Chapter 14: The Bride of Christ
The book of Isaiah has a great deal to say about God’s own end-time Church rebelling against His law. Few sins are more serious than God’s own Church failing to do God’s Work. The Laodiceans will be penalized by having to give their lives in the Great Tribulation. They will be punished so intensely that they will begin to think God has forsaken them. But they will be very wrong.
Bride of Christ
It’s hard to even measure the good news God has for His Laodiceans—if they repent. “Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me” (Isaiah 49:13-14). This Zion is God’s end-time Laodicean people. In spite of all the good news to come, they think God forgot and forsook them. They need to think deeply about God’s most inspiring reply.
“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee” (verse 15). You may rarely find a woman who forgets her sucking child or fails to have compassion on the son of her womb. But God will never forget the Laodiceans, unless they refuse to repent.
It is not coincidental that God uses the word “son” instead of daughter. The Laodiceans are all begotten sons of God. They are Gods in embryo! God is having to remind them why He could never forget them! Even normal parents couldn’t forget their own flesh and blood. How much more can God never forget a begotten son?
It is the Laodiceans who have forgotten. If they remembered the God Family relationship, they would know that their loving Father and Christ could never, never forget or forsake them! But they have lost much of the God Family concept revealed to Mr. Armstrong. The Laodiceans are the ones guilty of forsaking and forgetting—not God! If they deeply understood the God Family relationship, they could never accuse God of forgetting or forsaking them! “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me” (verse 16). They are engraved into God’s memory.
“Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth” (verse 18). This is just a gentle reminder that they are the Bride of Christ. The Laodiceans were offered the most elite sonship God has to offer. If they repent, they will marry Jesus Christ and help Him rule over the children, or sons—none of whom will ever be on that exalted Bride level! God has given the firstfruits the greatest calling He has to offer! Only they have the opportunity to be Christ’s Bride. That includes all the Laodiceans. But they have forsaken and forgotten their first love for this greatest honor God has to offer! They no longer get excited by inspiring expressions like God the Father, Bride of Christ and God Family. How terribly sad. God has to jolt them back into reality with the Great Tribulation.
The Tongue of the Learned
“The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned” (Isaiah 50:4). God is all for education, if it is based on His Word.
Herbert W. Armstrong established Ambassador College as a liberal arts institution. When he was with the Sardis Church, he realized that the leaders and ministers lacked education. So this understanding helped him see the need for God’s college.
Mr. Armstrong also knew that God had called him to help prepare people to help educate the world, God’s way.
God wants us to “know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary”—know how to encourage the discouraged. Can you do that? Are you deeply educated in God’s Word?
Do you and I “hear as the learned”?
We are called today to be teachers in the World Tomorrow. Are we getting prepared for that fabulous future?
Law in Their Heart
One of the most powerful metaphors in all the Bible is in Isaiah 51:1: “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.” This refers to God’s Philadelphians today. We are being quarried from our spiritual Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4; Psalm 18:1-2). We are being shaped and cut from a spiritual Rock quarry. We must look to that spiritual Rock from which we were hewn. Christ is to live in us (Galatians 2:20). Jesus Christ is our Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). We were carved out of this Rock spiritually. This is the “hole of the pit” from which we were dug. We must always cling to that Rock from which we have been chiseled and carved.
It is crucial that we remember what made us spiritually in the first place. The Laodiceans made the mistake of getting away from what God taught them through Mr. Armstrong. We were all brought out of this world, either directly or indirectly, through Mr. Armstrong. God used this spiritual rock quarry to build our character. Never forget “the rock whence ye are hewn.” That metaphor is so beautiful and so meaningful. We must never forget how we built our first love, and we must always cling to our spiritual roots.
“Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him” (Isaiah 51:2). The Revised Standard Version says, “[W]hen he was but one I called him.” God called Abraham and Sarah “alone,” but look how they were blessed! How mightily God “increased” His Work through them. God will do the same for us today, if we remember our spiritual roots—even if we are virtually alone!
We will never leave God if we keep His law in our hearts. “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings” (verse 7). God could only be addressing His very elect here. Only they have God’s law in their hearts today and don’t fear the reproach of men in this evil world.
