We see the world’s nightmarish suffering daily on our tv sets. We have seen so much that we are calloused to it. We can’t change it, so we just reason, “That’s the way it is.” We become resigned to the status quo. But God isn’t resigned to accept this world’s indescribable suffering. This world is filled with horror and misery because of man’s rebellion against God. But all that is about to change.
Desert to Blossom as the Rose
The most barren deserts will become like rose gardens. “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1). “[S]olitary place” literally reads “dry place,” or a barren desert. Springs of water will fill the dry places. All of the world’s deserts will become like flower gardens.
“It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God” (verse 2). Carmel was a rich, fertile land with luxurious vegetation and fruit orchards. Sharon was famed for its snowcapped mountains year-round. There will be newly rushing streams, flowers of all kinds, lush shrubbery and trees. Lebanon was known for its beautiful cedars and fir trees. But that was anciently. God prophesied a big change.
“Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest? And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness” (Isaiah 29:17-18). “[I]n that day”—after Christ’s return—“Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field.” God knew that Lebanon today would be one of the worst botches on this Earth! That is probably why He prophesied specifically about Lebanon. God wanted the world to contrast the squalor of today with the glory of the World Tomorrow! Lebanon conjures up a picture like few other nations could today. God will make Lebanon a gloriously beautiful nation very soon.
Men and women will get down on their knees and plant roses—they will make this Earth beautiful. Mankind will see what they can accomplish when their energy has a godly focus.
What a magnificent change this Earth will experience. The Earth is about to burst forth in joy and singing! People will be singing vigorously all over the world because they are so filled with joy! What a miraculous change from today’s world.
This vision gives God’s true Church strength today. “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:3-4). The time here is just before the Millennium. This prophecy is aimed at you right now!
The Philadelphians are God’s pillars. God expects the Philadelphia Church of God to strengthen “the weak” and “feeble knees” of prospective members and new members. God is proving and testing His very elect to see if they are real spiritual pillars. We do what the Laodicean ministers fail to do. God is preparing us to be king-priests. We must fulfill this prophecy and prove to God that we are His very elect! The whole world is about to be converted. Only those who are strong today will qualify to be the top rulers of God’s future world.
Can you help people today who are weak and discouraged? We all need such help at times. But we must be pillars today if we are to be pillars in God’s headquarters temple (Revelation 3:12). God is preparing His Philadelphia Church to share Christ’s own throne! (verse 21). This is the ultimate calling from God! There is no greater calling. Now is the time to be strong for God!
If we succeed now, we shall be prepared to rule in the Millennium.
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes” (Isaiah 35:5-7). For “And the parched ground shall become a pool,” the Hebrew could read: “The mirage shall become a real lake.” We have seen the sun’s rays refracted on the glowing desert sands at midday. It gives the appearance of a lake. In the near future, those desert mirages will be replaced by real lakes! That mirage is only a type of the illusions that fill this world. Men see mirages in marriage, race relations, education, religion and peace endeavors—they see hope that later proves to be a dreadfully disappointing mirage! Soon all of those mirages will become reality—real successes and fulfillment.
In God’s coming world, even the least educated shall find great success. “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein” (verse 8).
Jeremiah says not one Israelite will be found laughing during the Great Tribulation. Not one! Every face will be white like a woman giving birth to a child (see Jeremiah 30). But suddenly, that will change. “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10). Under Christ’s rule, people will sing with “everlasting joy.” That is joy that lasts forever! “[S]orrow and sighing shall flee away” forever! What a glorious future.
Voice in the Wilderness
John the Baptist was a voice crying out in the first century. But few heeded. Herbert W. Armstrong was the voice crying out in a wilderness of religious confusion during the 20th century. Only a few heeded his message as well.
These two men had a powerful message, but it didn’t shake the world. However, God will shake the world because it hasn’t heeded! “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). John the Baptist fulfilled that role before Christ’s first coming. But there is also an end-time John to prepare for Christ’s Second Coming. “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain” (verse 4). This is referring to an end-time John. Valleys were not exalted and mountains were not made low at Christ’s first coming. They will be, however, at Christ’s Second Coming.
Mr. Armstrong prepared the way for Christ’s Second Coming. He restored all things (Matthew 17:10-11). God used him to restore at least 18 major truths. He preached the gospel to the whole world for the first time in almost 2,000 years (Matthew 24:14). He also restored the great, foundational truth of God’s Family to the Church (Malachi 4:5-6). These are mountainous, towering prophecies that were fulfilled in this end time!
In terms of numbers of converted members and people exposed to the gospel, Mr. Armstrong probably did the greatest Work of God in 2,000 years! And yet people didn’t know it! “And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:10-13).
People didn’t recognize who John the Baptist was. And people today didn’t recognize the office of Mr. Armstrong. But what is more shocking, even most members in Mr. Armstrong’s own Church failed to recognize who he really was! That is why they are Laodicean! All of the Laodiceans reject Mr. Armstrong as fulfilling this end-time Elijah role! Christ prophesied that they would be blind (Revelation 3:17). They are blind beyond belief! But notice, the true disciples understood—just as God’s Philadelphian disciples understand today.
John the Baptist was a type of Elijah and “they knew him not.” That is a prophecy that the end-time John or Elijah (both types of Mr. Armstrong’s work) would not be recognized except by Christ’s true disciples.
Those people who understood the role of God’s man in the first century and understand who God’s leader is in the end time are the true disciples of Christ!
If you don’t understand who Christ’s physical leader is, you are not Christ’s disciple!
Christ is the Head of His Church, but He also uses a man to be the physical head. He has done that throughout the ages.
Those in the first century who “knew him not” (that is, John the Baptist) didn’t know and follow Jesus Christ. Christ’s true disciples recognized who John the Baptist really was. Likewise, you will find God’s disciples in the end time where you find God’s man.
