Herbert W. Armstrong often said that one third of the Bible is prophecy and that 90 percent of it is for today! That is a true and amazing statistic that most religious people today fail to grasp! The book of Isaiah is filled with prophetic duality.
Isaiah knew his prophecy was for both ancient Israel and modern Israel. “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever” (Isaiah 30:8). “[T]he time to come” expression means “the latter day” in Hebrew. Isaiah wrote his message on a table (or tablet) for ancient Israel to read. But why did he also write his message in a book? Because his message was primarily for “the latter day”—or the time we are living in right now! That is the only reason he wrote it in a book!
Isaiah also discussed duality in Isaiah 41:22, which says, “Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.” There is the former and the latter end (which almost always refers to the end of this age). There is the former house and the latter house—or God’s physical temple and then the firstfruits who have been called and given God’s Holy Spirit (Haggai 2:5, 9).
Matthew 24 discusses the first century and the temple, but most of the focus is on the end time (see also 1 Corinthians 10:11). God also commanded Jeremiah and other prophets to write their messages in books for the end time (Jeremiah 30:2-3, 7-9). Daniel couldn’t even understand his message because it was for the end time (Daniel 12:9).
The house of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians, ancestors of modern-day Germany, in the years 721–718 b.c. The people of Israel were soon driven from their own land and carried away captive to Assyria, which was located on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea. The Prophet Isaiah had already warned the Israelites that God was angry and would punish them for their sins if they didn’t repent. “Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only” (2 Kings 17:18). Israel became known as the lost 10 tribes of Israel (biblical Judah is erroneously called “Israel” today).
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon carried the Jews (Judah) captive to Babylon during the years 604 to 585 b.c. That was more than 130 years after Israel was conquered by the Assyrians.
Our primary concern in this book is Israel. The United States and the British peoples are primarily Israel today. For more information, request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. (All of our literature is free.) This book also reveals the identity of Germany today.
Even though Isaiah warned ancient Israel, his message was primarily written to those of end-time Israel. They, like ancient Israel, will be captured by the Germans and carried away captive out of their own land. Isaiah warned both ancient and modern Israel of their terrifying captivities.
Isaiah’s prophecy was twofold. He warned the temple priests and the people of Israel. The same is true for the end time. The members of God’s own Church today comprise the temple (Ephesians 2:19-22; 2 Corinthians 6:16). Most of Isaiah’s temple prophecies are addressed to God’s own Laodicean people in this end time. They have rebelled against God (Revelation 3:14-19).
A Little Bible
In ancient Israel, God used the temple to conduct His religious service and teach His law.
Zion is also used as a parallel word for the temple. The two words are often used interchangeably. Today, Zion is also God’s Church—the spiritual temple. Notice the following scriptures: “the Lord hath founded Zion” (Isaiah 14:32); “say unto Zion, Thou art my people” (Isaiah 51:16); “The Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 60:14); “the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion” (Psalm 9:11); “his [God’s] dwelling place in Zion” (Psalm 76:1-2); “For the Lord hath chosen Zion” (Psalm 132:13); “Is not the Lord in Zion?” (Jeremiah 8:19); “for the Lord dwelleth in Zion” (Joel 3:21).
Of course, Zion often forsook God. We will see many examples of this in the book of Isaiah. In fact, the word Zion is mentioned more in this book than any other book of the Bible.
Isaiah is quoted more times in the New Testament than any other book. We need to better understand why that is so.
There are 63 known statements in the English language from Isaiah. This book has been called a little Bible by many authorities. But even those authorities don’t really understand the book of Isaiah. I will prove that to you.
This book contains some of the best Bible poetry. The Revised Standard Version is printed in its proper poetic style. Almost all of the book is poetry. It includes many outstanding metaphors.
God’s Awesome Perspective
God is speaking to us today through Isaiah; the message of Isaiah is actually God’s message.
“The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children [sons], and they have rebelled against me” (Isaiah 1:1-2).
“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken”—here God gives His perspective. This is a message to all the angels, demons and mankind. God is addressing all of the inhabitants of the entire universe! It even includes the dwelling place of God! It is the widest scope possible.
