Chapter 2: The New Commission
This prophesy again commission, this work of dispensing the mystery, is building a mindset in us that God will use throughout eternity. What we are doing on Earth is a very small beginning.
This is why it is so important for us to think deeply about our commission. We need to realize just what we’re talking about when we say that we prophesy again. It is about the mystery that’s tied directly to that seventh trump when Jesus Christ returns.
We live in the midst of the worst trouble ever on this planet. However, getting our minds into this mystery removes negative thinking. We all become negative at times, and understanding this mystery is the way to deal with that. This is the best age ever to be called. People can scoff, but Christ’s return is almost here. Most men on Earth today are going to experience the Tribulation—and the return of Jesus Christ, if they’re still alive. And when people in the World Tomorrow look back, they’re going to say, What an opportunity it would have been to have been called just before the return of Jesus Christ to this world!
We are about to be exalted to the God level! Revelation 10:1 describes the appearance of a mighty angel—“clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire.” An awesome being! And yet, God never called any angel His son, or said that He would be their Father (Hebrews 1:5). Here we are, made of dirt—and God is re-creating Himself in us! That is truly something to be excited about! That is the message that God wants us to prophesy again!
If Lucifer and one third of the angels had succeeded, we can only believe that this mystery would still be hidden in God’s mind! God might never have revealed His master plan to re-create Himself in man. So when you think about this mystery, think about the history of this plan—especially the time it resided only in the mind of God.
No More Delay
Revelation 10:6 says that there should be no more delay. We entered that period after Mr. Armstrong died and Satan was cast down (Revelation 12:12-13).
In the January 1984 Good News, Mr. Armstrong wrote about what lies ahead. “So Revelation 10 shows that when our work appeared to be close to finished more than a decade ago, God held up world events, and I was commissioned to now go with the Kingdom message to many kings (or many nations) speaking different languages (Revelation 10:11). That is what, as I now look back, I have been doing, especially since 1972.”
Think about that for a moment. Mr. Armstrong had the remarkable insight in 1984 that events were being delayed—and had been for about 12 years. He knew that God was, for some reason, holding things back. But he also saw that there was about to be an end to that delay—and there was, when he died!
Today God may, in some way, slow down one leader or put another one in power to stabilize the Middle East or other areas for a little while. God may use a world leader to open doors so that we can get this message out. But still, there is no more delay. Have you noticed how quickly the king of the south and the king of the north are skyrocketing to power? God will not hold back world events again. Events are moving ahead with lightning speed!
“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein” (Revelation 11:1). A prophet will arise and be used by God to measure the altar, or ministry, and the members of God’s Church. One lady reminded me of how all of my messages are sent directly to the churches and played. This was not done when Mr. Armstrong was alive. His tapes were only sent out occasionally. But now God’s people are scattered and need this measuring as never before.
The Times of the Gentiles
It is interesting that when Mr. Armstrong traveled the world giving testimonial dinners, he mostly went to Gentile rulers. The first of those visits occurred on September 26, 1973, on the Feast of Trumpets. Mr. Armstrong’s commission was to preach the gospel, but he also warned the Gentiles. He had a shockingly strong trumpet-warning message for some of those leaders!
Today we still proclaim the gospel message, the mystery that Mr. Armstrong emphasized, but our emphasis is on the warning because we are in the time of no more delay. We have only a short span of time to warn the world.
We preach the gospel, but only secondarily. The gospel has already been proclaimed to the world by Mr. Armstrong (Matthew 24:14). He also warned the world, but in a secondary way.
However, Mr. Armstrong did directly give strong warnings to the Gentile leaders. That was near the end of his work and the beginning of our warning message. He introduced our warning message that way.
Revelation 10:11 leads right into chapter 11, which discusses the Church split in the context of the times of the Gentiles: “… it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (verse 2). Mr. Armstrong played a key part in witnessing to the Gentiles about the times of the Gentiles.
Was it just happenstance that Mr. Armstrong’s first testimonial dinner was on the Feast of Trumpets? I don’t think so! He had a Feast of Trumpets message—just like we have a Trumpets message today, a warning message where God says, Cry alarm! Human survival is at stake!
Only nine days after the Feast of Trumpets testimonial dinner, the Yom Kippur War exploded on the world scene!
The Arabs also declared an oil embargo that rocked the world.
