This world is in captivity and enslaved to sin, and it is ignorant of this fact, for the world does not see God, and therefore cannot see nor understand His way of true freedom and true peace.
In the Church, God has been magnifying the need for His rule over this world as His Kingdom is drawing very near. God desires that His people see more clearly how evil this world really is in every aspect of life. He is doing this because the Church and the Kingdom of God will soon begin to work to change every structure, basis, principle, focus, and practice of every governmental, economic, religious, and educational system. Nothing in this world is worthy of being saved, as nothing is founded on the ways and truth that come from God.
So God has been blessing His Church to see spiritual Egypt (bondage) in a far deeper way. However, when one is given that ability, it most often comes about through very unpleasant experiences in this world, as this is the spiritual means of blessing us with much deeper conviction of God’s true ways. Though it is a blessing to more clearly see the stark contrast between what God is bringing to this world and the ugly way this world is now, such learning experiences usually include notable suffering on our part. Yet we are so very blessed to be able to see such an infinitely vast contrast between the two.
Israel’s Deliverance From Captivity
During this Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread we seek to draw closer to God by more fully coming out of sin — farther from the captivity of Egypt. At Passover we partake of the unleavened bread of life and then we follow that day by eating unleavened bread for the next seven days. This pictures the way of deliverance from Egypt, from bondage to sin, and then of living by the true bread of life which is the way of true freedom and peace that comes from God.
This brings to mind what God did, and will soon do again, when He delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. The kind of deliverance spoken of for this end-time has not always been clearly understood by God’s Church. In the end-time, scripture speaks of God’s deliverance of Israel from captivity, and it was often perceived that this was speaking of a time when Assyria (modern Germany) would be given power to punish the modern day nations of ancient Israel. The belief was that there would be a second physical captivity of Israel as in the original account of Assyria conquering the northern ten tribes of Israel. Yet this is not the case. Some of this will be covered later in this post.
There is much that involves end-time prophetic fulfillment that is spiritual in nature and not simply the fulfillment of literally interpreted physical events. The Church began to have this revealed to it after the apostasy occurred in December of 1994. The intent of much prophecy at the end-time has been revealed to be far more about that which is spiritual rather than that which is physical. Such examples that have been revealed include the stones of the temple not being about physical stones of a physical temple in Jerusalem, but a spiritual one that is the Church. The abomination of desolation is not about a physical desecration within a physical temple (nor on a physical altar), but was about an abomination that occurred within the Church.
There are numerous other examples that could be mentioned, and many are contained within the list of truths (in the publication of the “The 57 Truths of God”) that God began to reveal following the 18 truths He gave through Herbert W. Armstrong. One notable example concerns the Seals of Revelation, most of which concern events that happened to God’s Church during and after the apostasy. In the past, these seals were interpreted as being about events of large-scale physical war, physical tribulation, and captivity of the scattered nations of Israel. These were, in reality, about spiritual battles, spiritual tribulation and captivity within the spiritual Israel of God — the Church of God. This understanding will lead to greater clarification of three truths given since the apostasy, which will be addressed later in this post.
God has chosen to reveal prophecy in a progressive manner through time and especially so in this end-time. The Almighty has done this for great reason. Fulfillment of prophetic events during this end-time, which are covered in the Seals of Revelation, do involve great battles, tribulation, war, and captivity. Although there will be horrific physical battles within a final WW III, there are battles that have already been fought and will continue to be waged all the way through to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. These great battles are spiritual and not physical. Some of the greatest spiritual wars of all time are occurring now at this time in order to end all wars.
Satan and the demonic world know their time is very short and as a result they have been fully engaged in great warfare. Through this final period of fighting, God has not revealed the full meaning of all end-time events, as Satan is not to know all the strategies of God, who will soon bring a complete end to Satan’s evil influence over mankind. Removal of this being (Satan) is God’s deliverance for this world from the spiritual Pharaoh of spiritual Egypt — deliverance from spiritual bondage and captivity. The final Passover season observed during this end-time is awesome in meaning and fulfillment.
More Spiritual Meaning
The first five Seals of Revelation were fully spiritual in nature. These were not about physical tribulation on the scattered nations of Israel or the world, but these were completely about spiritual tribulation upon the Church. That which will be fulfilled through events revealed in the Seventh Seal are not spiritually about the Church as the earlier seals. However, the events of this final seal do include spiritual meaning that is combined with literal physical events. It is the spiritual meaning contained in some of these events that God is now giving clearer understanding.
For the Church, this was covered in part after the First Trumpet of the Seventh Seal was blown. God revealed that the fulfillment of this trumpet would be ongoing until Christ has returned. The effects of it will continue to increase until it is completely fulfilled at the end. Early on, God revealed that there was spiritual meaning to the terms about the green grass and trees. Yet this will also have literal physical meaning by the end.