God shows us that the creation of Earth and its inhabitants is closely tied to the entire universe. God created the angels to rule the universe, but they failed. Then God created mankind to rule the universe. You can’t separate the Earth from the universe—it’s all one super-inspiring plan!
Are you willing to do some prayerful and serious Bible study to comprehend God’s plan for you?
I believe this is one of the top five introductions in the Bible—it has the widest scope possible.
God personifies and addresses the heavens—where angels dwell along with the Father and the Son!
When the angels failed to qualify to rule the universe, God knew that He must create Himself in man. Only God could be trusted to rule the universe.
The angels will not be sons of God. However, the righteous angels will still receive greater positions in God’s Kingdom than they would have received in God’s original plan for the angels.
Try to imagine what a vast building program God will have for His Family and the angels when we begin to beautify and finish the universe!
It is why the angels and men were created!
Look at our building program on the 170 acres that God has given us at His headquarters campus in Edmond, Oklahoma. Even now God is preparing us to make the Earth and universe blossom as a rose.
God commands us not to despise the day of small beginnings. God’s created sons will lead the way in finishing the universe.
Here is where the Laodiceans faltered. They despised the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:9-10).
They don’t see the end of the Philadelphia Church in the Laodicean era. That Church had a tiny beginning in the Laodicean era. But it is going to have a spectacular ending. God will take the Philadelphians to a place of protection during the Great Tribulation. After that they will be placed in the Jerusalem headquarters forever!
We must capture Isaiah’s vision to see beyond those small beginnings to their towering end.
This message will be strongly opposed. Tradition says that Isaiah died when his enemies cut him into two pieces. He remained loyal to God because of his mind-staggering vision.
One third of the angels failed to rule this Earth. Ninety-five percent of God’s own end-time Church failed to rule the Church God’s way. This is not an easy calling. But we were not called by God to fail. We should succeed magnificently!
You could say our 170 acres are about building and beautifying the whole universe! That is why we were created. God’s perspectivewill keep us inspired forever. The Earth and universe equals one project!
How can any open-minded person not be inspired by this awesome vision?
Isaiah was consumed by this message. If you really analyze this vision, you know it could not have originated from the mind of man. This is God-thinking that will prepare us to enter His Kingdom.
This magnificent vision proves the existence of God to a Spirit-led Christian. We must discern the difference between man’s thoughts and the thinking of God!
Isaiah means “the Eternal is salvation.” God wants to give us rule over His entire creation if we will submit to His government.
God nourished and brought up His sons in this end time. Most of them have rebelled against this mind-staggering vision. This wonderful message ought to awaken and inspire all of God’s people.
The World Tomorrow must become more real to us than this evil world. Isaiah literally sacrificed his life to inherit God’s Kingdom.
A Dangerous Error
Isaiah was sent to do God’s Work (Isaiah 6). One of the Worldwide Church of God ministers wrote: “This is where the introduction of the book [of Isaiah] begins.” That was written about a year before Mr. Armstrong died. However, Mr. Armstrong was not aware of such a statement or he would have rejected it. The Laodiceans were already getting control of God’s Church. Herbert W. Armstrong was 92 years of age. They were even then losing Isaiah’s vision.
That minister made a dangerous statement. It shows that the church Mr. Armstrong founded was becoming Laodicean by losing the God Family vision of Isaiah chapter 1—where the inspiring instruction begins.
Why did that minister and the Laodiceans get confused about where the introduction of Isaiah was? They don’t see why they were called now and where God’s Work is leading. They became “rich, and increased with goods.” They wanted physical wealth, not the spiritual riches. God says we must set our affections on things above (Colossians 3:2).
That deceived minister also said that Isaiah 6:1-13 mean you must “hear and act or [there will be] no more understanding.” But here too he missed the point. Read those verses and you will see that the emphasis is on how hard and rebellious the Laodiceans are (including that minister). They disobey to the point where “cities [will] be wasted without inhabitant”! (verse 11). They are so hard that they rejected God’s warning, given to them by Mr. Armstrong—95 percent of them have rebelled. They will have to experience the Tribulation horror and die for God to receive salvation. Only 50 percent of them will repent even then.
Why does God lay cities waste without an inhabitant? Because that is what it takes to get Israel’s attention! That includes spiritual Israel, or the Church of God, and the nations of Israel.
