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At the end of his life, Mr. Armstrong was leading a Church bringing in over $200 million annually, broadcasting on over 400 television stations and printing over 8 million Plain Truth magazines every month. One book, The United States and Britain in Prophecy, was sent to more than 5 million people.
Mr. Armstrong established three colleges during his ministry. Matthew 24:14 says he preached the gospel around the world as a witness. Matthew 17:10-11 says that as the end-time Elijah, he restored all things. Malachi 4:5‑6 says he restored the family of God within God’s Church. A tremendous work! Through Mr. Armstrong, God did the greatest work ever in His Church, in terms of numbers.
Mr. Armstrong died in 1986, and look at the Church of God today. It has splintered into dozens of groups, each teaching varying degrees of truth and error. Many people drift from church to church; others have completely isolated themselves, or dropped out altogether. What confusion there is! Where is the God of Elijah today?
When the original Elijah was taken away in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11), people were asking the same question. God gave them an answer.
In 2 Kings 2 we see Elijah’s last moments with Elisha. “And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces” (verses 9-12).
This was a very emotional time for Elisha. Elijah was not his biological father, but his spiritual father, through whom he received the truth of God. Likewise, Mr. Armstrong was our father in this end time; all of the members of the Worldwide Church of God received the truth through him, directly or indirectly. I believe God has separated the Philadelphians from the Laodiceans mainly over this issue: The people in the Philadelphia Church of God look to Mr. Armstrong as “my father, my father.” That’s not saying he was infallible; it is simply acknowledging him as the man who gave us the truth of God. That makes us today a type of the Elisha work.
God blessed Elisha for that beautiful attitude. Notice what happened: When Elijah was taken away, of course people were wondering, who will replace Elijah? Who will do the work that Elijah did? Where is the God of Elijah? And Elisha “took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him [meaning, he took over the leadership], and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over” (verses 13-14).
This answered their question. Elisha smote the waters, the Jordan parted and he walked across. Quite a sight! I’m sure people saw him. Everybody knew right away where the God of Elijah was, because God showed them, even though Elijah was no longer around.
We have witnessed an even greater miracle today. When the end-time Elijah died, for four years God was testing His Church, giving them time to repent of their sinful changes in the Church. But when that didn’t happen, God sent Malachi’s Message—the understanding of the book of Malachi as it applies to God’s end-time Church. That was a far greater miracle than the parting of the Jordan River, because it is helping people understand and change their spiritual lives. The consequences are eternal. A big question in the mind of many people today is, where is the God of Elijah—the God who did all that work through Mr. Armstrong? Where is He today? That is a question we all need to be able to answer.
The Apostle Paul also teaches us about our spiritual father. To the Corinthians he wrote, “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you” (1 Corinthians 4:14). Paul was addressing the Corinthians—God’s own people—calling them his beloved sons. And he said, I have a warning for you. What was that warning about? “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (verse 15).
Paul said, all of you came to God through me. You may have 10,000 instructors, but you only have one father—one person through whom you came to the great God. Where did you get the revelation you have today? Where did I get it? All of the 18 restored truths, either directly or indirectly, came to each one of us from Mr. Armstrong (Matthew 17:10-11). He directed us to God. The warning is that we can easily forget, or fail to respect, our spiritual father. So many have done just that in this end time.
There is also a much deeper lesson here that we will see as we proceed.
Malachi 1:6 contains the same warning, only here it involves people who didn’t heed. “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?”
This is God talking: the Lord of hosts, the supreme God, the God of the angels, the universe and everything that ever was created. He says, if I’m a father, where is my honor? Though Christ was the God of the Old Testament, here it is as if God the Father is speaking! He’s asking this question of His own people today. That’s the problem He has with the Laodiceans: They are very ungrateful sons. God says, you’re my sons, and sons ought to honor their father.
As you study this, you will begin to understand that honoring Mr. Armstrong as our father is very closely tied to honoring God the Father. That’s what Paul’s warning was really about. God is trying to teach us the deepest part of the gospel—the central part of this family message: that we must first of all honor the Father. Christ is telling these people how to get their lives straightened out. He is trying to get them to see the family structure. There is nothing on Earth like this inspiring message!
