PROPHESY AGAINST THE NATIONS
Chapter 6: If You Will Listen, God Will Listen – Part 5 (of 6)
The Determining Test for The Church
Throughout time, there are things that God has done in the lives of those whom He has called that put them to the test in order to reveal what is actually deep down inside their being—in the innermost part of their mind. These tests serve as a kind of trigger to force a person to address and act upon a decisive issue in their life at that specific moment in time. Such a test will reveal openly where a person truly stands spiritually in their relationship toward God and His Church. The actual degree of strength or weakness an individual exhibits when they are confronted with such a thing will be made manifest by their response, and it is measurable by God.
There are trials and tests that can clearly reveal the strength or weakness within the spirit of a person and of where a person truly is spiritually. These things can reveal the strength of conviction, faith, and level of commitment a person has toward God. However, these may reveal such great weaknesses that it becomes obvious that they will not be able to continue to endure further testing or trials. There is no “sitting on the fence” in a relationship with God. There is no ability to continue in a relationship with God if a person is only lukewarm in spirit, and definitely not if a person is not in agreement.
A good example of such testing is where God allowed Abraham to believe he should offer up his son, Isaac, in sacrifice. Yet it should be understood that human sacrifice is against God’s will and ways, but Abraham did not know that at this point in his life. Nevertheless, God let Abraham believe this was a requirement. Abraham was so strong in his convictions toward God and believed that God was filled with such mercy and righteousness that He would resurrect Isaac if needed in order to keep His promise concerning Isaac’s future. This story tells how God stopped Abraham from killing his own son and provided him with an animal standing nearby so that it could be offered instead. Abraham was put to the test in order to clearly reveal (manifest) what was truly in the deepest part of his being concerning his faith, conviction, and dedication to God. This event was established to help teach the world of the kind of love God has for mankind because He was willing to sacrifice His own Son to save mankind.
After this account, God said to Abraham, “Now I know you.” This revealed the true mind and spiritual creation that had been developed in Abraham to that moment in time. It revealed the level of commitment which Abraham was determined to live by in obedience and oneness toward God, regardless of the obstacles or trials that might come his way.
Similar to how God worked with Abraham in this account, God also allowed the Church to believe that the return of Christ was still going to occur in 2012, even after He had judged in mid-2008 to extend it by seven more years beyond 2012. God made this judgment in mid-2008 to move forward Christ’s return after putting the Church to a test that revealed the true spiritual state and level of actual spiritual development in its members to that moment in time. This was a test to determine the kind of choices individuals would make that would reveal their true faith toward God. It was a test that would force a response to be triggered that would reveal, one way or the other, what was deep down inside the spirit of each person.
This test was when God revealed a new truth to His Church that Christ would return to this earth on a Pentecost and not on the Holy Day of Trumpets as previously believed. Ever since I have been in the Church, it had been believed and taught by the ministry that Christ would return on a Feast of Trumpets. This would not be a small change for the Church, and it would reveal where everyone stood spiritually. Matters concerning Holy Days are very foundational doctrines, and the Church knows well that God will not change any truth concerning those days and their meaning for fulfillment. Although God had given His Church much truth concerning His Holy Days, there have been some things about those days that He never fully revealed. That was by design.
Over time, God reveals more and more truth to His people. It has been that way ever since Adam and Eve were created. Over the past 6,000 years, God has progressively revealed truth of Himself, His plan, purpose, and ways of life. As an example, in the time of Moses, God revealed much more about Himself, His purpose, and true ways of life that mankind should live. God had worked with certain individuals and families for several hundred years before, but by the time of Moses, He began to reveal much more to Israel than he had to those who had previously lived.
As time continued on, God began to reveal more through His prophets and then through the greatest Prophet of all that was sent to mankind—Jesus Christ. It was at this point nearly 4,000 years from the beginning of mankind’s existence that God began to reveal a greater amount of knowledge and understanding. Jesus Christ began to reveal the spiritual intent of God’s laws and ways of life. Even after the Church began in 31 A.D., God continued to progressively reveal much more to His Church through his apostles and the prophet John.
