God wants His people to prove where His Work is today. Do you truly know where God’s Work is today? Knowing the answer to this question is necessary for your physical protection and essential if you are to gain eternal life.
Do you know how to find God’s Work? Only the Bible can reveal to you where God’s one and only Work is on Earth today. Haggai contains the key to locating it.
Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi were the last three prophets in ancient Israel. Most commentaries refer to them as the temple prophets. These three men fulfilled their commission prior to Jesus Christ’s first coming. But their messages were only a type of what was to unfold in God’s end-time Church and the nations of Israel.
There is a historical setting to Haggai. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah gave their messages while Zerubbabel and Joshua were overseeing the building of the restoration temple. History records these facts. The messages of Haggai and Zechariah overlap and deal with similar themes.
The Lord of Hosts
If we go back to the first chapter of Haggai, we can see how the Laodicean Church of God went astray. We can also comprehend how to avoid such a colossal disaster.
God sent Haggai to Jerusalem to correct the people for stopping the temple reconstruction. He had an exceedingly sober message. Portions of the major and most of the minor prophets were written in a poetic style. Haggai is not. He wrote in rhythmic prose that is brusque, forceful and direct. This fact adds to the seriousness of the prophecy. God wanted Haggai to deliver a very pointed message to the people.
The greatest challenge we face is understanding the seriousness surrounding our commission. Do we grasp the very sobering side to our job for God? We have very little time to deliver Haggai’s end-time message.
Haggai wrote, “In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built” (Haggai 1:1-2). Haggai refers continually to “the Lord of hosts” in this book. The “Lord of hosts” is the real author of Haggai! Worldly scholars do not know the Lord of hosts. How could they ever recognize His message?
The pcg is delivering the words of the Creator of man, the Creator of angels, and the Creator who made and sustains the entire universe. The Lord of hosts has universe-shaking power. That same power is behind the Philadelphia Church.
How do we know this? Look at what this little Church has accomplished since December 7, 1989. Only 12 people attended our first Sabbath service on December 16. John Amos (a local church elder who was assisting me) and I had no income after being fired. We planned to work for the pcg part-time while holding other part-time jobs. God had different plans.
The Philadelphia Church of God is now a worldwide work with God’s message being thundered through the Key of David television program, the Philadelphia Trumpet, and many other magazines, books, booklets and websites. Who has done this? The staff of the Philadelphia Church? No! The Lord of hosts has done this through the Philadelphia Church. The Lord of hosts resides with this little Church. How deeply do we know this? How deeply do we believe this? Are we willing to stake our lives on the fact that God resides in the Philadelphia Church?
This world’s scholars are dangerously ignorant about the Lord of hosts. They candidly judge and criticize His prophecies. Unfortunately, God’s end-time Laodiceans have fallen into the scholars’ trap. Not only are they critical of God and His pcg Work—they have stopped doing the Work! They have allowed God’s temple, or Church, to become desolate!
The Time is not Come
Study about the Prophet Haggai. You won’t find much reference to him prior to his prophecy. He was not a man of great reputation. When Haggai came on the scene, he essentially came out of nowhere.
The people had stopped doing the work. Zerubbabel was commissioned by God to build a temple to replace Solomon’s masterpiece, which had been burned to the ground by the Babylonians. But why was God’s house destroyed? The sins of the nation forced God to leave His own house. When God leaves His house, temple or Church, it is a very tragic state of affairs. It was a great calamity when Solomon’s temple was destroyed. But it was a far greater catastrophe to let God’s house today collapse spiritually! Anciently, the people were failing in their commission. The work had hardly begun, and they stopped. Haggai corrected them for letting the work cease.
Some began saying, “The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built” (Haggai 1:2). The people had developed contempt for God’s spiritual Work. They were too sophisticated to openly admit their contempt. So they sugar-coated their scorn by saying very nicely, “The time is not come” to do the Work. There is always a way to reason around what God wants us to do.
We must always remember that Haggai’s book is primarily for the Laodicean era—the last of the seven Church eras (Revelation 2 and 3). This is the attitude the Laodiceans have.
