Chapter 5

Protecting God’s Treasure

From the booklet Ezra and Nehemiah—Building God’s Temple

The value of the temple offering Ezra brought to Jerusalem, in today’s figures, would be nearly $2 million. From Ezra 8:24-30, we know that Ezra divided this wealth among 12 priests and 12 Levites. These 24 ministers were to protect God’s temple wealth. They had a very weighty responsibility. There were not very many of them to protect so much wealth!

It is also interesting to note that it took 12 days to prepare (including the fast) for this journey (compare Ezra 7:9 with 8:31). We have learned over the years that the number 12 means “new beginnings.” God was certainly giving Ezra and the Jews a new beginning.

In a very real sense, God has also given the pcg a new beginning. The pcg began with only 12 people. Also recognize that the temple which God built through Mr. Armstrong has been—for all intents and purposes—destroyed! The corrupt Laodicean leadership has caused the Worldwide Church of God to fall into irreparable ruin. But God has not left His people without a temple. Where is God’s temple today? It is the pcg! Where is God’s temple treasure today? It is within the pcg! One of the main tasks of the pcg is to help God’s people locate God’s true temple after the Laodicean destruction.

God’s Philadelphia ministers also have the grave responsibility to protect God’s special treasure. What is God’s treasure? His very elect. Why? They are filled with and loyal to God’s truth. “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (Malachi 3:17). In this end of the end time, God is very concerned about His people. Jesus Christ referred to His Church as a “little flock” (Luke 12:32). God’s true people are like rare jewels of great value when compared to the billions of people on this planet. The Laodicean ministry is dealing treacherously with God’s people by deceiving them about God’s truth. The wcg doctrinal changes represent a grievous betrayal of God by His people.

As it was in Ezra’s day, there are very few pcg ministers to protect such great wealth. The pcg ministry must work very hard to preserve God’s revealed truths. We must remain deeply loyal to God and His doctrine. That is how we protect God’s invaluable treasure. When God’s ministry becomes disloyal to God’s truth, the temple treasure becomes corrupted, stolen, or lost. The Laodicean control of God’s Church is the single greatest tragedy to strike God’s Church in nearly 2,000 years! God’s special treasure has been corrupted and stolen from Him. Many members—50 percent—are going to be lost spiritually. The pcg ministers, although few in number, must now carry the great load of protecting God’s treasure.

Ezra’s life is proof that we don’t need many ministers to have an effective work. A few deeply converted men who know how to submit to God are more than enough to do the work. In Ezra’s day, God even inspired people outside of the nation to help them. “And they delivered the king’s commissions unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors on this side the river: and they furthered the people, and the house of God” (Ezra 8:36). Ezra did his part and looked to God for the help and support he needed. God generously supplied that need. Notice here, even the carnal people around Jerusalem furthered the people and the work. When God’s true ministers and people live by faith, great miracles happen. God’s Philadelphia Church has experienced many miracles. We are going to need many more to accomplish the job God has given us. Imitating Ezra’s faith will ensure that God gives us the miracles.

Trembling at the Word of God

The successful temple work eventually led to the rebirth of the nation of Judah. Ezra proved himself very capable of dealing with some serious national problems that developed while the nation was growing. “Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied” (Ezra 9:1-3). Some of the nation’s princes reported to Ezra that the people were racially intermarrying with the nations around them. Moses had recorded that God forbade interracial marriage (Deuteronomy 7:1-3). Ezra was devastated that this sin was being committed in Judah. He immediately began a fast because this sin threatened to destroy the fledgling nation. But what depressed Ezra the most about this sin was that some priests, Levites and princes were leading the people into this catastrophic rebellion. God’s own ministers were the chief sinners.

Ezra was not alone in being upset about this sin. “Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice” (Ezra 9:4). All those people who “trembled at the words of the God of Israel” assembled with Ezra. This is probably one of the most significant verses in all of Ezra. It speaks so clearly to our day.

The Laodicean ministry has been chief in trespasses against God’s established doctrine. They have led God’s people into serious rebellion. As an Ezra-type work, God’s Philadelphia Church has been warning the Laodiceans of their serious rebellion since December 7, 1989. And only those who truly tremble at God’s Word are assembling with us!

Family Repentance

When serious problems develop in God’s Church, the spiritual nation of Israel, what do we do? Ezra showed us how to handle crises. He fasted and prayed. Study this prayer. “And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments” (verses 6-10). Ezra prayed a deeply moving prayer of repentance for the nation. Ezra blushed and was greatly ashamed. The nation was all one family. Ezra set us an example in family repentance.

