost a great part of their reward, if not their eternal lives.
Verse 14: “But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein.” This is their lesser responsibility after they repent in the Tribulation.
“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” (verse 15). We were loyal as all of God’s spiritual family was turning away from God. This little remnant remained loyal just as Zadok and his family did. Therefore God promises us a great reward. We will have a special opportunity with our Husband.
We are the only people on the Earth today who really want The United States and Britain in Prophecy by Herbert W. Armstrong—the book which explains the throne of David. Is that not consistent with these prophecies? Is that not why we have the noble label “sons of Zadok”?
We see God behind all this, as Hannah saw God. We dedicate everything to God, because we are not looking to men. We do not look to men who sin and have weaknesses like David. We look to the Being that was behind David. Where is the God of David? Where is the God of Elijah—who taught about The United States and Britain in Prophecy? The sons of Zadok know!
If you are a son of Zadok, you will come close to God. These lessons in 1 Samuel about Eli and Samuel teach us how to be a priest—how to build a strong, spiritual family. These verses in Ezekiel 44 show the value of being a faithful priest to God. Read also verses 16-24.
God prophesied in 1 Samuel 2:35 that He would raise up a faithful priest (Zadok)—and that applies to the spiritual sons of Zadok in the end time. God has done it, just as He said. They will be faithful to that vision “in that day,” or the end time. It’s about the throne of David “in that day.” All the way through, they stay with the throne of David because they see God behind it, behind Elijah, behind this message.
When God talks about Zadok in 1 Samuel 2:35, He uses the word “forever.” If you will remain a faithful priest, you will be forever in the headquarters of God’s great work in the soon-coming World Tomorrow. We are to be kings and priests, and we will teach the whole world these spiritual lessons. Today God has restored all things in the Church, but He will soon use us to help Him restore all things in the World Tomorrow. That’s why the firstfruits are here. That’s why it’s so important that we remain loyal! Soon God’s family will be introduced to the world! Then we will help Jesus Christ restore all things and teach all nations about the God family vision.
Chapter 4: Declaring the Father
After Lucifer and one third of the angels failed in the job they were commissioned
to do on Earth, God decided to recreate Himself through man. As stated earlier, this was Plan B, since it involved more risk. In fact, it required that God send the Word to Earth to become His Son, deliver a vital message and die for all mankind.
God the Father had a fierce determination to have a family. He was willing to risk the eternal life of the Word, who became His Son. But through that risk, God could accomplish the greatest feat of creation—to create perfect, holy, righteous character in man, eventually bringing mankind into His family.
God went from Plan A to Plan B because of the greatest catastrophe in the universe to that point! The angelic rebellion showed God that the angels could not be trusted to rule the universe. It would take created sons who had the very character of God. So God planned to recreate Himself through man—His ultimate creation! We each individually must become perfect as our Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Otherwise we will not be born into God’s family. We would fail, as one third of the angels did.
There are greater risks in Plan B, but there is also far greater potential. Men literally become God—members of His family, whereas angels cannot.
Now, when the Word came to Earth as flesh, what was the message He came to proclaim? It is a simple message, yet the world—even most of God’s people—fail to understand!
Being “With” God
Let us review John 1:1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In this verse, the word with is not merely a preposition that denotes place or space, but rather refers to the closest spiritual relationship two beings can have!
This intimacy could never have happened unless the Word submitted to God. Without government, this relationship would have broken down. The Word was truly with God. For eons and eons of time there was God and the Word living in perfect love and harmony.
What an example for humanity, divided and warring throughout its history!
Are you with God? Mr. Armstrong so often asked the Church, “Are you with me?” Though most of them thought they were, time revealed that most of them were not. We must be with God and with His leader the way the Word was with God. If you say you are with God’s leader 100 percent, then you are saying you are with God 100 percent, the way Christ is with Him. We must show by our example that we will remain with God for all eternity—just as the Word, or Christ, has.
The Greek word for with is surely one of the most revealing words in the Bible. It reveals how God and the Word have lived in unity and love for all eternity. It also shows how we can be unified with God and be born into His family. This word is truly a great vision.
That glorious eternity will not happen by accident. It requires that we keep God’s law and submit to His government—as the Word did. God has made a covenant with us to write His laws in our minds and hearts (Hebrews 10:16). That is the only way we will remain with Him forever.
This is where humanity has always rebelled. And this is where most of God’s own people are rebelling today. They don’t have God’s law and government, which is the only way we can ever be unified with God!
We are talking about eternal life—being with God forever! We must think on that level, far beyond Earth. Otherwise our life is a waste.
“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). God made all things, including the angels, through the One who became Jesus Christ. But here the angelic rebellion is not mentioned. God’s main focus is on Plan B now.
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (verses 4-5). This world is full of darkness. Jesus Christ came as the Light, but the dark world failed to comprehend God in the flesh!
We are that light today, if Christ lives in us. That means we must submit to the Father as He does.
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John” (verse 6). God sent John the Baptist, and the world killed him. Humanity still has an intense hatred for God’s truth today. It has been that way throughout man’s history. That is why mankind is in darkness.
“The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light” (verses 7-8). We, like John, are here to bear witness of God’s light. We show this world God’s light through our examples and work.
“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (verse 9). This Light is for every person born into this world, whether they realize it or not. And they will not get beyond Earth unless that Light shines in them.
The people of the world are headed for the greatest disaster ever. They can only avoid it if they see the Light and heed God’s warning message.
We are making light available to them. They must choose whether or not to accept it.
Right and Might
“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (verses 10-12).
Power in the Greek actually means right as well as power. Two phenomenal words. We have the right, a birthright, to be born into the family of God! Not because we earned it, but because God gives it as a gift. However, that of itself is not enough. God says we must also have power to be born into His family. We cannot do it humanly. It takes God’s power to overcome and grow.
Right and might. We have the honorable right to be born into God’s family, and we also have the power to take advantage of that right. This birthright is far beyond anything God had in mind for Plan A. It is the greatest plan God will ever have—recreating Himself.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (verse 14). The Word made flesh was the only begotten Son of the Father. The Word—also God—came to Earth and was born of a woman. God risked the life of His only begotten Son so that He could expand His family! Had His Son sinned, He would have died for all eternity. But Jesus Christ lived a perfect life. Christ set an example for all mankind. He introduced the God family, showing how God was going to expand that family by bringing billions of human beings into it!
Christ Declared the Father
The whole world and even most of God’s own people are deceived about the next verse.
“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (verse 18).
Thayer’s Lexicon says that Christ was in “the closest, most intimate relation with the Father.” What a relationship! Christ was in the bosom of the Father—the most intimate relationship ever! For all eternity, they had worked in agreement, harmony, peace, joy and love. Only God’s love can explain that closeness.
That is where the Father wants you! He wants you in His bosom—to have the same relationship that He and Christ have. Jesus Christ set an example, showing us how to have that relationship with our Father. You have never seen or heard about another example like Christ’s. And you never will see another one like it!
Christ sacrificed Himself that we might have a Father-son relationship that lasts forever. It is our birthright! What an incredibly wonderful future. We must comprehend this profound understanding, or we will fail utterly.
Notice the last part of verse 18. It says that when Jesus Christ came to Earth, He declared the Father. That was His message for mankind; it was about the Father!
That is why the greatest disaster in the history of man is probably what has happened to God’s own Laodicean Church in the end time: They do not honor their Father (Malachi 1:6). They refuse to declare the Father! They have rejected the message of Jesus Christ in which He declared the Father. He was not a rebellious Son who came to declare Himself, though that is what the religions of this world teach! The Laodiceans teach that same rebellious message, in their doctrines and by their example.
Christ was in the bosom of the Father, and He was submissive to His Father in the sense that He not only obeyed His Father, but He made it His goal to please Him. What an example for us! He put His eternity on the line to preach that message; and still, 95 percent of God’s people have rejected it today.
God and Jesus Christ are not just about words. Christ came to the Earth and He lived God’s way. He demonstrated how it works.
Leading psychologists are saying that the father’s role in a family is unnecessary. That is a nation-destroying philosophy. Where is that message coming from? Not from Jesus Christ! It is coming from Satan—the god of this world.
Satan hates the family because it is a God-plane relationship. That means it is a type of the God family. The individual human family was designed to help prepare us for the God family.
That is why family!
Our Father is the Head of that wonderful, majestic God family. Our number-one passion must be to declare Him and His family!
We need to move more into the bosom of the Father! God wants us to get deeply entrenched in His family! Jesus Christ led the way in declaring the Father. Now we are commanded to follow His example!
Look at our potential. We are kings and priests. We are the sons of God. Our entire lives must revolve around declaring the Father. False Christianity builds its work around the person of Christ—not His message of declaring the Father! Christ said, “[M]y Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
Declaring the Father is what separates God’s very elect from His own Laodicean Church and the world!
This is the foundational truth of the Bible. People who don’t declare the Father are deceived! They don’t understand that our calling is about being born into God’s family—headed by the Father.
Nothing makes a loving father happier than seeing a son deliver his message. Christ delivered His Father’s message. He set an example for us to follow. Now we must deliver our Father’s message. It is why we were called.
Only God’s very elect declare the Father!
Why do men and women so desperately desire physical families? That desire comes from the God family, because they desire a family more deeply than we can imagine. No one has done what they have to beget a family.
God and the Word became Father and Son. Why? Because God wants a family. He wants billions in His family. What an opportunity.
As Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The Incredible Human Potential shows, had Lucifer and the angels succeeded, we probably wouldn’t be here. But the angels never had the potential or opportunity to be born into God’s family. What an awesome opportunity we have been given!
Jesus Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice for all mankind. How that pleased His Father! Was the Son here just to gain stature for Himself, or was He trying to uphold His Father’s standard? We are here as a result of His success—because of our Husband’s perfect life!
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God” (Revelation 19:11-13).
Here John refers to Him as the Word again. Jesus Christ will come back as the Word of God. He is still the Spokesman for the God family. He will return with His wife, the Church. She will help Him speak to the world for God. Together, they will declare the Father!
Then, the Father, the Son and His bride will bring all mankind into God’s family.
Institutionalizing the Vision
As we saw in the last chapter, God had to use the Prophet Samuel to clean up what Eli had polluted. “So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites. And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places” (1 Samuel 7:13-16).
Samuel established colleges in the three cities of Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpeh. The original Elijah had colleges on that circuit as well, except one of them was in Jericho, not Mizpeh (2 Kings 2:1-5; the “sons of the prophets” were college students).
Samuel founded these schools to clean up the priesthood. He virtually abolished the priesthood because it was so polluted. He decided to start over by raising up these colleges.
The Soncino Commentary states, “Samuel’s greatest claim to honor and the most permanent of his life’s achievements were the schools of the prophets which he founded, and from which in the work of the Hebrew prophets there issued the supreme creation of Israel’s religious genius. … Where the gift of prophecy existed the schools would develop it, but the members of the schools formed a religious and moral leaven in the life of the people.”
Samuel institutionalized this God family vision.
When Mr. Armstrong came on the scene in the end time, the Sardis Church was dead. God then used him to raise up three colleges.
When Mr. Armstrong died, the people whom he taught lost that vision: “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? …” (Malachi 1:6). God opens the book of Malachi talking about great spiritual desolation. His own Church is dying! Why are they dying—losing their eternal lives? They are refusing to honor their Father! They have lost the God family vision. Nothing could be more catastrophic!
Malachi 1:11 states, “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.”
Presently, in the pcg, Jesus Christ is making the Father’s name great. We strive to declare the Father, to make His name great, even now. We fight in court over printing Mr. Armstrong’s literature so we can do this. God will make His name great among the Gentiles with those books that we fight for: Mystery of the Ages, The Incredible Human Potential, The Missing Dimension in Sex.
Soon, the Church will make the Father’s name great to the entire Earth. All peoples of the world will honor their Father!
They will be studying Mr. Armstrong’s books and booklets. This is God’s revealed truth for all mankind, not only for His Church today.
We must make the Father’s name great among the Gentiles — the whole world! They must be taught to honor their Father! That is what we are now being prepared to do. People must understand why they were created. At last they will understand why man is here.
They will also read the Philadelphia Church of God books and booklets. Without them there would be a gap in their knowledge. They would not understand where the very elect went after Mr. Armstrong died. They would fail to understand where the saints who honored and declared their Father were located.
Elijah raised up three colleges, as Samuel did. (The end-time Elijah did the same.) There was also an Elisha, anciently, who continued those colleges. He looked to Elijah as his father. Elijah was a spiritual father to Elisha and the sons of the prophets in the sense that they came to God through him—directly or indirectly. Samuel, Elijah, Elisha and an end-time Elijah all raised up colleges to institutionalize the God family vision. When Mr. Armstrong built Ambassador College, it was really about the God family. That is why all those colleges were there. They were declaring the Father. That is why we have raised up Herbert W. Armstrong College in Edmond, Oklahoma: to continue what Elijah did—declaring the Father!
Samuel had to get rid of the polluted priesthood and start over. That is what we have done. Prophecy revealed it would happen (Revelation 11:1-2). The Father had to continue as the Head of the family. We must honor Him.
God’s Millennial Colleges
Why build those colleges throughout history, if men were only going to turn away from them? Because that is not the way it will happen very soon. In the World Tomorrow, God will establish those colleges all around the world—many thousands of them. And the firstfruits will lead those colleges as they declare the Father and this God family vision! Then, God’s knowledge—this vision—will cover the Earth as the waters fill the ocean beds (Isaiah 11:9). And we are learning how to do that today. This Church is a college for those teachers.
After the Millennium, billions of people will be resurrected in the Great White Throne Judgment on the Last Great Day (John 7:37). They will need colleges to be taught! That is why we will establish those colleges throughout the Millennium; so we are ready to teach them—to declare the Father to them.
For this plan to work, God needs people now who are learning how to declare the Father. It is the fundamental truth of God’s plan. What beautiful truth we have received. It’s time we learn this deeply so we can teach the whole world! That is the only reason we are called today.
God says, “My name shall be great among the Gentiles” (Malachi 1:11). That prophecy will be fulfilled through the colleges God establishes in the Millennium.
Isaiah 30:20 states, “[Y]et shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers.” People will see their teachers in these institutions set up around the world. Maybe they’ll see them in a classroom, or on television via satellite transmission.
Herbert Armstrong also set up Imperial Schools for pre-college students. It was to prepare them for Ambassador College. That was only done in a limited way, but it should be a great vision for the very elect today. We have to prepare our young people so they can go to college, and then, from college, go on to teach the world.
God will not call the students—or the world—into the classroom until the teachers are ready!
Parents: How will you prepare your children for God’s work? You have a major responsibility to get them ready for that: to teach those little children why family, why marriage, why children—to declare the Father to them.
Hannah set an inspiring example for us.
Of course, we make mistakes. Samuel had two sons, and they turned out like Eli’s did. The Bible doesn’t mention much about Samuel’s child rearing, but God highly exalts him throughout the Scriptures. His children at least had a wonderful example. The young people have their responsibility too. Let’s not let the past hold us back. If we have made mistakes, we need to correct them, move on and be great for God.
Will of the Father
John recorded Christ’s prayer the night before His crucifixion. It concludes, “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:25-26).
Christ asked that the very same love with which the Father loved Him would be in us. The same love that the Father had for Jesus Christ can be in you! Then we will all declare the Father. This is the heart of the God family vision!
Chapter 5: Where Is the God of Judgment?
People in this world don’t like to think about a God of judgment. They like a God of peace and joy. They only want “good news.” That’s the reason they receive so much bad news! They refuse to face reality. After all, God is not only a God of mercy and kindness. He is a God of judgment—a God of correction.