We have already touched upon the spiritual meaning of Egypt, as the prophetic events for this time are not about the literal nation of Egypt, but about a spiritual one, even as end-time events prophesied about Pharaoh are about Satan. Although Germany (ancient Assyria) will play a short-lived role in the physical fulfillment of events that include war, their power given against the modern day nations of Israel is already in full motion as a result of the economic power of the Euro. It is the block of nations using this single currency that is bringing to light the great weakness of the U.S. Dollar and the flaws of the U.S. Federal Reserve system that can no longer be kept hidden in the dark.
There is also spiritual meaning contained in the prophetic use of the name “Assyria,” just as there is in the term for Egypt and Israel. This is two-fold in its application and meaning as it can be applied spiritually to the spiritual organism of the Church and it can be applied in spiritual meaning to physical nations. As the term for Egypt is about captivity and enslavement to sin, the spiritual term for Assyria is about captivity and enslavement to government. Where the term for Egypt is about sin, the term for Assyria is about perverted government that rejects and omits God as its guide.
Spiritual Assyria is the cause of governments failing in the scattered nations of Israel (both physical and spiritual). It was also spiritual Assyria that caused such devastation in the Church of God at the time of the apostasy. A government that excluded God’s guidance and direction resulted in the spiritual Abomination of Desolation. When the battle of the apostasy struck the Church — the Israel of God — there was destruction, scattering, and great captivity that followed. It is this understanding about the spiritual term for Assyria that concerns captivity that helps to clarify and strengthen three truths that earlier were given to the Church.
Ezekiel 5 has been spiritually fulfilled through the scattering of the Church of God since the apostasy. After the Abomination of Desolation, approximately one-third of the Church remained in the Worldwide Church of God that had then become completely Biblically corrupt (or they accepted the same kind of beliefs of other false churches in traditional Christianity), one-third gave up completely, and one-third went into the various organizations that formed afterward. That last third was to endure further trials, mirroring what God said about Laodicea. Within all this spiritual destruction, God prophesied that a tithe (ten percent) of a third would survive captivity within this end-time destruction and be offered to become His remnant Church that would continue to the very end. This small remnant Church is spoken of in many other prophecies of the Bible. [For more understanding of this remnant Church, see truth #34.]
Of all who have been scattered, God is awakening a remnant out of it as a witness of this end-time. That witness is to both the Church (about God’s calling into His Church through time and especially of this end-time) and the world (in how the world has responded to God for the past 6,000 years). The vast majority of the Church that was scattered, including those offered to become part of God’s remnant Church, has not repented of the Laodicea condition, and they remain prideful and lukewarm. God clearly revealed He would not accept a lukewarm attitude toward His calling and declared that such would be vomited out of the Church (cut off from God and the power of His spirit in their life).
Yet in the midst of the destruction from this end-time apostasy, God promised to awaken ten percent of a third as a witness of what God was doing, and as a witness of what the scattered Church would do during Laodicea and the time of His final witness.
Ezekiel 5 aptly pictures what happened to God’s Church after the apostasy. “A third part of you shall die with the pestilence and with famine in the midst of you, and a third part around you will fall by the sword, and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them” (Ez. 5:12).
The first third that died of pestilence and famine is about those who simply quit and gave up completely. These were diseased and famished spiritually and died (went into full spiritual sleep). The next third that fell by the sword are those who turned from the truth, from the word of God, and thereby were spiritually destroyed by the two-edged sword of God’s word that judged them and cut them off from any further access to His spirit. These too went immediately into complete spiritual sleep.
The final third was scattered and eventually formed into over 600 different groups and organizations. Yet these were not shocked into repentance after the apostasy and the same sword went among them as they drifted spiritually into a deeper unrepentant Laodicea attitude. These too fell into complete spiritual sleep.
All three groups went back into the spiritual captivity of Egypt and became enslaved in spiritual bondage once again. Yet in the midst of this captivity, God promised a remnant protection from the captivity that had so quickly engulfed the Church. Although this small group was promised protection and that they could survive the captivity of the others, they were to be thrust into trials and tested to see who could remain as part of the remnant to the return of Jesus Christ. “You shall also take a few in number and bind them in you wings” (Ez. 5:3). There was special protection and intervention from God for each person who was offered to become part of this remnant.
The timing for each person given the opportunity to survive the captivity was not the same. People were drawn out at different times from one of the three forms of captivity that had come upon the Church. The Church began to refer to this process as being awakened from spiritual sleep. Not everyone who received God’s awakening responded in truth and in spirit. This is very much like when God first calls a person and offers the awesome opportunity to become part of His Church. Most do not receive it and still others reject it in time, even after they declare they have accepted it.
“Then take of them again (those offered protection to survive the captivity and be part of the remnant), and cast them into the midst of the fire (to be tried and tested), and burn them in the fire, and therefore shall a fire (trials and testing) come forth into all the House of Israel (the remaining remnant of the Church)” (Ez. 5:4).
God offered protection and survival from captivity to a tithe (ten percent) of a third of all who went into captivity. Once put to the test, all did not hold fast to what God offered them. Although the Church did not understand it through this period of time, we knew that the Church was holding near a count equal to a tithe of the tithe in number (ten percent of the ten percent of a third). So what happened to all the other 90 percent who were given opportunity to be in the remnant? That which happened to them is exactly what happened in one of the accounts of Christ’s life when he granted healing to ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19).