Such an embargo today could destroy America and Europe’s economies in months! This would be even more threatening if terror-sponsoring Iran gets control of Iraq’s oil (or a large portion of it).
Here is the key point. There is a direct connection between that Trumpets warning by Mr. Armstrong and the terrifying times of the Gentiles he was warning us about—the times we can see so clearly today. The Great Tribulation will be inflicted directly by the ruling Gentiles on America, Britain and the little nation called Israel. These three nations are prophesied to fall together (Hosea 5:5). (Request our free booklet on Hosea for a more detailed explanation.) All this will be concluded by the Day of the Lord and Christ’s return.
Mr. Armstrong’s testimonial dinners were carefully orchestrated by the great God.
The world must be warned about what is coming. Then they have no excuse for ushering in the world’s worst catastrophe ever.
There will probably never be another such warning to the Gentile leaders as the one given to them by Mr. Armstrong. Those leaders were held accountable for getting the same message to their people.
Why would a small church like the Worldwide Church of God have a man traveling around the world and meeting top leaders—and warning them about the times of the Gentiles and Christ’s return? Other leaders often can’t even get in to see those men! Can you explain how that could happen? There is only one way to explain it. God opened those doors, and He did indeed hold up world events.
Now, today, we are to prophesy again and warn God’s own Church, Israel and, to a lesser degree, the Gentiles. Can you feel the times of the Gentiles pressing upon us? The worst suffering ever to afflict humanity is almost here!
The king of the south is flourishing in the Middle East. Iran is swimming in massive oil profits. On September 11, 2003, Iran’s former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency as saying, “Even though the United States has a physical presence in the countries that surround us, the reality is that the United States is, in fact, surrounded by Iran.” Notice that he said that the U.S. was surrounded by Iran—not Arab nations! That gives you some insight about who the king of the south is. Iran is orchestrating the attacks on the U.S. All the Arab nations fear Iran.
Rafsanjani also said, “God has pushed the Americans into a quagmire in Iraq. If they stay, they will be victims every day, and if they leave it will be a loss of honor” (ibid.).
Iran is taunting the United States! And America is too divided to confront this radical, Islamic nation. President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have both lost prestige and support over what has happened in Iraq. Rafsanjani is essentially telling the world that Iran is the king of the south! He is confirming what we have said for years. Iran is the number-one terrorist-sponsoring nation in the world. It has America surrounded in Iraq, and it has the Jews surrounded in Jerusalem. Iran leads the world in state-sponsored terrorism, and the Middle East nations know it, even if the West doesn’t. Terrorism is spreading mainly because of Iran. It is a way of life in Jerusalem today.
The Middle East Jews are in despair. An annual survey reported in London’s Daily Telegraph (September 30, 2003) revealed that “Israelis are in a state of open despair about their country’s future …” (emphasis mine throughout).
This article continued, “With the collapse of the American-backed ‘road map’ peace plan, the chances of the Palestinian intifada coming to an end have never seemed lower. Two thirds of those questioned predicted the intifada would continue or worsen in the coming year. Asked whether their children would enjoy a better future, 73 percent replied ‘no.’ Asked to describe their feelings about the country’s situation, 43 percent said they were in ‘despair.’”
The Israelis live with terrorism every day. They are experiencing the gathering storm—the storm that the Bible calls “the times of the Gentiles”! You can feel it and see that the perfect storm of war is coming!
America and Britain are fighting terrorism the way the Jews are: failing to attack the head, or source, of terrorism—led by Iran and secondarily by Syria. And the Jews are clearly losing that war. America and Britain will lose too, unless they repent of their sins and regain the will to use their power more than they do today (Leviticus 26:19).
That pressure is going to intensify. The times of the Gentiles are aimed primarily at Britain, America and the little nation called Israel. Most of that pressure will be coming from both radical Islam, or the king of the south, and the Holy Roman Empire, or the king of the north.
And we are to prophesy again in this last hour. There isn’t much time. The Gentiles are rising, and their hatred for America and Britain is intensifying daily. The king of the south has a stranglehold on the Middle East, and the king of the north has a stranglehold on Europe, and God’s people are in the midst of a massive Church crisis.