In the book of Malachi, there is one scripture that shows how even the Laodiceans today are confused about the God of judgment and want to keep their distance from Him. “Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” (Malachi 2:17). The Laodiceans are talking back to God: Wherein have we wearied Him? Where is the God of judgment? The Laodiceans are upset with God. He didn’t punish the world through the Great Tribulation and return as soon as they expected. Their weak faith caused them to get discouraged and begin to rebel. So now they must get to know the God of judgment through experience. They should have strengthened their faith by continuing to obey God. Instead, their government problem caused them to blame God. The Laodiceans would not be asking this question if they were responsive to God’s correction today. It is only because we are corrected now that God delivers us from the Great Tribulation.
The Laodiceans force God to correct them harshly. It is the only way He will be able to save 50 percent of them. The remainder are beyond help.
Where is the God of judgment? This is where people have trouble with God. God does correct us; He says if we’re not corrected, we’re not even His sons (Hebrews 12:7‑8). What we really need to be concerned about is not God’s correction, but God not correcting us!
The Laodiceans are refusing God’s correction today. So God gives them an answer to their question, in the very next verse in Malachi: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:1). The God of judgment will return and deal with the world and its rebellion. He will come suddenly and unexpectedly. So if people don’t learn today where the God of judgment is, they will then!
Where is the God of judgment? This is the same statement the evil servant makes in Matthew 24:48: “My lord delayeth His coming.” The Laodiceans are saying, we thought God was going to come a long time ago. He’s still not here. You can tell these people know about God’s return; they’re upset because He hasn’t come already. And God says, if you have that problem, be assured that you will get to know this God of judgment—the hard way!
Of course, God would like them to repent and obey Him now, before that time. And they would, if they would heed God’s message from the book of Malachi. We have to learn about the God of judgment today if we’re to teach the world in the World Tomorrow about God—about all of His characteristics.
The Family Messenger
Look at the flow of events here: Where is the God of judgment? is immediately followed by, I will send my messenger. Malachi is an end-time book. So where is God’s messenger? He must have come. God is directing these people back to Herbert Armstrong. If you really want to know about the God of judgment, get back to Herbert Armstrong. He taught us about judgment; he taught us about government. The problem is that they won’t listen to what he’s already taught them.
“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:4‑6). God sent a man in this end time who concentrated on the family structure. And underlying that is the family of God. But today, you don’t see the family being built in most of God’s own people, you see it being torn apart. Why? Because people are not heeding the words of this end-time Elijah.
Today, just about every religion talks about a God of mercy and peace, but they won’t face the God of judgment. We are so far from God, our understanding of family is twisted. Newsweek ran an article titled, “Do Parents Matter?” Do parents matter? You see where Satan is taking the world: He is totally destroying God’s family. An Elijah taught it, and Satan is destroying it. That article quoted from a book that said, “Parents matter a whole lot less than scientists believe.” This abominable viewpoint was given credibility in a national newsmagazine! Anybody should understand that the family is the foundation of a nation. You know Israel is about to collapse when its people become that ignorant. The family has fallen apart.
Articles like that are anti-God. Does anyone ever ask what God thinks of these things? What does the God of judgment think? The Ten Commandments reveal that He puts those sins on the same level as murder! Do the American people see it that way—lying and adultery as being equal to murder? Our Constitution essentially was founded on our forefathers’ belief in the Ten Commandments; but we don’t believe in them today! We don’t even think the family is all that important.
Pornography is a $10 billion a year business in America. Over $4 billion is generated by videos alone—up from $10 million 25 years ago. According to one report, “Americans spend more on hard-core porn, telephone sex and strip clubs than they do at cinemas. Porn videos account for a quarter of all those rented or sold, while strip clubs generate more money than all other live entertainment, including rock concerts and Broadway theaters, put together.” What is all that doing to the family? It’s tearing it apart! Where is the God of judgment? Well, these people are about to meet Him.
There is no joy in the pornography and the filth of this world. People are desperate for any kind of sensation. They don’t know what real happiness is. The family of God is where the real joy is! God wants man to have happiness and joy in His family. But it does take correction to be a godly family, and man hates correction. He likes to go his own way. God allows that today. But suddenly that will change when the Tribulation comes, and the great God—the family God, the husband God—returns to this Earth!
A Refiner’s Fire
Let’s look at Malachi 3:1 again: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant [referring to the marriage covenant, the family covenant], whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.” God’s Church made a covenant with God to submit to His law and government. The Laodiceans have broken this covenant. God is going to punish them. Yes, the messenger of the covenant—the God of judgment—is coming. What will happen to those Laodiceans who don’t listen to His words today?
“But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (verses 2-3). Many ministers in God’s own Church today are not making offerings in righteousness. They are not teaching what the end-time Elijah taught about the God of judgment, the God of authority, the God of government. This is a strong message. God says these people will have to be smelted, or cleansed. The gold is impure, and it will have to be purified by God if it’s ever going to become pure spiritual gold and enter into the family of God.
Mr. Armstrong wrote on June 24, 1985, “A final personal word. In a few days I will be 93 years of age. For some years now, there have been some like vultures waiting for me to die.” If you look at what has happened to that church since Mr. Armstrong died, you’d have to say he really was surrounded by vultures almost all of his life. Name one person who was close to Mr. Armstrong who is still faithfully teaching what he taught! “They would like to come back [that is, from the outside], and take over the leadership of the Church in my stead. I have been deeply concerned about this, but in no sense worried. Now, this is the Church of God, not of any man. Jesus Christ is the living Head of this Church.” Remember that—Christ is the Head.
But, even Mr. Armstrong couldn’t see the real depth of the problem: He was looking for most of these men to come back from the outside and attempt to take over the Church. But in fact, they were sitting right next to him, ready to take over! The God of judgment will deal very harshly with these men who acted like vultures around His messenger!
“When I have, even rarely, mentioned my concern in this category,” Mr. Armstrong concluded, “the response of members has always been the belief that God will keep me alive. I hope that He will, and I do try to take every care of my health and physical condition, but whether God keeps me alive ten more years or only ten more minutes is entirely in God’s hands. Brethren, put your faith in Christ and the living God, and not in me.”
Put your faith in Christ and the living God. We must understand that the God of judgment is here today. Why can’t all of God’s people get together? Why are we such a divided family today? God says that His people are blind. They don’t look to the living God; they don’t understand the God of judgment; they don’t understand the words that they should be listening to from God’s loyal remnant in this end time.
The Head of the Family
The book of Colossians, which contains prophecy for the last era (Laodicean) of God’s Church, relates to this same subject.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). Why are we here, and who taught us about the Father? Only one man taught that subject in this end time. We understand that God is a Father, the central figure in our religion, and Satan wants to destroy that so badly.
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (verse 13). The Father’s dear Son, our Husband, translated us into His family. We are the Kingdom of God in embryo. “For by him were all things created … and by him all things consist” (verses 16-17). Consist means that all things hold together by Christ. If you don’t have Him, if you don’t cling to Him, your life and your family will not hold together. All things hold together by our Husband. We’re divided today because people don’t obey the family government Mr. Armstrong taught. They don’t realize, as Mr. Armstrong did, that government is everything! Jesus Christ is about to return to rule Earth, and you will be there to help Him do that if you understand government—or, in other words, if you understand this God of judgment.
“For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh” (Colossians 2:1). If we know what a lukewarm Laodicean is, we know what problems Paul was dealing with. Remember, this was written 30 years before the Apostle John wrote Revelation 3, where he gave us the actual history and prophecy of the Laodiceans. He had seen these people Paul was dealing with turn away from God into a Laodicean attitude; and then he prophesied what would happen to a whole era in this end time. And as it says in Revelation 3, the Laodiceans will have to meet the God of judgment in a very harsh way if they don’t repent of their sin.
John clearly understood the Laodicean problem as we do today.
Here is the problem: “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God” (Colossians 2:19). Paul addressed this problem, and the Colossians took the correction; the Laodiceans didn’t. If you want to be knit together in your family, and in the family of God, here is how: You have to hold the Head, the God of judgment. That Head will judge and correct you at times. Holding that Head is the biggest challenge you face.
All the Laodicean groups have forsaken God’s government today. They are dead-set on democratic-type rule. Why do they think that way? Because they don’t really love the God of judgment.
If you don’t love the God of judgment, you will not be ready for the return of Jesus Christ!
If we know the God of judgment, we know that we have to be corrected at times. And what a blessing that is! What a blessing to be a son of God. Sometimes we go through difficult trials, but realize that even if we had to scream and crawl and drag ourselves across this Earth until Christ got here, and we still made it into God’s Kingdom, it would be worth it. We must have correction. And what ultimate joy it brings into our lives if we heed what God says.
God is giving us everything. We are the bride of Christ. Nobody in the World Tomorrow will have what He is giving us—rule with Jesus Christ forever. Of course you have to qualify to receive that! Is that bad? No! We need to be corrected. If we don’t deal with the God of judgment today, we’re going into the Great Tribulation.
Satan doesn’t want you to understand correction; he wants you to think, why is God doing this to me? Why is God correcting me? Why is God so unfair? But God is always fair, and you’re His son if you receive His correction.
Nothing is more abominable than abusing our own children. They must be spanked at times, but always in love.
Are you unfair when you spank your children? You’ll probably tend to be too easy, unless you follow God’s instruction on child rearing. God says that spanking is necessary (Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13). Many scholarly people say spanking is wrong, and disagree with their Creator. What authority do those people have to tell you how to rear a little child being made into the character of God? Those people know nothing about correcting a child in love! They promote Satan’s philosophy of destruction! The people in the modern nations of Israel hate correction! And now they seem too far gone to ever be corrected by words. So how can God possibly reach them now? It will take something major, because they want nothing to do with the God of judgment.
If you reject the God of judgment today, you are not prepared to rule with Jesus Christ. God puts His rebellious people through the horrifying times of the Tribulation because that is their only hope. God loves them. He wants them in His family, and He will get 50 percent of them.
Rooted and Grounded
“And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ” (Colossians 2:4-5). Paul was in jail. He must have been an “extremist” to have been thrown in jail. What would you do if some of God’s faithful ministers were thrown in jail?
Paul is trying to encourage the Church, but he couldn’t encourage the Laodiceans. Paul was in jail, thrilled beyond words that he could be a part of this firstfruits calling; and these people were outside, turning away from God because they didn’t want God to rule them.
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (verses 6-7). Paul warned us to give God thanks all the time, because we’ve been taught so much. We must love this teaching so much that we become rooted and grounded in it. This is also a warning. The problem with the Laodiceans today is they’re not rooted and grounded in truth. Satan will always fight to keep us from becoming rooted and grounded in God—the God of judgment.
Are you rooted and grounded in your understanding? Is this your whole life? Do the roots stretch into every little facet of your life, through and through? If not, then the God of judgment will be a mystery to you.
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (verse 8). Vain philosophy is after the “rudiments of the world.” What does that mean? The New Testament in Today’s English version translates that expression as “ruling spirits of the universe.” Thayer’s Lexicon defines it, “to invade, of evils coming into existence among men and beginning to exert their power.” Now we’re getting to the heart and core of the problem in the Church of God. “Ruling spirits of the universe” are influencing the lives of these scholarly people and getting control of the Church. We’ve seen that happen before our eyes. God’s family has been shattered. Satan violently hates God’s family plan to replace him.
Verse 18 explains this problem in context: “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels [actually means demons], intruding into those things which he [has seen, it should read], vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” These people are worshiping demons!
People often say that we are bashing the Laodiceans. When you’re talking about something as dark as demon worship, shouldn’t we speak out? In a family, if you saw demons moving into your children’s lives, wouldn’t you do something about it? That happens all the time in this world: If your family fractures with no parent to take charge, you are turning your children over to demons! Even in the Church, if a husband and wife are not rooted and grounded in the true God, Satan can move into that marriage and quickly tear it apart! That is not something to remain silent about!
If we see the demons invading God’s own Church, isn’t it a time to do something? We are trying to protect our spiritual family from Satan and his demons. The Laodiceans are still members of God’s family. We are not bashing or attacking the lukewarm Laodiceans. We are speaking out because we love them. If we don’t speak out, something is terribly wrong with us.
Verse 16 is also talking about problems within the Church: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” Remember, this is talking about the Laodiceans, which makes it prophecy. Paul said there would be men inside the Church in this end time who, like those first-century Laodiceans, will begin to judge you for keeping God’s holy days. When it says “new moon,” that refers to the Feast of Trumpets, which pictures Christ’s return, and heavily portrays the God of judgment. These people will say, I don’t like your prophecy message! You’re just bashing people all the time, when all we’re doing is preaching about the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. It is a strong prophecy message.
These people are not only judging and criticizing some of the feast days, they are condemning our message. The Laodiceans reject what we teach about the major and minor prophets. They don’t want that strong prophecy message.
What they really don’t like is the God of judgment! They don’t like the government of God taught by Mr. Armstrong. God says in Malachi that they despise that government! The Laodiceans would never admit that, but their fruits show that they do. They don’t have prophecy, and they don’t have a work. God won’t give them a work until they learn to hold on to their Head.
Don’t let men judge you for the message of God, or the holy days of God. Don’t let them take you away from the wonderful revelation that God gave Mr. Armstrong and is giving the Philadelphia Church of God today. Keep these days because, as verse 17 shows, they are a shadow of things to come. If you follow the shadow of something, it will lead you to the real thing. Follow these shadows and they will lead you to the reality of Christ’s return, of Satan being bound, of the glorious Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment. These very special days are where we get all of our hope!
Jesus Christ will do a lot of destructive things upon His Second Coming. Man must learn that the God of judgment is coming back, and that He will rule. This work has to draw the world’s attention to that event.
The God of Judgment
How will we ever get all of God’s people together? It will happen. “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee” (Revelation 3:9). And how will they be brought back to this condition? By the God of judgment. What a curse if they wait until that point to get back to Him. God will bring them back, and yes, we will get together. But that is no easy task after people rebel against God.
Notice Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Mr. Armstrong preached the gospel to the world, and then the world entered the Matthew 24 “end”: Things really began to happen quickly once the primary commission of getting the gospel to the world was changed. God shifted the emphasis of His message from the gospel to a warning message. Verse 15: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place ….” You can see why God’s work has to begin to warn more forcefully about a great beast power rising on the world scene that is about to destroy the nations of Israel. For a complete explanation of this prophecy, write for a free copy of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (verses 21-22). Do you want to see the God of judgment? Do you want to know where He is? If the rebels want to meet the God of judgment and they can’t find Him today, very soon they will understand clearly where He is!
“Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (verse 41). When it says left, it means left in a nuclear holocaust! Bible prophecy uses a woman as a type of a church. One woman has rebelled against her Husband—Jesus Christ! God’s family is in serious trouble. Two churches—one protected in a place of safety, another left in a nuclear holocaust. But why, God? Why would you do that? they will ask. They want to know where the God of judgment is, and God says, Here I am! Here is the Tribulation that you’ve heard about all this time! This is the judgment I’m bringing upon the world, letting mankind correct itself through its own evil!
If you won’t listen to God’s words now, be patient, you’re about to get acquainted with the God of judgment!
The world is about to explode in our faces. Problems are crowding in all around us, with madmen from small terrorist nations getting their hands on nuclear weapons! These are the problems Christ warned about! This is what Mr. Armstrong proclaimed to the world! This is what the Laodiceans ought to be teaching the world! Instead, they’re trying to destroy the people who are doing that work today! Do you think God will take their sin lightly? Their only hope is this message! I don’t want to see little children and adults in a nuclear holocaust! I pray to God that if there is any way to avoid it, that they might avoid it. Who in his right mind could want to see something like that happen?
