Revelation 3:7-9 prophesy of a “synagogue of Satan” existing in God’s true Church even while Herbert W. Armstrong was still alive. A group of evil ministers was inside God’s Church, and Mr. Armstrong battled it for years. After he died, that synagogue flourished. That is when God’s Church entered into the Laodicean era.
Mr. Armstrong recognized a lot of the corruption that was taking place in the Worldwide Church of God (wcg), particularly within the ministry. Toward the end of his life, he knew the Church was in a bad condition. In a 1985 Pentecost sermon, Mr. Armstrong told the brethren that most of them didn’t understand why they were called into the Church at that time—and he was especially condemning of the ministers!
He could see the “synagogue of Satan” at work. God probably showed him a great deal more than we even realize. He knew that 50 percent of the Laodiceans were prophesied to repent in the Great Tribulation, but he also knew that 50 percent would die forever.
I’m sure there was a time when Mr. Armstrong felt entirely alone near the end of his life. At one point, the Prophet Elijah felt alone as well; he felt he was the only one delivering God’s message. God told him, however, that there were 7,000 faithful individuals who had not bowed their knee to Baal, and they would help finish the work (1 Kings 19:18).
There is duality in this prophecy. I don’t doubt that Mr. Armstrong was encouraged by the duality in this account of Elijah. He saw the corruption in the Church, but he knew God was in charge and would work it all out.
We have about 7,000 individuals supporting the Philadelphia Church of God, counting co-workers and donors. It may be a small group of people, but look at the impact we are having!
Anciently, Elijah prophesied that God would withhold rain in Israel for 3½ years. However, James 5:17 says Elijah prayed for the rain to cease. In the end time, there was an Elijah-type on the scene who didn’t prophesy of an impending drought, but rather prayed that God would withhold spiritual rain from spiritual Israel. Mr. Armstrong offered up that faithful prayer just before he died, and God responded. (This is explained in my free booklet The Epistle of James.)
After Mr. Armstrong died, none of the ministers’ messages seemed like they were really inspired by God. So I asked headquarters to send Dr. Hoeh’s taped messages out for my congregations. And for about six months, he gave some really powerful, moving messages. At the end of those six months, the new leadership came up with a new doctrine; Dr. Hoeh went right along with it, and that was the end of the inspiring sermons. This should be a warning to all of our ministers: If you cave on a doctrine of God, He will cut you off! If we don’t do it God’s way, God is not with us. God was not blessing the wcg with spiritual rain because Mr. Armstrong prayed that it would be withheld! That prayer was crucial to the beginning of this little Church.
While my son was a freshman at Ambassador College in Pasadena, I became uneasy about some of the statements coming from there. The summer after his freshman year, I asked him to transfer to the Big Sandy campus so I could be closer to him. On the weekend of July 14, 1989, I had a manuscript of Malachi’s Message with me at a congregational campout at Robbers Cave. I asked my son to read my manuscript, unsure of how he would respond. He began reading it on July 16, exactly 3½ years after Mr. Armstrong had died. And on that day, God began the spiritual rain—3½ years after Mr. Armstrong prayed for it to cease. This was the “latter rain” of James 5:17. It is eternal, life-saving rain!
The rain began with the message being given to an unbaptized young man. Why do you suppose God would do that?
The Hearts of the Children
“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). God tells us here to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, or else we will lose our salvation—speaking to the ministers first and foremost!
This is one of the most vital passages in the Bible. If you don’t understand about the Family of God, then you don’t understand what the Work is all about! If you cannot turn the young people, you can’t make it into the Kingdom of God! It is absolutely critical that we concentrate on the family.
When we get this right, God uses it to prepare us for a tremendous, outstanding Work! God has made it possible through His people to establish two colleges, which grew out of that tiny beginning at Robbers Cave! People can scoff because of how small our work is compared to the world. But we must not scoff at what God is doing! Don’t get hung up on the numbers. We have to understand that it is all about Who is behind this Work. Something great would come from it even if it consisted of only one person. But it doesn’t, so all of us praying and working together in concert can have an amazing impact on this world!
There is a bloody urgency in what is happening in the world today. You can already feel the storm of the Day of the Lord building. Times are far different from when Mr. Armstrong was alive, and even right after he died. God said He would send Elijah “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord”—and we can, right before our eyes, see just how dreadful it is becoming! You can see the nuclear storm coming—it is visible!
There is a passage in Malachi 4 within the context of this approaching storm that I think God has given me a better understanding of than ever before.