We have never heard Laodicean leaders openly show scorn for God’s doctrine or Work. You’ll never hear them say, “Do not prophesy.” But we do hear, “Let’s get our minds off prophecy.” God calls Laodicean sugar-coating what it is. It is rebellion. When an organization stops doing God’s Work, it stops growing. The same is true for an individual. When we stop doing God’s will, we stop growing spiritually. Mr. Armstrong taught the Church this fact in the 1970s. Not many people believed him.
In January 1995, the wcg regional director for Canada informed church members by letter that the Canadian income had fallen 39 percent. That is a financial calamity. But that isn’t the worst calamity. In his letter, he stated, “Why this sudden drop occurred is not clear.” That is the real calamity. Mr. Armstrong taught us that when our ways please God, He blesses His Work financially. When there is a money crisis, the organization stops growing. God blesses us if we obey Him. The pcg is a fine example of this fact. But if we stop working for God, the blessings will stop.
Finances will not always be a good barometer of God’s blessings. Even Christ said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). There is a time coming during the Great Tribulation when God’s Work to the world will be done only by the two witnesses (Amos 8:11). As individuals, if we stop doing God’s Work, we will stop growing. If we stop working for God, He will withdraw His blessings from us individually. Let’s never forget this fact.
When the Work of God is stopped because of carnal rebellion, then we are in big trouble with God. This is what happened to the people during Zerubbabel’s time. It has also happened today!
Consider Your Ways
When we stop doing the Work, then along comes somebody like Haggai. You can just hear the people saying anciently, “Who is this Haggai? Where does he get his authority?”
God sent Haggai to “this people” (Haggai 1:2). God always chooses His words carefully. The phrase “this people” bears a critical indictment against the Laodiceans today. God does not refer to them asMYpeople. This is the greatest of all disasters! What a shame when God calls His people “this people.”
We are not God’s very elect if we do not do His Work! “Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways” (verses 3-5).
How did the people receive God’s word? “Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet ….” God speaks and works through men. He reveals His truth only to apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:5). He revealed his truth to Haggai anciently. He reveals truth to His apostle only today. You are reading a small portion of the revelation God has given me in this end time. That may sound radical to some people, but it is not difficult to prove.
The returned captives in Haggai’s time had become more concerned about their own houses. In fact, the word ceiled refers to luxurious houses. Remember, this book has a pointed message for God’s people today. Which people of God are all caught up in materialism? Who is God trying to reach here? Obviously, He is warning the Laodiceans. The Laodiceans have a selfish focus. They talk religiously, but they do not care for the things of God. They have polluted God’s spiritual house. Christ says to them, “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” (Revelation 3:17). The Laodiceans do not even comprehend their destitute spiritual condition. God is faithful to them by sending a Haggai message.
Do the people of God have time to get all caught up with riches and goods in this end of the end time? Even Mr. Armstrong warned us about this carnal condition. If we seek first to do God’s Work, the material blessings will come.
Most of God’s people have forgotten why God called us out of this world today—to do God’s Work. That is the only reason we are called “out of season,” before God calls all humanity. We are here to do God’s Work. That is the only way we can be saved!
Even King Solomon became trapped in materialism. He built a beautiful house for God. Tradition tells us that the Queen of Sheba’s breath was taken away when she saw the temple. Solomon spent seven years building the temple. However, he spent 13 years building his own house! Study Ecclesiastes. You will see that Solomon became a candidate for suicide because of his inordinate lust for material things. If we spend seven years building God’s house, wouldn’t it be better to spend only seven months building our own? God says to the Laodiceans, “Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5).
The word for consider is much stronger in the Hebrew. It means to set your heart on your ways. It means to deeply concentrate on your ways! It means to examine yourself carefully. The Laodiceans are in grave spiritual danger because they refuse to consider their ways.
Sown Much—Bring in Little
Many Laodicean members, sitting in total confusion, wonder why their church has fallen apart. They are suffering the cruel fate of cause and effect, but do not understand the cause for their desolation. “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:6-7).