How Satan-inspired this world is. Most religions reject God’s law. Yet the Bible is full of scriptures describing how the law must be in our hearts. Soon, God will write that law in the hearts of the whole world! (Jeremiah 31:33). It doesn’t matter what the world does, it can’t deter us—if God’s law is in our hearts! That means we fear God, not men.
Are you afraid of living? Of men? Of losing your job or family? Human fear shapes most men’s lives! But the love of God is that we keep His commandments, or His law (1 John 5:3)—and perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
This is the towering issue in God’s Church today. Many of God’s people are turning away from God because the law is not in their hearts!
Ultimately, this is how you must control your godly life. How we eat, dress, gain pleasure, date, marry, work and play all depends upon how deeply God’s law is etched in our hearts. How we conduct our lives reveals how much we love God!
Soon we all must face God. Let’s hope and pray that God’s law is etched deeply in our hearts.
“And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people” (Isaiah 51:16). This is what man was created to do. In terms of potential, you cannot separate the Earth from the universe—God created us not only to make the Earth blossom as a rose, but to plant the heavens and finish their creation!
After we have beautified the Earth, we will be sent to the outer reaches of space to plant the heavens. What an awesome future we have! What magnificence and majesty!
Zion—God’s people—is asleep. “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean” (Isaiah 52:1). This is about our work right now! It refers to the Church as a woman getting ready to marry Christ. This is the end time, just before there are no more “uncircumcised” and “unclean” in Zion ever again. The Laodiceans are told to awaken and “put on thy beautiful garments.” The Laodiceans are naked today (Revelation 3:17). But what beautiful garments they have available. They are still the Bride of Jesus Christ! They have access to the most fabulous wedding attire God has to offer, which is offered to only a tiny few people on this Earth!
These “beautiful garments” belong only to God’s “called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14). How repugnant is the attitude of God’s lukewarm Bride! The Laodiceans have been scornful of the greatest honor God could bestow! How tragic to lose such a precious vision.
They are also told by God to “put on thy strength,” meaning they are weak. God is trying to stir them to rekindle that vision of all visions.
God is determined to get their attention. “Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion” (Isaiah 52:2). The Laodiceans have become the “captive daughter of Zion.” They are the daughter—or end-time Church of God, which will be enslaved in the Great Tribulation. It takes such punishing to jolt them back into their incredible calling. Unfortunately, 50 percent of them will be beyond saving (Matthew 25:1-13).
How difficult it is to save many of God’s own people! What a terrifying price all of the Laodiceans must pay for rebelling.
Our message is first of all intended for God’s own Church—or Zion. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7). The book of Isaiah is filled with so many stirring pictures. The Philadelphia Church of God is not attacking the Laodiceans. We are warning them and trying to rekindle their “good tidings.” Our message to them is that “God reigns!” If they want to become members of God’s Family, they must learn deeply that “God reigns.”
Why do people become Laodicean? Because they don’t want God to reign over them! Why do people come out of the Laodicean Church into the PCG? Because they want God to rule them. Why do people leave the PCG? Because they don’t like God’s rule. Why don’t the people of this world respond to our message? Because they hate God’s reign over them. The whole scenario of man’s rebellion is really quite simple! It all comes down to government!
Notice that God’s message is “Thy God reigneth.” The Laodiceans reject the government of God taught by Mr. Armstrong. It’s that simple! And you can prove that. Only those absolutely ruled by God are willing to deliver God’s message today.
Anciently, a messenger had to get on his feet to deliver the message. He often ran. The good messenger didn’t talk about delivering the message—he just used his feet to get the job done! When he delivered God’s message, it was received by God’s people with great joy. They knew he had “beautiful feet” because of the message those feet were used to deliver!
And so it is today. God talks about beautiful feet for a very good reason. He wants His messengers today to deliver His message. Many people talk about doing God’s Work. But very few simply get busy and do the job. Only a few know God’s message must be delivered by using their “beautiful feet”!
God has provided us with the most beautiful message that the mind of God could conceive. Anybody who delivers that message has beautiful feet!
