Copyright © 2001, 2007, 2012 Philadelphia Church of God
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.
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!
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 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.
“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.
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.Continue Reading: Chapter 6: God’s Covenant With Levi