Look at the list of world leaders Herbert W. Armstrong came into contact with, and who responded warmly to him. They called him an ambassador for world peace. That is a miraculous understanding, when you realize that he had that kind of an impact on the leaders of this evil world. It is something I think we need to pay more attention to.
Mr. Armstrong did restorethe way of peaceto the Church. He also, momentarily, restored that to the whole world as well, I believe. He was part of a project that, if fully understood, showed the world how to have peace!
A World Peace Center
One of the most dramatic examples of Mr. Armstrong’s efforts to promote peace in this world revolved around the construction of a world peace center. What truly made this extraordinary was the fact that it was promoted by perhaps some of the most unlikely individuals—and at probably the most significant, profound location it could possibly inhabit on Earth.
Mr. Armstrong wrote about this peace effort in Quest/81. This magazine was owned by the Worldwide Church of God and was full of articles about getting the best out of the human spirit.
“For too long,” Mr. Armstrong wrote, “leaders have dealt with effects, ignoring the causes of our problems. It is imperative that they come to a knowledge of the way that will produce peace. President Anwar L. Sadat of Egypt may be pointing to that way” (May 1981).
In this article, Mr. Armstrong listed several significant events that converged in this historic peace initiative. Among them was Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem, which Mr. Armstrong called the most incredible peace overture of modern times. “After four bitter wars against Israel in 30 years, President Anwar el-Sadat did an unheard-of thing! On November 20, 1977, he declared peace, not war! At extreme personal danger and unprecedented political risk the Egyptian president braved a personal visit to Jerusalem to speak in peace to the Israeli Knesset.
“It was the most sensational overture toward international peace made by any head of state in our time!” Mr. Armstrong wrote. He then detailed the furious opposition Mr. Sadat faced for making that move. It does require sacrifice if we are going to have peace.
These nations were at each other’s throats. Then suddenly, this courageous man had a change of heart.
Sadat extended an offer to the Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, who accepted. They had both learned some lessons. Sadat came before the Knesset and said, “You would like to live with us in this region of the world, and I tell you in all honesty that we welcome you among us.”
Mr. Armstrong called that a “genuine peace offer”! That was what launched the peace process. But nothing we have seen since has even come close to the sincerity and praiseworthiness of that initial effort.
In the past, I have criticized Israel for accepting that offer from Sadat. But after studying into it more—and particularly after looking at how Mr. Armstrong responded to it—I am convinced that this really was a valiant and laudable peace effort, and I even believe that, to some degree, God’s hand was in it.
Sadat went to Jerusalem to declare peace. And it worked for a short span of time! It worked quite well, right up to very recently, as far as Egypt and the Jews are concerned.
In this Quest/81 article, Mr. Armstrong wrote about a specific idea that Sadat had: “He plans to build at the base of Mount Sinai a world peace center, emblematic of peace among all nations and religions” (emphasis mine throughout). I would say that idea is pointing in the right direction, wouldn’t you?
“The concept is unique! A total departure from any previous peace undertaking,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. This effort showed these two nations’ “extreme willingness to give extraordinary sacrifice in the start toward peace in their region.”
I believe this event helped fulfill a major prophecy in a dramatic way (Malachi 4:4-6). I’ll explain what I mean in the next chapter.
The whole world saw and was shocked by the Sadat-Begin peace initiative. But few understood what it meant.
To understand the true significance of this peace initiative, it’s important to fix in our minds the stunning history of the location at which this peace center was meant to be constructed:Sinai, the mountain of God!
Where God Himself Visited
When God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He brought them through the Red Sea and then led them to this mountain through a series of awesome miracles. But of all the miracles He worked, perhaps the most spectacular and earthshaking was when God Himself came down to Mount Sinai.
What a day! God came down and personally established the nation of Israel! No nation ever had such a spectacular beginning. This must have been extremely important!
Today, the nations of Israel have shamefully forgotten their God. (If you don’t know who these nations are, request our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.) Many people in the Jewish nation that is called Israel scoff and ridicule and have terrible things to say about the God who came down to Mount Sinai.
In Exodus 19, you read about the Israelites camping right there at that mountain, all 2 to 3 million of them, in a giant tent city. I have filmed two television programs there. You can see that there is ample room at that mountain for such a massive body of people. God had something extremely special in store for them.
Moses, their leader, went up the mountain and talked to God! (verse 3). Imagine this unique event! You can’t compare this with anything that has happened at the beginning of any other nation on Earth!