It says these ministers despise God’s name. The Anchor Bible says, “Here the term name represents the essence of God’s being, especially His sovereignty, His rule.” They have despised God’s government. To grasp this message of government, we must understand about God the Father and this loving family relationship we must have. It is critical that we understand the father role. A properly run family should have a father at the head. God is a Father, and He is creating a family. You can’t do that without authority! Try running a family without authority. You will have utter chaos.
It isn’t a natural thing to accept government. But with a loving father at the head, children shouldn’t have a problem accepting that government, even when they are corrected, because they know their father loves them. This is what the Laodiceans don’t really see today: God’s love for them. They don’t see God’s correction as being love. But God says that if you won’t be corrected, you have no Father! That is the worst fate you could have.
If only they would heed this correction in Malachi! Many Laodiceans acknowledge having a problem with Mr. Armstrong as the Elijah, but here God says, you really have a problem with your spiritual Father—God the Father! That is serious! It is the difference between being in the family of God and not being in the family. God is telling us how to be in the family. We warn the Laodiceans, because they are God’s family.
God is speaking to His own people—who have scholarly reasons about why they have a different government. God is saying, I’ll tell you what your problem is! You hate my government—my loving family government! They persist in their reasonings, and God puts them in the outer court. God doesn’t mince words. The Laodiceans say, we don’t believe Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah. God’s answer: You hate my government! He’s not going to get caught up in their rebellious reasonings. They are dishonoring their father.
When Christ returns, His top priority in this world will be to restore God’s government. His top priority today in the Church is to restore the Father’s family government. We have a duty to honor our Father. Why not honor a Father who loves you deeply, who has already given His Son for you to prove His love? Why not submit to a Father who has such great love?
Elisha knew that Elijah was his spiritual father. I believe that’s why he was chosen for the job. As Elijah was about to go away he didn’t say, well, I’m glad I’m finally getting that job! He wasn’t there like a vulture, waiting for him to die. He said, my father, my father! He loved Elijah.
Where is the God of Elijah today, who did such a powerful work through the end-time messenger? You can answer that question with another question: Where are the people who honor God as a Father today? And at the same time honor Mr. Armstrong as a spiritual father?
There is a Malachi group with God’s family vision. If you understand this vision of God the Father—about your Father and why you are on this Earth as a human being, why you were created to be in the God family—this is enough to inspire you for all eternity!
We will become the bride of Jesus Christ! Again, when Christ gets back, His top priority will be to restore the government of God. Let’s be practical: If you don’t even know what that government is, how will you serve at headquarters with Jesus Christ and help Him restore it? Would the great God who carefully planned all this, even down to hand-picking each member in His Church, have people who were confused about His government go out and teach the world?
Satan hates the family of God. What he wants to destroy most of all is the Father vision. And he has had great success in God’s Church.
“And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you” (Malachi 2:1). How did these ministers get their job? Did somebody vote them into it? No, God appointed them (unless there happened to be one or two who slipped in and should not have been there). But today, there are Laodicean groups that vote in their leaders. That isn’t the way the ministers originally got their jobs. Why this foundational change?
Now God is getting direct and personal: I want you ministers to know, this commandment is for you. And here’s the message: “If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart” (verse 2). These priests are not giving glory to God’s name. The Hebrew word for name means government, or sovereignty. These ministers must realize and learn that government is everything. Until they do so, they’ll never be able to submit to God and give glory to His name.
God says these people are under the curse—they’re in danger of losing their eternal lives—because they’re not honoring God in this God family structure. People can reason all they want today; this is the day for human reasoning. But God is talking about the way it will be for all eternity in His family!
This message of Malachi is being proclaimed. God prophesied that this message would go out in the end time, and says that if these ministers won’t hear it, they will be cursed. Where is this message today? Is there any doubt about it?
Notice verse 3: “Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.” Behold! He says. Take note here! I will corrupt your seed! That means to rebuke, even harshly, reprove anyone as a father to a son. Seed refers to offspring.