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up” (verses 42-43)—suddenly, we could add. Mr. Armstrong always taught that the Holy Roman Empire would come suddenly, the Great Tribulation would come suddenly, and the trumpet plagues would come suddenly. So we’d better get ready for some sudden and dreadful changes, because these prophecies are about to be fulfilled.
As the world gets worse and events accelerate, the God of judgment is showing people more and more the kind of judgment that they will understand—the kind of judgment that will bring them to Him. We need to know about the God of judgment today. We need to submit to His every correction, and be thankful for it.
If we accept the God of judgment today, that means we accept God’s government.
This world ought to be submitting to God’s government now. But if they won’t learn it through words, God will teach them soon enough by experience. Our job is to get this message out there, and get as many people as possible interested in this God family vision. That is our calling, and it is most urgent that we get busy and finish God’s work.
Chapter 6: God’s Covenant With Levi
At the end of his life, Mr. Armstrong was leading a Church bringing in over $200 million annually, broadcasting on over 400 television stations and printing over 8 million Plain Truth magazines every month. One book, The United States and Britain in Prophecy, was sent to more than 5 million people.
Mr. Armstrong established three colleges during his ministry. Matthew 24:14 says he preached the gospel around the world as a witness. Matthew 17:10-11 says that as the end-time Elijah, he restored all things. Malachi 4:5‑6 says he restored the family of God within God’s Church. A tremendous work! Through Mr. Armstrong, God did the greatest work ever in His Church, in terms of numbers.
Mr. Armstrong died in 1986, and look at the Church of God today. It has splintered into dozens of groups, each teaching varying degrees of truth and error. Many people drift from church to church; others have completely isolated themselves, or dropped out altogether. What confusion there is! Where is the God of Elijah today?
When the original Elijah was taken away in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11), people were asking the same question. God gave them an answer.
Where Is the God of Elijah?
In 2 Kings 2 we see Elijah’s last moments with Elisha. “And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces” (verses 9-12).
This was a very emotional time for Elisha. Elijah was not his biological father, but his spiritual father, through whom he received the truth of God. Likewise, Mr. Armstrong was our father in this end time; all of the members of the Worldwide Church of God received the truth through him, directly or indirectly. I believe God has separated the Philadelphians from the Laodiceans mainly over this issue: The people in the Philadelphia Church of God look to Mr. Armstrong as “my father, my father.” That’s not saying he was infallible; it is simply acknowledging him as the man who gave us the truth of God. That makes us today a type of the Elisha work.
God blessed Elisha for that beautiful attitude. Notice what happened: When Elijah was taken away, of course people were wondering, who will replace Elijah? Who will do the work that Elijah did? Where is the God of Elijah? And Elisha “took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him [meaning, he took over the leadership], and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over” (verses 13-14).
This answered their question. Elisha smote the waters, the Jordan parted and he walked across. Quite a sight! I’m sure people saw him. Everybody knew right away where the God of Elijah was, because God showed them, even though Elijah was no longer around.
We have witnessed an even greater miracle today. When the end-time Elijah died, for four years God was testing His Church, giving them time to repent of their sinful changes in the Church. But when that didn’t happen, God sent Malachi’s Message—the understanding of the book of Malachi as it applies to God’s end-time Church. That was a far greater miracle than the parting of the Jordan River, because it is helping people understand and change their spiritual lives. The consequences are eternal. A big question in the mind of many people today is, where is the God of Elijah—the God who did all that work through Mr. Armstrong? Where is He today? That is a question we all need to be able to answer.
If I Be a Father
The Apostle Paul also teaches us about our spiritual father. To the Corinthians he wrote, “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you” (1 Corinthians 4:14). Paul was addressing the Corinthians—God’s own people—calling them his beloved sons. And he said, I have a warning for you. What was that warning about? “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (verse 15).
Paul said, all of you came to God through me. You may have 10,000 instructors, but you only have one father—one person through whom you came to the great God. Where did you get the revelation you have today? Where did I get it? All of the 18 restored truths, either directly or indirectly, came to each one of us from Mr. Armstrong (Matthew 17:10-11). He directed us to God. The warning is that we can easily forget, or fail to respect, our spiritual father. So many have done just that in this end time.
There is also a much deeper lesson here that we will see as we proceed.
Malachi 1:6 contains the same warning, only here it involves people who didn’t heed. “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?”
This is God talking: the Lord of hosts, the supreme God, the God of the angels, the universe and everything that ever was created. He says, if I’m a father, where is my honor? Though Christ was the God of the Old Testament, here it is as if God the Father is speaking! He’s asking this question of His own people today. That’s the problem He has with the Laodiceans: They are very ungrateful sons. God says, you’re my sons, and sons ought to honor their father.
As you study this, you will begin to understand that honoring Mr. Armstrong as our father is very closely tied to honoring God the Father. That’s what Paul’s warning was really about. God is trying to teach us the deepest part of the gospel—the central part of this family message: that we must first of all honor the Father. Christ is telling these people how to get their lives straightened out. He is trying to get them to see the family structure. There is nothing on Earth like this inspiring message!
It says these ministers despise God’s name. The Anchor Bible says, “Here the term name represents the essence of God’s being, especially His sovereignty, His rule.” They have despised God’s government. To grasp this message of government, we must understand about God the Father and this loving family relationship we must have. It is critical that we understand the father role. A properly run family should have a father at the head. God is a Father, and He is creating a family. You can’t do that without authority! Try running a family without authority. You will have utter chaos.
It isn’t a natural thing to accept government. But with a loving father at the head, children shouldn’t have a problem accepting that government, even when they are corrected, because they know their father loves them. This is what the Laodiceans don’t really see today: God’s love for them. They don’t see God’s correction as being love. But God says that if you won’t be corrected, you have no Father! That is the worst fate you could have.
If only they would heed this correction in Malachi! Many Laodiceans acknowledge having a problem with Mr. Armstrong as the Elijah, but here God says, you really have a problem with your spiritual Father—God the Father! That is serious! It is the difference between being in the family of God and not being in the family. God is telling us how to be in the family. We warn the Laodiceans, because they are God’s family.
God is speaking to His own people—who have scholarly reasons about why they have a different government. God is saying, I’ll tell you what your problem is! You hate my government—my loving family government! They persist in their reasonings, and God puts them in the outer court. God doesn’t mince words. The Laodiceans say, we don’t believe Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah. God’s answer: You hate my government! He’s not going to get caught up in their rebellious reasonings. They are dishonoring their father.
When Christ returns, His top priority in this world will be to restore God’s government. His top priority today in the Church is to restore the Father’s family government. We have a duty to honor our Father. Why not honor a Father who loves you deeply, who has already given His Son for you to prove His love? Why not submit to a Father who has such great love?
Elisha knew that Elijah was his spiritual father. I believe that’s why he was chosen for the job. As Elijah was about to go away he didn’t say, well, I’m glad I’m finally getting that job! He wasn’t there like a vulture, waiting for him to die. He said, my father, my father! He loved Elijah.
Where is the God of Elijah today, who did such a powerful work through the end-time messenger? You can answer that question with another question: Where are the people who honor God as a Father today? And at the same time honor Mr. Armstrong as a spiritual father?
There is a Malachi group with God’s family vision. If you understand this vision of God the Father—about your Father and why you are on this Earth as a human being, why you were created to be in the God family—this is enough to inspire you for all eternity!
We will become the bride of Jesus Christ! Again, when Christ gets back, His top priority will be to restore the government of God. Let’s be practical: If you don’t even know what that government is, how will you serve at headquarters with Jesus Christ and help Him restore it? Would the great God who carefully planned all this, even down to hand-picking each member in His Church, have people who were confused about His government go out and teach the world?
Satan hates the family of God. What he wants to destroy most of all is the Father vision. And he has had great success in God’s Church.
“And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you” (Malachi 2:1). How did these ministers get their job? Did somebody vote them into it? No, God appointed them (unless there happened to be one or two who slipped in and should not have been there). But today, there are Laodicean groups that vote in their leaders. That isn’t the way the ministers originally got their jobs. Why this foundational change?
Now God is getting direct and personal: I want you ministers to know, this commandment is for you. And here’s the message: “If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart” (verse 2). These priests are not giving glory to God’s name. The Hebrew word for name means government, or sovereignty. These ministers must realize and learn that government is everything. Until they do so, they’ll never be able to submit to God and give glory to His name.
God says these people are under the curse—they’re in danger of losing their eternal lives—because they’re not honoring God in this God family structure. People can reason all they want today; this is the day for human reasoning. But God is talking about the way it will be for all eternity in His family!
This message of Malachi is being proclaimed. God prophesied that this message would go out in the end time, and says that if these ministers won’t hear it, they will be cursed. Where is this message today? Is there any doubt about it?
Notice verse 3: “Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.” Behold! He says. Take note here! I will corrupt your seed! That means to rebuke, even harshly, reprove anyone as a father to a son. Seed refers to offspring.
Remember, God the Father calls each Church member. It is not done haphazardly. He must have given a lot of thought and preparation to select each one of His elect, because everything is at stake. God the Father had to think a lot about each one of us, because if one whom He calls now doesn’t make it, they die forever. He likely tried and tested us for years before He selected us. In fact, the word seed could be translated semen. That may sound a little direct, but, after all, the Father does beget us through His Holy Spirit. God is sowing seed. We will have a tremendous birth into His family. This is a transcendental blessing and wonder of God. God is developing sons. What a deep meaning this has—you were begotten by your Father, and He knows you better than anybody knows you—even better than you know yourself.
So, you can begin to see why the rebellious ministers are under such a curse! They are turning God’s family, in embryo, away from their Father! What a sin! Where is the God of Elijah? They don’t know or refuse to know, and God is upset about that.
Anciently, as part of their sacrificing, the priests would have to get rid of the animal dung. (There are jobs that the ministers have that are not the greatest.) Here God says, I will spread that dung of your religion and your rebellion all over your faces! Your religion to me is nothing but dung. And you will be taken away with it—treated like so much dung if you don’t repent! That is not an easy message. God has contempt for their solemn feasts.
Covenant With Levi
“And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord of hosts” (verse 4). God says you will know. Again it refers to sexual relations—showing you the deep, close relationship God wants us to have with our Father—it’s not sexual of course, but it’s close, and it’s beautiful and it’s wonderful. “You shall know,” He says, “that I have sent this commandment unto you.” You will either know it now or you will know it very soon. And notice, a part of this is, “that my covenant might be with Levi.”
A covenant is an agreement between two parties. The great God of the universe is saying, I made a covenant with Levi, I didn’t make it with you. I made it with Levi, that he would come and restore all things.
Malachi’s Message contains a chapter about following Elijah, who is also called Levi. These names are very important to understand; God gives them for a very definite reason, because they tell you about this man’s different responsibilities. Levi was the father of the Levites, and Mr. Armstrong was the spiritual father of all of the ministers. They all came to God, either directly or indirectly, through him, as the Corinthians did through Paul. God made a covenant with him that he would preach this message around the world and do the work of God. Mr. Armstrong had to do that work if he wanted to enter into that New Covenant relationship and marriage to Christ that we will have in the future.
A deacon mentioned to me that part of what got him interested in this Church was that we do not compete with Mr. Armstrong as other groups do. We can’t compete with our father. A son can’t compete with his father, nor can a daughter or wife, or you will have a dysfunctional family. So God says, I want you to understand that my covenant was with Levi; it wasn’t with Gerald Flurry; it wasn’t with Joe Tkach; it wasn’t with anybody except Mr. Armstrong. If you want to go out there and compete, go ahead—you will do it in the outer court. But sooner or later you will come back and worship like the Philadelphians, or you have no future! A serious message.
The Message of Pentecost
God’s covenant to “restore all things” was with Mr. Armstrong. And, as Mr. Armstrong always said, our job was to support him as he supported God. These are his words (Good News, May 1974): “But now, once again, there is a dynamic, super-important, special commission—to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom in all the world as a witness to all nations …. And, just as God caused His Church in the first century to grow rapidly, even to multiply in numbers (until the persecution set in)—to back the apostles, support them financially, support them by fervent prayers—even so God caused His Church of our day to grow ….” Further on he wrote, “It would have been utterly impossible for me to carry out this great commission alone. That is why God has called you now, instead of later, in the Millennium! And this great work of God is the way God has set before us for each to grow and to develop spiritually. God’s way, that of His law, is the way of giving, not getting. Those who try to simply get their salvation are in danger of losing it!”
That is significant: It is through the work that God brings us out of our getting ways. It is through the work that He gets our minds off ourselves and onto the Father and this great family plan that will continue into the Millennium before it moves out into the universe. It is through the work that we grow.
Mr. Armstrong continued: “When [Christ] returns, He will demand of each of us to show how we have used the gift of His Holy Spirit—how much we have contributed to His work—the purpose for which He put us in the Church now!” Why are you here now? Why didn’t God just wait and call you in the Millennium or the second resurrection? Because you are to do a work! Otherwise you wouldn’t be here! That’s basic, but so many people have gotten away from it.
He concluded, “Those who prove disloyal or drop out of the work—the only purpose for which you were called now—will find themselves in the positions of the one described in [Luke 19] verses 20 and 24. They will lose the very salvation they were trying to get!”
Mr. Armstrong wrote in the Worldwide News, November 12, 1979: “Others, the majority, the ‘laity,’ are called to take their part in the work of the Church—not as officers in specific duties or departments but by actively and loyally standing back of the apostles and other specific administrators ….”
In another article, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “This is a spiritual work. Broadcasting, both radio and tv, is done by the apostle. Most booklets and books are written by the apostle. The ‘Personal’—most read—usually the lead article and often other articles are by the apostle …. The Ambassador College Correspondence Course, with thousands studying it, is all the teaching of the apostle …. The teaching is that of Christ’s apostle who is president and chancellor of the college. The ministry, consisting of hundreds of ordained ministers teaching, as the apostle taught them, in local churches worldwide” (Good News, April 1981). The ministers were to teach what the apostle had taught them! Not as they decided in their own minds, but as the apostle taught them. That’s where they have gone astray today.
God’s covenant was with Levi. God sent him with a message for the whole world, and to develop ministers and other people to help them get behind and support the work. If we forget that, we are in trouble. Many have forgotten today because of their arrogance, pride and vanity, and are trying to compete with Levi—that special messenger from God! These rebellious ministers are defying God Himself by doing so!
And they are rejecting the God family vision.
Do You Fear God?
God goes into detail about Levi’s character: “My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name” (verse 5). Levi’s fear is noted three times in this single verse! We must learn to fear God as Levi did.
Study this man’s life. God sent him as an example, because He knows we learn best by example. Mr. Armstrong was a great example of a man who feared God.
Do you fear God as Levi did? Do you fear when your marriage might be failing? Do you fear when your children are not doing what they should? Do you fear whether you are lukewarm toward God’s work? Do you fear whether you are doing your part in this work? Do you fear division in the Church? Most of God’s people in this end time don’t fear God. Levi did.
Do you fear competing with God’s government? Can you get on your knees and just say, God, I know that there are some areas here where I hate your government, and I don’t want to change my marriage—or, I don’t want to work with my children the way I should. God, please help me to fear you the way Levi did!
The Anchor Bible says, “The Bible nowhere records the establishment of this compact between God and Levi.” If the Bible doesn’t record where that covenant was made, then this must be prophecy for our time right now!