God and the Laodiceans will again see eye to eye. “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion” (verse 8). Today, the Laodiceans seriously disagree with God. The “Lord shall bring again Zion.” They were with God, but turned away.
The whole Earth is about to burst forth in joy and singing! “Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem” (verse 9). Every person on Earth will see God save this world! Is it any wonder that God says the people who deliver that message have “beautiful feet”?
Declare His Generation
“[H]is appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance …” (Isaiah 52:14; rsv). After Christ’s savage beating at the crucifixion, He didn’t even look like a human being. Christ’s body was marred more than any man to pay the penalty for our physical sins and spiritual sins.
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3). Christ’s disciples ran away when He was crucified. The only one who didn’t run was Christ. He knew if He did that, everything would be over for mankind. If He sinned once, or if He ever turned and ran, there would be no future for mankind.
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (verses 4-5). He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our lawlessness.
How much we understand the sacrifice that was made for our physical sins will make a difference in how much God heals us. Christ’s body was broken so we could be healed.
We know some of that healing will be done in the resurrection. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). God has a different perspective on death than we do. When a saint dies, another son is added to God’s Family for all eternity.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). We get into problems when we turn to our own way. If we do that during our trials and tests, we will be discouraged, especially around Passover. It is time instead to think about the Passover Lamb, and God’s sacrifice for us.
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter …” (verse 7). Christ was brought to the slaughter, just like the lambs at Passover in ancient Israel.
“He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? …” (verse 8). That is a beautiful question. Who will declare His generation? Who has the righteousness of God to get up and declare to the whole world about the crucifixion of the Passover Lamb? That is what we are here to do! We must declare this sacrifice.
This question is repeated in Acts 8:32-33. Who is going to have the strength and the power to declare His generation? We have to get this message out and teach this world, even if it means we will face trouble.
“And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord [or the Father] to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin …” (Isaiah 53:9-10). The Father watched it all. He had to turn His back on Christ because Christ became sin in that figurative sense.
But it pleased God to see His Son go through all of that because now He can have a family of billions. The Father wants a family! He gave His only begotten Son to pay the price for our sins (John 3:16).
Our Children Inherit the Gentiles
“Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited” (Isaiah 54:1-3). Our seed is going to inherit the spiritual Gentiles. These verses refer to our children and how they are being trained for tremendous opportunities in the World Tomorrow.
Parents have the critical responsibility of preparing those children. Then the Church assists through ministerial counseling, Imperial Academy (kindergarten through high school), Philadelphia youth camps, classes at Church services, and Herbert W. Armstrong College.
“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (verse 13). Our children must be ready for this exciting, but sobering, responsibility!
We must never forget that our children’s educational opportunities are not just for today. Imperial Academies and Armstrong Colleges will be used to disseminate God’s knowledge in the World Tomorrow.
First, God’s educational program has to work in God’s Church. Then it will fill the entire Earth—after that, the universe!
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Our window of opportunity is closing. Soon it will be too late to call upon God to finish His Work. We must do it now while there is time. Now God is near. Soon there will be a famine of the Word. Trouble is going to intensify and people will not be able to find God’s Word as they can now.
Now is the time to repent. God will abundantly pardon (verse 7).
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (verses 8-11). God’s Word is about to fill this Earth. It will bring forth joy and abundance.
“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (verse 12). The Companion Bible explains how the Garden of Eden will spread worldwide. But it doesn’t see that then the Garden of Eden will spread into the universe!
God is about to fill the world and universe with inspiring beauty and happiness. Nothing can stop God’s miraculous plan.
A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters
God describes those people who are blessed. “Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil” (Isaiah 56:1-2). These people keep God’s seventh-day Sabbath. God is addressing His own people. But notice, God directs His message to “the man” who keeps His Sabbath and obeys. God works through individuals. God wants to know if “any man,” or individual, will hear Him (Revelation 3:20). Salvation is not a group affair.
God is seeking spiritual eunuchs—those people who put God’s pleasure above their own. “For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 56:4-5). God is appealing to His “house,” or temple. Today that means God’s own Church.