The Still, Small Voice
Elijah’s biggest problem was the evil Queen Jezebel. After Elijah had gone through a dramatic confrontation with Israel’s false prophets (1 Kings 18), he received a message that really unnerved him: Jezebel had vowed to kill him, just as he had killed the false prophets (1 Kings 19:1-2). This threat caused Elijah to run and hide in the wilderness (verses 3-4). Before Jezebel’s death sentence, Elijah had seen so many awesome miracles! Yet he forgot about those miracles, and now, he was running.
“And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God” (verses 7-8). Elijah was directed to Horeb, which is Mount Sinai, where the Israelites had received the Ten Commandments. There they had witnessed great power from God: thunder, lightning and an earthquake that shook the whole mountain! God sent Elijah there to remind him—and us—that He has immeasurable, unimaginable power.
However, God wanted to teach Elijah something else. There is a great lesson in this for all of us. It is right in the context of the end-time Elijah and the Day of the Lord.
“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (verses 11-12). The wind, earthquake and fire were caused by the angels. God was not in any of them. These events certainly would have helped Elijah understand what it was like when the Ten Commandments were given! But amazingly, God was only in the still, small voice.
Malachi 4:4 says, “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.” Clearly, God wants us to get in our minds the picture of what happened on Mount Sinai. That is what God is trying to get the Laodiceans’ minds on because they have forgotten the law!
But today, God talks to His people in a still, small voice!
In Matthew 11:7-11, God taught the same lesson through John the Baptist, the first-century Elijah. He points out that John the Baptist did not do any miracles, where people would directly see the incredible power of God. John had come proclaiming Jesus Christ. Most of those who heard John’s message about Christ rejected it, but it still was the voice of God! It was the very same God who had performed all those miracles on Mount Sinai—but they didn’t recognize Him in the still, small voice.
Today, God speaks through His ministry. When God’s ministers speak from the Bible, they are speaking in a still, small voice. We had better listen to that voice. We are to follow a man as he follows Christ. God wants to teach us what He taught Elijah: It is not His way to go around shaking mountains all the time! This is easy to overlook if you are arrogant and don’t want to listen to a still, small voice. But God publicizes His message as a witness (Matthew 24:14).
John the Baptist taught the Jews of his day the truth of God without dramatic miracles. They didn’t like what he said, and they had his head cut off and presented on a platter! If they had listened to him, how it would have changed their lives! They would have known who the Son of God is—the Messiah! But they don’t know to this day!
If they had just heard the still, small voice, they would have never gone through the holocaust in a.d. 70. They marred Jesus Christ more than any man who walked the face of the Earth because He brought them this message!
They are just a type of all human beings. In our day, if people would listen to the still, small voice, they would not have to suffer through the coming holocaust that is going to be a hundred times worse than any before—the impending storm visible to us today.
‘Shaking the Nations’?
Roderick Meredith was an evangelist in the wcg under Mr. Armstrong and now leads his own church. He does not believe Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah. He said something to the effect that Elijah would come and “shake the nations”! But is that biblical?
How can anyone look at everything Mr. Armstrong restored and deny that he was the end-time Elijah? He was the voice crying out in a wilderness of religious confusion! (Isaiah 40:3). That isn’t shaking nations. Mr. Armstrong didn’t shake the nations, but he did tell us about a time when the nations are going to begin to be shaken by the events that are unfolding in the world. What is happening in Russia, China, Iran, Germany and Europe—that is shaking the nations!
We cannot focus on shaking the nations or doing great things as human beings—we just need to listen to that still, small voice. Get the still, small voice in your mind, and you will be convinced and convicted that the God of Mount Sinai is right there with you, and you will have great proof to know it and faith to believe it! There is a ton of proof for God’s people. We don’t need Mount Sinai; we need that still, small voice! We must hear His voice all the time!
If you need a miracle to make it or to be convinced of God’s power, you will see some of those things when you go into the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord!
Fifty percent of God’s people will not turn around because they are not listening to the still, small voice. The single greatest warning for us today is what has happened to the Laodiceans. We have to take warning from their example! Ninety-five percent of God’s people are listening to spiritual nonsense. They don’t have revelation from God, nor do they have the Elijah work. They won’t listen to the still, small voice because they are waiting for a man to come who will shake the nations. Such a man is not going to come—not in the Elijah work! But the Day of the Lord is coming!
When God prophesied about Elijah, He talked about the law (Malachi 4:4-5). The law is a dominant theme in the scriptures about the Elijah work. This law is the foundation of the Bible. God tells us that if we are going to do the Work, we have to be submissive to the law so we can hear the still, small voice.