Remember, God the Father calls each Church member. It is not done haphazardly. He must have given a lot of thought and preparation to select each one of His elect, because everything is at stake. God the Father had to think a lot about each one of us, because if one whom He calls now doesn’t make it, they die forever. He likely tried and tested us for years before He selected us. In fact, the word seed could be translated semen. That may sound a little direct, but, after all, the Father does beget us through His Holy Spirit. God is sowing seed. We will have a tremendous birth into His family. This is a transcendental blessing and wonder of God. God is developing sons. What a deep meaning this has—you were begotten by your Father, and He knows you better than anybody knows you—even better than you know yourself.
So, you can begin to see why the rebellious ministers are under such a curse! They are turning God’s family, in embryo, away from their Father! What a sin! Where is the God of Elijah? They don’t know or refuse to know, and God is upset about that.
Anciently, as part of their sacrificing, the priests would have to get rid of the animal dung. (There are jobs that the ministers have that are not the greatest.) Here God says, I will spread that dung of your religion and your rebellion all over your faces! Your religion to me is nothing but dung. And you will be taken away with it—treated like so much dung if you don’t repent! That is not an easy message. God has contempt for their solemn feasts.
“And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord of hosts” (verse 4). God says you will know. Again it refers to sexual relations—showing you the deep, close relationship God wants us to have with our Father—it’s not sexual of course, but it’s close, and it’s beautiful and it’s wonderful. “You shall know,” He says, “that I have sent this commandment unto you.” You will either know it now or you will know it very soon. And notice, a part of this is, “that my covenant might be with Levi.”
A covenant is an agreement between two parties. The great God of the universe is saying, I made a covenant with Levi, that he would come and restore all things.
Malachi’s Message contains a chapter about following Elijah, who is also called Levi. These names are very important to understand; God gives them for a very definite reason, because they tell you about this man’s different responsibilities. Levi was the father of the Levites, and Mr. Armstrong was the spiritual father of all of the ministers in the Philadelphia era. They all came to God, either directly or indirectly, through him, as the Corinthians did through Paul. God made a covenant with him that he would preach this message around the world and do the work of God. Mr. Armstrong had to do that work if he wanted to enter into that New Covenant relationship and marriage to Christ that we will have in the future.
A deacon mentioned to me that part of what got him interested in this Church was that we do not compete with Mr. Armstrong as other groups do. We can’t compete with our father. A son can’t compete with his father, nor can a daughter or wife, or you will have a dysfunctional family.
God’s covenant to “restore all things” was with Mr. Armstrong. And, as Mr. Armstrong always said, our job was to support him as he supported God. These are his words (Good News, May 1974): “But now, once again, there is a dynamic, super-important, special commission—to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom in all the world as a witness to all nations …. And, just as God caused His Church in the first century to grow rapidly, even to multiply in numbers (until the persecution set in)—to back the apostles, support them financially, support them by fervent prayers—even so God caused His Church of our day to grow ….” Further on he wrote, “It would have been utterly impossible for me to carry out this great commission alone. That is why God has called you now, instead of later, in the Millennium! And this great work of God is the way God has set before us for each to grow and to develop spiritually. God’s way, that of His law, is the way of giving, not getting. Those who try to simply get their salvation are in danger of losing it!”
That is significant: It is through the work that God brings us out of our getting ways. It is through the work that He gets our minds off ourselves and onto the Father and this great family plan that will continue into the Millennium before it moves out into the universe. It is through the work that we grow.
Mr. Armstrong continued: “When [Christ] returns, He will demand of each of us to show how we have used the gift of His Holy Spirit—how much we have contributed to His work—the purpose for which He put us in the Church now!” Why are you here now? Why didn’t God just wait and call you in the Millennium or the second resurrection? Because you are to do a work! Otherwise you wouldn’t be here! That’s basic, but so many people have gotten away from it.