The Laodicean leaders have scoffed at and ridiculed Herbert Armstrong. But when he was in charge, the Work grew mightily. The Laodicean leaders of today never learned the lesson of the rebellious 1970s. Now they are drinking from a very bitter cup.
We must look at these verses spiritually. Laodicean leaders are sincerely working very hard. They are feverishly working at teaching and training. Yet, for all of their effort, God’s people are starving. The people do not have enough to eat and drink spiritually. Many, many people who come to us from the Laodicean churches say there is no longer any good spiritual food in the sermons and Bible studies they hear.
Laodicean leaders are angered when they hear such statements. But they have destroyed God’s spiritual house. God’s Church cannot be built upon the lies of false doctrine. The wcg membership has declined to a fraction of what it was under Mr. Armstrong. The income has plummeted. And some top leaders cannot understand the problem. Never do they question that they might be the problem. In verse 7, God appeals to them again to consider their ways.
How can they solve their problem? Start building God’s house! “Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord” (verse 8). God says that if they would only get back to doing His Work, which is only done in the pcg, He would take pleasure in it and them. In fact, God says they could turn things around immediately if they would only go to the mountain, gather wood and build His spiritual house.
The Laodiceans also need to glorify God with their work. Today, they have not glorified God—and that includes the other groups that left the wcg after Mr. Armstrong died, except the pcg. How can teaching against God’s government ever glorify God? It cannot!
How often have the Laodicean leaders introduced some new doctrine, or new way of doing their work, with great fanfare, yet ended up with poor results? Why don’t their efforts bring forth fruit? God says through Haggai, “Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands” (verses 9-11). God is personally causing them to fail in their efforts. He is reducing their blessings continually. Since God’s spiritual house is in ruins, God is going to cause them to suffer. He has caused a great spiritual drought to come upon them. Why? Because the people allowed God’s spiritual house to lie waste. God has removed His blessings from the Laodicean Church.
The Laodiceans must come to understand the reason for their calamities. The message from Haggai shows them how to stop their downslide. The question is, will they listen in time?
I Called for a Drought
Haggai shows us that the Laodiceans are choking spiritually and do not realize it. Their main spiritual problem is that they are focused on physical things (Haggai 1:4). The Laodiceans have embraced false doctrine. They have stopped doing God’s Work. Because they have lost their focus, God tells them, “Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit” (verse 10). Remember, we must look at these verses spiritually. Water, rain and dew are all symbols for God’s Holy Spirit. This verse shows us that the water of God’s Holy Spirit is seriously lacking in their lives.
Why does God use this whole first chapter of Haggai to emphasize the Laodicean problem? Because their eternal lives are at stake. Nothing on Earth is more important than that!
When God’s people stop doing the Work, God warns them to repent and return to Him. But if people refuse to hear, God always takes more drastic measures. “And I called for a drought …” (verse 11). The Hebrew word for drought is choreb and can mean a desolating or drying up. This word aptly describes what is happening to the Laodiceans. The word is also defined as being dry, parched, ruined, desolate. They are experiencing a devastating disaster!
There is a deadly lack of water, a type of God’s Holy Spirit. They lack spiritual dew. They cannot produce a spiritual crop. While Mr. Armstrong was alive, they had an abundant spiritual crop. Today, because they have put their focus on physical things, they are having little or no positive impact.
The Laodiceans refuse to do God’s Work, so He is allowing Satan to make them desolate. Their lack of God’s Spirit is causing them to languish in the heat of Satan’s attacks. But remember, their ruin is God’s doing. God wants every Laodicean to learn the lesson that focusing on the physical, rather than the spiritual, will always leave an individual or church empty. The Laodiceans have lofty goals. They speak out with religious emotion. They appear to have righteous motives. They claim exalted titles and great numbers of ministers—yet they have rejected God’s government and Work. The Laodicean groups will never succeed as they desire. Why? God will not bless them! Why won’t God bless them? Because they are not building according to God’s Spirit.
By My Spirit
The prophets Haggai and Zechariah conveyed complementary messages to the same people. Mr. Armstrong relied heavily on these two books while doing God’s Work. How did Mr. Armstrong build the Work? He believed, lived and worked according to the following scripture: “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).
