Copyright © 2019, 2022 Philadelphia Church of God
The Apostle Paul wrote 14 books in the New Testament, and in my view, Hebrews is his masterpiece.
The book of Hebrews has one of the most powerful messages in the Bible. It is a dramatically profound epistle. It tells you explicitly what the living Jesus Christ is doing right now! This is a mystery to most people, but it need not be. You will see proof of this throughout this booklet.
It also shows what potential you have—not just to be born into the Family of God, but the potential you have right now by using the power of God in your life.
The message of Hebrews is especially critical for us to understand today because it is intended primarily for us in the end time in the days just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
In Hebrews 10:25, the Apostle Paul wrote this instruction: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Which day is Paul talking about? He is obviously talking about the Second Coming.
When you see that day approaching, you must become more urgent about your spiritual life. The people Paul was addressing were not seeing it. Some were even forsaking God’s commanded assemblies—the Church’s Sabbath services! What can we learn from this?
In verse 37, Paul explicitly pointed to the Second Coming: “For yet a little while, and he that shall come [Jesus Christ] will come, and will not tarry.”
Paul was clearly writing about the period leading into the Second Coming. He thought Christ’s return was imminent at his time. As we will see, there was a terrible time coming just a few years from when he was writing. But the book of Hebrews is primarily for the last era of God’s Church—what Revelation 3:14-22 call the Laodicean era, the time we are in right now. Many verses in Paul’s epistle support this view.
This makes Hebrews considerably more important to us! It narrows down the focus and reveals the urgency in some of this book’s specific warnings. Though Paul thought the message was for his day, the God who inspired it understood exactly its real end-time focus!
This is a serious and urgent message! Just look at the time frame. We believe Paul wrote this epistle between a.d. 65 and 67—say a.d. 66. The Judean congregations of God’s Church fled to Pella in a.d. 69, just three years later. The Roman armies had already made two forays into Judah, and it seems obvious that God stopped them because His Work wasn’t finished; it was not yet time for His Church to go to a place of safety. Finally, in a.d. 70, the Romans laid siege to and destroyed Jerusalem, razing the temple and starving the people into submission. Reading the history of that holocaust can make you sick, because it is so full of horror! And that is only a type of what is coming upon the modern nations of Israel very soon!
This is not an easy message for people to receive, especially when they are in rebellion against God.
It appears that god’s very elect had about three years after this warning before they fled to Pella for protection. This could indicate just how close God’s people are to fleeing to a place of safety! (Revelation 12:14). We ought to consider this seriously. While these dates are not precise, one thing is sure: Paul was writing for a time leading into the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!
The theme of Hebrews is what Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, is doing right now. Understanding that it is primarily focused on this era makes the book far more meaningful to us. The book of Hebrews has some specific warnings for God’s Church in the lukewarm Laodicean era. We need to use this instruction to prepare for the wonderful future God will give us if we are loyal to Him.
God obviously knew that His Hebrews message was mainly for this end time, so God inspired other verses in this book to support this end-time focus. Let’s examine some of those verses.
Hebrews is the only epistle Paul wrote specifically to Jewish converts in Judea. The time he wrote it was very difficult for them. In a.d. 66, many in Judea rose up in rebellion against the Roman Empire. That could have been a good year for God to start warning the Jews through the book of Hebrews that there would be a terrifying end to their rebellion against God.
Within a short time, Emperor Nero beheaded Paul, and then Nero himself died in a.d. 68. In a.d. 69, the Roman armies were again beginning to sweep through the region, and on Pentecost of that year, according to Josephus, the people of God in Judea heard a voice that said: “Let us remove hence! Let us remove hence!” From all we can determine, that is when those who were obedient to God fled to Pella.
In a.d. 70, Titus conquered Jerusalem. This event is described in detail by Josephus. The siege of the city was barbaric. Many died of starvation. Before the siege was over, cannibalism was rife within the city. Once inside the city, Titus oversaw the slaughter of many people. He burned the temple to the ground. He laid the city waste. In all, some 600,000 people were butchered. Many thousands were sold into slavery.
That is only a small type of what is coming quickly upon America, the British peoples (including Canada, Australia, New Zealand) and the Jewish state! (These are the end-time nations of Israel; request our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy for proof.)
In spite of God’s horrendous warnings, these nations are reveling in their sins. We live in the time when “the transgressors are come to the full” (Daniel 8:23).
In Hebrews 10:37-38, Paul wrote: “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” This is quoted from Habakkuk 2:3-4.
What is the passage in Habakkuk 2 about? Verse 3 begins, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie ….” Paul knew he was talking about the end time when Christ would return. Circumstances will be very similar to what the Jews were facing in Jerusalem: the Roman Empire, about to destroy them! “[T]hough it [the vision] tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith” (verses 3-4).