Over the past 80 years, there was only one other change in the Church that was of such proportion with the potential for trials as this one. It was when God had given truth to Herbert W. Armstrong that the Church should be keeping Pentecost on a Sunday and not on a Monday as the Church had been observing for nearly 40 years previous to this. So in 1974, when God led Mr. Armstrong to make this change within the Church, it was a trigger that forced people to address where they stood as a matter of “faith” in God’s Church, how deeply they believed God’s calling, and of how convicted they were of how God was working with them.
When that change was made, it truly did reveal where people stood spiritually. The response from members of the Church now allowed for each of them to be easily measured by God as to where they were in their spiritual development. There were large numbers of people, including quite a few within the ministry, who left the Church over this. Even in this, there were people who opposed this change who were on two different sides, nevertheless, it revealed where they truly were spiritually. Some would not make the change because they could not accept that God had revealed such a thing to Mr. Armstrong because they could not believe that they had been wrong all those years before this. Others left because they believed Mr. Armstrong had not made the change quick enough. This test was a trigger that caused people to respond, one way or the other, thus revealing their true beliefs and convictions.
God could have revealed this truth to the Church from the beginning, but He did not, and that was by design so that at a future time this might be used to test and refine His Church. This test worked to help cleanse the Church spiritually, and as a result, a stronger body remained as it continued to follow God’s apostle, as he was following Jesus Christ.
It was by this testing in 1974 that many were weeded out of God’s Church, yet the vast majority of the Church simply took this in stride, and were thankful for another great truth that God had revealed. They were excited by what God had given to them.
Such tests are designed as a trigger that forces a person to respond to something they have never yet been faced with in their life. At such a moment, they are forced to decide and choose what they will believe. In this case of a change being made concerning the day that Pentecost was to be observed, the announcement of this change forced people to respond to their true thinking and convictions. Each person was confronted with having to make a personal decision concerning what choice they would make in response to what they heard. This test, which resulted from this announcement of a big change in the observance of one of God’s Holy Days, worked as a kind of trigger upon the mind. It would instantly spark a reaction that would begin to manifest where each individual stood. It would reveal one’s faith and level of conviction or the lack thereof.
Oftentimes, individuals don’t even know their own true self and actual convictions until such a test comes their way that reveals it.
In this particular example, people were instantly tested as to their actual conviction and belief in God’s Church and of their own level of confidence that God was leading Herbert W. Armstrong as His apostle. It would reveal each person’s level of conviction, their belief in the doctrines of the Church, as well as their belief in the means through which God reveals truth to His people.
It was at Pentecost 2008 when God began to reveal a new truth—the 50th Truth—to His Church concerning the Holy Day when Christ would once again stand upon the Mount of Olives at his return. The response to this truth from God’s Church would be the determining factor for what year God would send His son to establish His Kingdom on earth.
There were two objectives God had for the Church if that return was to go beyond 2012. God’s purpose wasn’t that the members of the Church just simply carry on as they had over the previous 13 years, simply continuing a process for the normal transformation of the mind that was being created within each of them. The Church had already been on a very long, turbulent journey since the Apostasy, and there was no point that it should simply suffer more unless there was some far greater purpose for it.
Instead, if the Church was going to be carried forward another 11 years, up to the Pentecost of 2019, God was first going to make it a Church that would become even far, far stronger in faith and spiritual strength than it had ever been. This would entail a creative process that had never before been done on such a level within the Church.
God’s greater purpose for continuing forward was that if indeed a greater creation were to be worked within them, then they would also do a much greater work than could have been accomplished after 2008 and up to 2012, if that had been the time for Christ’s coming.
If the Church was not where it needed to be by mid-2008 in order for these additional things to be accomplished within it, then there was no point in continuing further. Instead, it would be more expedient to simply carry out the execution of prophetic end-time tribulation upon the world, a world that had already been judged worthy of tribulation.
This new truth that was to be a test on the Church was given to it on the 28th of June in 2008. It was then that this change about Christ returning on Pentecost was revealed to the entirety of the Church. This did prove to be unsettling for a very few, which included a handful within the ministry. These did not respond well and this began to reveal their true spiritual state. In time, most of these became weakened by other events and eventually went by the wayside. This was a test that triggered a true response within these individuals that then began to become manifest and proved to be a major turning point in their life as they turned away from God.
However, for some in the Church, this proved to be a great spiritual wake-up call, as they began to recognize that a lethargic spiritual condition of Laodicea was starting to creep into their lives. This motivated these individuals to repentance and greater spiritual growth.