This verse shows that Zerubbabel learned to build the temple through God’s Spirit. Herbert Armstrong also learned to build through God’s Spirit. Mr. Armstrong preached the gospel, founded the Church, established a college and organized the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation solely through the use of God’s Holy Spirit. Mr. Armstrong accomplished much in his life—but the power was God’s!
God’s Small Remnant
Not many Laodiceans are listening to God’s warning from the Philadelphia Church of God. Why aren’t more Laodiceans responding to God? It is a decisive moment in an individual Christian’s life to hear God’s warning message and then respond positively. It is also a decisive moment to hear God’s message and not respond. Are we surprised that the majority of the Laodiceans will not listen?
Haggai shows us that only a few by comparison will actually respond to our message. “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord” (Haggai 1:12). Haggai delivered God’s warning to Zerubbabel and the Jews with him. But not everyone responded. Only a remnant did.
The pcg represents the obedient remnant in this book of Haggai. We comprise the group of people that fully understands what God was revealing through Mr. Armstrong. That is why God reveals so much new truth only to the Philadelphia Church of God today!
Haggai pictures Zerubbabel and Joshua together. In this Laodicean era, Zerubbabel is the signet and this lawful Joshua is the physical head of God’s very elect. The emphasis here is on God’s government, which was originally given to Mr. Armstrong. Joshua and the little remnant cling to God’s government—they know that Mr. Armstrong is the signet. They look to Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church.
Verse 12 also refers to Haggai’s words as “the voice of the Lord their God.” Zerubbabel and the people obeyed Haggai’s words because they were God’s words.
Do any of the Laodicean groups understand the book of Haggai? No, they do not. They will only understand it when they repent of their rebellion against God’s government and law. The Laodiceans will not obey our message because they have a problem with God. They refuse to hear “the voice of the Lord.” They do not fear God enough to obey Him. Why would they ever listen to His warning message? Having a large number of people and ministers is not a high priority with God. What’s important to God is fear and obedience!
I Am With You
Remember why the pcg is so successful: “Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God” (Haggai 1:13-14). Haggai stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel and the book of Haggai stirred up Mr. Armstrong when he was alive. We also stir up the spirit of Zerubbabel today by looking to Mr. Armstrong as the signet. When God gives us new revelation, He is saying, “I am with you”! We must know this in faith to be encouraged to do the Work.
Haggai was the “Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message.” Zerubbabel fulfilled his commission successfully because he was able to recognize and accept God’s messenger—Haggai. The end-time type of Zerubbabel was also able to recognize that Haggai’s message was God’s message.
Like Zerubbabel’s temple work, the pcg has had the humblest of beginnings. When Mr. Amos and I were fired, we knew God had given us His message. Only 12 people attended the first Sabbath service. We looked to Mr. Armstrong’s life as an example of how to do the Work. My first “campaign type” trip was into the state of Missouri in early 1990. That is all the Church income would allow. This first trip was a very small beginning. But now look at how the Philadelphia Church has grown. The pcg has ministers traveling worldwide assisting the Work. We have God with us. Members of the pcg, or the little remnant, have proven that we have God’s message. And His Spirit is stirred up within this Church. God’s Spirit is doing this Work! Jesus Christ is leading the Philadelphia Church of God!
All of the Laodiceans must learn that it is not the number of members, the names of men, or the ministerial positions that matters when doing God’s Work! What matters is having God’s message. If a group of people, no matter how small, have God’s message, then they will have God with them. A remnant stirred up by God’s Spirit will always accomplish what God wants done.
One leading evangelist said that he would have come into the pcg if we had contacted him. Think deeply about that statement for a moment. Can God really use a person who has that attitude? What is God looking for in an evangelist or any minister? God needs men who can recognize His messenger. God wants men who have the spiritual ability to recognize His message. This is the kind of minister or member God can use. Why do people come to the pcg? Because God has stirred up His Spirit in them. We do not bring people into this Church through human effort, or human personalities, or through ministerial position. God’s Spirit draws people to us!