The book of Habakkuk has been specifically revealed to us by God as being about the rebellious Laodicean era, and Paul quoted from it in Hebrews.
Read Habakkuk 1:6-11. It prophesies of the Holy Roman Empire attacking and destroying three nations of Israel. Their warriors are swifter than leopards and fiercer than wolves! They commit violence like this world has never seen! Anciently, the Jews did not escape the Roman legions, and neither will our people escape. God is going to bring this punishment on them because of their unparalleled evil.
That attack comes right on the heels of the court case of the Philadelphia Church of God, prophesied in verses 1-5. (This is explained in my free booklet Habakkuk.) In that legal battle, we gained the copyrights to several works by Herbert W. Armstrong. We use that literature to warn people about the Holy Roman Empire and a lot more. So these two elements of this prophecy are tied together.
“[A]t the end it shall speak,” Habakkuk 2:3 says. That vision is speaking to you right now!
Now is the time to turn from our evil ways and obey God!
Amid epic world events, God’s Church plays such a key role. That is amazing, but it comes as no surprise when you understand who our High Priest is, as Paul explains throughout the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 12:15-16 contain another reference of special concern in the Laodicean era: “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.” Anciently, Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:29-34). What he did was a type of what happened spiritually to nearly 50 percent of God’s people in the Laodicean era.
You can read about this in the prophecy of Malachi. Esau, or Edom, is used as a symbol for the half of the Laodiceans who reject God and will not repent, and who will lose their eternal lives. God says, “And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste …” (Malachi 1:3). They sell their spiritual birthright: the right to be born into the Family of God and made the Bride of God’s Son—the highest reward God can give! Is there anything in this world that could lure you away from that?
In verse 4, God says He will destroy anything they try to build and calls them “[t]he people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever.”
In Hebrews 10:26-29, Paul gives a grave warning about the fate awaiting these people. After verse 25, where he warns that we must assemble together and exhort one another as we see Christ’s return approaching, he continues: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (verse 26). There seems to be a big leap between these two verses. But it makes perfect sense if you understand the Laodicean context. This warning is about eternal life and eternal death! You can also see in the prophecy of Obadiah where God says of Esau: “thou shalt be cut off for ever” (Obadiah 10). These are the unrepentant Laodiceans who are going to lose their eternal lives!
What will happen to those Spirit-begotten, lukewarm saints who don’t repent? “[A] certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:27). God has sore punishment for anyone “who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace” (verse 29). They walked all over God and the wonderful family birthright He gave them; they are unimpressed with Jesus Christ shedding His blood for them! God has done so much to save His people—and so many of them have flippantly tossed that aside! How can anyone turn away from the love God has shown us? Yet 50 percent of the Laodiceans are going to do it because they become bitter and can’t recover. We must make sure this doesn’t happen to us.
These verses show how deeply God is affected by our sins! God is a loving Father who is losing 144,000 of His own sons and daughters! (Read Chapter 3 of my book Malachi’s Message to understand.) This is deadly serious business!
God says, “Vengeance belongeth unto me …. The Lord shall judge his people”! (verse 30). “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (verse 31).
Is it just coincidence that Paul mentions Esau in the book of Hebrews? That is not to say that Paul fully understood this; the real Author of Hebrews is God. Examples like this are coded messages God is sending to us. This is mainly for us today!
Hebrews 11:5 has another example that applies directly to us: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” This verse has an important connection to our Work today.
Enoch is mentioned in the book of Jude. It is a prophecy revealed only to the Philadelphia Church of God. (You can learn all about it by requesting your free copy of my Jude booklet.) Jude 14 speaks of Enoch prophesying about Christ coming “with ten thousands of his saints.” As that booklet explains, this is about God’s saints in the place of safety. These 10,000 return with Jesus Christ to rule the Earth.
In a.d. 69, God’s people had to flee to Pella or they would have been slaughtered like animals! That was just a type of the far worse suffering about to happen in this end time. God warns us repeatedly that there will be torment unparalleled in the history of man!
Only 5 percent of God’s own people will escape that suffering in this end time!
“But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts” (verses 17-18). The word time comes from the Greek chronos, which means a succession of measurements of moments. That is like a highly accurate clock or watch, and time is running out! The Bible has many warnings about this! Now we are measuring moments in “the last hour” (1 John 2:18; Revised Standard Version).
Jude 23 says that God’s faithful people are pulling people out of the fire—some out of the fire of the Great Tribulation, others out of the lake of fire! This would certainly include the Laodiceans, whom we are trying to reach. Zechariah 3 portrays a Joshua who is “a brand plucked out of the fire,” and he is a type of all the Laodiceans. There really is going to be a tribulation fire and a lake of fire. Anybody who understands this deadly warning should be deeply sobered!