All ten lepers were diseased, infirmed, and ostracized by the world. They were very much held captive to their condition in life. Only one who was a stranger (not of Judah) a Samaritan, had the humility of mind, with a spirit of gratitude, to return in worship and thankfulness for the healing Christ offered him. Even in their oppressed state, the other nine were filled with pride and void of any sign of thanksgiving for what God had offered them. The base nature of mankind, even in some of the most oppressed conditions of life, is strong in pride. Even in the environment of the Church at the end-time, this is one of the greatest lessons in life that can be learned.
Laodicea was filled with a spirit of pride and ingratitude for everything that God had offered to them. They could not see the depth of true riches God had given them and instead they took to themselves these riches. “Because you say, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, miserable, poor, and naked, I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire so that you may be rich and dressed in white so that you may be clothed and that the shame of your (true) nakedness does not appear, and anoint your eyes with eye salve so that you may see” (Rev. 3:17-18).
So who were these of the larger number of people — the nine in ten who rejected God’s offer to be in His remnant Church to the end? It is exactly like what has happened when God first offers a calling. People in the Church never get to know them because they quickly reject what God offers. There is also a large number who do make some contact with God’s Church (the ministry), but never follow through with acceptance of God’s offer. Then there is a third group, who do accept the offer and enter into fellowship, but in variable periods of time they have turned away.
So the Church has not known all whom God awakened who rejected His offer to escape captivity. The vast majority quickly rejected what God had placed before them because their pride was far too great so that they might humble themselves to become part (the remnant) of what they could see through their narrow vision of such a small and widely ridiculed group.
These are those who would not exercise humility and accept God’s government and guidance through the new remnant organization, so they rejected it. Their rejection resulted in a captivity to spiritual Assyria. They rejected what God had offered them, as they would not accept the government of His new remnant Church and chose instead a government more to their liking and comfort.
Others whom the remnant Church has not known in their personal fellowship consist of those who were repenting of their Laodicea attitude as God personally was revealing it to them. They were not required by God to become part of the remnant fellowship, but they were judged separately for what they were given to know. These are those who were of older age and/or filled with illness that God did not require more from before they died during the years that followed the apostasy. Most of these were long time members of God’s Church who had very much been proven before the apostasy.
Since the apostasy, their also has been a large number who did come into fellowship with the remnant Church and at some later point they turned from God. They have come and they have gone. Most of these have made themselves enemies to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. To their own shame and bitterness of spirit, such first rejected their calling (the Laodicea spirit of error) and then rejected God’s great awakening to be a remnant of His Church to the return of Jesus Christ.
The magnification of this truth is recorded as a great witness for all time. Lessons will be drawn and preached from it for centuries to come.
The remnant God awakens will consist of 10% of a third of those in the Worldwide Church of God, before the apostasy began. Yet as covered in Truth #34, not all accepted and received God’s awakening from captivity. The prophecy of Ezekiel 5 tells of both the scattering of the physical nations of Israel (in the Day of the Eternal) and spiritual Israel (which has already occurred). This and other prophecies also speak of a tithe (ten percent) of a third of both physical and spiritual Israel that will survive as a remnant.
It needs to be understood what happened to the Church that was scattered so that one can understand what will happen to the scattered nations of Israel once they experience great tribulation and destruction. When such happened to the Church on a spiritual plane, it did not mean they were uprooted and moved to some other location in captivity, but they became broken, shattered, and scattered as a result of the collapse and failure of government that had been leading them. When the government and economic systems of these nations collapse, peoples will be divided, broken, and in complete disarray — scattered — without the former guidance, security, and leadership they had been trusting.
Regarding prophecies that speak of a tithe of a third of both physical and spiritual Israel surviving as a remnant, it should be understood this is God’s promise — the minimum that He promises. However, as covered about the Church in Truth #34, not all accepted and received God’s offer to survive and be delivered from captivity. For the Church, this has nothing to do with God’s promise in Revelation to draw 63,000 former people of Worldwide into the Millennium, as these are not called to become fully engaged over any meaningful period of time in fellowship as the witness of the remnant whom God awakened. There will be a much larger group than the remnant who will be led out of the captivity of Egypt and Assyria — the 63,000 who are offered it.
God’s promise to ten percent of a third of the physical nations of Israel is His minimum promise to them. The number can be more and it can be less, and it will still fulfill what God has said. The final numbers will be a result of their own response. In the worst of response, as with the result of the Church, God promised He would grant protection and survival to 10% of a third, but 90% rejected it. The physical nations of Israel will have the same choice before them. However, with these nations, God has specifically been working to bring them to the best possible moment and condition that will lend itself to a positive choice and acceptance of His offer. This final number can also be larger, but under all conditions it is God’s minimum promise to offer deliverance to 10% of a third.
Ever since the apostasy, the Church has been experiencing great tribulation, but it is nearly over and physical tribulation is about to begin in this final Day of the Eternal.