Mr. Armstrong taught us that the Church of God is the Family of God in embryo. Do we realize that when we sin, we affect the entire Family? Achan’s sin recorded in Joshua 7 is just one illustration of this Bible principle. Achan’s covetousness affected the whole nation at that time. God’s pcg ministry and members must learn to stay on top of serious problems and not let them develop. But when they do happen, we need to take them to God.

A Nail in His Holy Place

Ezra was one of the few men in Judah who had vision. Verse 8 is not only very poetic, it’s profound. Ezra fully understood that God had given his rag-tag band of ex-captives a new beginning. If they remained loyal to God, they had “a nail in his holy place.” Ezra knew that this little band of people was given great spiritual understanding. Their eyes were spiritually enlightened. They were given great opportunity to revive the great work of God. And some of the priests and people were just about ready to ruin it all.

Do we realize that the pcg is our “nail in his holy place” in this end time? We are a nail for the end-time people of God. We are reviving God’s only work. No other group on this planet is doing God’s work. All of us must work together to make sure our nail remains firm.

Let’s continue with Ezra’s prayer. Notice the fine detail of his prayer. “Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness. Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever. And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O Lord God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this” (verses 11-15). Ezra recounted Israel’s sad history of disobedience to the law. He did not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Israel’s great national sins had brought about the first temple’s destruction and the horrible captivity. Ezra knew God had a right to punish the returning captives for the same problems. He had to make some serious decisions very quickly.

A Courageous Decision

Ezra immediately went to work to remove this sin from Judah. “Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore. And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it” (Ezra 10:1‑4). Many men, women and children recognized this great national crisis. Verse 1 shows that they “wept very sore” along with Ezra. The people recognized that some serious correction was necessary. They encouraged Ezra to do what needed to be done. He received great support from the people who were loyal to God. Ezra made a very courageous decision to solve the problem.

He began correcting the nation by dealing with the priests first. “Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware” (verse 5). Ezra knew of the great importance of having loyal priests and Levites. He made sure that the ministers of his day were going to be loyal to God’s revealed way of life. He made them sware their obedience to God’s law. Ezra understood that he had to correct the ministry and leadership first or the nation would not properly respond to correction! God is doing the same thing with the Laodicean ministers today. He is using the pcg to correct them. The Laodicean Church can never get back on track unless the ministry is on track.

After correcting the priests, Ezra then dealt with the nation. “Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away. And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem; And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away” (verses 6-8). Ezra required that all inhabitants come to Jerusalem to hear admonition concerning their grave sin. Ezra took a very tough stance on this problem. If anyone failed to show up within three days, they would lose their personal belongings and citizenship. Ezra headed a strong but righteous government.

Assembled in the Rain

The men of Judah and Benjamin did respond to Ezra’s proclamation and assembled before the temple in Jerusalem. “Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain. And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel” (verses 9‑10). The men trembled before the temple because of their sin. But they also trembled because of a great rain that God was causing to fall upon them (see also verses 13-14). God began to plague the people because of their sin. He used some very inclement weather to get the people’s attention. He also used the great rain to show His backing of Ezra. In this end time, God is going to use some very violent weather to get this world’s attention.

Ezra stood up before the people and corrected them publicly. He personally told them, “Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel.” He did not pull one punch. Why? He was trying to save the nation. Verses 18-44 list the men that had taken strange wives. There were 109 total. Of this total, 17 were priests and 10 were Levites. Ezra listed their names for all to see. Although this may have been very embarrassing at the time, the nation was spared great punishment. It is a lesson in leadership—God’s way!

The pcg stands for upholding God’s law. Mr. Armstrong made specific judgments on many issues. The pcg ministry is going to stand by those judgments. Why? The survival of the Church is at stake! The pcg ministry must uphold all of God’s law to keep God’s Church alive and well.

Ezra introduced a new era of law-keeping for God’s people. His dedication to God’s law was the foundation of the nation that experienced Jesus Christ’s first coming. The pcg typifies Ezra’s work in this end time. All members of the pcg must develop a renewed vigor for keeping God’s law. Our greatest honor for doing this will be to introduce Jesus Christ to the world at His Second Coming.

Continue Reading: Chapter 6: Nehemiah—A Man of Zeal