Jude 23 also states, “hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Some people ignore God’s scriptural commands to cut off contact with those who have turned their backs on God (e.g. Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:14; 2 John 10-11). But God says we ought to hate even the garments they wear! God is going to spew them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16), and then they have to be snatched out of the fire!
Remember, God is “him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). We have a great High Priest, described in the book of Hebrews, who can keep us from falling! If you know your human nature, you know you are prone to falling. But our living High Priest can prevent that; all we have to do is submit ourselves to Him. What a God of love we serve! (Read more about the significance of Enoch in Chapter 6.)
Hebrews 7 talks about Melchizedek, King of Salem, to whom Abraham paid tithes. This, of course, is the same God who became Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (For proof, request our free reprint article “Who Was Jesus Before His Human Birth?”)
In this context, Paul emphasizes Levi, father of the Levites. “And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham” (Hebrews 7:5). In the middle of talking about giving tithes and offerings, and the law that pertains to that, Paul mentions Levi.
Who are the real “sons of Levi” today, spiritually speaking? Anciently, Levi had God’s law and government. Which people have the law and government of God today? God’s faithful Philadelphian ministers are the ones who hold fast to the government and the law that the Father, the Head of the Family, gave us. We are sons of Levi spiritually.
Malachi is a book primarily for this end time, the last era of God’s Church. (Request my free book Malachi’s Message to God’s Church Today for ample proof.)
The prophecy in Malachi 2 refers to Levi, a spiritual role fulfilled by Mr. Armstrong in modern times. “And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord of hosts. 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. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity [lawlessness] was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity” (verses 4-6). Levi died in 1986, but we still look to him for the truth God gave him.
“For the priest’s lips should keep [or guard] knowledge …” (verse 7). The ministers’ job is to guard that God-given knowledge. If you have been given this knowledge, you must guard it! These sons of Levi must guard this truth or Satan will take it away. “[A]nd they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts” (verse 7).
After Mr. Armstrong died, some of God’s ministers openly said they were experimenting with a new form of government. Apparently they believe you can choose the government that works for you—just like the world does! One of them said his church had a collegial government. That means authority equally distributed among each of a number of colleagues. That is nothing like God’s government! Yet these men still claimed to hold fast to what Mr. Armstrong taught. But by admitting they had a different government, in essence they were failing to guard God’s law. Spiritually they were no longer the sons of Levi. Consequently, God could not use them to do His Work.
God gave His spiritual law and government to one man in this end time: Herbert W. Armstrong. He was a type of Levi. Anciently, Levi kept only the letter of God’s law, and physical Israel did not have God’s Holy Spirit. But we do, and our job is to keep and guard the revelation God gave to Mr. Armstrong! This knowledge of the law and the government is foundational! If we lose this, everything goes! The Laodiceans give us plenty of proof of that. They are a divided mess, and they brought it on themselves.
God commands us to seek the law at Levi’s “mouth.” That is expressed very specifically. Mr. Armstrong was God’s “messenger,” who was given God’s law and the government to implement it.
It is easy to prove where God’s law and government are today. This is the only place where you will find God’s Work. It is the only place where you will find God’s message proclaimed to this world.
God condemns the Laodiceans: “But ye 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” (verse 8). Rebellious ministers caused many to stumble. That is what happens when you become lukewarm—or worse—toward God’s law.
Levi is a crucial end-time personality. Paul’s reference to Levi in Hebrews is no coincidence either. It is more evidence that this epistle is mainly for this era right now. (You can read more about Levi in Chapter 6.)
In Hebrews 12, Paul quotes another end-time prophecy that establishes the time frame of this epistle.
In the middle of a passage referring to God giving His law from Mount Sinai, Paul writes: “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven” (verse 25). God held even physical Israel accountable for refusing Him. He certainly will hold His Spirit-begotten people accountable! God’s message is from heaven, but 95 percent of God’s people have turned their backs on it.
“Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven” (verse 26). This references Haggai 2:6, another scripture God has given revelation about that is specifically for our day!
Haggai 2:6 is about the profound message that precedes the physical shaking of nations during the Great Tribulation: “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while [rsv: ‘Once again, in a little while’], and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land.” This shaking was also done before—in this case, by God through Mr. Armstrong. This is about a spiritual shaking. (I prove this in my free booklet Haggai: God Has Begun to Shake the Nations.) It is about the sixth and seventh eras of God’s Church.
Yet again, in the book of Hebrews, Paul references an end-time prophecy that God has recently revealed to His Church. But it isn’t really Paul—it is God! God knew what we needed in this end time, perhaps far more than what Paul needed in the time leading up to a.d. 70! This is revelation Mr. Armstrong never understood because it is for the Laodicean era. The Bible is a book of coded messages.