Modern Israel has been given great physical blessings because of Abraham’s obedience. (This story is related in The United States and Britain in Prophecy; request your free copy.) Most of our people think this wealth was created by our own ingenuity. God has a far different view. “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3). God considers Israel’s intelligence anciently and today as less than that of an ox!
“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint” (verses 4-5). This applies to Israel anciently and today. Israel was, and is today, too sick and fainthearted to deal with its own problems and enemy nations.
“From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers” (verses 6-7). Our cities in the United States and Britain will be burned by fire from rioting within. “Strangers,” or Gentiles, within and without will play a major role in devouring our land.
A Cottage in a Vineyard
The biggest problem in Israel anciently was that Zion, or the temple service, went astray and the people followed along. But remember, this is dual. God speaks to the “daughter of Zion” (Isaiah 1:8), or primarily God’s temple service in the end time! The emphasis here is on the end time. God’s own Church has gone astray in this end time—the very Church where God dwelled for so many years!
“And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city” (verse 8). God says it is left as a “cottage in a vineyard.” That is a little temporary hut used during the harvest time. After the harvest, the little hut is most desolate indeed. That is a tragic and poetic picture of what has happened to God’s own Church in this end time. God’s people have a history of being in a glorious spiritual harvest with God. But they stopped harvesting for God. Today they are only left with a “hut”—a memory of their former greatness!
Shortly, God will punish them. “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (verse 9). God has retained a remnant of loyal saints.
First of all, God condemns the temple, or His Church. “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah” (verse 10). Only God’s Church keeps His law today. All but a remnant have become lukewarm and rebellious toward God’s law. Every group of Laodiceans has rebelled against God’s law.
God’s own Church has lawless rulers like Sodom and people like Gomorrah. Here is God’s own Family, and He calls them Sodom and Gomorrah—perhaps the most repugnant and corrupt people in the Bible!
This prophecy says there is only a remnant—one remnant—today that keeps God’s law! Do you know where that remnant is? Your protection from the Great Tribulation depends on it!
God’s very elect must become experts on God’s law. Of all people on this Earth, we must understand God’s government, which is based on His law! Please notice this carefully: Most of the prophecies tell us that the Laodicean leaders cause God’s people to stumble at the law (Malachi 2:7-8). They are condemned repeatedly for this sin.
We have often shown how the Worldwide Church of God, since Mr. Armstrong’s death, teaches falsely about God’s law. But what about other Laodicean churches that have left the wcg?
Perhaps the best way to illustrate this point is through the example of marriage. When there are marital problems, generally both parties are to blame. The biggest problem the wives have is submitting to their husbands.
I have been in the ministry over 40 years. In many marriage counseling sessions, I have noticed that the wives are zealous and excel in numerous marital responsibilities. But many wives cause some serious problems in their marriages. The root cause with the women is usually their not submitting to their husbands as God commands. Their problem is with God’s marital government and the law on which it is based.
Since we are Christ’s wife, we should expect that our biggest problem would also be submitting to our Husband, Jesus Christ. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). How did Christ’s “wife” make herself ready for the marriage? By learning to submit to Christ as His wife before He returns. We can’t be Christ’s wife unless we learn to submit lawfully to God’s marriage government now! That is how we get ready.
Many women never learn to submit to their husbands, and many of God’s own saints refuse to submit to Christ—their Husband. That is always the hardest part!
All of the Laodicean groups reject God’s governmenttaught through Mr. Armstrong! And there is something else all of the Laodiceans reject. They don’t believe Mr. Armstrong was God’s end-time Elijah (Matthew 17:10-11; Malachi 4:5-6).
Do you know why the Laodiceans don’t believe that Mr. Armstrong was God’s end-time Elijah? Many of them believed he was a type of Elijah before he died. But after he died they rejected God’s government and lost that understanding. Mr. Armstrong was at the heart of that government. This is all about the Laodiceans rebelling. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25). They don’t have the childlike attitude of a babe, so they can’t see what God has already revealed in this crucial area. God the Father “revealed” to Peter who Christ was (Matthew 16:15-17). That is how Peter knew.