How will God give us a name better than of sons and daughters? The firstfruits are called to be the Bride of Christ. We will be on the “mother” level and help Christ lead the “children of God”—or those who are not in the firstfruits calling. God keeps reminding us of our mind-staggering, magnificent calling! The firstfruits are those called before Christ’s Second Coming. Those called in the Millennium and Last Great Day will be likened to the children in God’s Family. Christ will be the Husband and the firstfruits the Bride. It is very clear why our sacrificing today will bring us such fabulous rewards in the future!
“Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people” (verses 6-7). God discusses “my holy mountain,” “my house of prayer” and “mine altar.” God is speaking to His own converted people today. He is discussing the turbulent end time. Then He goes on to state how His house of prayer will soon be accepted by the whole world. God will bring the firstfruits to His holy mountain today, then use them to help bring the whole world into God’s spiritual house! They will teach the whole world how to pray.
“The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him” (Isaiah 56:8). This is referring to the end time, after the nations of Israel have been cast out of their own lands, when God gathers the “outcasts.” The Great Tribulation will afflict Israel very soon. The terrifying end time is being discussed. “All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest” (verse 9). The Gentile “beasts” are almost ready to devour Israel. The nations of Israel are living on the edge of disaster. We are entering into the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24; Revelation 11:2-3). If ever there was a time to warn Israel, it is now!
But then unfolds one of the strangest events ever to occur in God’s Church! “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” (Isaiah 56:10). At a time when Israel faces its greatest danger, God’s watchmen are “blind.” These are the end-time Laodiceans, the people in the last era of God’s Church who become “blind” (Revelation 3:17-18). The ministers “are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark”! Capture this dumbfounding picture. Ferocious Gentile beasts are surrounding Israel, ready to devour it, and the watchmen are dumb dogs who won’t bark!
Under similar physical circumstances, if lions, bears and wolves were about to devour the inhabitants of a home, the watchdogs would be in a barking frenzy! But not these spiritual watchmen. They are asleep, blind and dumb!
The worst time of suffering on planet Earth is about to explode! (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21). And God’s own Church that was raised up to watch and warn is silent like a dumb dog! Those are God’s words—not mine! So God had to raise up the pcg to warn the Laodiceans and Israel.
“Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter” (Isaiah 56:11). The shepherds, God’s Laodicean ministers, “cannot understand.” Why? Because “they are greedy dogs which can never have enough.” How could God ever work through such an attitude? These ministers put job and money, or “gain,” ahead of God. They have very weak faith, and God condemns them harshly!
Where did these leaders go wrong? Verse 11 calls them shepherds, but they are lukewarm ministers who are not serving the members.
God only has one watchman at a time in these latter days. “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me” (Ezekiel 33:7). These lukewarm ministers have rejected God’s only watchman. God’s watchman gets the word from God’s own mouth and warns! The other ministers are commanded to support the watchman work.
These Laodicean shepherds do lead many of God’s lukewarm people. So in their rebellion they have made themselves God’s watchmen by default.
Here is the first definition of watchmen in the Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon: “to shine, to be bright.” These shepherds have lost their shine and brightness because they refuse to look to God’s watchman. That is why they are drunk dogs that cannot bark. But they are the only “watchmen” that the lukewarm laymen have. Even though the people are lukewarm, they are still God’s Family. So in that sense, these blind “watchmen” are God’s watchmen as well.
God’s true shepherds are not watchmen, but they do deliver God’s watchman message to the flock—the same message that came from God’s mouth to His watchman.
Anyone who takes this casually is going to be severely punished!
The primary work of God’s Church is to proclaim Israel’s sins. “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1). We are to show the house of Jacob its sins. Jacob was Israel’s name before he was converted. So the main meaning of this verse is directed to physical and spiritual Israel. When God says to show “my people their transgression,” He is speaking first of all to His Church. The nations of Israel were rejected by God. They are not labeled God’s people today. Only God’s Church can be called that in this end time. So God’s loyal people must first of all warn God’s own Church of its sins. We are to “cry aloud”!
The Laodiceans often say we are “attacking” them. All we are really doing is fulfilling Isaiah 58:1. Only after we warn God’s Church are we to warn physical Israel—the nations of Israel.
God has set a watchman to the house of Israel. He is to watch and warn. That is what Isaiah 58:1 is all about.
