Chapter 2: Zerubbabel and Joshua


There is a significant key to understanding Zechariah chapters 3 and 4. “For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes …. [T]hey shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth” (Zechariah 3:9; 4:10).

The “seven eyes” refer to the seven Church eras. “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:20). The seven candlesticks (or lamps) are also the seven Church eras (see Revelation 2 and 3).

“And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof” (Zechariah 4:2). The word “candlestick” would be better translated “lampstand” (see Anchor Bible Commentary). The lampstand has seven lamps, which again represent the seven Church eras of Revelation 2 and 3.

Lamps give light. Eyes are used to see. These seven Church eras are given spiritual light and spiritual sight by God. They see and understand God’s plan and world events because they are led by God’s Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). No other group is given this understanding by God—only God’s very elect.

People in this world are in the blackest kind of night because they don’t have God’s lamp. They can’t see how to solve their many frightening problems. They could know, but they reject the light that God has always tried to give them through His message.

The seven eyes are listed in the Joshua section (Zechariah 3:9) and in the Zerubbabel section (Zechariah 4:10). The seven lamps (or seven eyes) are also mentioned in Zechariah 4:2. God is emphasizing the subject of Church eras because Joshua and Zerubbabel both are in this end-time prophecy. That is just another indication that this is a prophecy for now. The seven eras start at Christ’s first coming and end at His Second Coming. God wants us to think in terms of Church eras. This is crucial to understanding Zechariah 3 and 4. Then the chapters are easy to grasp.

“[U]pon one stone shall be seven eyes.” That Stone is Jesus Christ, the Rock. There is a Stone that ruled every era of God’s Church. But still, five out of those seven turned away from God. Just read the history in Revelation 2 and 3. That is a frightening statistic! The ratio is overwhelming. Anyone who thinks we don’t have the potential to make mistakes and to fall away needs to look at what has happened to God’s people through the ages!

After Zerubbabel’s death came the Joshua work, which turned away from the Zerubbabel work (just as it happened in Revelation 3).

Zechariah 3 talks about a Joshua who had authority. A modern Joshua rules an era too. So when God talks about Joshua and Zerubbabel (in the context of Church eras), two eras and two leaders are discussed. Therefore, in modern times they must have each led a Church era. This evil Joshua is presented first in Zechariah 3; however, he was Zerubbabel’s assistant (Haggai 1:1). Zerubbabel was a leader before Joshua, so let’s start with Zerubbabel.

‘The Hands of Zerubbabel’

When the Bible refers directly to Christ doing the building, it is usually stated as “not made with hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1), or something is accomplished “without hands” (Daniel 2:45), or “a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands” (Hebrews 9:11).

“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it …” (Zechariah 4:9). It is clearly talking about a hands-on operation.

This verse twice mentions hands, designating a starting and finishing of a project. The Anchor Bible Commentary says hands is literal, and expresses participation in temple building (book of Zechariah). That is, it was built through a human being with “hands,” not built “without hands”—as Christ does it directly.

Mr. Armstrong started and finished an era that “restore[d] all things.” He started it and finished it before he died, with the power of God’s Holy Spirit (verse 6). His hands laid the foundation and his hands finished the house—the Philadelphia era.

Mr. Armstrong wrote a letter to the Church on March 19, 1981. It said, in part: “Zerubbabel built the second temple to which Jesus came the first time. John the Baptist prepared the way before the first coming. But who was to build the spiritual temple to which Christ shall soon come the second time? Who was to prepare the way before His Second Coming?

“Remember, God does things in dual stages. As Zerubbabel built the first temple of material stone, wood and other materials, he was a forerunner or type of one through whom Christ would raise up or build the spiritual temple—His Church of our time, prior to the Day of the Lord and Christ’s Second Coming. As John the Baptist prepared the way in the physical wilderness of the Jordan River for the first coming of the human Jesus (both man and God), then coming to His material temple, and to His physical people Judah, announcing the Kingdom of God to be set up more than 1,900 years later, so God would use a human messenger in the spiritual wilderness of 20th-century religious confusion, to be a voice crying out the gospel of the Kingdom of God, about the spiritual Christ, coming in supreme power and glory to His spiritual temple, to actually establish that spiritual Kingdom of God.

“Brethren, has that been done by this Church?

“Did God raise up a one-man leadership to be used by Him in building this spiritual temple and in proclaiming after 1,900 years the true gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world—to even go to kings and heads of nations (Revelation 10:11)—in bringing the Church back to the faith once delivered? (Jude 3).