We must proclaim God’s message into Israel and Jerusalem. “O [you] that bringest good tidings [to Zion], get thee up into the high mountain …”—that is how Isaiah 40:9 should read (see the King James Version margin reference). Zion is God’s people. “… O [you] that bringest good tidings [to Jerusalem] ….” The Philadelphia Church of God does have good news for Jerusalem! “[L]ift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!” We must get this message out, using television and publishing: Behold, your God! He is coming!
We have delivered this message to the Jews only in a small way. I believe there is yet to be a powerful message going to Israel, which is the tribe of biblical Judah. They are in despair and hopeless. They need a warning and our message of hope. Only we can and will deliver it, through faith.
Ministers Fail to Prophesy
In 1984, Mr. Armstrong said about the wcg ministers, I wish I could get our ministers to talk about these prophecies! These prophecies need to be explained and proclaimed to our people! His words disturbed me. I became more determined to prophesy as God commanded. But the Laodiceans wouldn’t prophesy. They didn’t like the bad news, and they had lost the mind-staggering vision about the mystery, so they wouldn’t proclaim what God prophesied. And look what happened: a catastrophe in the Church on an overwhelming scale! After Mr. Armstrong died, they stopped talking about prophecy almost completely!
Those ministers and people who would not prophesy as they should in 1984 are dying today. We must let their bad example motivate us to avoid their deadly sin.
Now we can see the catastrophe coming so much more clearly. Today we could find even more excuses not to prophesy. It’s not easy to deliver God’s message. But we must—our salvation and reward depend on it!
We must realize that there is inspiration beyond words to describe when people repent of their sins! That is where the real inspiration is!
How much do we love God’s truth? Do we love it enough to tell people what God says even when it contains bad news? Are we really willing to prophesy again?
The Head of the Church
Revelation 1 will give us some background on our prophesy again commission.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (verse 1). The revelation was given to Christ from God the Father, and Christ gave it to an angel, and the angel gave it to John. This book comes from God the Father, and there is no other quite like it in the Bible. It talks about a number of monumental events that are going to come to pass very shortly.
Verse 4 says this book has a message from “him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” God is! He is alive today!
Verse 11 talks about the seven eras of God’s Church. Now notice verse 13: “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” God is right in the midst of His Church. Deuteronomy 23:14 says God would walk in the midst of the camp of Israel. But it gives a condition: the people had to be holy, or God would turn away and correct them severely. So it is with us today, only more so.
“His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars [the angels over the Church eras]: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (Revelation 1:14-16).
God holds the seven angels, who are over the Church eras, in His hand. The International Critical Commentary says this about that statement: “This clause has no organic connection with the letter to the Church in Ephesus.” It doesn’t? The person who wrote that comment doesn’t know the Head of God’s Church! Organic means that it forms an integral element or part of the whole. This commentary is saying that Christ has no organic connection to the Ephesus era or, for that matter, any of the other eras! But Christ is the Head of the Church! The Church is a spiritual organism.
The Laodiceans have lost the Head described in Revelation 1 (Colossians 2:19). They don’t see any organic connection between Revelation 1 and the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. That is because Christ no longer leads them. The truth is that Christ is right in the midst of His very elect! He holds those seven angels in His hand! No puny little man can head the Church of God!
When I was being deposed by the wcg in connection with the court case over Mystery of the Ages, the first question both times was, “Are you the head of the Philadelphia Church?” Both times I answered, “No.”
Who is the Head of this Church? If it’s a puny little man, then you have a very black future. Revelation 1 puts it in proper order. First, before you get into the eras and the body of the Church, understand the Head! Our spiritual survival depends on deeply understanding who the Head of this Church is! Where does the revelation come from? Where does the power to do the work come from? Satan has taken 95 percent of God’s people away from the truth today. Many of the Laodiceans apparently only saw Mr. Armstrong as the head, and when he died the Church spiraled out of control.
Satan destroyed their faith by getting their minds off the real Head of this Church. They no longer looked to the Lord God Almighty!
Satan was trying to get our focus off our Head in the deposition question. That is the only way he can win. Satan wanted me to say that I was the head and get people to look to me—a puny man. That is how God’s people have their faith destroyed. Let’s not forget that Satan asks questions and works through men and women. God told the people of Smyrna that Satan would throw some of them in jail. Of course, men were used to do this evil deed. How many times does Satan get us off track by asking a question? Satan started working on Eve by asking, “Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1). It all started with a simple question that should have been ignored or met with a God-inspired rebuke. Instead, Eve engaged Satan in conversation—and all mankind has followed that deadly tradition!