He concluded, “Those who prove disloyal or drop out of the work—the only purpose for which you were called now—will find themselves in the positions of the one described in [Luke 19] verses 20 and 24. They will lose the very salvation they were trying to get!”
Mr. Armstrong wrote in the Worldwide News, November 12, 1979: “Others, the majority, the ‘laity,’ are called to take their part in the work of the Church—not as officers in specific duties or departments but by actively and loyally standing back of the apostles and other specific administrators ….”
In another article, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “This is a spiritual work. Broadcasting, both radio and tv, is done by the apostle. Most booklets and books are written by the apostle. The ‘Personal’—most read—usually the lead article and often other articles are by the apostle …. The Ambassador College Correspondence Course, with thousands studying it, is all the teaching of the apostle …. The teaching is that of Christ’s apostle who is president and chancellor of the college. The ministry, consisting of hundreds of ordained ministers teaching, as the apostle taught them, in local churches worldwide” (Good News, April 1981). The ministers were to teach what the apostle had taught them! Not as they decided in their own minds, but as the apostle taught them. That’s where they have gone astray today.
God’s covenant was with Levi. God sent him with a message for the whole world, and to develop ministers and other people to help them get behind and support the work. If we forget that, we are in trouble. Many have forgotten today because of their arrogance, pride and vanity, and are trying to compete with Levi—that special messenger from God! These rebellious ministers are defying God Himself by doing so!
And they are rejecting the God family vision.
God goes into detail about Levi’s character: “My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name” (verse 5). Levi’s fear is noted three times in this single verse! We must learn to fear God as Levi did.
Study this man’s life. God sent him as an example, because He knows we learn best by example. Mr. Armstrong was a great example of a man who feared God.
Do you fear God as Levi did? Do you fear when your marriage might be failing? Do you fear when your children are not doing what they should? Do you fear whether you are lukewarm toward God’s work? Do you fear whether you are doing your part in this work? Do you fear division in the Church? Most of God’s people in this end time don’t fear God. Levi did.
Do you fear competing with God’s government? Can you get on your knees and just say, God, I know that there are some areas here where I hate your government, and I don’t want to change my marriage—or, I don’t want to work with my children the way I should. God, please help me to fear you the way Levi did!
The Anchor Bible says, “The Bible nowhere records the establishment of this compact between God and Levi.” If the Bible doesn’t record where that covenant was made, then this must be prophecy for our time right now!
God states, “He feared me, and was afraid before my name.” Remember the Anchor Bible definition. Here the term “name” represents the essence of God’s being, especially His sovereignty—government. That is where the priests’ focus should be.
Mr. Armstrong was a paragon of obedience to God—a remarkable example of a man who feared God, so much so that he restored all things. He didn’t quit restoring after 10 or 15 truths. He was a man after God’s own heart, and he wanted to restore everything the Father wanted him to restore! And he did!
“The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity” (verse 6). You could seek the law at Mr. Armstrong’s mouth. That means he established the government of God, and you could go to his mouth to learn about it.
But if you go to most of the mouths in the ministry today, they don’t tell you about the government of God. They are not afraid before His name as Levi was. They want to reason around the wonderful government that brings peace, joy and abundance into our lives! It’s amazing that men would do that, but that is what’s happening.
Levi was a righteous man who turned many away from iniquity. God says elsewhere that those who supported him did the same great work. But Levi was the father—he directed God’s work. If we truly support his example and work, we are turning many people away from iniquity and to the God family. We can do that by totally committing ourselves to God’s work, since the work is here to turn many away from iniquity and to God. We were called at a specific time into God’s work for this responsibility.
“For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts” (verse 7). They is referring to the priests, not the people. That is where the confusion is. And the priests should be seeking the law at Levi’s mouth—not the priest’s mouth. “For he [Levi] is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.”
The Anchor Bible states that the word messenger is translated from the Hebrew maluck. It usually refers to an angel, or messenger, but it is obviously a human messenger here. Malachi 2:7 “marks the only place where the term maluck is applied to the priestly office. [Generally] the title messenger is reserved for the prophets of God, and the word is a technical expression for one who has been in God’s presence and is thereby commissioned to bring a message from him.”