God states, “He feared me, and was afraid before my name.” Remember the Anchor Bible definition. Here the term “name” represents the essence of God’s being, especially His sovereignty—government. That is where the priests’ focus should be.
Mr. Armstrong was a paragon of obedience to God—a remarkable example of a man who feared God, so much so that he restored all things. He didn’t quit restoring after 10 or 15 truths. He was a man after God’s own heart, and he wanted to restore everything the Father wanted him to restore! And he did!
The Law at His Mouth
“The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity” (verse 6). You could seek the law at Mr. Armstrong’s mouth. That means he established the government of God, and you could go to his mouth to learn about it.
But if you go to most of the mouths in the ministry today, they don’t tell you about the government of God. They are not afraid before His name as Levi was. They want to reason around the wonderful government that brings peace, joy and abundance into our lives! It’s amazing that men would do that, but that is what’s happening.
Levi was a righteous man who turned many away from iniquity. God says elsewhere that those who supported him did the same great work. But Levi was the father—he directed God’s work. If we truly support his example and work, we are turning many people away from iniquity and to the God family. We can do that by totally committing ourselves to God’s work, since the work is here to turn many away from iniquity and to God. We were called at a specific time into God’s work for this responsibility.
“For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts” (verse 7). They is referring to the priests, not the people. That is where the confusion is. And the priests should be seeking the law at Levi’s mouth—not the priest’s mouth. “For he [Levi] is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.”
The Anchor Bible states that the word messenger is translated from the Hebrew maluck. It usually refers to an angel, or messenger, but it is obviously a human messenger here. Malachi 2:7 “marks the only place where the term maluck is applied to the priestly office. [Generally] the title messenger is reserved for the prophets of God, and the word is a technical expression for one who has been in God’s presence and is thereby commissioned to bring a message from him.”
Think about that for a moment. This is the only place in the Bible where the word messenger is used for the priests, or for the ministers, or for the Levites, as they are called in other places. If that’s the case, is it possible there is an error in the translation? Were the translators even honest here? They saw this “messenger” here, and in their hostility for God’s government, assumed it could not be one-man rule, with one messenger over all the other ministers! Doesn’t God really mean we should all be messengers? they might reason. No, He doesn’t! This verse is about one man who received a message from the Lord of hosts! From the supreme Power of the universe! If God said, let’s send the message to several ministers, maybe 50 or 100 or 300—what confusion that would cause! That’s about what it amounts to today in the Laodicean churches, where men mistakenly think they have a message from God.
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:1). There are two messengers here: an end-time Levi, a human being; and the “messenger of the covenant”—Jesus Christ. Malachi 2:7 again: “For the priest’s lips ….” Though it’s a singular priest there, various Bible study aids show that it could be either singular or plural, depending on the context. It should be plural here. “The priests’ lips should keep [guard] knowledge, and they [these ministers] should seek the law at his [Levi’s] mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.” He—singular—is the one who has the message.
Connect this with verse 6: “The law of truth was in his mouth ….” Then verse 7: “For the priest’s lips should [guard] knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth ….” If we use the plural word priests, then it is obvious that the word his (verse 7) refers back to Levi—“his mouth” (verse 6)—and not to one of the priests, or ministers, under Mr. Armstrong. Even the context shows you that God is still talking about the messenger and not the ministry. The confusion in the churches of God today comes when they reason, we’re all messengers; we’re all on Mr. Armstrong’s level. But did they restore all things? Did they preach the gospel around the world? Did they restore God’s family in the Church? Did any one of those ministers ever bring one new, major revelation to the Church, in those days under Mr. Armstrong? And the answer is no! They didn’t! Yet they have the arrogance to think they are on the level with one who was given a message from God!
I’m not trying to exalt a man, but let’s face reality! God gave him quite a message! Where is the God of Elijah? Is He in some man who wants to put himself on the Levi plateau?
It says the priests’ lips should guard knowledge—that is the ministers’ job. We guard the law and the government Levi established. That’s what the ministers should be doing today; that’s what God is holding them accountable for. That is why guard is a better translation: They not only have the responsibility to “keep,” or obey, the law and government, but to preserve or guard it, for the whole Church!
Who preserves or guards the law and government today? Who has the same law and government Mr. Armstrong had?
The answer is obvious.
In our personal lives, we must guard knowledge. Do you fathers guard the law and government of love in your family? Do you mothers guard it?
Think about this. God is putting you through a truly educational experience. If you continue to guard God’s law and government, even if these ministers turn away, God will exalt you with a headquarters position forever. He knows that you will forever guard the law and the government of God! He knows you won’t compete with Jesus Christ or some other minister over you!
As you guard the law and the government, you are qualifying to sit with Jesus Christ at headquarters. Christ will know that if anyone comes and asks you for direction, you will give them lawful direction, and you will give them the government of God—the only government that can work! God and the one who became Jesus Christ have been unified forever through that government!
The court case over Mystery of the Ages has to do with guarding knowledge. Of course, if we have it and guard it, God wants to know what we will do with it. We should get it to the largest audience possible! Let’s get it to the world! Let’s get it to our future family! Mystery of the Ages doesn’t belong to the Worldwide Church of God. It is the knowledge of God!
Leading ministers in the Worldwide Church of God not only don’t guard God’s knowledge, they are destroying it! That should be very revealing about where they are spiritually! Could their spiritual condition be any worse?
Every person will have to go to Mr. Armstrong’s teaching for the law and government. All the Laodiceans will have to go to that mouth; that’s what God means in Revelation 3:9. This is even mentioned in the context of the end-time Philadelphia messenger.
God the Father must be able to rule us. God wants to know if we have what it takes to sit with Him at headquarters forever. Surely we know God will not put us out there to rule the world if He can’t rule us. He already went through that with Lucifer! There was and will be only one father messenger on Earth in the end time. If Satan can destroy that beautiful vision, he can destroy the people of God. That’s why Mr. Armstrong said government is everything. If that breaks down, it all breaks down. If there is no government in a physical family, it all breaks down.
Corrupting the Covenant
Notice the difference between Levi and these other ministers. While Levi turned many away from iniquity (Malachi 2:6) these ministers “are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 2:8). What did these men corrupt? The covenant of Levi—the covenant God made with him about the law and the government. God covenanted with Levi to restore His family government in God’s Church. Because the Laodiceans have corrupted that law and government, people everywhere are stumbling—over 95 percent of God’s people. There is cause and effect, and they are the cause for God’s people stumbling.
The fruits in God’s Church prove the identity of God’s messenger who prepared the way for Jesus Christ. There is no one else on that level! Christ mentions Himself in the same verse with that messenger who prepared the way (Malachi 3:1). He prepared the way, and now we have to get Levi’s message out to the Church and the world. That’s our job.
Only one messenger restored all things in this end time. In the past, there have been different messengers, because they didn’t have the travel capacity and technology that we have today. Here is a definite name, a definite covenant, a definite law, a definite government. It is all so carefully structured and organized by God Himself! God sent His messenger; He educated him for many years. He put Mr. Armstrong through 28 years of dire poverty, training him, testing him and getting him ready to see if he could really deliver this message—if he could measure up to be the messenger who would prepare the way for Christ!
Father Levi and the Family Vision
What a blessing the end-time Levi, our spiritual father, was to us! If you honor that office, the father Levi office, you also honor God the Father! The number-one way God has arranged for us to honor God the Father is to honor our father Levi’s family message. The covenant was made with him. If you dishonor his office, you dishonor your Father. It is not about a man, but an office. It is about the gospel of the family of God. It is about the Head of the family. It is about the good news! We need Elisha’s childlike attitude of saying father, father—an attitude willing to submit to that father and what he taught from God’s Word.
The family is a God-plane relationship. We are not on the animal level; we are on the God level. When you see a physical family, God wants it to give you a vision about His spiritual family. When you see a physical marriage, He wants you to think about the marriage of the firstfruits to Jesus Christ! The family institution is on the God level! We must work and struggle to make our families like God’s. Lift your family to that level! That takes a lot of work, but it teaches us how to enter God’s family.
Mr. Armstrong taught this vision. He brought us back to the first chapter of the first book of the Bible where God said, let us make man in our image; let’s create our character in him. Let’s create a family! Should we scorn that message because it comes from a man?
The greatest child rearing occurring on Earth right now is by God the Father rearing His children. He is rearing His firstfruit sons to marry His firstborn Son. He is rearing, directing and guiding us and giving us fatherly attention, fatherly love and fatherly concern. What a blessing to be corrected by our Father! No matter how difficult the trial! Because soon we will be living as a member of the God family for all eternity! Those trials will merely be history fading into the background. The training, teaching, planning and organizing is occurring now.
We should be saying to Levi, father, father—because that is what he was to us. To turn against his message as the Laodiceans have done is like a teenager getting hostile toward his father—except that the consequences are eternal!
Profaning the Covenant of Levi
If you want to see what separates the Philadelphians and the Laodiceans, focus on the understanding of Levi. God tells the Laodiceans how to correct their problem described in Malachi 1:6 of not honoring their father. Get back to Levi! Don’t be vain and arrogant and lose your eternal lives! Don’t let human vanity stop that! Don’t let anything prevent that! But that is so difficult for some to learn.
Where do you see new revelation coming from God? That is so much more important than parting the Jordan waters and walking across, as Elisha was able to do. What you can receive through Malachi’s Message is so much more of a miracle! Show me another church that has one bit of revelation from God.
“Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law” (Malachi 2:9). The Hebrew phrase translated “partial in the law” means they exalted faces, or persons. It was a human government—that’s the big problem.
Verse 10 states, “Have we not all one father?…” That’s a little f, referring to Levi. “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” Again, fathers should read Levi. The New Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance lists these two words, father and fathers, as the same. Gesenius defines fathers as, “used of the founder or the author or the father.” The Anchor Bible says that some believe fathers means the covenant of Levi in that context. That is certainly what it means.
Why are the churches of God dealing so treacherously with one another today? If they would realize that we have one father, that would unite us all! It would be so simple. God will make the Laodiceans come back and worship the way they were taught in the beginning by one spiritual father—Herbert W. Armstrong.
“Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god” (verse 11). The holiness of God, His character, is being profaned. “Which he loved” is past tense. They don’t love it anymore. Now they’re dealing treacherously—committing heinous, vile betrayals in God’s Church. God says it’s abominable—offensive to their Husband, Jesus Christ. Now they’ve turned to a different god. Is that a small sin?
Verse 12 reveals the penalty: “The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the Lord of hosts.” Cut off means to leave no descendants. This is dangerous knowledge, considering they will be cut off forever.
“And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand” (verse 13). 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. In many ways, the Laodicean era was merely a repeat of the ’70s, without the strong hand to correct the situation!
Mr. Armstrong warned us about this: “I want you, brethren, to think about and understand what happened to God’s Church in the 1970s lest history repeat itself! I want you to see the ‘fruits’ of rebelling against God’s way and God’s government” (Worldwide News, June 24, 1985). We saw it. And history did repeat itself.
Now some of those leading ministers call Mr. Armstrong a heretic and a false prophet! God is upset about that! He says it’s an abomination—the worst possible sin that they could commit.
The Marriage Covenant
In verse 14, again the Laodiceans talk back to God. “Yet ye say, Wherefore?” These men just don’t get it! They ask, what do you mean, God? Why are you being so harsh? God answers, “Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.”
God has been there witnessing all this: He saw when they came out of the world, when they made that covenant, when they agreed to get ready to marry His Son. And God sees them deal treacherously with this Church. He is full of wrath! And He has a right to be!
This marriage covenant is our transcendent privilege. Christ says, in the context of this messenger of the covenant (Malachi 3:1), that He will return to this Earth and establish that covenant, and will marry His bride!
Malachi 2:15-16 talks about Elohim. “And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. …” (verse 15). God wants an Elohim seed. He’s not finding it in the Laodicean Church today. “For the Lord, the God [again, Elohim] of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously” (verse 16).
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:1). Jesus Christ, the one who established this marriage covenant, will come! You can count on that, and plan your life around it.
Christ will not have a childless marriage. Christ’s wife will be working with billions of spiritual children; she will have to be ready to direct them in a way that brings peace, joy and excitement. She will have to know about God’s law, government and family structure to teach others how to make their family joyful—to make it possible for them to rejoice. Otherwise, it will just be a continuation of what you see today—despicable evil!
The world’s problems will be solved by God the Father and Jesus Christ, and they have given us the honor to help Christ work with those billions of people as His wife! No wonder God hates putting away! No wonder He hates what these ministers are doing! They are trying to thwart God’s whole plan!
Elohim is the family covenant name of God. The Laodiceans have broken the covenant. They say that they have kept their end of the covenant, but that God hasn’t kept His. God says, no, you haven’t kept your end of the covenant. You don’t honor me as a father, and you’ve broken that covenant! You fight against my government and my law, and your churches are filled with confusion!
We must look upon the people of this world as potential children in God’s family. We want to get the message of Levi and Elijah to these people to give them a chance to repent before this terrible time when the Levites will be purged of the dross—put into the fiery furnace, like the gold and the silver. God doesn’t want to do that; He doesn’t want to see your little children go through something like that. He abhors it far more than you do. But God is determined to show this world the horror of sin!
Are you ready to rule with Jesus Christ and rule over billions of people? Are you ready to teach them the family covenant that Jesus Christ will come and establish? What a future Elohim has given us.
Chapter 7: A Message Not Delivered
Satan’s greatest conspiracy in this world is against the family. That is because it is a type of the God family. But Satan’s number-one goal is to destroy God’s family. And in many people’s lives, he is succeeding. Many of these saints will be destroyed forever unless they repent! This is their only chance.
So we can see why Satan would focus his attack on God’s Church, or family. However, he can accomplish this mission only from the inside. That is where the devil’s supreme conspiracy is today.
This conspiracy was at work even before Mr. Armstrong died (2 Thessalonians 2:7; Revelation 3:9). He restrained it until then. (That is explained in Malachi’s Message.) After he died, Satan immediately began to get control at the top.
God has revealed that great conspiracy to His very elect.
“…[F]or one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously” (Malachi 2:16). God is concerned about a cover-up in His Church, and He says it is a violent cover-up.
How have they covered violence? Consider this. Mr. Armstrong made the decision to serialize Mystery of the Ages in the Plain Truth beginning with the July issue of 1985. This reveals what he thought about that book. He was striving to get it to the largest audience possible, any way he could. But in the July 1986 Plain Truth, just months after he died, the article about the “Mystery of the Church” had several significant omissions in it. Since they planned issues months in advance, this shows that they were working at this for a while. They must have been thinking about these changes around the time Mr. Armstrong died, or perhaps even before! That is treachery on the highest level.
What they cut out ties in so well with this subject. They took out the truth about the Church eras, including Revelation 3:7-8 where Mr. Armstrong talked about a human messenger in the Philadelphia era. They cut out—in 1986!—Matthew 17:10-11, about a man coming in the spirit and power of Elijah. They cut out Malachi 3:1-5, about a messenger (Mr. Armstrong) coming before the Messenger of the covenant (Christ). They cut out Malachi 4:5-6, about this end-time Elijah who would teach about the family of God. Mr. Armstrong said there was a human leader who prepared the way for Jesus Christ, obviously referring to himself, and they cut it out! They cut out what he wrote about Matthew 24:14, and the door God opened for “this leader.” But then, right at the end, they continued with what he originally wrote: “These prophecies have now definitely been fulfilled.” And they took out all of the specific prophecies about Levi, the end-time Elijah and the end-time Zerubbabel. They blotted them all out. Something very evil was going on in their minds before Mr. Armstrong even died. This was the beginning of Satan’s conquest of the leaders in God’s Church!