Why can’t the Laodiceans accept the many new revelations given to the Philadelphia Church of God (pcg)? They simply lack the childlike submission to God’s government, so God won’t reveal to them which church is doing His Work today.
If people reject Mr. Armstrong as God’s end-time Elijah, what chance is there that they would see that God is using the pcg? Their big problem is accepting God’s government!
God’s truth is revealed—but only to babes! (Matthew 11:25). This is the most basic and difficult lesson we have to learn. We either learn it by submitting to God’s inspired words, or we learn it in the Great Tribulation! When we get to Isaiah 66, the last chapter, we will see the same lesson taught.
Foundation of Church Doctrine
There are very specific reasons why one group sees God’s revelation and other groups don’t! There is cause and effect.God’s government is the foundation of all Church doctrines!
The Laodiceans have a zeal, but not for God’s government. “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:27). God will destroy all people who won’t let Him “reign over,” or rule, them. The government lesson is the most important lesson we must learn! It is also the hardest lesson to learn.
In a sermon on October 2, 1982, during the Feast of Tabernacles, Mr. Armstrong said, “Jesus said the Elijah shall yet come and restore all things. Elijah did not restore what was taken away. The heavens have received Jesus until the times of restitution of all things (Acts 3:19-21). Restitution means restoring something that had been taken away, restoring to a former state or condition. What was taken away? The government of God on this Earth—the government of God was taken away. It was to be restored. … God raised me up to restore it. God raised me up to restore the government of God. But it is only restored, so far, in the Church. I have no authority from God, no ability to restore the government of God any further than just over you brethren in the Church. But that has been done. That has been done, brethren. You go back and read Malachi 3:1-5 and Malachi 4. And where Jesus said, ‘Elijah truly shall come,’ even after John the Baptist was put in prison, he was yet to come. But he [Elijah] was to restore. John the Baptist didn’t restore. You’d better realize, brethren, what this Church is and what you are behind when you say you are behind me 100 percent.”
The whole world will be ruled by the government that God established through Mr. Armstrong! This is basic and so important for you to understand.
“Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats” (Isaiah 1:10-11). God is discussing Zion and the temple sacrifice—that means God’s Church in the end time!
Burnt offerings and sacrifices refer to God’s Church service today. “When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?” (verse 12). These people “appear” before God, but they tread over His temple courts. They are not sacrificing lawfully—but note, they are sacrificing diligently! What is the problem? They are not attuned to God’s government!
These people are zealously sacrificing to God. But they are treading all over His law! And that is a prophecy for the Laodiceans today!
“Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting” (verse 13). Sabbaths—plural. That means God’s holy days. Who keeps God’s holy days today and also rebels against God’s law? Only the Laodiceans. And God says their holy days are vain and an abomination. Why? Verse 10 again: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.” God calls these Laodicean leaders “rulers of Sodom”! These religious leaders won’t give ear to God’s law—His government! They won’t hear it! God taught it to them for about 40 years—and still they won’t give ear to God’s government based on His law! (Of course, this also applies to all nations of Israel today in a general way.)
The end-time Philadelphians hear God clearly on this issue! The end-time Laodiceans don’t! (see Revelation 3:7-20). That is the big difference between the two churches!
The control is in your hands. If you submit to God’s government, you will hear what God’s end-time Elijah taught about God’s government and you will accept Mr. Armstrong as fulfilling the Elijah role. You will also hear what God reveals to the pcg. It depends on your own submission!
“Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them” (Isaiah 1:13-14). Incense and oblations—this is speaking of the temple, or church, service. But these people “weary” God, which means to “wear out, overcome one’s patience.” Their rebellion against the law is weighing heavily on God. It is much harder on God than anybody else when His Church goes astray!
“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (verse 15). The Laodiceans are praying fervently to God, but God won’t hear them! Why? Because their hands are full of blood! Yes—look at Ezekiel chapters 3 and 33. If we don’t get behind God’s Work—in the pcg—and the Ezekiel watchman warning, then Israel’s blood is on our hands!
God only has one work that is warning the Laodiceans and modern Israel. All members of God’s Church must either back and support the warning message or be guilty of Israel’s blood! How serious is the work God has given the Philadelphia Church of God? God holds us responsible for the blood of Israel if we don’t watch and warn. This is very serious indeed.