For most who were actively growing on a continuing basis on a spiritual plane, this new truth proved inspiring, especially as they then began to see a far greater importance in it. The Church became more excited about this change as the weeks progressed, and it proved to be a strong catalyst for far greater spiritual growth.
There was more to this new truth beyond the fact that it revealed the actual Holy Day when Christ would stand on this earth once more. It also revealed a big change that was to occur in what had been seen as the actual day when Christ would return. This in itself proved to be exceedingly exciting for God’s Church.
As it was stated, before this change in understanding that Jesus Christ would return on a Pentecost, it was believed that he would return on a Feast of Trumpets, which is autumn in the northern hemisphere. Several months prior to this change given in June 2008, the Church had come to believe that Christ was going to return on the Feast of Trumpets in 2011. The reason for seeing that it had to be that specific year was because God had revealed that 2008 was the year that a final witness to the world would begin to be established, hence the title of the second book, 2008—God’s Final Witness. Since 2008 had been revealed to be the year when God would begin to establish a final end-time witness, the Church knew that witness would be accomplished within a prophetic period of 1260 days as prophesied. The only Feast of Trumpets that could be measured from any date within the year of 2008 and out to a future Feast of Trumpets had to be the Feast of Trumpets in 2011.
So with this new truth about Christ returning on a Pentecost, this also required announcing a change to a new date for the return of Christ. The only time that could be measured to a specific Pentecost from 1260 days within the year 2008, had to be the Pentecost of 2012.
Although there was a change in our understanding about a different Holy Day being the date of Christ’s coming, this now became incredibly exciting. This count of 1260 days is one that is directly related to Daniel’s prophecy for timing of end-time events that includes the count of three specific periods of time. In addition to a 1260-day count, there is also the count of 1290 days and 1335 days mentioned in Daniel 12. All of a sudden, these days began to fit into a very meaningful pattern, whereas they didn’t before in the previous count to Trumpets of 2011.
By counting back 1335 days from the Pentecost in 2012, it leads to the 30th of September of 2008, the Feast of Trumpets for that year. This was incredibly inspiring for the vast majority of the Church, as this had awesome meaning that everyone understood. The Feast of Trumpets pictures the trumpeting of the announcement of the coming of the King of kings—the coming of the Messiah. That is the primary meaning of that Holy Day, and that is why the Church previously believed that Trumpets must be the Holy Day on which Christ would return. However, with the new truth given to the Church in late June 2008, this now took on even deeper meaning. That is because it was now believed the trumpeting (announcement) of Christ’s coming would occur on Trumpets of 2008 and then 1335 days later he would begin his return to this earth at the very moment Pentecost began in 2012.
This test upon God’s Church in 2008 was actually far more important than we ever knew. It was of double importance in one sense because it was like two tests in one. Not only had truth been changed about a Holy Day, but now the timing for Christ’s return was also altered as a result, since it was now understood that he would not return on the day of Trumpets 2011, but on the day of Pentecost 2012. This was a mighty strong and telling test for God’s Church, as it would quickly and powerfully reveal the belief, conviction, and faith of every individual.
So indeed, God triggered a response that manifested the true spiritual condition of the Church, which could then be measured. It was then that God proceeded with His plan and purpose to create something far greater in His Church, to a degree and in a way that had never been done before. Since the Church passed this test with resounding success, God would now not only move forward the timing for Christ’s coming from the Pentecost of 2012 to the Pentecost of 2019, but He would begin preparing the world to now have the potential for far greater numbers to be delivered into the Millennium.
Although God changed this timing, He did not reveal to the Church that He had done so. That in itself would become the primary tool God would use whereby He would continue an even greater spiritual creation within His Church. As a result, the Church experienced a molding and spiritual fashioning of faith and strength to a level where members were made to stand fast against Satan, the demonic world, and the world itself, regardless of what these would throw at it.
At One With God
This experience of a dual test the Church had been given at the end of June in 2008 actually worked to launch the Church forward with greater conviction and focus than ever before. After another six months had passed, the Church had grown to a much stronger level of spiritual oneness with God. This was reflected in what the Church then did in early January of 2009.
Although God had revealed an important truth to His Church that the return of Christ was now going to occur on a Pentecost, He never revealed to the Church that 2012 was no longer to be the year for Christ’s coming. It would be a few more years before God would actually reveal that everything had been moved forward by seven years.