That was a diabolical plot. And this violence was‑covered. They said nothing to their people about this, and if someone brought up some of these changes at that time, they said, changes? What changes? But God has it all recorded! They’re liars and cheats—making major changes in God’s Church about the end-time Elijah. And if you destroy the office of that man, you can destroy the work of the living God. So they did.
Look around. Was it not violent? Were they not thinking about destroying the Levi office? Mr. Armstrong mentioned before he died that there were people on the outside waiting like vultures for him to die. As I wrote in the last chapter, he made just one mistake in his evaluation: He thought the vultures were outside God’s Church when they actually were sitting right beside him! Look at all the wicked plotting and planning! The evidence is right there, and we are exposing it. That may be the biggest exposé in the history of God’s Church! When Mr. Armstrong died, those men were already fulfilling Malachi’s prophecy.
Contrast their attitude with that of Elisha, who, just before Elijah was taken away, said, “My father, my father.” What an attitude. We are here because we looked upon Mr. Armstrong as our spiritual father. Great blessings come from realizing that.
Understand this crucial point: Satan’s primary goal is to destroy the office of that man. If he can do that, he can wipe out the whole Elijah work. What a violent cover-up it was. Those men were destroying the work of God! Joseph Tkach Sr. wrote in the November/December 1986 Plain Truth, after that chopped-up article was printed in July, “Mr. Armstrong did not underestimate the importance of this last work, for it contained vital keys to understanding the plan of God as revealed in the Bible. Mystery of the Ages, in a very real sense, was a last will and testament to be passed along to those who would value it.” What deception! He also wrote, “Even in the last year of his life, with declining strength, he completed, with God’s help, his most powerful and effective book, Mystery of the Ages.” That is what Mr. Tkach said, as he was destroying the office of the Elijah! That is a violent cover-up which must be exposed.
How deeply convicted are we about what we learned from the end-time Elijah? The word lukewarm not only means tepid but also unconvicted. The Laodiceans weren’t really convicted; they didn’t really get it. They weren’t grounded in God’s truth and His government to the point that they would never depart from them. That is why Satan could get to them and destroy that wonderful truth.
Throughout the book of Malachi, Elohim is mentioned in connection with Herbert W. Armstrong. Remember, Elisha asked the question in 2 Kings 2:14, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” Or, where is the family God of Elijah? Many have witnessed the great example of the work done by Mr. Armstrong, the end-time Elijah. What was behind that wonderful history?
“And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 2:4). The New King James Version states, “that my covenant might continue with Levi.” The great family God made a special covenant with Mr. Armstrong. He wants this covenant to continue.
“But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts” (verse 8). Why did all these people stumble? The law of truth was in his—Mr. Armstrong’s—mouth; and the government was in his hand. But these men have corrupted the covenant of Levi, and that is why they are causing people to stumble.
In an army, when a general sends a message to a lieutenant, it’s obvious who the messenger is. Yet, humanly, we try to complicate it in God’s Church—everybody wants to be a messenger. But if you don’t have the message, or if you weren’t given revelation from God Himself, you are not the messenger.
This is about a covenant between God and Levi. Mr. Armstrong, Levi, was given a message from God. Nobody else in the Philadelphia era was! Every major truth was given to him; he restored all things. Nobody else did that! So why do so many want to put themselves on his level?
Is it a shock to anybody that a messenger delivers the message? Mr. Armstrong was given the message. If we can identify and understand the messenger and the message, then we can understand the difference between a Philadelphian and a Laodicean. It’s all a matter of asking, where is the God of Elijah? We’re not looking for Elijah; we’re looking for God—who sent a message to His people. Where is the message?
Mr. Armstrong was the messenger who prepared the way for the Messenger of the covenant—Jesus Christ, the Messenger of the New Covenant, the marriage-family covenant.
God always sends, certainly in this end time, one messenger. In the New Testament, when apostles went out to different parts of the world, they all had to have the rank of apostle due to the lack of technology. They were given much responsibility simply because they were essentially alone. But if or when they came back to Jerusalem, Peter was in charge. God made it very simple how everything should be governed.
“The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the Lord of hosts” (verse 12). God will simply cut him off if he doesn’t get this right. The word master means one who must stir up the people, or one who should have the answers. But, it also refers to him who offers an offering. That includes all of us. There’s an individual responsibility of the highest order for each one of us.
“And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly [Elohim, a family] seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth” (verse 15). God makes us one; that is the only way to have unity. And it is under the covenant of Levi: Levi brought everybody together and turned many from iniquity because he kept that covenant with God and kept the Church united. God is striving to build an Elohim seed in us—and in our young people; He wants them to understand this family vision too.
The Laodiceans are dealing “treacherously” because they’ve gotten away from that oneness, that covenant of Levi. They wouldn’t be acting treacherously if they had continued the covenant of Levi.
Mr. Armstrong was able to bring us together because we were following that Spirit. Remember, it is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, God told Zerubbabel (Zechariah 4:6), which is another office typed by Mr. Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong knew how to build a temple; these other men don’t. They are only good at tearing down and destroying. Why? Because they are not building with the Spirit of God.
God says in Malachi 2:16, “take heed to your spirit.” Get deeper than words, deeper than the letter of the law—watch your spirit. Let’s build with God’s Spirit—using it to bring our marriages and families together; to think about them the way God does. It takes the Spirit of God to do that. And the right kind of marriage will produce wonderful children, physically and spiritually.
Most of God’s people are not watching their spirit and are dying spiritually today. People who don’t understand can scoff, but all the death and the dying in God’s Church is more serious than anything else on Earth! People will die for all eternity unless they turn it around before or during the Tribulation. Is your understanding of this tragedy reflected in your actions?
Notice again the first sentence of verse 15: “And did not he make one?” Looking at the Hebrew, the word one is better translated “the one.” Did not He make us the one? Didn’t the Father make us the one bride of Jesus Christ? He carefully selected each one of His very elect to marry His Son. He’s extremely cautious about who will marry His Son—the one, the greatest blessing given to any of the saints.
We must struggle to get that into our minds—that we are to marry the Creator of the universe! And He will not want to be with us, and we will not want to be with Him, unless we think like He does. We have been made the one, and we are one.
If you understand that, is it difficult to comprehend why God will put us through trials and tests? We are the one bride; there will never be another. We have to struggle to keep that great, stirring concept in our minds. We are the one. Nobody in the world will ever compare to the one. That is not vanity—just the truth of God. And God wants to produce Elohim seed, not just any seed, because we are the one.
“For the Lord, the God [Elohim] of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away …” (verse 16). Do we hate getting away from God, our Husband and the Church? God does. When God says He hates putting away, He has the deepest kind of emotions. The Husband hates putting away. If a husband loves his wife, and she is turning away from the law, he hates that. When a strong romance goes sour, it’s not an easy thing; it is very emotional. Christ and God the Father are totally involved in this relationship, and they suffer emotionally. They give everything to the family—all the unconditional love they have, they give to their family. That’s what Christ gives to His wife.
Delighting in the Messenger
Malachi 3:1 says this of Jesus Christ: “[A]nd the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.”
We should truly delight in the Messenger of the marriage covenant. He is coming soon to finalize that covenant. We, like David, must be men and women after God’s own heart—to think like God about our families and marriages. Jesus Christ is coming to consummate the marriage covenant He promised to make with us. But He is doing it differently than He did with ancient Israel—He is proving us first.
There is a messenger first, though, who prepared the way before the Messenger of the covenant. “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me.” That gives you some idea of the stature of Mr. Armstrong. He prepared the way before Jesus Christ—the real Messenger.
If we don’t grasp this clearly, we are in for a terrible fate. “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (verses 2-3). The Elohim of judgment is coming, and He is like a refiner’s fire. And there are sons of Levi who are not acting like sons. They have corrupted the covenant of Levi—they don’t accept him as their father. So God is about to refine them as gold is refined in a furnace.
“Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years” (verse 4). Which former years? The time of that messenger—Levi. God says the whole world will continue that work. If these Laodiceans are to repent, they will have to get back to the way it was in the days of old—the way it was when Mr. Armstrong was here. That is what God will tell people in the World Tomorrow. He will tell them to do things the way they were done in the old days, and then we’ll begin to teach them what Mr. Armstrong taught. They’ll begin to learn what we did in this end time.
Understand the implications of that scenario: God will say, remember what I taught you. He will hold the bride of Jesus Christ accountable, because that is what she is going to teach the whole world.
A Witness Against Four Groups
“And I will come near to you to judgment [here is the God of judgment]; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts” (verse 5). The God of judgment is about to reveal where He is. Those who don’t know Him will soon get to know Him—like people have never known Him, because it will be the worst time of suffering ever. He’s coming near in judgment.
There are four groups of people mentioned in verse 5: sorcerers, adulterers, false swearers and those who oppress the hireling.
The Hebrew word for sorcerers refers to offering prayers and worship to a false god. God will come near to people in judgment, and the first problem He will straighten out is that they are being led by Satan the devil—pure witchcraft. They’ve gotten away from God, and Satan has a grip on them.
Who is the second group? Those people committing adultery today. Only one group could commit spiritual adultery, and that is God’s Church. They are married to Jesus Christ, and if members begin to wander away from God’s true Church, they are committing spiritual adultery!
The third group includes those who swear falsely. We are surrounded by Laodicean liars, and they are swearing wrong things all the time.
Those in the next group oppress those who are weaker—just the reverse of the love of God. When we see weak people, we should not prey on them; we should do everything we can to help and serve them. That is the love of God; that is pure religion. We have to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves—that is our duty. The love of God is giving to those who can’t give anything in return. Your mind won’t be thinking the way of “get” if you are giving to somebody who can’t give anything back. That is the pure religion we so desperately need. God will judge those who fail in this respect.
The people committing these abominations, God says in verse 5, “fear not me.” They don’t fear God as Levi did. That is their problem.
“I Change Not”
“For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (verse 6). God doesn’t change; He’s always a God of love. Of course, He reveals new truth to us, but that doesn’t mean God changes, it means we get to know Him better.
Joseph Tkach Jr. wrote in a September 1996 letter, “Because of the dramatic and historic transformation God has wrought in our church, some members naturally ask, ‘Can I go to a different Christian church and remain part of the body of Christ?’ And the answer is, ‘Yes, of course you can.’” What a transformation from what God taught them through Mr. Armstrong!
God doesn’t change. God doesn’t transform. Yet they have—and that word transform means, according to Webster’s, “change into another form of energy” or “to undergo a change in form, appearance or character.” Another definition is, “to change a composition or structure; to change a thing into a different thing.” Transform implies a major change in form, character or function. Has there been a major change in that church? In Daniel 8:12, God says Satan simply cast the truth to the ground.
Mr. Tkach wrote in his book, Transformed by Truth (in a footnote), “In February 1997 we filed suit against the Philadelphia Church of God, one of our splinter groups, headquartered in Edmond, Oklahoma, to block the republication of Mystery of the Ages. The Worldwide Church of God still holds the copyright to this book and we contend that no one else has the right to publish it. We feel it is our Christian duty to keep this book out of print … because we believe Mr. Armstrong’s doctrinal errors are better off left out of circulation.”
Mystery of the Ages is a summary of Mr. Armstrong’s life’s work. Talk about a transformation! But God doesn’t change! Satan is casting truth to the ground. This court case is a battle with the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). These people are not only trying to stop Mystery of the Ages in this Church, they don’t want anybody in the world reading that book, because they worship the god of this world! Mystery of the Ages exposes Satan! His time is short and he is in a rage. If you want to understand their motive, there it is! The god of this world hates this message and will destroy it any time he has the opportunity.
Mystery of the Ages has power to help bring people to God. That is why Satan hates it so much! Even that ought to prove to us where the God of Elijah is.
If we didn’t have God’s protection, we wouldn’t last a month against Satan. That is why your prayers are so essential.
“Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?” (Malachi 3:7). They don’t see where they need to return.
That first sentence should read “the days of your father”—singular. In Hebrew, the context reveals whether that word is plural or singular. “From the days of your father” is getting very specific. Of course, it is speaking of our father Levi! In the phrase, “from the days,” the word from means founder or author. From a certain day—a certain time—they turned away from God. In the days of their father they turned away from God’s ordinances—not “Levi’s” ordinances! And the God of Elijah says, return to me! Not to a man! God is talking directly to them.
The Hebrew-Greek Key Bible Study states about the word ordinances, “These are precepts and rules which must be strictly obeyed.” Also: “denotes a ruler and a lawgiver.” There was rule, structure and government there. It also means “a specified beginning.” All they have to do is go back to the beginning of the work that God did through Mr. Armstrong. All of the Laodiceans should know what we’re talking about, but they always come back with ignorant and rebellious questions: Where shall we return? I don’t get it! Return to what?
Gesenius gives the definition, “that which is established or definite” or “an appointed law or statute” or “a custom observed as though it were a law.” Mr. Armstrong made many judgments on issues that would be included in this category. He had the authority and government to bind and loose. God condemns those who turn away from those “ordinances” that were given by their father Levi.
So God sends Malachi’s Message, a warning so simple any 10-year-old could understand it, leaving them with no excuse. But they keep stubbornly talking back to God. That’s really what they are doing when they talk back to His very elect today.
Robbing the World
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” (verse 8). Will a man rob Elohim? These people are robbing Elohim, the God family, through tithes and offerings. In other words, they are greatly defrauding somebody. Some of these people have even gone so far that they teach against Elohim—they are into the Trinity, which closes the door to the God family! “You have robbed me” actually means they continue to rob God.
Yet again, they return with a dumb question: How do we rob you?
Notice verse 9. “Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” The Anchor Bible says “a curse” should read “the curse.” It is the curse of eternal death. They are dying. Malachi is extremely urgent here.
The word even is in italics, meaning it was not in the original Hebrew. So God says, you have robbed me, and you have robbed this whole nation. Gesenius states that “nation” is “mostly translated nations,” or can mean “all people foreign to the true God”—in other words, all nations or all people that have never known God. The Hebrew word is defined as “a general word used to refer to nations at large, particularly spiritual Gentiles.” It’s mainly used for Gentiles, but here it is applied to spiritual Gentiles; the word has to be defined by the context. (See Jeremiah 9:26 where that same word applies to uncircumcised nations.) It means whole, totality—the whole world!
So a better translation of that is, you have robbed me and this whole world.
Why would God put it that way? They have certainly robbed God, but how have they robbed the world? Well, God gave us the message, and then He gave all the tithes and offerings to take that message to the whole world! Mr. Armstrong always taught us that. Jesus Christ died for the world, and we’re here to serve the world!
The Feast of Tabernacles is a feast of ingathering, picturing a time when God will use us to gather in the whole world! The Laodiceans have robbed this world of something, and God is wrathful! He says He wants all of us to reach the largest audience possible. If you get away from God’s message and use tithes and offerings for something other than serving the entire world, you are robbing God!
That is a huge message, and there’s individual guilt here, so we must be cautious that we don’t rob God and the world. You and I are responsible for where our tithes and offerings go—they belong to God. Mr. Armstrong preached the gospel to the world, and he restored all things—including the understanding of the Elohim family. And he said, I want you to take Mystery of the Ages and reach the largest audience possible. That doesn’t apply only to a book; it applies to everything we have that should be given to the world.