Has this happened, in your days, and has God brought you into this prophetic fulfillment as a part of it?

“Has anyone else done it?” (emphasis his).

Did Mr. Armstrong think one man would and did fulfill this prophecy? Absolutely! He speaks of “one,”a human messenger,” “a voice,” “a one-man leadership”—and then ends by asking, “Has anyone else done it?”

Why are Laodicean leaders today, without proper biblical support and proof, so intent on changing major prophecies Mr. Armstrong taught us?

Mr. Armstrong continued: “God has never removed a man called to a specific leadership or assignment or commission until his commission is completed.” Did Mr. Armstrong complete his mission? Did he finish “this house,” “restore all things” and “turn the heart of the fathers”? He most certainly did!

We shouldn’t be too quick to say we can’t understand Zechariah. God’s angel chided the Prophet Zechariah for having this attitude (Zechariah 4:4-5).

‘This House’

“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you” (Zechariah 4:9). Every person on this Earth is going to know that God sent this end-time type of Zerubbabel—Herbert W. Armstrong! Now or in the future, mankind must learn that God was behind that man.

“House” is a very common word in the Bible. In the Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament, the scriptures where “house” is used cover 13 pages. The word “temple” in the same book covers only one fourth of a page. “Temple” is not used here—and “temple” is not nearly as common in the Bible as the word “house.”

The word “house” can mean an “inner part”—or only a part of something greater. It’s a name given to human bodies as being frail and transitory (Job 4:19). The word is used as “tent” (Genesis 27:15; 33:17). It is used as “a spider’s house” (Job 8:14; see margin). It’s applied to wealth, property and all that belongs to a family. All uses of this word are very temporary (like a Church era). The word temple is used in a more permanent way or to indicate a very long period of time. For example, the word “temple” often applies to all seven Church eras. It also applies to eternal life.

The subject is “this house” and is in the context of the seven Church eras (Zechariah 3:7-8; 4:2, 10; Revelation 1:20). If we put all the scriptures together, it could just as well be called “this era.” And Zerubbabel did finish it. Mr. Armstrong not only laid the foundation, as we often say today—he built the whole house. When he died, the Philadelphia era was completed. He “restore[d] all things” (Matthew 17:10-11). No more foundational doctrines need to be added to the house. We need to walk in Mr. Armstrong‘s footsteps, which is what Joseph Tkach Sr. SAID he would do. However, the Laodiceans have torn down the house that Zerubbabel built (Daniel 8:11-12). Now the Philadelphians in the Laodicean era must “raise up [the] ruins” (Amos 9:11). We must finish the Elijah work.

Dr. Donald Ward, president of Ambassador College in the late 1980s, said, “Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of Zerubbabel.” But that is spiritualizing away God’s truth. Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of everything—if He lives in us (Philippians 2:5). Still, there was a man named Zerubbabel who built the restoration temple. And there was a specific man who built the Philadelphia era of God’s Church. Mr. Armstrong was a type of Zerubbabel. He believed it and said so himself, many times!

The word of the Lord is to Zerubbabel (Zechariah 4:6). It doesn’t make sense if Christ is talking to Himself. Christ is talking to a man who fulfilled that office in this end time. Also, Zechariah 4:9 is not referring to Christ directly finishing the house, but to a man—Zerubbabel—finishing the house.

It’s illogical to say Zerubbabel is Christ. Is the Elijah Christ? How about John the Baptist? Haggai? Zechariah? Malachi? Of course not. God works through men!

God fits the last two eras of His Church into the seven eras in Zechariah, chapters 3 and 4. These chapters give us the overview. Then it all becomes very clear.

The Zerubbabel Inset

The story flow of Zechariah 3 and 4 is about Joshua and the Laodicean era. Zerubbabel is not an active part of this story flow. The story flow would be much better if you skipped the inset that includes verses 6, 7, 8, 9 and two thirds of verse 10 in chapter 4. An inset is an insertion that is added later by the editors after the original story was written.

The Critical International Commentary (and a few others) even puts this inset in another section of Zechariah. They are right in knowing it is an inset. But moving it to another part of the canonized Bible is a deadly lack of faith in God!

Why an inset? It was put there after the Joshua story was recorded by those who canonized the Bible. Remove it and you have Joshua and the Laodicean era just before and during the Tribulation, which is concluded by Christ’s return (Zechariah 3:8). That is the time setting.