God gave Moses an agreement to present before the people, which we call the Old Covenant. This would make these people a special nation—God’s nation on Earth. God would be the King, the Ruler, the Lawmaker. He would be the “parliament” and the “congress.”
This is spectacular history you would think no nation would ever give up! Why would anybody let go of something so massively impressive and unique? Yet the modern nations of Israel have done just that—especially the birthright nations of Britain and America, and the Jewish scepter nation. No wonder God is so wrathful toward them.
Here is what God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites: “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (verses 4-6).
They were to teach and show the world how to have real peace.
The fact that the Israelites had witnessed so many miracles already should have moved them to obey God! And God told them that they were to become a kingdom of priests, a holy nation! God’s nation! What a covenant this was. God said, I’m going to give you everything! You’ll be above everybody! You’ll be the most powerful people on Earth! What nation could possibly compare with God and His nation?
Then God gave Israel an unparalleled gift: He spelled out His eternal spiritual law for them. This was a detailed, codified form of law that had existed from the beginning, just like the laws of physics and chemistry. This, though, is a spiritual law. If we obey it, it brings dazzling blessings—and if we disobey, it exacts a toll on our lives. This law distinguished Israel from every other nation on Earth.
This world views God’s law as being harsh and oppressive, and people have done away with it. Look at the suffering in this world because people won’t listen to God! That law gives people security and protection; it helps us avoid sorrow, misery, suffering, violence and death; it makes us happy and joyful! All good things and blessings come from God. Look how God blesses His faithful people today because we keep this wonderful law!
God’s law distinguishes us from every other church on Earth!
Conservatives in the United States often talk about getting back to our forefathers and the Constitution. That Constitution had many godly principles built into it, and certainly a restoration of respect for it would be a move in the right direction. But that document wouldn’t really solve America’s problems. In reality, this country needs to get back to thisbeginning: Israel’s founding as a nation at Mount Sinai—when God Himself came down and spoke to the people! That would take the nation back to where its problems could really be solved! But sadly, our nation has reached the point of no return, physically. (For more information, request our booklet Lamentations: The Point of No Return. All of our literature is free.) However, it’s not too late for individuals to respond to God’s message.
Imagine having the leader of your nationpersonally talk to God! Imagine God’s voice booming out—revealing the beautiful, living, inexorable law of God!
Meeting With God
Moses came down from the mountain and gathered the elders of Israel together and explained all that God had told him. “And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord” (Exodus 19:8). Moses was happy to return and report to God that the people were fervently eager to obey. I’m sure Moses was more optimistic than God was at this point.
God then told Moses that He would come down and speak so all the people could hear Him. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai” (verses 10-11).
The Israelites had to prepare themselves to receive the law of God. That alone indicates how important this is.
The Israelites had already seen many miracles, but it had to instill a certain anxiety within them when Moses told them, In three days God Himself is coming to explain all of these commandments to you. Those people didn’t even have the Spirit of God—yet what would you think if somebody were to tell you that God Himself would be coming next week? Surely you would have a different kind of week! I suspect you would be thinking about that, restlessly anticipating it, all week long—not sleeping very well, perhaps.
“And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount” (verses 16-17). How awesome! How stunning! It is hard to even imagine! Lightning and thunder—a quaking mountain—and a dark cloud that enshrouded God Himself, apparently to keep them from seeing too much of God and being killed! This is the way it was in God’s presence!
This was an awfully important day. What a setting to receive the law of God! What a spectacular introduction to that law. How important is it to God?
“Can you picture it? I think I can—at least partially,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in his booklet Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath? “Years ago—in early winter, 1934—I was driving around the Mt. Hood Loop in Oregon. Reaching the east of Mt. Hood, there was a spur road leading to the very base, and partway up the mountain. As I reached this spot, a frightening storm developed around the snow-capped peak just above me. A dark, foreboding cloud—the darkest I had ever seen—hovered over the top of the mountain. Lightning flashed, so bright I had to hide my eyes. Thunderclaps resounded louder, sharper, than any I had ever heard in Iowa or Nebraska. I drove back down, away from that storm, as fast as safety would allow. It was the most frightening, terrifying sight I had ever witnessed. It seemed to display the magnitude of the very fury of Almighty God!” Maybe God wanted Mr. Armstrong to have that experience so he could write about it.
Here was God thundering down from Mount Sinai! “Imagine that vast sea of people—millions of them—stretching as far as eye could see!” Mr. Armstrong continued. “Then terrifying flashes of blinding lightning, and crashes of thunder that would almost break eardrums! And the GREAT God,Himself, in the midst of this eye-blinding, ear-splitting display, preparing to thunderHis great law in the hearing of that vast assemblage!