It is through the man that Christ implements His government. Satan, the god of this world, and rebels hate that government and always work to demonize that man. This is not about following a man—it’s about following God’s man.
Christ uses this example to illustrate who is following the real Christ.
This is at the heart of why the Laodiceans are blind.
The Cities of Judah
This staggering Laodicean blindness changed God’s commission in this end time. “O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:9). The Hebrew reads, “O you that tell good tidings to Zion” and Jerusalem. Zion is God’s own Church. Today, we must deliver the good news to God’s own Laodicean Church and to all Israel. But before we can deliver good news, we must cause the Laodiceans to see how blind they are!
Mr. Armstrong stands alone as the man who prepared the way for Christ’s Second Coming. God’s true disciples know there is no other man on this Earth who came within a million miles of being the end-time Elijah. And no other man will ever come close before Christ returns.
Herbert W. Armstrong made 13 radio programs for the cities of Judah. They were to be broadcast on a new radio station from the Jordanian West Bank (at that time), but then the 1967 Jewish-Arab war erupted. Mr. Armstrong never had an opportunity to use those programs.
God wants the pcg to deliver that message to the cities of Judah. This is the same Church that delivered God’s message to the Laodiceans in the Laodicean era. The message to Judah was prophesied to be delivered in the Laodicean era, not the Philadelphia era in which Mr. Armstrong worked.
I love the way Mr. Armstrong prepared those 13 programs. He did it in intense faith that he was commissioned to do God’s Work—he thought it was time to proclaim Isaiah 40 to the Jews. But he was ahead of his time. I hope the pcg can have the same strong faith when God opens that door for us.
There is a reason why Mr. Armstrong was so successful. “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. … All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity” (verses 15, 17). Mr. Armstrong knew the nations counted as nothing compared to God—not even “a drop of a bucket”! The “nations before him are as nothing”! Mr. Armstrong believed God, and this is why the Work he did was so great.
You and I have nothing to fear—if we trust this great God. Fear destroys men. But faith in our omnipotent, all-powerful God will cause our individual work to be great.
Who can we compare with God? “To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” (verse 18). Faith in this towering God is the answer to all of our fears!
The Former and the Latter
One of the most important keys to understanding prophecy is knowing that it is dual. A theme of duality runs throughout the Bible. There is an Old Testament and a New. There is an old, earthly Jerusalem, and a new, heavenly one. There was a first Adam and a second Adam, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:45-47). Get to know this key of duality and Bible prophecy will come alive for you. Let’s examine this key a little more fully.
God tells us in the Bible that He inspired prophecy to be dual in nature. “Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come” (Isaiah 41:22). In this verse, God specifically says that we need to look at “former” events and “consider” them if we are going to understand the “latter end” of God’s prophecies. In other words, to understand prophecy for this end time, we must also be a student of history—specifically, Bible history.
There are untold numbers of books on history. Wading through them to better understand Bible prophecy would be a near impossible task. God made this task easier for us. God inspired Bible prophecy so that it gives us only the historical events necessary to help us know what is coming in the future. The Apostle Paul taught this to the Corinthians: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
Understanding the past is an essential key to understanding the future. Mr. Armstrong taught that fulfilled prophecy is one of the strongest proofs of the Bible. Add to this the understanding of prophetic duality: Although many prophecies have been fulfilled in the past, most of them were only a small type of the greater end-time fulfillment. This is where many Bible scholars go off track: They fail to see that many of the past, partially fulfilled prophecies still have an end-time fulfillment.
A perfect example of this is the Olivet prophecy. “Study Matthew 24! Here, Jesus answered the questions of the disciples about the end of the age and His imminent return. Many believe Matthew 24 was totally fulfilled in a.d. 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem. This is entirely baseless. They must believe, by this assumption, that Jesus was a liar! But Christ did not lie. What happened in part in a.d. 70 was merely a forerunner, a type of the real fulfillment of all the prophecies of Matthew 24” (Ambassador College, How to Understand Prophecy). We need to realize that prophecy is dual.
The Lady of Kingdoms
The Chaldeans are the ancient people of Babylon. Babylon and the Chaldeans have passed from the world scene. But the old Babylonian religion remains. The “daughter of Babylon” is very active today. “Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate” (Isaiah 47:1). Which religion of this world has a throne? I know of only one!
“And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration” (Revelation 17:5-6). This is the same old Babylonian religious system, and it will direct the killing of God’s saints in the Tribulation!
“And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast” (verse 12). The 10-nation European combine is led by Germany (ancient Assyria), but guided by a great church (verse 7).
“Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms. I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke. And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it” (Isaiah 47:5-7). As we have said, a woman, or “lady,” is a biblical symbol for a church.This church is “The lady of kingdoms”! She has no equal. (Request our free booklet Nahum—An End-Time Prophecy for Germany.)
This lady rules over kingdoms (plural). What great church has a history of ruling over kingdoms of this world? Only one—it has ruled over six resurrections of the Holy Roman Empire. This church is about to rule over the seventh. It will guide the political beast to inflict the worst suffering ever on this Earth! It will have no mercy on God’s chosen people Israel when they are in this end-time captivity—the Great Tribulation, which is Satan’s wrath (Revelation 12:12). This great false religion is Satan’s number one tool for inflicting his wrath!
“Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children” (Isaiah 47:8). This church has lost its Protestant, or protesting, children. However, it has a master plan to forcethem back into the fold! Most Protestants are about to be plunged into the worst “inquisition” ever! Thankfully, it only lasts for a short time. “But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments” (verse 9). Suddenly, that great church will be destroyed forever! All of this will happen in the very near future.