Joshua and “[his] fellows” are repeating the sins of the 1970s, when God’s Church became polluted with liberalism until Mr. Armstrong set it back on track. They are relying too much on their own power—not the power of God’s Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). Verse 6 is a part of the Zerubbabel inset. God says Zerubbabel (Mr. Armstrong) built the house with God’s Holy Spirit, but the Laodiceans refuse to follow. They have a great example to follow, but they refuse. God considers this a rejection of His authority and government!

Verse 9 says that Zerubbabel’s hands “shall also finish it.” That prophecy begs the question, What is going to happen after he finishes it? Looking at it in retrospect, you can see it almost implies that something negative would follow—which certainly did.

As aged as Mr. Armstrong was, he took the Spirit of God and accomplished more in those last seven years of his life than in the 50 years that preceded them! Anybody who saw Mr.Armstrong those last seven years would surely have to know that he was empowered by the Spirit of God in a spectacular way. He would totter up on the stage with helpers, barely able to walk, and then he would start speaking and transform into a human dynamo! He came to life, with fantastic power! Does anyone doubt that was the power of God in action?

Mr. Armstrong wrote Mystery of the Ages in the last year of his life, and he said, “I feel I myself did not write it.” What a miracle! He felt God’s Holy Spirit moved and stirred him, as God has always led His great leaders. Mr. Armstrong understood how to let God rule and guide him. He didn’t even take the credit for writing that book! Spirit beings were putting those thoughts in his mind! Look at what God can accomplish through His Spirit.

Zechariah said we would know this man was sent by God to fulfill an end-time role of Zerubbabel. The very elect know that now. The Laodiceans and others shall learn that lesson in the Tribulation. The remainder will learn it in the Day of the Lord and beyond.

That is because this man did a great work for God—the greatest work in this end time. Even a mountain (a type of any powerful government) couldn’t stop God’s Work through this man! (verse 7).

However, most of God’s people are so spiritually blind in this end time that they can’t even see a mountain! They don’t know where Christ and His lamp are. They don’t have the Stone; they don’t see the seven eras.

Joshua failed to let Christ rule him with the Holy Spirit. He rejected Zerubbabel’s example—that is what Zechariah chapters 3 and 4 are all about.

Even though Mr. Armstrong is dead, he left us a finished house. But that spiritual house was destroyed. Our job has been to raise up the ruins. Mr. Armstrong restored all things (Matthew 17:10-11)—he finished the house and then died. But he didn’t die until he finished the house. What does it all mean? The Zerubbabel inset gives the same warning Malachi gave: “Remember” what Elijah taught (Malachi 3:16; 4:4-6). We must also remember what and how Zerubbabel (typed by Mr. Armstrong) built.

The Anchor Bible Commentary says that the Zerubbabel inset “is not extraneous to understanding the whole.” In other words, the Zerubbabel inset is an entirely separate thought from the surrounding scriptures, but it is critical in helping us understand these two chapters. The inset is called a “glaring interruption.” That means it interrupts for an essential reason: When you include the inset, you can understand what it takes to continue being a Philadelphian after Mr. Armstrong died. You must follow what Christ established through Herbert W. Armstrong!

Mr. Armstrong said people in the 1970s wanted him out of the way; some even wanted him to die. And when it happened, look at the disaster that resulted.

This inset describes the same problem discussed in Revelation 3:7-21: changing from a Philadelphian to a Laodicean attitude.

The Laodiceans despise the example set by Zerubbabel. They could be a smashing success, but they turn away from this history. It’s showing them how they must look to Zerubbabel to succeed. The “fruits” show he knew how to build spiritually! Several major prophecies tell us that our salvation has everything to do with following Christ’s instructions through Mr. Armstrong. You’ll see more of these prophecies as we continue.

The inset is there for one main reason: to reveal Joshua’s sin and tell us how to avoid it. He doesn’t follow Zerubbabel’s example. That is getting to the very heart of what a Laodicean is. They turn away from what Christ established through Zerubbabel (Mr. Armstrong). The Laodicean sin revolves around this rebellion! The inset was added by editors, inspired by Christ, as a warning for the Church today!

Satan’s greatest attack on the Church in the end time is from within. Our greatest test is to resist his deceit and seduction. Joshua failed—Zerubbabel succeeded. The inset tells us how and why. Remember, it’s not possible to deceive the “very elect” (Matthew 24:24). Those who are God’s “very elect” will discern Satan’s deception today by using God’s Holy Spirit and obeying every word of God (Zechariah 4:6). Only by using God’s Spirit can we be saved from deception.