Think about that for a moment. This is the only place in the Bible where the word messenger is used for the priests, or for the ministers, or for the Levites, as they are called in other places. If that’s the case, is it possible there is an error in the translation? Were the translators even honest here? They saw this “messenger” here, and in their hostility for God’s government, assumed it could not be one-man rule, with one messenger over all the other ministers! Doesn’t God really mean we should all be messengers? they might reason. No, He doesn’t! This verse is about one man who received a message from the Lord of hosts! From the supreme Power of the universe! If God said, let’s send the message to several ministers, maybe 50 or 100 or 300—what confusion that would cause! That’s about what it amounts to today in the Laodicean churches, where men mistakenly think they have a message from God.
“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). There are two messengers here: an end-time Levi, a human being; and the “messenger of the covenant”—Jesus Christ. Malachi 2:7 again: “For the priest’s lips ….” Though it’s a singular priest there, various Bible study aids show that it could be either singular or plural, depending on the context. It should be plural here. “The priests’ lips should keep [guard] knowledge, and they [these ministers] should seek the law at his [Levi’s] mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.” He—singular—is the one who has the message.
Connect this with verse 6: “The law of truth was in his mouth ….” Then verse 7: “For the priest’s lips should [guard] knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth ….” If we use the plural word priests, then it is obvious that the word his (verse 7) refers back to Levi—“his mouth” (verse 6)—and not to one of the priests, or ministers, under Mr. Armstrong. Even the context shows you that God is still talking about the messenger and not the ministry. The confusion in the churches of God today comes when they reason, we’re all messengers; we’re all on Mr. Armstrong’s level. But did they restore all things? Did they preach the gospel around the world? Did they restore God’s family in the Church? Did any one of those ministers ever bring one new, major revelation to the Church, in those days under Mr. Armstrong? And the answer is no! They didn’t! Yet they have the arrogance to think they are on the level with one who was given a message from God!
I’m not trying to exalt a man, but let’s face reality! God gave him quite a message! Where is the God of Elijah? Is He in some man who wants to put himself on the Levi plateau?
It says the priests’ lips should guard knowledge—that is the ministers’ job. We guard the law and the government Levi established. That’s what the ministers should be doing today; that’s what God is holding them accountable for. That is why guard is a better translation: They not only have the responsibility to “keep,” or obey, the law and government, but to preserve or guard it, for the whole Church!
Who preserves or guards the law and government today? Who has the same law and government Mr. Armstrong had?
The answer is obvious.
In our personal lives, we must guard knowledge. Do you fathers guard the law and government of love in your family? Do you mothers guard it?
Think about this. God is putting you through a truly educational experience. If you continue to guard God’s law and government, even if these ministers turn away, God will exalt you with a headquarters position forever. He knows that you will forever guard the law and the government of God! He knows you won’t compete with Jesus Christ or some other minister over you!
As you guard the law and the government, you are qualifying to sit with Jesus Christ at headquarters. Christ will know that if anyone comes and asks you for direction, you will give them lawful direction, and you will give them the government of God—the only government that can work! God and the one who became Jesus Christ have been unified forever through that government!
The court case over Mystery of the Ages has to do with guarding knowledge. Of course, if we have it and guard it, God wants to know what we will do with it. We should get it to the largest audience possible! Let’s get it to the world! Let’s get it to our future family! Mystery of the Ages doesn’t belong to the Worldwide Church of God. It is the knowledge of God!
Leading ministers in the Worldwide Church of God not only don’t guard God’s knowledge, they are destroying it! That should be very revealing about where they are spiritually! Could their spiritual condition be any worse?
Every person will have to go to Mr. Armstrong’s teaching for the law and government. All the Laodiceans will have to go to that mouth; that’s what God means in Revelation 3:9. This is even mentioned in the context of the end-time Philadelphia messenger.