Satan is far more subtle and powerful than we are. It is a deadly mistake to even engage him in a conversation.
The Head of this Church has a face that shines like the sun in its full strength! His face is so illuminating that He would make an H-bomb explosion look dark. If you can’t see that Head, you can’t see the true history of this Church! How can you lose your Head, described in Revelation 1? There is no true Church history apart from the Head.
Lord God Almighty
The International Critical Commentary got it wrong about the organic connection between the first few chapters of Revelation. But let me share with you something it got very right. I think this was a beautiful analysis in just a few words.
“John uses the expression Lord God Almighty. This divine title occurs 10 times elsewhere [in the book of Revelation], and only twice in the rest of the New Testament, except in passages quoted from the Old Testament.” Why was John so consistent about saying Lord God Almighty? Let’s look at a few of these verses:
“And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).
“Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned” (Revelation 11:17).
“And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints” (Revelation 15:3).
“And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments” (Revelation 16:7).
“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent [Almighty—same Greek word] reigneth” (Revelation 19:6).
After John saw the vision in the first chapter of Revelation, it appears that he became a different man. He had this vision of God in his mind. In the rest of the New Testament this expression is used twice—but after John saw this, he used Lord God Almighty 10 more times!
If we begin to see and understand this great God of Revelation 1, it is going to change each one of us. That means you and me. We will really see the Lord God Almighty! He is not weak! He has omnipotent, all-powerful sovereignty. That is the God we serve. We should fear to break His law, because that will take us away from this beautiful vision He gave us in Revelation 10 and 11.
When John saw this vision, he understood profoundly that this is the Church of the Lord God Almighty of Revelation 1! He is the Head of this Church! “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:17-18). John was given this vision, and in response he fell over as if he were dead! What a vision he was given on the isle of Patmos.
John was alone physically. But he wasn’t lonely, discouraged or sad. He knew he was serving the Lord God Almighty! He didn’t use that expression lightly.
Do we live like we know this fiery God? Do we really fear Him?
Your future will be determined by how deeply you understand this God.
This is the great and wonderful God that you and I serve. If you are a part of His work, and you have the Lord God Almighty looking over you and protecting you, then you are blessed far beyond most people on Earth! Because you understand your potential, God is re-creating Himself in you! How blessed we are. Even if we’re two minutes from death—how blessed we are.
This vision and this understanding makes a powerful impact on your life. It changes your thinking and your attitude. The deeper we embed this vision into our minds, the more influence we will have in this world. Just a little group of people will have an amazing impact. You will truly get behind this commission and support it.
“And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns …” (Revelation 5:6). A horn is a symbol of government. The Lamb had seven horns. Jesus Christ’s government has led each of the seven eras, when they have done the work. You and I must be childlike and submit to His government in this Laodicean era—unlike most of God’s people.
“Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter” (Revelation 1:19). And John did write it down.
“The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks [or lamps]. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches” (verse 20). Why does the lamp reside in the Church that is doing God’s work? Because we let the light shine by getting this message out. There is no lamp in the Laodicean churches. The pcg shows the world what this mystery is. No matter how horrendous the world’s problems are, we are right on the edge of the greatest news man could ever imagine! But mankind will have to learn some lessons the hard way. Can we let this light shine out into the world?
The lamps are also seven spirits. God’s Spirit needs to motivate and animate us! There is power there to animate the people of the Lord God Almighty!
Christ says He holds, or governs, the seven angels. He governs the head of all those eras as they submit to Him. That’s why it doesn’t take a lot of people to do the work of God. All we have to do is have this omnipotent God behind us, providing us with the power to do this work, and nobody can stop us!
If we don’t have this big overview of Church history, we won’t truly understand what it means to prophesy again.
There were seven lamps, which are seven eyes. We see what’s going on in the world—in Europe and the Middle East. God gives us His overview.
God is going to channel everything through the structure of Revelation 1, 2 and 3—forever! The Father and Husband, the bride, the children who come into the Family, will go on and on for eons and eons of time, out into the universe, with that family structure, forever! And Revelation 1:1 traces it all back to the Father—the Head of the Family!
We are to prophesy again! And the one who gave us that commission is the Lord God Almighty! He revealed this new commission to us, and now we have to go out and fulfill it.