“No wonder the people were frightened and asked Moses to stand between them and God!”
With this spectacle, God gave His law that produces peace—the very law He wanted all mankind to live by—on that day of Pentecost. Millennia later, on Pentecost of a.d. 31, He gave the Holy Spirit so we could keep that law spiritually. God also founded the New Testament Church, His spiritual nation, that day.
God wants us to remember this history at Mount Sinai! All that Pentecost history is part of the same picture, going right back to God giving His law. If we don’t recognize this, we are going to miss a lot.
After God gave the law and the conditions of the Old Covenant, He called Moses back up to the mountain to give him the stone tablets, “that thou mayest teach them” (Exodus 24:12). Teaching the law is a crucial job for God’s people. Certainly we teach God’s law of true love and peace with words—but even more importantly, we teach by our example: by being doers of the Word! We are committed to showing the world how to keep God’s law of peace. We give away millions of dollars’ worth of literature. We show people how to bring peace and joy into their marriages and families, and how to make their spiritual lives successful. We give through our cultural foundation. We invite this world into Armstrong Auditorium and strive to give them the most positive, uplifting and royal experiences we possibly can. And these efforts do have an impact!
Verse 13 says that Moses went up into “the mount of God.” The Revised Standard Version and the Moffatt give a better translation: They call it “the mountain of God.”
“And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the [mountain] in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the [mountain]: and Moses was in the [mountain] forty days and forty nights” (verses 17-18).
Again—what a stunning, spectacular event! What a phenomenal beginning to a nation!
Moses, the man who led Israel to Sinai, asked God to show him His glory (Exodus 33:18). This man was different from the rest of the Israelites. He wanted to know God and see His glory. He couldn’t get enough. So he went right up to God and asked!
The rest of the Israelites didn’t have that attitude. As Moses later reminded them, they were afraid at the display of God’s power at Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 5:5). “And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders; And ye said, Behold, the Lordour God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness …. Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?” (Deuteronomy 5:23-26).
The Israelites recognized that God was showing them “his glory and his greatness”! Yet they recoiled from that. God has shown His glory and greatness to His people today in so many ways. We have a strong personal connection with the great God of Mount Sinai! But those Israelites actually heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the fire—and they didn’t like it. They demanded that Moses serve as their intermediary so they wouldn’t have to deal directly with God.
What did God think about that? He lamented, “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” (verse 29). But they rejected God’s law of peace and happiness.
Imagine what would have happened to the Israelites had they heeded—even by the letter of the law—what God said! They didn’t have God’s Holy Spirit, but here was a voice coming out of this mountain that was on fire because of God’s presence! He spoke with them face-to-face—but they didn’t want that. They wanted Moses to talk to them.
Except Joshua and Caleb, all the adults died in the wilderness because of their rebellion. Today, most of God’s own Church members are rebelling in the wilderness, and that ancient history is a monumental warning to the Laodiceans that 50 percent of them are going to die in the spiritual wilderness and lose their eternal lives! They were given the Holy Spirit, and that means eternal life is at stake.
People today are still terribly confused about this truth. Most everybody calls the law that God gave—the Ten Commandments—Moses’s law. What a satanic lie that is! This has nothing to do with a man! God Himself spoke on Mount Sinai and gave those commandments! “These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me” (verse 22). God gave a complete law there! He wrote the commandments with His ownfinger, and He didn’t add anything else. (Ritualistic and ceremonial laws, as well as sacrifices, were later added because of the transgression of this covenant, until the time of Christ. But all of those were removed when Christ came, and none of them changed this law.) The law of God is complete! It’s the final word! It came from God! It’s not the law of Moses or any other man. Don’t get confused! This is the law from the great Lawgiver who personally came down to Sinai, the mountain of God!
For more proof of the enduring importance of this law, just look at what forms the basis of the New Covenant that we have entered into (though it hasn’t yet been consummated): “For this is the [new] covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days [when they have the Holy Spirit], saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Hebrews 8:10). Today we are writing these laws into our minds and hearts so we can be the people of God! Those laws teach us who our God is, and they enable us to give to the world as God wants us to give. God gives us His Spirit, and He lives in us, so that we can love and give and serve according to His law just as He does!
We teach His law of peace. For further study on this wonderful law, request a free copy of our booklet The Ten Commandments.
Elijah Visits the Mountain of God
Mount Sinai provides the setting for another important episode in history, this one involving the Prophet Elijah.