Throughout the four years that followed the time the Church was tested, all the way up to the Pentecost of 2012, the Church still believed that Christ was coming on that day. It lived that belief as a matter of unquestioning faith, similar to Abraham who had unwavering faith that God would resurrect his son if he were sacrificed. For the Church, everything they lived was geared to that day for Christ’s coming. People made important financial, future family planning, and career decisions based on this world’s system coming to an end by late May of 2012. For many, this would later prove to make their lives more difficult in the years that immediately followed, but nevertheless, they did it all in faith.
Although the Church experienced the months, weeks, and days leading up to that day with nothing happening, this experience actually became the catalyst that would pave the way for God to do a much greater spiritual creation within them in a way that could not have been accomplished through any other means. That is the very reason God did not reveal that everything had been moved forward by seven years. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t for quite a while after Pentecost 2012 that God revealed what He had done. In all those years leading to that date, the Church grew into a more responsive and unified body that had been prepared to follow God in whatever direction He would lead it and through whatever change was thrust before it.
The Church is God’s creation and now He was going to create something on a far greater plane through this entire process. The astounding purpose behind all that God was doing within those in the Church, began to be revealed in what He inspired His Church to do soon after the Seven Trumpets of Revelation sounded in mid-December of 2008. In the beginning of January, God’s Church entered into a two-day fast. This was unprecedented in the Church. It was stated that this fast was for baptized members to participate in. Yet some who where not baptized and some younger in age joined in as well, and some of those who were young did so for one day instead of two, but nevertheless, they participated.
This fast was a powerful tool to bring the Church into far greater unity and oneness with God’s very purpose in moving forward in a second date for Christ’s coming. In this fast that the Church observed, the desire, as with all fasts, was to draw closer to God through humbling oneself before Him, as one would focus more on their own need for growth, change through repentance, and transformation in mind (thinking). In this fast there were also many prayers that included a petition to God that He might deliver far more people from destruction in this end-time, both in the world and in the Church that had been scattered.
That was God’s purpose all along for the world and for the Church that had been scattered. Through this fast, the Church had been brought into greater unity and oneness with God’s purpose. Yet the Church would not fully learn about all that God had accomplished until they could read the pages of this book, and this is long after God already implemented His plans to achieve the very thing this fast was directed to accomplish—that many more might be able to be delivered into the Millennium.
God actually did reveal a portion of this to the Church before 2012 that concerned the Church that had been scattered. God revealed that far larger numbers of those who had been scattered were potentially going to be delivered, although we did not realize at that time that this was not to happen for at least seven years or more from when it was revealed. If Christ’s coming had been in 2012, only a much smaller number could have been potentially delivered into the Millennium.
There is a prophecy in Revelation that speaks of destruction that will take place in Jerusalem where a total of 70,000 people are affected. God said that 7,000 of them would perish in a great earthquake (shaking). If the date of 2012 had been fulfilled, this would have occurred within that literal physical city, as this would have then been fulfilled as a physical type for the physical city.
Since the date was changed to 2019, God then provided the means for the Church that had become scattered (a spiritual type of Jerusalem) to have the potential for 63,000 people to live into the Millennium in a continuing physical life, rather than having to wait to be resurrected in the final 100 years of a second physical life. Yet this prophecy also reveals that of the total of 70,000 who are counted among this scattered group, that 7,000 notable (marked and specifically named) people from that total will definitely die. These will include many who did not “stand” as they should have for God’s Church when they had the opportunity to preceding the Apostasy and in the few years following. Although 63,000 are offered potential to live into the Millennium, it does not mean that all will accept what God offers to them, which means they must also accept His remnant Church and His two end-time witnesses, who are His prophets and the leaders He has placed over His Church.
In this two-day fast that the Church observed in early January of 2009, the Church had considered participating in a three-day fast. The reason it did not do so is because there was a desire not to take anything away from the incredible story of Queen Esther, who had called a three-day fast for all the Jews who were in captivity, so that they might be delivered from imminent destruction. These captives humbled themselves for three days and fasted before God by not eating or drinking for that entire period of time. It is an incredible story of how God then delivered them.
One of the most powerful means that God has given for people to use in seeking His favor, mercy, help, and intervention in life is to humble oneself before Him in fasting, prayer, and repentance. It is a powerful tool.