God the Father must be able to rule us. God wants to know if we have what it takes to sit with Him at headquarters forever. Surely we know God will not put us out there to rule the world if He can’t rule us. He already went through that with Lucifer! There was and will be only one father messenger on Earth in the end time. If Satan can destroy that beautiful vision, he can destroy the people of God. That’s why Mr. Armstrong said government is everything. If that breaks down, it all breaks down. If there is no government in a physical family, it all breaks down.
Notice the difference between Levi and these other ministers. While Levi turned many away from iniquity (Malachi 2:6) these ministers “are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 2:8). What did these men corrupt? The covenant of Levi—the covenant God made with him about the law and the government. God covenanted with Levi to restore His family government in God’s Church. Because the Laodiceans have corrupted that law and government, people everywhere are stumbling—over 95 percent of God’s people. There is cause and effect, and they are the cause for God’s people stumbling.
The fruits in God’s Church prove the identity of God’s messenger who prepared the way for Jesus Christ. There is no one else on that level! Christ mentions Himself in the same verse with that messenger who prepared the way (Malachi 3:1). He prepared the way, and now we have to get Levi’s message out to the Church and the world. That’s our job.
Only one messenger restored all things in this end time. In the past, there have been different messengers, because they didn’t have the travel capacity and technology that we have today. Here is a definite name, a definite covenant, a definite law, a definite government. It is all so carefully structured and organized by God Himself! God sent His messenger; He educated him for many years. He put Mr. Armstrong through 28 years of dire poverty, training him, testing him and getting him ready to see if he could really deliver this message—if he could measure up to be the messenger who would prepare the way for Christ!
What a blessing the end-time Levi, our spiritual father, was to us! If you honor that office, the father Levi office, you also honor God the Father! The number-one way God has arranged for us to honor God the Father is to honor our father Levi’s family message. The covenant was made with him. If you dishonor his office, you dishonor your Father. It is not about a man, but an office. It is about the gospel of the family of God. It is about the Head of the family. It is about the good news! We need Elisha’s childlike attitude of saying father, father—an attitude willing to submit to that father and what he taught from God’s Word.
The family is a God-plane relationship. We are not on the animal level; we are on the God level. When you see a physical family, God wants it to give you a vision about His spiritual family. When you see a physical marriage, He wants you to think about the marriage of the firstfruits to Jesus Christ! The family institution is on the God level! We must work and struggle to make our families like God’s. Lift your family to that level! That takes a lot of work, but it teaches us how to enter God’s family.
Mr. Armstrong taught this vision. He brought us back to the first chapter of the first book of the Bible where God said, let us make man in our image; let’s create our character in him. Let’s create a family! Should we scorn that message because it comes from a man?
The greatest child rearing occurring on Earth right now is by God the Father rearing His children. He is rearing His firstfruit sons to marry His firstborn Son. He is rearing, directing and guiding us and giving us fatherly attention, fatherly love and fatherly concern. What a blessing to be corrected by our Father! No matter how difficult the trial! Because soon we will be living as a member of the God family for all eternity! Those trials will merely be history fading into the background. The training, teaching, planning and organizing is occurring now.
We should be saying to Levi, father, father—because that is what he was to us. To turn against his message as the Laodiceans have done is like a teenager getting hostile toward his father—except that the consequences are eternal!
If you want to see what separates the Philadelphians and the Laodiceans, focus on the understanding of Levi. God tells the Laodiceans how to correct their problem described in Malachi 1:6 of not honoring their father. Get back to Levi! Don’t be vain and arrogant and lose your eternal lives! Don’t let human vanity stop that! Don’t let anything prevent that! But that is so difficult for some to learn.
Where do you see new revelation coming from God? That is so much more important than parting the Jordan waters and walking across, as Elisha was able to do. What you can receive through Malachi’s Message is so much more of a miracle! Show me another church that has one bit of revelation from God.
“Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law” (Malachi 2:9). The Hebrew phrase translated “partial in the law” means they exalted faces, or persons. It was a human government—that’s the big problem.
Verse 10 states, “Have we not all one father?…” That’s a little f, referring to Levi. “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” Again, fathers should read Levi. The New Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance lists these two words, father and fathers, as the same. Gesenius defines fathers as, “used of the founder or the author or the father.” The Anchor Bible says that some believe fathers means the covenant of Levi in that context. That is certainly what it means.