Elijah had performed many great miracles and destroyed the ministers of Baal. His actions infuriated Jezebel so much that she determined to kill him. When word of her intentions reached Elijah, he became fearful and discouraged. What did God do to turn his attitude around? He sent him on a journey—to Horeb, or Sinai,the mountain of God (1 Kings 19:7-8). God even had him fast for 40 days and nights, just as He had Moses do.
God directed Elijah to stand on that mountain. Then He sent a tremendous stormy wind that actually shook and shattered the rocks. But, the scripture says, God was not in the wind. Then He sent a mighty earthquake. But God wasn’t in the earthquake either. Then came a fire, but God was not in the fire.
“[A]nd after the fire,” it says, there came “a still small voice” (verses 11-12). That was how God revealed Himself in this instance.
It doesn’t make any difference whether you hear God’s own voice thundering from Mount Sinai—or you hear the still, small voice today through God’s messages and His Word: It is still the same God of Mount Sinai!
God sent Elijah to Mount Sinai to give him some perspective. There He showed him just how ridiculous it was to be afraid of a pitiful woman like Jezebel. There is no comparison between her and the God of Mount Sinai!
What an important lesson for God’s people today to remember. We have nothing to fear! After all, we serve the God who came down to Sinai, the mountain of God! Sometimes we lose perspective; sometimes we forget who we are. Sometimes we fail to remember who our God is! Then we have to go back to Mount Sinai—really study what happened there when God began His physical nation—and realize that we have nothing to worry about. We are God’s spiritual nation today, and we can, and must, understand this reality far better than the Israelites did anciently.
In Malachi 4:4, God thunders to His people today, “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb [or Sinai] for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments” (Malachi 4:4). This admonition is directed at us! God tells us to remember not only the law—but also the setting, and how the people of Israel received that law on Mount Sinai. Don’t forget that! We must keep God in the picture—the God who gave the law on Mount Sinai—or we will become afraid, and we will run from Jezebel or somebody who has power like that.
We should be able to see the spiritual splendor, the fire and thunder and lightning, the spectacle, of God speaking to His Church today—just as surely as the Israelites saw it with their eyes anciently. This is how it is when you’re close to God. He directly guides His Church—and He is about to direct this whole world!
Declaring the Father
“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 4:5-6). What does that “old, harsh” law of God produce? Children and fathers with their hearts turned to each other. Marvelous, loving families!Thatis what the law is really about: creating the very Family of God! Nothing can compare with the beautiful, peace-making Family of God.
The families in God’s Church are unique on this Earth—and this is something that people notice. Our children are not like children in the world. They behave themselves, and they obey, and they listen, and they’re happy and full of joy and life! Do you realize how beautiful that is to God? What an honor we have to represent God, and to reflect some of His glory, in this way.
Many people would consider it “male chauvinism” that this scripture speaks of fathers and doesn’t specifically mention mothers. But the fact is, God the Father is at the heart of everything—and He is trying to direct His children’s hearts to Him! He is the Head of the spiritual Family, and He has commanded that the father be the head of the physical family. That is how a godly family is structured, and that is where our focus should be. Satan wants to tear that structure apart more than anything! But any family that does things God’s way is going to bear beautiful fruit and experience untold blessings.
Jesus Christ came to declare the Father (John 1:18). He didn’t come to declare Himself. He helped mightily in creating the Family of God! The Laodiceans, by contrast, don’t honor the Father (Malachi 1:6), and they are shamefully wandering in the wilderness, in danger of dying forever. The only ones who will make it are those who repent of that sin! Unless they repent beforehand, they will have to endure horrifying tribulation and be martyred—but in the end they will have the Father’s name written on their foreheads! (Revelation 14:1).
The “curse” of Malachi 4:6 is talking about eternal death! It’s talking about eternal death for God’s rebellious ministers, first of all, and for those who follow them. Malachi 4:1 says they will be ripped out, root and branch.
The Jews thought verse 6 was such a harsh ending to the Old Testament that they traditionally read verse 4 again after that. That mentality—that willingness to simply water down God’s Word, to soften the warning—has put the Jews in a position today where they face annihilation! They need strong words to tell them what the God of Mount Sinai says! We have to tell them what that God says He is going to do! What they are about to face is going to be a lot harder to accept than the warning of Malachi 4:6!
This, then, was the spectacular setting of the world peace center proposed by the leader of Egypt, and supported by God’s apostle, Mr. Armstrong: the mountain of God! It was the very location at which God gave the law that will one day soon lead this whole world to peace!