We are the hope of the world. No other hope exists. The world has nothing to look forward to. Christ’s bride, however, who is concerned about her future children, does everything she can to help those people. We are Christ’s helpmeet. We need to think about that a great deal more. When God talks about helpmeet in Genesis 2, He is really talking about the spiritual marriage: the firstfruits, marrying Jesus Christ, helping Him to serve the entirety of this Earth! That is our job, if we are to be His bride. What a responsibility! He wants us to help Him build the family; because we love God’s family—it is our family! And they have been robbed in this end time by the Laodiceans. Can you imagine what it would be like if all of God’s people were here, giving their tithes and offerings to this work? We’d blast the world with this modern technology like they have never, ever received the truth of God before!
A Message for the World
Books like The Incredible Human Potential and The Missing Dimension in Sex don’t belong to the Laodiceans—they are needed out in this world. God gave His people His truth and said, I want you to get it out there to the nations. If you don’t, you are robbing them of this wonderful truth! You’re a robber! We need to have people reading The Missing Dimension in Sex, if we can get it to them. Does The Wonderful World Tomorrow belong to the Worldwide Church of God? No! It belongs to this world. They need that hope. What about the correspondence course Mr. Armstrong established? That belongs to this world too. So does The United States and Britain in Prophecy, because you can’t understand one third of the Bible without it.
Notice Ezekiel 33:6-7: “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. 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.” God has set His watchmen. When He gives His truth, we are to hear it and then go out and warn.
“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” (verse 8). God says, if I give you this word, and you are my watchmen, and you don’t get that message out there to them, their blood is on your head. That means you must pay with your life, and there’s a 50-50 chance you will die spiritually too.
This is about fulfilling our responsibility as Christ’s helpmeet to get all these wonderful words that Levi left us out to this world! And God help us if we don’t, because—at best—physical blood will be spilled. God help anyone who refuses to do this job—who robs the world of this warning.
Who set us a watchman? Who brought you here? I, God, have set you a watchman. Mr. Armstrong certainly understood that. We must understand that better than ever. Here, in just three verses, God says twice that you will be guilty of their blood if you rob God—if you don’t get this message out.
Notice verse 11: “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?” We are not trying to destroy people; we are trying to save them. What a wonderful opportunity that is. But if we don’t warn, God takes it personally.
This work is really about the death of nations—if they don’t repent! Are we mature enough to think that way? Can we expand our minds and realize that we are Christ’s helpmeet and that we must go out and say and do exactly what our Husband would say and do if He were here? It got Him killed. So, yes, there could be difficulties. I don’t know what is ahead, but I know the message must go out.
“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 show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. 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” (verses 31-32). It is easy to hear these words and think of how wonderful they are and not do anything about them. As Mr. Armstrong always said, knowledge unapplied is of no value. This message, if we don’t get it out to the world, and we don’t apply it to our own lives, is of no value.
“And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them” (verse 33). If people know during the Tribulation that there was a prophet among them, there must have been a powerful message out there from someone. When these things come to pass, they will know that there was a prophet prophesying. They must have heard a message from God’s Church—His watchman. Although the Church was small, it still had a roaring lion’s voice, trumpeting the message of God to this world. Are we ready for all of the ramifications of this prophecy? We don’t have to worry about anything; we have our Husband protecting us. But don’t expect it to be smooth sailing.
When God says, “Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, and this whole world,” He’s talking about getting all of Mr. Armstrong’s instructions to the whole world! That is what God is upset about here. He wants us to get more of that message out to people. That is why we need your prayers. God has given the greatest gift He could give to the world, and now He is depending on His very elect to deliver it. This is the world’s only hope. God doesn’t want them to die. He wants them to live—to have a chance to repent.
The Laodiceans have robbed God and this whole world. That means we must get more of Mr. Armstrong’s books and booklets to this world. God is telling us that we can’t allow Satan to get in the way and stop this wonderful truth of God. After all, God didn’t reveal all this wonderful truth for us to put it on the shelf where the world couldn’t see it. Let’s reach the largest audience possible. Let’s listen to our Husband and our Father and meditate on getting this message to the world. Focus on a time when God’s Church will help teach all the world. We will be Christ’s helpmeet, traveling worldwide, helping Him get this message to the entire Earth! What a glorious and exciting time that will be.
Learning to Give
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). Put God to the test, and see if He doesn’t open up the windows of heaven for you physically and, more importantly, spiritually.
Repeatedly, people come into the Philadelphia Church from the Laodicean churches saying, I was starving spiritually. Your tithes and offerings ensure that they don’t starve. We get the message out, and we get them back to this message of God. What a wonderful way to use tithes and offerings, and learn to give like our Father and our Husband. We must move out of the get mode, so we can really gear up to do the job of being a helpmeet to Jesus Christ—to serve all mankind. That is just staggering, when you think about it! It just knocks you over, when you ponder this great vision of God! Isn’t God opening the windows of heaven to us?
Isn’t God wonderful and merciful? Isn’t it thrilling to be a part of all of these blessings of God? We have everything! We are the most blessed people on Earth.
Don’t let Satan take this away from you, as he has taken it from so many of God’s people. Incredible as it is, the Laodiceans have shunned this great vision, and instead have chosen the curse.
Rebuking the Devourer
“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts” (verse 11). Who is the devourer? Gesenius states, “to devour sacrifices” or “to devour anyone’s flesh; used of cruel and fierce enemies, who thirst for one’s blood.” Satan wants to devour and destroy us! And he’ll devour all the wonderful truth we have if we don’t stay close to our Husband and make certain He protects us. He’ll devour everything.
Another definition is, “to destroy by war and slaughter.” We are in a war and must put on the whole armor of God. Christ says He will rebuke the devourer, but we must resist Satan, because he devours people so quickly! If you tread out on the edges, Satan will devour you like a lion devouring a weak antelope. Don’t stray from the truth you were taught. Stay with the God of Elijah, because we are in a war. If people don’t see the war, that doesn’t mean the war has gone away!
Satan is a master at devouring everything! He would devour Malachi’s Message if he could, and he’s trying to devour Mystery of the Ages, although God will not allow it if we’re faithful and we trust in Him! We must overcome and conquer, as Jesus Christ overcame. We can overcome the devourer, because we have our Husband at our side seeing that we do so! All we have to do is keep reminding ourselves of who we are! We are the helpmeet of the Creator of the universe! How could the Father ever give us such an exalted responsibility?
The court case and the other battles we face are not with men. They are with Satan the devil. But we are God’s helpmeet, and He says He will rebuke the devourer. And Christ does that; He looks after His people. After all, we are the bride of Jesus Christ. With all the power that our Husband has, when He says He’ll rebuke the devourer, He means it. But He also wants us to step out in faith and do everything we can.
Don’t give up this wonderful message of God. If everybody were to leave this Church except me, it would still be the message of God. If I left, it would still be the message of God. Jesus Christ wants to know how much we want to be His bride and how much we love this world and want to help Him solve all of its problems. We have to fight.
How convicted are you? What are you willing to give up? Have you learned to give up anything and everything for God, as the end-time Elijah had to—even his son? That is the way Christ wants it. He wants to know that you put Him above everything else.
God’s people must learn to fear their Husband, to fear God the Father and to strengthen this marriage covenant that will be consummated when the Husband gets here. Then we will go out and do a tremendous work in this world. What a work God has planned for His people as the helpmeet and bride of Jesus Christ. What a wonderful truth that is. But we must cling to it, when most of God’s people have given it up.
Hang on to this vision; don’t give up! Our Husband will be here soon.
Chapter 8: Reviving the Elijah Work
After the Philadelphia Church of God started printing Mystery of the Ages, we began to understand certain scriptures that prophesied it would be done. God reveals more truth to us as we step out on faith. Then we printed more of Herbert Armstrong’s writings, and we continue to see numerous and specific prophecies showing that it must be done!
We need to etch these prophecies into our memories. If we fail to do so, we won’t fully understand the message we must proclaim.
The Original Elijah
“And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace” (2 Kings 2:1-3). Elijah’s college students understood that he would be taken away.
“And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho” (verse 4). But Elisha refused to leave Elijah’s side. Verse 5 states, “And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.” These students were telling Elisha about his “master.” Elisha didn’t dispute that Elijah was his master or his leader. Everyone knew that—Elisha most of all.
“And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces” (verses 11-12). “My father, my father”! Elisha had a wonderful attitude toward his head, or his master.
“Where Is the God of Elijah?”
“He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over” (verses 13-14). What a dramatic example! Here was a man who had just replaced Elijah, and he parted the waters of the Jordan and walked across on dry ground. All the college students saw that—and they knew where the God of Elijah was by this amazing miracle.
If we are spiritually minded, we know that God clearly shows us where His leader is. But why don’t more people see it? Because God’s Church can go astray. Read Revelation 2 and 3. Throughout its history, most of the time, God’s Church has gone astray. If you accept that, then God can show you what a terrible tragedy is happening in His Church today. That is something God must reveal to us.
God’s Holy Spirit of revelation should flow in our lives. We must learn to fear God as Levi did, or the Holy Spirit won’t flow. There may be a trickle or a drip, but there must be a flow. That’s why Levi understood and accomplished so much. People can walk away from tremendous, awesome revelation only if something happens in their lives that stops the flow of the Holy Spirit, as it has with the Laodiceans. Our level of understanding will depend on how much we fear God and humble ourselves before Him like a little child. Then He can reveal His truth to us. It’s up to you. Can you let the Holy Spirit flow in your life like a raging river? The controls are in your hands!
What if one of those 50 students of Elijah had said, “I don’t think God is using Elisha”? Probably the other 49 would have thrown him in the Jordan, and said, “You dry it up and walk out of there, if you are on Elisha’s level!”
We must ensure that the pipes through which the golden oil of the Holy Spirit flows are not clogged. God has revealed His truth to spiritual babes. You can be a babe if you want, and you can let the Spirit—that golden oil—flow in your life, and it will change you dramatically. But you must do your part.
Let’s take another look at the Laodiceans who are robbing God.
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with [the] curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation” (Malachi 3:8-9). In the Hebrew the last part of verse 9 reads, “you have robbed me and the whole world.”
God wants us to give tithes and offerings to get a wonderful Elohim, family message out to the world. We are His helpmeet for that purpose, as Eve was created to be Adam’s helpmeet. That was to type the spiritual relationship of the Church and Christ. Genesis 2 is about the Church being a helpmeet to Jesus Christ, to help Him save the whole world. And we, as the wife, must make ourselves ready (Revelation 19:7). Potentially, the people in the world belong to God’s family! All of Mr. Armstrong’s books and booklets are for the world! And God takes it personally when His people rob Him and the world by failing to do their job. He says they are under the curse!
Mr. Armstrong always talked about reaching the world. And then men came along in the Laodicean era after he died and began to rob God and the whole world! God is not taking that lightly. These men are in danger of losing their eternal lives, if they haven’t already.
We must get a world concept! God gave this world the most amazing gift through Mr. Armstrong’s teachings—the most wonderful gift that God could give. God wants us to think about the largest audience possible and realize that’s why we are here. We need to be teaching this world (and learning ourselves) to think like the Father and Jesus Christ. God is showing us, through Malachi, that we must expand our vision and be ready to take the consequences, if we have to.
Where is the God of Elijah? Wherever you find the God of Elijah, you will find the material that the Elijah produced through God’s inspiration! God’s remnant will be proclaiming it to the world! Where is the God of Elijah? Well, where is all the literature the Elijah produced?
When revelation comes, the ministry’s job is to guard or preserve it. Why? So they can get it out to the world. In a world facing nuclear holocaust, this is their only hope. We have a personal responsibility to get this hope to them.
Sending Elijah Again
The book of Malachi is about the Laodicean rebellion—the worst crisis ever in God’s Church. “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar …” (Malachi 1:6-7). Verse 8 shows that they offer blind, lame and sick offerings. Verse 12 says they have profaned the table of God. Malachi 2:2 says that they’re under a curse. This is obviously a Laodicean time in the Church.
But notice again Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me …”—before Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. There is all this chaos in God’s Church; many are stumbling at the law—then God says, “I will send my messenger.” Why didn’t God say, “I have sent”? It’s as if Mr. Armstrong was sent after or even during this crisis. Of course, we know the Bible presents things “here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10), and we understand that everything is not in a precise chronology. But the book of Malachi does have a clear chronology. It is discussing the Laodicean era and an end-time Elijah or Levi, whom God has already sent. Then He says here, I will send him.
What does God mean? This is a definite message to the Malachi remnant. Two messengers are mentioned in Malachi 3:1: the end-time Elijah and Jesus Christ. We already know that the Elijah messenger has come and gone.
The Bible is a coded book. If we see this as God sees it, we realize that God wants this very elect remnant to resurrect the work of Elijah and send him again! It says that to the Malachi group—those people with Malachi’s Message. It is telling them to “prophesy again” (Revelation 10:11) in the context of the great mystery (verse 7). God wants us to get the same prophecy out there again—including some new revelation, like what you are reading right now.
God is sending His messenger to prepare the way before the whole world. And God, through the book of Malachi, is telling the Laodicean Church that their biggest problem is that they are destroying the message that Elijah sent to the world! They’ve robbed the world of that message! But God will send Elijah again anyhow! If the Laodiceans don’t do their job, and they pollute or destroy the Elijah work, God just sends him again through His loyal remnant.
We will have to think deeply on this because God harshly condemns the Laodiceans: They are under the curse because they’ve robbed Him and the world. The only reason they were called into this work was to get this message to the world as Elijah did. The Laodiceans failed. But Christ is still concerned about the world, so He sends the Elijah work again—plus a strong warning.
“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:4-6). Notice again, God will send Elijah the prophet in the midst of this tremendous Laodicean crisis. He will send that message just before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord. And if they don’t heed this warning, they—God’s own people—are under “the curse” of losing their eternal lives.
Everything is at stake! We either make it into God’s family, or we die forever—to be as though we’ve never lived. We have it all, though many of God’s people don’t want it. God is telling us in strong language that we must declare what Mr. Armstrong taught; he was God’s messenger. And we live in a time when the very prophecies he taught are now coming to pass in an amazing fashion.
There is somewhat of a gap, however, between the end-time Elijah and the Day of the Lord. It originally seemed that the Day of the Lord would come immediately after Elijah came. Some say that Mr. Armstrong’s death proves he was not the Elijah. But look at it spiritually: Elijah is still here! Because the group that held fast is bringing Elijah’s message back! That work will continue right into the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.
With Mr. Armstrong the emphasis was on the gospel (Matthew 24:14). But for the Philadelphians in the Laodicean era, the emphasis is on the warning that immediately precedes the Day of the Lord—on prophesying again (Revelation 10:11) to the whole world. Although Malachi is for the Church, Malachi 3:1 and 4:5-6 are for the whole world. We have been called to get this message to the entire Earth because it is their only hope! It is beyond just getting the gospel to them. There must be a strong warning.
Was “the largest audience possible” just a nice catchphrase Mr. Armstrong created? Or was that a commission from our Husband?
Proving Our Love
The end of Malachi 3:1 reads, “even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in ….” The messenger of the covenant is our Husband. This is about a marriage covenant, and this should be our chief “delight.” How do you show God that you really delight in Him? How do you show true love to your Husband? By having the same goal as He does—working to get this message out to the world! This message involves every human being alive!