The Zerubbabel inset is another way of indicating that this prophecy applies after Mr. Armstrong is dead. It’s as if God is giving all of us the same instructions that Paul gave the Philippians while he was in jail and no longer able to be with them. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:9). God is giving us the same instructions today. What you “have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me”—or Mr. Armstrong—“do”! Paul told them to use God’s Holy Spirit—and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” That “fear and trembling” is what the ministers in Malachi 2:4-9 lack. So we must not follow their example. Follow the example of Paul and Mr. Armstrong!

Mr. Armstrong is dead, but we must remember what we learned from him and his example, which was inspired by Christ. We must “remember” and “do”!

That is the major failure of Joshua and “[his] fellows.” Mr. Armstrong’s “traditions” have been pushed aside now, as they were in the 1970s.

In Mr. Armstrong’s waning years, at times you could see a certain hostility and a contempt for him and his office and his government. We all need to continually evaluate our own attitude toward God’s government. Is it self-willed—or is it truly childlike and humble, honestly wanting to do everything exactly God’s way?

Again, God is discussing Church eras here (Zechariah 3:8; 4:2, 10). The time setting is just before Christ returns. The Philadelphian and Laodicean eras are the subject.

Zerubbabel had the “plummet” or “plumb bob”—a measuring device that is used to test any vertical structure for deviation from a true line. This symbolized Zerubbabel testing the accuracy of truth or departure from previously revealed truth. If we aren’t testing our truth very precisely and carefully, we can easily depart into a Laodicean attitude. If we don’t look to Mr. Armstrong’s method of building, we face disaster in the future.

Verse 10 mentions the eyes of the Lord running to and fro through the whole Earth. It is in the same context as that Zerubbabel inset—and you can certainly link that with Mr. Armstrong preaching the gospel in all the world for a witness unto all nations (Matthew 24:14).

When Mr. Armstrong measured and built, he didn’t do so with his own ideas. There was a plummet in his hand “with those seven”—the seven Church eras. He had the big overview, and really understood those seven eras. And remember, those eyes are upon the Stone. Mr. Armstrong measured the way he was taught by the Stone, who founded the Church and guided all of those churches through the ages. He always wanted to be ruled by the Stone.

We must have that overview. We need to understand Christ’s leadership over His Church throughout Church history. We need “the plummet … with those seven … the eyes of the Lord.”

God gives His Church such incredible understanding—He gives us penetrating spiritual vision that He doesn’t give anyone else. We have the eyes of the Eternal, which have seen it alleven back through the history that unfolded during those seven eras—and that run to and fro through the whole Earth—and the universe, for that matter!

Here is the majestic perspective Mr. Armstrong had, and that we need. This is what we are part of! This Church didn’t begin on December 7, 1989. It didn’t begin with Mr. Armstrong. It began with Jesus Christ!

What a luminous glow this understanding puts into our lives. We are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

‘The Day of Small Things’

On January 7, 1934, the first radio program in the Philadelphian era of God’s Church aired on a 100-watt station in Eugene, Oregon. The Plain Truth magazine, mimeographed by hand, began in February 1934, with 234 copies. Ambassador College began in 1947, with four students and eight professors. It all seemed so small and insignificant. (Likewise, the work of the pcg began very small.) But from its small beginning, the wcg grew into a great and powerful worldwide organization.

“For who hath despised the day of small things? …” (Zechariah 4:10). Do some today despise “the day of small things”? The Anchor Bible Commentary uses the word scorned instead of despised. This commentary says scorned “indicates rejection.” What is being rejected today? wcg leaders have rejected what Christ built through Mr. Armstrong. Some of these leaders have an attitude problem toward what Christ restored through Mr. Armstrong, which means they are rejecting the very government of God. It wasn’t the work of Mr. Armstrong—it was the Work of Christ. These scorners fail to see God’s Spirit (verse 6) in the work Christ accomplished through Mr. Armstrong. It is God’s Spirit and God’s government they reject!

Zechariah 4:6-10 show that many people are going to be tripped up on this issue in the end time. This attitude of “despis[ing] the day of small things” has affected virtually every single minister in the Laodicean Church! They just can’t believe that God could be working through the Philadelphia Church of God. Most Laodicean members feel the same way.

God has prepared a monumental test for all of His people in this end time. He has seen 95 percent of His people turn away from Him. God has raised up another small work (the pcg) to take its place. God wants to see who will not despise the day of small beginnings! Remember though, it is only a small beginning. This Work is about to fill the entire Earth!