It is not an easy job. But God tells us how to achieve our goal. We must fast for the right reason, to get close to God. Then our spiritual health will spring forth speedily! Then God will guide us continually.
“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 58:12-14). God will then cause us to ride upon the high places of the Earth. We will then build the old waste places. That is a promise from God!
The Eternal Shall Arise
“Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths” (Isaiah 59:7). One of Satan’s titles is destroyer. God is a builder. God gave America and Britain the birthright blessings because of Abraham’s obedience. Now look at what we have done with those blessings. They are being turned into curses.
God blessed Mr. Armstrong with a mighty work and a fabulous building program. Anybody can see how God has blessed the pcg with our headquarters building program and a powerful message to this world.
“For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter” (verses 12-14). Truth is fallen in the streets. Only truth can set us free. Even many of God’s own people don’t know how ugly and evil this world is. Even our democracies are black nightmares in America, Britain and Judah (the nation called Israel today). Our nations are on their deathbeds and don’t know it!
Now is the time they desperately and urgently need our warning!
“Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment” (verse 15). When you obey God, you become a target for evildoers in this current world.
Isaiah wept for this world, and so should we! When is the last time you or I cried for this world?
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:1-2). Here is the resurrection of the firstfruits being changed from physical to spiritual—when God’s glory is given to them. This pictures our birth into God’s Family—born sons of God, when our faces will shine like the sun!
“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (verse 3). Kings and people in the world will come to our light! We must get prepared for this weighty responsibility. We must be ready to teach everybody from kings to paupers. God tells us to lift up our eyes and see our future glory—the same glory God has!
What a super-incredible potential God has given mankind.
The duality of Bible prophecy is obvious throughout Isaiah. “Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation” (Isaiah 64:10). Zion, God’s Church, is a wilderness. So is Jerusalem, a type of all Israel. In Isaiah’s time, Israel turned away from God. The same problem occurs to spiritual Israel, or God’s Church, in the end time.
“Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste” (verse 11). Isaiah saw the holy and beautiful temple, where Israel once praised God, become polluted. And so it has happened to God’s Laodicean Church in the end time. There is no greater tragedy! It has become a burning fire. God established His true doctrines through Mr. Armstrong. But most of those major doctrines have been “burned.” God’s Laodiceans are perishing spiritually today (2 Thessalonians 2:10).
God even had a physical house of God established in Pasadena, California, by Mr. Armstrong. While Mr. Armstrong lived, God was praised in that building. But not today. How tragic when this happens in “[o]ur holy and our beautiful house.” What tragedy could be greater?
We must remember that Isaiah was recorded in the Bible for this latter day (Isaiah 30:8).
“I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick” (Isaiah 65:2-3). God keeps spreading out His hands to the Laodiceans, but they reject Him. Their ministers burn incense on altars of brick. God commanded incense to be burned on an altar of wood, overlaid with pure gold (Exodus 30:1-3). The ministers are polluting God’s ministry. Incense is a type of prayer. That means the Laodicean ministers are not directing people to God. Nothing is more important than praying in the Holy Spirit. That is the most important way we remain in contact with God!
These ministers “remain among the graves.” “Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels” (Isaiah 65:4). The Laodicean members of God’s Church are uniting with God’s Sardis Church, which is dead (Revelation 3:1-2). That is the church Mr. Armstrong came out of because it was dead. The Laodiceans are eating polluted and unclean spiritual food.
“Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the Lord, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom” (Isaiah 65:7). God is measuring our work today by Mr. Armstrong’s work. The Laodiceans are clearly guilty of great rebellion. Most of the Laodicean ministers are even condemned by their own taped sermons of the past, compared to those they give today.
“But ye are they that forsake the Lord, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number” (verse 11). You can’t forsake or forget God unless you once truly knew Him. This is directed to God’s own Church.
We see in Isaiah 66:5 that one of God’s churches lost the vision and one did not.
But there is great news for this world. “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children” (Isaiah 66:8). Soon a spiritual nation will be born, comprised of God’s firstfruits! They will be used by God to teach the whole world. “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord” (verse 23). What a glorious vision for those saints who understand the outcome of God’s master plan!