If we delight in our Husband, and that covenant, then we will delight in the entire message He gave an end-time Elijah and strive to get it to this world in any way possible. We will want to “prophesy again”! We will want to bring back all the material that God produced through Mr. Armstrong. That is why we are fighting in court to proclaim Mystery of the Ages, The Incredible Human Potential, The Missing Dimension in Sex, Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath and Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days—Which? Those books don’t belong to men. They belong to our Husband, who loves and delights in us. We must, in turn, show Him our love and delight in Him. God has given us everything! There isn’t another church ever called God’s Church that has been given as much as we have been given. And our Husband wants us to accelerate the giving!
But most people want to stop that material from going out. They’ve robbed God, and they’ve robbed the world. God is upset about that, and He wants to know how upset His loyal, very elect bride is! Do we share our Husband’s emotions? People have brutally assaulted God’s truth today. Who will say, enough!, and stand up for God? We are the bride of Jesus Christ, and we must show Him that we love Him.
God sent an end-time Elijah to restore all things to the Church just before Jesus Christ returns to restore all things over the entire Earth (Acts 3:19-21). That’s how our Husband thinks. When Jesus Christ returns, He will get all of this to the world. Now He’s telling us that we need to do more ourselves, and restore again what these men have taken away from God and the world! We do it because we love our Husband and the world.
Compare this to 2 Thessalonians 2, where a son of destruction is sitting in God’s Church, guided by the devil, systematically destroying the truth of God. The people under him are dying spiritually, because they won’t do anything about it. 2 Thessalonians 2 talks about “lying wonders.” He uses all kinds of deceit; and, because of it, the majority of God’s people are perishing (verse 10). This is the legacy of the Laodicean Church and that man of sin.
If someone wants to destroy the mystery of God and replace it with the mystery of iniquity, it’s time to stand up and strive to get God’s message to the world any way we possibly can. We have to show our love for God—to stand up and be counted; and if the whole world knows where we stand, that’s the greatest honor we’ll ever have! We have to do it urgently, because there’s so little time.
Our court battle is really a counterattack. Remember, we are in a real war. There is a man of sin inside God’s Church who acts like he is God; he smiles so righteously as he destroys what the Creator God wants to give the world. Although God will get His message to the world eventually, Laodicean leaders can certainly do a lot of damage today, and they have. God wants people who will proclaim His message and declare war when necessary.
Our Husband is the Word personified. He’s a walking, living Bible. That’s what He was during His earthly ministry. And we are to guard what He’s given us (Malachi 2:7). If people start slandering our Husband, we—like a good wife—must stand up and fight for Him. We need to get behind and support the work of God. We must respond to what our Husband directs us to do—and do it cheerfully. This will take real faith.
This work will extend into the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord—into the greatest crisis that has ever struck God’s Church or the world. And God wants to warn them. Some very terrible things are about to happen on this Earth.
When people are facing the great and dreadful Day of the Lord, what is the solution? There’s only one Church that offers one. And Jesus Christ is keenly aware of what is happening in that Church. God is revealing more depth about Malachi 3:1 and Malachi 4:5-6 because He wants more of His message that was given to Mr. Armstrong to go out to this world. Time truly is running out. And we have the key to stop the madness—to give the world a chance to stop it. Even if they don’t, they will receive a warning. They will know that there was a prophet in their midst when all of this comes to pass. That’s when the real harvest of this work will be reaped.
The Malachi Messenger
Malachi means “My messenger”—God’s messenger. Other than that, the Bible doesn’t give much information about this prophet—not even his father’s name or place of birth.
There are actually three messengers discussed in Malachi: the Messenger of the covenant—Jesus Christ; the Elijah messenger; and the Malachi messenger. The last two are human. So where have they appeared in this end time doing God’s work? Where is the God of Elijah today?
Malachi 1:1 states, “The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.” The word burden is from the Hebrew massa and means “chiefly a doom, a burden, or load which is carried, or a grievous or a threatening oracle, or a heavy sentence.” Look at verse 2, and you can immediately see the burden. The problem is with spiritual Esau and spiritual Jacob. This is something truly terrible; it is a burden—a doom. God wants to get our attention so we can see how urgent, how heavy and burdensome, this is.
Verse 1 also says this is of the word of the Eternal, which means it is revelation from God. In other words, somebody will come as a messenger, with this heavy Malachi message, which is really God’s message. Just because a man is bringing it doesn’t diminish the power or significance of it at all! It is God’s message! When it says burden and the word of the Lord, that emphasizes a double authority. Remember, Elisha got a double portion of God’s Holy Spirit. Relate that to God’s work today, where we have been deluged with revelation both from Mr. Armstrong’s era and this era.
The message will be delivered “by Malachi,” or “by the hand of Malachi” (see Bible margin). One man will deliver God’s message. It will not be delivered by a committee. One man was the focus in the Philadelphia era: the end-time Elijah. One man is the focus in the Laodicean era: the Malachi messenger—though most of the Laodiceans don’t know it. God is talking about one messenger whom the very elect get behind and support because they know God is behind him.
Why should this message about Esau be so urgent? Esau lost his birthright. These people are going to lose their spiritual birthright. It is about spiritual doom. It is about people, as Jude says, who will be “twice dead” (Jude 12). They will die twice—which includes the “second death” (Revelation 20:14). That is not something to take lightly.
Selling Their Birthright
In Malachi 1:2, God says right away, “I have loved you.” God made a covenant of love with spiritual Israel. Why? Is He playing favorites? No, He has a bride. And He wants that bride, spiritual Israel, to deliver His message to the whole world! That’s her job. That is how He will reach the whole world and give everybody a chance to come into His family.
The Companion Bible and the Anchor Bible say this is covenant language here. They refer back to Deuteronomy 7, where it talks about Israel coming out of Egypt: God chose them to be a special nation of priests to reach out to the whole world. He brought them out of Egypt with all of those mighty miracles, as we’ve experienced when we came into God’s spiritual nation. God brought us out of the world, or we never would have made it; our own history will condemn us if we forget that. That’s what Deuteronomy 7 is all about. A covenant is an agreement between two parties—in this case, God and spiritual Israel. God says, I have loved you or I kept my covenant. If we keep our part of the covenant, the blessings will shower down on us.
Notice, it says, “I have loved you, saith the Lord.” God is about to discuss the most horrendous fate ever to strike His Church, in numbers of people affected. But He prefaces it by saying, I love you! Please prove me now! How is God saying that today?
Read, however, how God’s Laodicean children respond to Him! “Wherein hast thou loved us?” They want to be left alone. Dad, just leave me alone! a son might say as he gets to be a teenager. Dads who don’t love their sons just leave them alone. But if you really love your son, you will not leave him alone.
God responds by talking about Jacob and Esau. Esau and Jacob were brothers, so this is about a family covenant. After God reminds us of how much He loves Esau and Jacob, He then says that He hates Esau. That is covenant language; it means the covenant was broken. What father doesn’t love his own family? “And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever” (verses 3-4). Esau had his family’s birthright and sold it for a bowl of soup. The Laodiceans are rich and increased with goods. Yet even if they have all the riches and goods in the world and they turn away from God, they are still selling their inheritance—their magnificent future as firstfruits—for a bowl of soup! God states it bluntly. Our booklet on Obadiah explains the difference between the Jacob and Esau Laodicean groups.
Where verse 3 mentions their heritage being laid waste “for the dragons of the wilderness,” though Satan isn’t mentioned by name, that’s what it’s about—the dragons or demons of the wilderness. All they ever do is destroy. Now they have a grip on God’s Church, and they’re destroying it. Thus, God will destroy whatever they build. He’ll tear it down! God has indignation forever toward those people. And that is in the present tense—He has indignation forever. That means some of them have already lost their eternal lives! Jeremiah 49:13 says Edom is in “perpetual” ruins. That’s an awful finality.
How wonderful and exciting God’s knowledge is. But if you rebel against God, it is dangerous knowledge, as Mr. Armstrong often said. Some of the Laodiceans are already history. Malachi 1:4, 14; 2:1-4; 4:5-6 talk about the curse; Malachi 4:1 speaks of “neither root nor branch,” or losing it all. God, through Malachi, is warning about eternal death!
“And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel” (Malachi 1:5). This is about the small Malachi remnant, and God is saying: the Eternal, our Husband, will be magnified from the border of Israel. This is an endless vision. Our Husband will expand beyond the borders of Israel. Isaiah 9:6-7 says that the growth of His government and peace will be without end!
If you sell your birthright for all the wealth in the world today, it’s still just a bowl of soup! God has seen Lucifer and the angels do that—they were sent here to administer His government, and then God would have given them rule over the universe, but they failed. God wants us to learn from their history. What the angels were to do is now the transcendent potential for man. God is trying to get the Esau Laodiceans to see what they have lost—they are in the process of losing it forever! It really isn’t a big deal to die for all eternity—you’re just dead; some die without any pain whatsoever. The pain is in realizing what you are losing! God’s glory will go “from the border of Israel”—there will be no end to it. Does Esau realize what he is giving up? He is losing his birthright to be born into the family of God.
“A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? …” (Malachi 1:6). Remember, all this began with your Father. He evaluated, analyzed and prepared, perhaps for years, before He even called you. It began with Him, and now He’s giving it all to you.
“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” (verses 7-8). They are offering terrible sacrifices to God. They’re still very “religious”; notice, they still give offerings. But their offerings are blind, lame and sick! Where is that happening?
Verse 9: “And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your [you ministers] means: will he regard your persons? saith the Lord of hosts.” God is naming them specifically—you ministers, this is by your hand! Jesus Christ didn’t die for them so they could give lame sacrifices to the great God! That is not why He came to Earth and was savaged by mankind! Do we realize what we are doing when we offer lame, puny, weak sacrifices? Can’t we muster up enough strength—through prayer, study, fasting and meditating on God’s Word—to give our best to God? He died for us! We would not even have this opportunity if He hadn’t done that. There is a tremendous cost for sin. Don’t take these sacrifices lightly. Don’t take this religion lightly.
“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” (verse 10). This is the Husband talking to the bride. That is rough when a husband says that he doesn’t have any pleasure in his wife, because of the kind of life she is living! It just tears him apart. Christ is suffering because of what’s happening to His wife! This is His bride who is acting so terribly immoral and rebellious toward Him.
We must remain with our Father—honoring Him and being ever loyal to Him! Verse 10 is about ministers who should have shut the doors—who should have risen up when things began to go astray! But they did nothing. So God shuts the doors—He won’t even accept an offering from them!
Making God’s Name Great
Notice verse 11: “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.” The words “shall be” in this verse, when they appear all three times, are in italics—meaning they were added by the translators. The Revised Standard Version correctly reads, “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Has that happened? Was there a man who took God’s message to the world and showed the people that God’s name is great—and offered the truth in every nation? This has already happened! And now God is upset with these ministers, because they’re destroying that!
God is lauding the man who preached the gospel around the world, who was called an ambassador of peace, who restored all things to the Church. This man began humanitarian projects in many nations around the world. He established a world-renowned concert series at Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, California. He founded Ambassador College at three different locations—two in America and one in England.
King Leopold of Belgium was so impressed by the campus in Pasadena that he visited it often. He thought so much of Mr. Armstrong’s ministry that he presented him one of only four watch case sets made from the remains of a cannonball fired during World War i. King Leopold’s father, King Albert, had the watch casings made in order to present them to the four men he felt had made the most significant strides toward world peace. King Albert presented three of the four watch sets, but died before finding a fourth person he felt was well qualified. King Leopold presented it to his friend and “unofficial ambassador for world peace,” Herbert W. Armstrong.
That is impressive; and God was impressed! God has nothing but fantastic praise for the end-time Elijah because of the work he did for Him.
Look what happened in verse 12: “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.” In the last few years of his life, Mr. Armstrong went to more kings than any leader in the world. And these men have profaned that and destroyed what is holy. They desecrated the holy work of God.
“Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it …” (verse 13). Does doing God’s work wear you down? We may be grieved with trials and tests for a time, but these people are just weary with obeying God! They are worn down because they don’t have enough of the Spirit—the golden oil—flowing in their lives, and they are tired of obeying God. They “have snuffed at it,” which means they have scorned God. He is taking it personally!
Continuing in verse 13: “[A]nd 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.” God will not accept their offering, because they scorn Malachi’s Message and Mystery of the Ages. But they are not just scorning a little group of people—they have a problem with God! That’s a battle they won’t win.
Verse 14: “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.” Who made it that way? The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last, Who and What is the Prophetic Beast?, Where Are We Now in Prophecy?, Mystery of the Ages—these were highly requested books! The United States and Britain in Prophecy alone was distributed to over 5 million people. Mr. Armstrong did make God’s name dreadful among the heathen. The whole world will be accountable for the knowledge he made available, whether they realize it or not.
God asks the Laodiceans, don’t you realize I’m a great King? Don’t you realize I’m the Lord of hosts? We are the family of God in embryo; we serve a great King—the Lord of hosts! He will give us rule over the whole universe from headquarters! Do we fathom what God is talking about? This is a vision that the Laodiceans have lost; they are blind. God is upset with those men, because when they became ministers, they were ordained into an office by God, to serve the work and to serve you. They had a special relationship with God. Now they have pushed it aside, acting like they don’t know that God is a great King.
God is trying to get us out of Earth’s orbit spiritually, so we just take off like a rocket into the universe. And the tragedy is not that these men will suffer physically; the tragedy is they are going to lose this—this great future and this awesome reward!
This isn’t something God will give to people who don’t really want to offer the best they have! Some think they can pray when they are half asleep. But God doesn’t want that lame sacrifice. He wants our best. He is a majestic King, the Lord of hosts.
God has tried to reason with these stubborn people. He sent a messenger to deliver Malachi’s Message so they can keep honoring their magnificent King. If we don’t send this message, they don’t have an opportunity to do so! And then we would be robbing the Laodiceans!
But many of them keep talking back to God: “Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?” (Malachi 3:13). Words can’t seem to reach them; so God just puts them in the outer court, where He will try to reach them later, in the Tribulation.
“Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts?” (verse 14). They don’t do God’s work, because it’s vain to them. And they’re walking around mournfully because of it. But God wants us to have real joy. If we go through life mournfully, then something is wrong; we’re not using that Spirit the way we should. We should be on a spiritual high most of the time. Of course we have trials and may struggle at times to fight depression, but the Laodiceans have a mournful way of life. They even admit it.
What would life be like if you were totally dedicated and totally submissive to God? Imagine what would happen in your life. We are sinners; we falter and make mistakes. But God wants us to clear out that spiritual pipe and let that golden oil flow—to let the very Spirit of God rule our lives. Let’s get any obstacles that stop the flow out of the way.
Capture the Vision
Do we thank God the way we should for all He’s given us? He’s given us everything. All the revelation. And He has given more of it because He wants us to realize what Mr. Armstrong did. He wants us to know, as His people, what He thinks of Mr. Armstrong and the work he did through God’s inspiration. He wants to inspire us, because if we truly capture this vision, we will never give this up.
Verse 12 states, “And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.” The time is coming when the world will know about the birthright and say, wow! You people were really blessed. Everybody in the world will look to the bride of Jesus Christ and say, you were really blessed. Because there will never be another bride throughout all eternity. Get your mind on this! Don’t give it up for a bowl of soup!
“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name” (verse 16). The very elect think upon God’s government. These people speak often one to another, and God hears that. He sees those joyful, friendly people talking to each other and helping each other through their trials. They fear God just as Levi did.
If we knock on the Laodiceans’ door and take this message to them and the world, God will let us sit on His headquarters throne (Revelation 3:20-21). If we overcome as Christ overcame, He will give us this reward. That is an opportunity for all eternity from our Husband! Christ is personally inviting His bride to sit at headquarters, where the Laodiceans will not be allowed to sit. Most of God’s people today have not overcome, but God still makes the promise to you.