Zechariah 4:9 says a Zerubbabel would “finish” the major phase of God’s Work in this end time. It is interesting that “the day of small things” (verse 10) is mentioned after Zerubbabel finished his work.

Shortly after Mr. Armstrong died, the wcg began to turn away from God. After I was fired in December of 1989, the pcg began with 12 people—a very small beginning. That is no big problem to God’s very elect because they saw the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel, which signified that God was measuring the Church. This means they did not look to Mr. Armstrong, but to the God directing him. This way, whether it is a day of small or big things is of little importance. God’s loyal remnant see God behind the scenes.

God tests us to see if we “despise the day of small things”—or know how to totally trust God. God wants to know if we are willing to give up anything or anybody—for Him!

Mr. Armstrong was tested severely by God. He and Loma kept God’s holy days alone for seven years. They went through 28 years of oppressive poverty, and with few Church members. They were tried and tested. God wanted to know if they would not despise the day of small things. God tested them to see if they would look to Him and not men or things!

Mr. Armstrong said so many times that he and his wife, Loma, were poor financially, but rich spiritually. It was a day of small things physically when the Philadelphia era began. But God was working powerfully in their lives. Mr. Armstrong said he had to learn to give up anything for God. He learned not to despise the day of small things. This is a powerful lesson we must all learn!

“If any man come to me, and hate [actually, love less] not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27). We read that passage to every person seeking baptism. God tells you in the very beginning that you may even have to give the ultimate sacrifice—your own life! Nothing must stand between you and God—absolutely nothing!

You are also going to be tested in this way before you can enter into God’s Family. God must know if we have faith only in Him before we can be trusted with enormous power. He will never have another satanic-type rebellion.

The Laodiceans lack the faith to see and follow Christ in a small beginning! They are “rich, and increased with goods” (Revelation 3:17), and have lost much of their faith and vision. The size of their work is very important to them. Personal and collective income has become too important to them.

If Christ is in a small beginning, it will flourish and become a powerful work! The Philadelphians keep their focus on Christ—not on things or status.

We all need to examine ourselves in this area. How strong is our faith in small beginnings? We must make sure we remain sharp and strong in our faith. People in the 1970s and 1980s lost their faith. They came to dislike being called a cult by some people. They worked hard to get the college accredited, regardless of the cost. They compromised in other areas that took the Church into Babylon. Mr. Armstrong stopped it in the 1970s! Why? He didn’t desire the world’s approval—but he knew he had God’s approval! How about us? Do we desire the world’s approval, or do we want God’s approval?

The Philadelphia Church is a small church, but we still have God’s government. And yet there are people out there, Laodicean ministers and members, who simply will not take God’s direction from us. They have a monumental government problem. They just refuse to submit to God’s government.

All who have come to be a part of the pcg will be tested on government. Are we allowing God to lead us under any circumstances—no matter what? We must learn not to have contempt for God’s government. We must come to love it because it is God’s government! At this time, God’s government on the Earth is being administered by human beings. Human beings make mistakes. But these can be straightened out. However, we must never follow these men unless they follow Christ.

We must keep guard over our attitudes. We can still fall prey to the Laodicean contempt for God’s government. We must not allow ourselves to get into the attitude of not liking the government in God’s true Church. Some are staying with bigger groups just to be free of government. In other words, they don’t want God to rule them. Do we want to be free of God’s government? If we do, then we want to be free of God! Do we understand the depth and seriousness of the Laodicean problem? Rebellion against government is the heart and core of the Laodicean problem.

The whole Zerubbabel inset is a wonderful passage! It shows you how not to be a Laodicean. It shows where the Laodiceans went wrong, where they made their dastardly mistake. God put it right there so they could see. He wants them to be measured, and to measure things the right way, as Zerubbabel did!

God has revealed the true understanding of the Zerubbabel inset since Mr. Armstrong died. Mr. Armstrong himself didn’t understand that inset. But he read from it continually.

What a builder Mr. Armstrong was! We look to him today for everything as we raise up the ruins. He really knew how to build. He is gone, but the plummet is still here! We can still measure—and we must! (Revelation 11:1).

“Also I will make justice the measuring line, And righteousness the plummet; The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, And the waters will overflow the hiding place” (Isaiah 28:17; New King James Version). There’s a right way to build, and there’s a wrong way to build. The unlawful Joshua made the mistake of rejecting that plummet. We must get it right!

“For who hath despised the day of small things?”—or small beginnings. If we have the plummet and we’re measuring properly, we will never make that mistake. We will know, whether we have a small organization or a huge one, that God is with us.