The word heavens means universe. How would the universe be shaken spiritually? The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible says heavens can refer to the realm of the sun, moon and stars, or the whole creation (as in Genesis 1:1). But it can also refer to “the dwelling place of God” and “the universe,” including where God dwells. God is going to shake the heavens and the Earth. What He does will shake the place where He dwells! After all, He is re-creating Himself in man! God is re-creating Himself in you! Doesn’t that shake the heavens and the Earth? God is our Father, and Jerusalem above is the mother of us all (Galatians 4:26).
What is happening in your life shows the awesome power of God. You are His ultimate creation! He cannot create anything greater than that! If that doesn’t shake the heavens and the Earth, nothing will.
On top of that, the great majority of God’s Spirit-begotten saints are rebelling right now. The great God is deeply concerned about what happened to His rebellious Family! That shakes the universe and the Earth! That causes God the Father and Jesus Christ the most intense pain! They don’t want to see their beloved Family plunged into a nuclear tribulation or the lake of fire.
This is a message that also shakes Satan and the demons. They are in a rage right now because they know their time is short, and this message enrages them that much more. Their destructive activities wrecked much of the universe, and God had to cast them out! The righteous angels rejoiced, but it meant woe unto those on Earth (Revelation 12:9, 12). Now the demons’ destructive activities are shaking the Earth! But if we overcome the devil, that shows the awesome power of God! And by doing that, we qualify to sit on the throne with Jesus Christ! That really shakes the heavens and the Earth!
God loves us intensely. Think on Christ’s sacrifice and on all that He and the Father have done and are doing to make it possible for us to be in their Family. The more you understand that, the more it shakes you, realizing how important it is for you to get this right! The Father and Son, along with the righteous angels, are ministering to us, doing everything they can to help us complete this Work, to build the very character of God in our lives, and to enter into God’s Family forever!
This shakes the Earth and the universe!
In Haggai 2:7, God says He “will fill this house with glory.” This is referring to the auditorium we built during this Laodicean era! The message from Jerusalem above is emanating from this particular building on Earth! In the midst of all these events unfolding spiritually and physically, God focuses on this very house! God puts this Church in the spotlight in many prophecies.
The Haggai 2:6-7 reference in Hebrews is yet another signal that this epistle is an end-time book.
Paul had an eternal focus—and an intense urgency, an end-time urgency to finish God’s Work. Paul thought he was living in the last days, the time we are living in now. But that period in the first century was only a type of what we are experiencing today.
In his day, Paul was quite upset with God’s people. His epistle contained strong correction for them. Paul reminded them of their calling to be teachers for God. Why did they have to be reminded? Because they themselves were still having to learn the basics! They were losing the truth they had been given. They weren’t ready to teach—they weren’t preparing for their God-ordained roles. Despite the urgency of the time, God’s people were not growing. In fact, they were retrogressing, going backward spiritually.
What would you do if you were Paul? What kind of message would you deliver to God’s people who were failing to grow and even losing some of what they had?
This question is extremely relevant to our day! We are living through a time when 95 percent of God’s people have turned their backs on God. Thousands of people—members of God’s Family—have fallen spiritually all around us!
We are here to become teachers to this world. How could the Laodiceans turn away from God when so much destruction is coming to the nations of Israel today? How could they walk away considering everything He has promised them? God is blessing His faithful people in miraculous ways. With such wonderful promises and miracles happening, what makes people turn away? The Apostle Paul exposes the reason clearly. (I cover this in detail in Chapter 4 of this booklet.)
The a.d. 70 holocaust was devastating for Jerusalem. But the soon-to-come destruction of the nations of Israel will be far worse. God saw that the modern-day nations of Israel would be terribly divided. Jesus Christ said a house, or nation, divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:25). Britain has undergone the strains of Brexit. America is being ripped apart by corrupt politics. Yet most of God’s own people—who have a responsibility to warn the world about where these troubles are leading—refuse to see what is happening and are rebelling against God!
Paul faced a similar situation in the first century when he wrote Hebrews. You would think he would jump to correct and rebuke the people strongly! He did correct them eventually—but he didn’t begin with correction.
Paul began the book of Hebrews by expounding on a magnificent vision!
The rebellious Laodiceans today are losing or have lost the greatest hope in the Bible.
Paul dealt with the same problem in the first century. Today, the Laodiceans have forsaken God and His most majestic vision. Before they will receive strong correction, these rebels must understand what they are about to lose.
We know that 50 percent of them will never return to God. However, 50 percent of them will repent (Matthew 25:1-12). Sadly most of these rebels won’t repent until they have been plunged into the Great Tribulation.
The message we proclaim today will play a critical part in their repentance.
If we fail to warn them, we will be guilty of their blood! (Ezekiel 33:8).
If we do warn them, God will protect us from the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.
The first two chapters of Hebrews radiate with inspiration. Your imagination can be expanded as never before! This is what we will study in Chapter 2 of this booklet.Continue Reading: Chapter 2: The God Family Vision of Hebrews