God isn’t shaking nations yet—not the way He shook Mount Sinai to teach His law (Exodus 19:16-19; 20:18).
With all the pride and arrogance that human beings have, they won’t listen to God, even when He does shake a mountain! Even with a storm visibly approaching, they still won’t listen! They don’t know about the Word of God or the law because they don’t want to obey God. If they won’t even respond to a shaking, they certainly won’t with a still, small voice.
For those in God’s faithful remnant today, God did finally get our attention. This is why we can hear the still, small voice. We must learn now to fear God, which means keeping His law and obeying the government that teaches that law. God will take His loyal people to a place of safety because we have been hungering and thirsting and going after this truth in every little still, small voice we hear. God wants to talk to His Family, but He isn’t going to talk to us in a Mount Sinai experience—that would be overwhelming. God doesn’t have to shout and shake mountains to get us to listen. If He has to do that, then we are headed for the Great Tribulation.
After God has your attention, then He can talk to you in a still, small voice. But in almost all cases, it is not easy for God to get our attention. The fact that 95 percent of God’s people aren’t listening to Him today proves that this is not an easy lesson to learn.
God’s Fiery Angelic Army
At one point, Elisha really stirred up the wrath of the king of Syria, who brought an army to kill Elisha—a whole army to trap and kill one man!
“Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. And when the servant of the man of God [Elisha] was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:14-15).
Elisha knew something that this young man didn’t know. He knew that the Syrian army was surrounded by an angelic army! The Bible does not say Elisha saw it; he didn’t need to see it! He just knew it was there. He knew God had an army to take care of them. He had relaxed faith.
“And [Elisha] answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (verse 16). Elisha asked God to show this young man the spirit army (verse 17).
Revelation 12:12 tells us that Satan and his demons are filled with wrath. They have been confined to Earth. This has real-world consequences: The demons are stirring things up like you can’t imagine. Their confinement is leading us to the Great Tribulation—the wrath of Satan! It has been building since they were cast down. You have to understand that what is going on in Europe and the Middle East is all fueled by Satan’s wrath! This time is a lot worse than anything we have seen, and the suffering is going to exceed anything ever experienced on Earth! God is doing everything He can to make sure we know that.
Verses 15-16 show that as God’s people travel toward the place of safety, an army will be chasing after us! Satan will not pass up an opportunity to try and destroy us, even as we are on our way to a place of safety. But that army is going to be swallowed up in an earthquake. God will send angels to deal with that army!
Why? Because we have listened to the still, small voice!
Our faith—because we are built on faith from the still, small voice—will take care of the problem. This is very similar to what Elisha talked about in 2 Kings 6. We need to have the same faith as Elisha. We must believe in that fiery angelic army! And our faith in its presence is built on what we hear from the still, small voice.
We wouldn’t be able to do the Work of God without the angels! The fact that you are doing God’s Work shows that you have been hearing the still, small voice and you know it is of God, because you have proven it time and again.
The God of Elijah
At the end of Elijah’s ministry, God took him away in a mighty miracle: “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11). Here were some of those angelic horses!
How did Elisha respond? He cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof” (verse 12). Elisha was able to carry on the Elijah work because of the marvelous attitude he had toward Elijah.
Elisha asked, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” (verse 14). We have to know where the God of Elijah is! Only this great, miraculous God will save Israel! Is He really here with a little group of people, the Philadelphia Church of God?
Prophecy shows that only one small group listened to what Elijah said! We are living in the Laodicean era—a time when 95 percent of God’s people have turned away from the God of Elijah! You don’t get to know this God by watching for Mount Sinai miracles.
Elisha could recognize the Work of God and see that Work was of God. But we don’t need to see a fiery chariot going up into heaven to believe that. We need to get all the information out of the Bible that we can. Just look at the reward God gives us if we see the fiery God!
Think of all the revelation that we have. Even when the Church was confused and lost, God gave us Malachi’s Message. When God revealed that book, I knew what was happening; I didn’t know where it was going to lead, but it didn’t matter! The only thing that mattered was that God was behind it. Our education comes from the still, small voice—this is how God really teaches us.
We have to be taught so we can teach others and speak to them in a still, small voice. This is why we are here: to teach the world. We will be at headquarters for all eternity if we are loyal to this Elijah work.
We have to continually learn how to do this Work better. But we are going to have to hear the still, small voice and go out to the world and proclaim my God is God! This whole world needs to understand this. Very soon they will recognize that the only way to solve their problems is with the true, living God of Elijah!