What an inspiring future! What a reward for those faithful few who are willing to do the work of our Husband in this end time!
Chapter 9: The Hope of the Gospel
It is a sad time for God’s Church today. Because of the Laodicean rebellion, the stench of spiritual death is all around us. God says people are dying spiritually in this end time (2 Thessalonians 2). Most of God’s own people refuse to deliver God’s family vision. They have lost the vision, the hope of the gospel. “Where there is no vision, the people perish …” (Proverbs 29:18).
The Apostle Paul, when dealing with the Laodicean problem in the first century, gave us a way to ensure that we are not moved away from the spiritual vision God gives us. “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister” (Colossians 1:23).
The gospel is the good news of the coming family of God which administers the government of God in the wonderful World Tomorrow. We must be grounded and settled in the hope of that future—the hope of the family of God.
Paul said that all of the Colossians and Laodiceans in the first century heard this gospel. He said they would be held accountable for that. We’ve heard it too. This is dangerous knowledge. We can’t run away and act like it didn’t happen, as God’s own end-time Laodicean Church is trying to do. God holds us accountable for every word.
The Mystery Hid From Ages
“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (verse 26). A mystery was hid from the world for ages. The world doesn’t understand it; they don’t understand what Paul taught the first-century Christians—the mystery that we talk about today. There’s only one book that really explains the mystery of God. And who proclaims this mystery? Who really even wants that mystery? It was “made manifest to his saints.”
Where did that message come from? Mr. Armstrong said, about Mystery of the Ages, “In real fact, I feel I myself did not write it.” It was God Himself who made the mystery manifest to His people. Why did He make it manifest to us? So that we could have a large supply of that book out in our garage? Or on our library shelves? God has the answer to those questions.
Paul talked about this mystery while sitting in jail. At that time, ministers were turning most of God’s people away from the truth, just as they have done today. Understand what a tragedy that is: This mystery has been hidden from the ages! For 6,000 years man has not understood it. To actually have it revealed to us, and to understand it, is totally unique! In this evil world, God has given us the most illustrious revelation—the deepest revelation that man can comprehend. It didn’t come from Herbert W. Armstrong. It came from out in the cosmos—beyond the stars and galaxies! (And yet, when God’s people get it, so many of them then allow Satan to just take it away from them. They don’t want it enough to fight for it.)
Men have not understood this mystery throughout all the ages or generations back to Adam and Eve. Soon, though, they will all understand it. God has revealed it to us so that we can teach it to them—today and in the future.
Notice verse 27: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” God makes the mystery manifest to His saints, so He may then make it known among the Gentiles! Spiritually, that means the whole world.
Herbert Armstrong was commissioned “to reach the largest audience possible” with Mystery of the Ages! God commissioned us to complete that goal after Mr. Armstrong died.
This is a great prophecy about our work—even in this end time. As the Laodiceans turn away from this mystery, we make it known to the Gentiles. Those who are making it known are the only ones who really understand what God commands them to do.
This job will continue into the World Tomorrow, where a major textbook in all educational institutions will be Mystery of the Ages, by Herbert W. Armstrong. Anytime this mystery was revealed in the past, God wanted His very elect to make it known to the Gentiles. That is why God reveals it. He doesn’t reveal it so we can just sit there and look at it, or enjoy it ourselves. It is for the whole world! God will bring the whole world into His family. He is not doing all this work in vain! He gave us this mystery, and He says we’ve heard it, so we’re accountable. We are accountable for a great deal of knowledge! There’s no way we can escape that! We are accountable for delivering the message, or blood is on our heads. Soon, the whole world will be our classroom to teach Mystery of the Ages. What a responsibility that will be.
Those of us supporting this message today have a special vision that most of God’s own people do not have—to their own shame.
How many of the Laodiceans would fight for Mystery of the Ages in court? Paul was in jail because he preached this message! He was in jail trying to inspire and encourage God’s people about the great mystery that man has not known for all ages!
Now the Philadelphia Church of God has it. The Laodiceans are so confused, so foolish, so rebellious; they’re letting Satan take it away from them. If only they would stand up and love that message, nobody would ever be able to take it from them. And as long as there is a work to be done, we will struggle to freely give Mystery of the Ages. If people fight against us, they’re fighting the great Creator God! They will pay a heavy price for that.
The Colossians in the first century fought with Paul—the Laodiceans fought against him. So it is today. The Philadelphians fight for the truth Mr. Armstrong taught us, while the Laodiceans are either doing nothing or fighting against it.
Our attitude toward Mystery of the Ages reveals a great deal about our conversion. It reveals a lot about you. We have all heard the mystery. Nobody can hold on to God’s revelation if they don’t stand up and fight like any son ought to fight for his father. Don’t be fooled: God will let the enemies take it away from you if you don’t love it! And we’ll die spiritually if we don’t love this truth.
Jesus Christ doesn’t want a bride who says, Mystery of the Ages—I could take it or leave it. No, He wants a bride who says, the only thing to do is to take it, deliver it and proclaim it to all of the Gentiles, because that’s my job—to gather in the whole world.
How much do we really care about Mystery of the Ages? How much do you want to proclaim it and give this excitement to the world? This has been hidden from the whole world for all ages! We must make this known among the Gentiles. This applies, in principle, to all of Mr. Armstrong’s literature. God commands that we make it known to the world, to give them an opportunity to know God and to know about what this mystery is! It is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” If Christ lives in us, we will love and fight for His truth.
Christ in you is the hope of glory! How much is Christ in you? Well, how much hope do you have? We should be filled with hope. We all need more. We live in a world that is getting more hopeless as time goes on. This world needs hope, and there is only one hope: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We must think like Christ. How much of our thinking is surrendered to Him? (2 Corinthians 10:5). We all have to grow in that.
We are the family of God in embryo. What a vision! Jesus Christ died for this world—and God gave His only begotten Son—to bring this hope to them, to develop man’s incredible potential.
“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:28). Is your number-one goal helping to present every man perfect before Jesus Christ?
This verse presents God’s work as happening in a particular order. First, it says, we preach, which means to declare plainly and openly or aloud. Mr. Armstrong did that as a witness to the world. Then it says we warn; that’s what we’re doing in this phase of the work—warning the world. Of course, these things will run concurrently as well. But we have them listed here in this order.
After the preaching and the warning, then we teach every man—gathering in the whole world, man by man, woman by woman, child by child.
This is God’s family vision about the future. One day we will reach every man! That must be done one by one. That is where you enter the picture. You will counsel, teach and guide people in the wonderful World Tomorrow. You will warn them, too, when they go in the wrong direction. You will teach them very clearly about the mystery of God—the God family vision, or the gospel.
We will warn and teach until every man has been taught. And then we will take that program out into the universe. What a magnificent vision this is! How could we allow such a vision to be lost? We are called sons of God! What a calling God has given us. What a prophetic plan God reveals here in Colossians!
Laboring From Jail
“Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (verse 29). Paul was laboring from jail. Surely, when Paul’s adversaries threw him in jail, they thought they had finally silenced him. But how wrong they were! He worked even harder! Why? Because he knew it would stir God’s people. They knew who Paul was. And they labored as hard as possible for the work of God while Paul was imprisoned.
Teaching the Mystery of the Ages got Paul thrown in jail. Can you imagine that? His writings were canonized to make up a hearty portion of the Bible—14 books. A major part of those epistles came right out of prison. Paul knew something the world didn’t know. Although he was in jail, he knew that his message would go far beyond this Earth. He was imprisoned physically, but not spiritually.
The fact that Paul was a convict reveals a lot about this world. They don’t really understand what they did to Paul. One day, though, they will be convicted and see. All of a sudden, this hope will come alive in their minds, and they’ll be inspired, moved and stirred! No doubt they’ll shed a lot of tears—especially those who had Paul incarcerated and later killed. Likewise, there are many Laodiceans today who will shed tears profusely because of what they are saying about Mr. Armstrong—if they repent and make it into God’s family.
“For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh” (Colossians 2:1). Paul had a great conflict over what? Over the Mystery of the Ages! It was a conflict with God’s own people. As Paul sat in jail, ministers were out there betraying God’s great apostle—getting into heresy and saying that he had gone off the deep end.
We won our first court battle over Mystery of the Ages, and the Worldwide Church of God appealed it. Then we appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. If Paul fought the battle from jail, we certainly can keep fighting in court. God says this work must be done—this world must be warned.
The tragedy of the Church in the first century, and the tragedy of the Church today, is this: All of the dirty work was done from within. Like Paul in the first century, Mr. Armstrong’s labor has been scorned. Many horrible things have been said about Mr. Armstrong. Who is behind all that?
The faithful Colossians labored with Paul, and we ought to labor for the truth that God revealed to Mr. Armstrong. If we let Christ live in us, we’re reflecting that glory. We cannot rebel against that mystery, or even be neutral. We cannot say, I don’t believe we should be involved in court cases in this world. What does God say? What have we heard?
This is not an easy message to escape. As Mr. Armstrong said repeatedly, this is dangerous knowledge. Doesn’t the fact that 95 percent of God’s people are dying spiritually reveal how dangerous? Yet we ought to hunger and thirst after it, and work hard to get it. You will find your effort greatly rewarded.
“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches [the real wealth] of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ” (verse 2). The mystery has to do with the Father and Christ and the family of God. It’s about you being born into that family.
The Laodiceans don’t honor their Father. If only they would deliver Mystery of the Ages with us, they’d be honoring their Father and their Husband—the whole family of God. They would have all of these riches. But they are involved in physical things—they are rich and increased with goods, or things (Revelation 3:17). They don’t know what true, spiritual wealth is anymore.
Paul talked about how wealthy he was, how rich he was, while in jail. He had tremendous vision. Could you be that inspiring if you were in jail? It’s easy to read these words. But can we imagine and feel Paul’s pain? This experience really happened to him! We must be prepared for whatever God allows us to face. How real to you is the fact that you are the family of God in embryo? As real as it was to Paul?
“And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words” (Colossians 2:4). There’s always some man around who knows how to use words deceptively. Only the very elect will not be led away from God by enticing words. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (verses 6-7). Be rooted and established in this illustrious vision, so deeply that nobody can ever take you away. That’s what makes you part of the very elect! You are like a giant oak tree with deep roots that no storm can remove.
I believe this is the subject we are weakest in today in the Philadelphia Church of God—the God family vision.
We are the family of God. And we ought to have a love that the world has no knowledge of. We must have a great passion and a great desire to be filled with this vision, to get grounded more deeply in it. There are storms on the horizon. Storms such as this world has never seen before. When things get too bad, we know God will take His very elect to a place of safety to be protected, but we must be able to weather the trials before that time.
Our families and marriages reflect how well we understand this vision. If both parties in a marriage understand this, they ought to have the greatest marriage ever! They both must be grounded in this—it takes two to work in a marriage and in a family to make sure it reflects God’s vision.
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (verse 8). “Rudiments of the world” means ruling spirits of the universe. Satan so often deceives through people who use a great, philosophical, scholarly presentation to turn people away. That’s how he deceives the Laodiceans. They had revealed to them what had been a mystery for all man’s history, and still they are more interested in philosophy and psychology! The ruling spirits of the universe have gotten to them. Soon God will put a stop to that!
“And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God” (verse 19). Get a strong grip on the Head—Jesus Christ. He is the Head of the Philadelphia Church of God. He should be the Head of the Laodiceans. We cling to the Head so we can be “knit together.” We’re all family—all being knit together into one family by Christ.
A Door of Utterance
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds” (Colossians 4:2-3). How inspiring! Paul said he was in jail for proclaiming this mystery—and at the same time he was asking God to open a door for this mystery to be proclaimed even more! This great man of God was in jail, and his most urgent request to the people of God was to be praying for an open door so they could proclaim that mystery to the world.
How about that for courage? How about that for having a positive attitude in a trial? Paul saw something with a passion that few men have ever seen. Nevertheless, he was human. He asked them to remember his bonds (verse 18)—to keep him in their prayers.
Perhaps Paul was doing a greater work in jail than he would have done out of jail, because it stirred up so many more people, giving the Church more power. There was a reason why God did that. Sometimes God will go to extreme measures to stir up His people, because they are His family. They are the very elite of this Earth. Most of God’s family today have forgotten that!
Like Paul in jail, we must bear down and do even more as times get tougher. If we let up in this battle, our trials will begin to bog us down. It is the vision we receive from doing God’s work that enables us to bear up under the trials that come upon us in this world.
Here is the reward that we don’t want to forget. Colossians 3:4 states, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” We will one day appear with God in glory. That is no small reward. Think and pray about that.
The Harshest Ending
As we covered in the last chapter, the book of Malachi begins by talking about a serious family dispute that ends in tragedy. It is probably the saddest beginning of a book in the Bible. Now notice the ending.
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6). This is speaking about eternal lives being lost in this end time. (Write for a free copy of Malachi’s Message for more explanation.) He’s talking about many ministers who will lose their eternal lives. That’s the ending of the book.
Notice: Why will the Laodiceans lose it all? Well, those verses talk about turning the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers. The Laodiceans will die eternally because they lost the God family vision!
This is a hard message to take. We must warn the Laodiceans how disastrous their ending will be, both physically and spiritually, if they don’t repent. It doesn’t have to be so bitter! God has laid it all out for us!
“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments” (verse 4). Remember the law. Bring the judgments into that equation; there are judgments made in every age. So that means you must have the government of God and the law of love, if you are to have the mystery.
Who taught us the law? Who taught us the government? We must remember. I can’t think of a single major judgment that Mr. Armstrong made that the pcg has changed since his death in 1986. Of course, new judgments have been built upon the old. We all have to submit to this wonderful law and government of love, which makes it possible for God to feed us spiritual manna. That’s the only way to get the spiritual bread. The only way. We need to understand this more deeply than anything else.
The Family Name
“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name” (Malachi 3:16). What name is that? It’s Elohim—the family name. The very elect thought upon the God family name.
“And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels [more accurately, special possession or family]; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (verse 17). God reminds us about His family when He compares Himself to a man sparing his son. He will protect His family from what is coming upon the Earth. The scriptures prophesy, though, that it will take a nuclear tribulation to wake the majority of God’s people, because they won’t accept God’s law and government of love now.
Everything is built upon the foundation of this God family vision. That vision separates the Philadelphians and the Laodiceans. The Laodiceans today are sons, yes—but rebellious sons. The Philadelphians are those sons with whom God is well pleased.
In Revelation 3, Christ is talking directly to the Laodiceans: “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God …. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (verses 14, 17-18). Christ says some people of God are very blind—a despicable spiritual condition. He is talking about the time you and I live in now.
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: Be zealous therefore, and repent” (verse 19). God rebukes and chastens us because sometimes that is exactly what we need. But He always does it in love. He is always trying to bring about our repentance.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (verse 20). This is about eating spiritual food. Christ wants to dine at the same table with His spiritual family!
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (verse 21). Christ mentions His Father, because the Laodiceans’ biggest problem is they’ve gotten their mind on things and off God, their Father. Their spiritual father, the physical head of God’s Church, Mr. Armstrong, lived in the worst kind of poverty for 28 years—during which he said that he and his wife had never before been so spiritually rich. What hard trials he had to endure. But he had the God family vision. He saw the Father. He was thrilled and excited to know Him—to know that he could be called a son of God!
We are sons of God! The God beyond the galaxies—who created the universe—He is the God who calls us His sons!
We need to understand this vision more deeply, and then we will be more inspired by God than ever before. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (verse 22).