Why are the churches of God dealing so treacherously with one another today? If they would realize that we have one father, that would unite us all! It would be so simple. God will make the Laodiceans come back and worship the way they were taught in the beginning by one spiritual father—Herbert W. Armstrong.
“Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god” (verse 11). The holiness of God, His character, is being profaned. “Which he loved” is past tense. They don’t love it anymore. Now they’re dealing treacherously—committing heinous, vile betrayals in God’s Church. God says it’s abominable—offensive to their Husband, Jesus Christ. Now they’ve turned to a different god. Is that a small sin?
Verse 12 reveals the penalty: “The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the Lord of hosts.” Cut off means to leave no descendants. This is dangerous knowledge, considering they will be cut off forever.
“And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand” (verse 13). In the 1970s, when Mr. Armstrong was traveling a lot, some rebellious ministers exploited his absence from headquarters as an opportunity to liberalize the Church. After some tumultuous years and multiple disfellowshipments, Christ put the Church back on track through Mr. Armstrong. In many ways, the Laodicean era was merely a repeat of the ’70s, without the strong hand to correct the situation!
Mr. Armstrong warned us about this: “I want you, brethren, to think about and understand what happened to God’s Church in the 1970s lest history repeat itself! I want you to see the ‘fruits’ of rebelling against God’s way and God’s government” (Worldwide News, June 24, 1985). We saw it. And history did repeat itself.
Now some of those leading ministers call Mr. Armstrong a heretic and a false prophet! God is upset about that! He says it’s an abomination—the worst possible sin that they could commit.
In verse 14, again the Laodiceans talk back to God. “Yet ye say, Wherefore?” These men just don’t get it! They ask, what do you mean, God? Why are you being so harsh? God answers, “Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.”
God has been there witnessing all this: He saw when they came out of the world, when they made that covenant, when they agreed to get ready to marry His Son. And God sees them deal treacherously with this Church. He is full of wrath! And He has a right to be!
This marriage covenant is our transcendent privilege. Christ says, in the context of this messenger of the covenant (Malachi 3:1), that He will return to this Earth and establish that covenant, and will marry His bride!
Malachi 2:15-16 talks about Elohim. “And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. …” (verse 15). God wants an Elohim seed. He’s not finding it in the Laodicean Church today. “For the Lord, the God [again, Elohim] of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously” (verse 16).
“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). Jesus Christ, the one who established this marriage covenant, will come! You can count on that, and plan your life around it.
Christ will not have a childless marriage. Christ’s wife will be working with billions of spiritual children; she will have to be ready to direct them in a way that brings peace, joy and excitement. She will have to know about God’s law, government and family structure to teach others how to make their family joyful—to make it possible for them to rejoice. Otherwise, it will just be a continuation of what you see today—despicable evil!
The world’s problems will be solved by God the Father and Jesus Christ, and they have given us the honor to help Christ work with those billions of people as His wife! No wonder God hates putting away! No wonder He hates what these ministers are doing! They are trying to thwart God’s whole plan!
Elohim is the family covenant name of God. The Laodiceans have broken the covenant. They say that they have kept their end of the covenant, but that God hasn’t kept His. God says, no, you haven’t kept your end of the covenant. You don’t honor me as a father, and you’ve broken that covenant! You fight against my government and my law, and your churches are filled with confusion!
We must look upon the people of this world as potential children in God’s family. We want to get the message of Levi and Elijah to these people to give them a chance to repent before this terrible time when the Levites will be purged of the dross—put into the fiery furnace, like the gold and the silver. God doesn’t want to do that; He doesn’t want to see your little children go through something like that. He abhors it far more than you do. But God is determined to show this world the horror of sin!
Are you ready to rule with Jesus Christ and rule over billions of people? Are you ready to teach them the family covenant that Jesus Christ will come and establish? What a future Elohim has given us.Continue Reading: Chapter 7: A Message Not Delivered