SS # 03 The Churches of Revelation 2-3

Revelation 2

It’s important to note that beside the Churches as seen as historical may have metaphorical or allegorical meaning to these Churches, in term of eras, otherwise why took the time and trouble to write them down.

The Churches must be real; and that their spiritual state is pointed out; but they must have reference to the state of the Church in later stages of its history; and that the notion of what has been termed the Ephesian state, the Smyrnian state, the Pergamenian state . . . the Laodicean state, should be studied, analysed and such expositions should be internalized by anyone who wishes to arrive at a sober and rational knowledge and understanding of Scriptures.

The messenger, or the angel could well be giving the Church certain warnings pertaining to the era of their Church so as to teach and edify those concern.

It must be emphesized that the only sign God has given mankind being classified as his true Church is the Sabbath; it is a sign between God and man (Exodus 31:13) that keepers of the Sabbath are being santified to be God’s elect:

“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, ‘Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that ye may know that I am the Lord who doth sanctify you,” Exodus 31:13. Hence all Sunday-keeping churches without exception disqualify themselves as being God’s church!

And broadly, in the NT time, God’s people are collectively known as the Churches of God (1Corinthians 11:16, 1Thessalonians 2:14, IIThessalonians 1:4), their strengths and problems are named and spelt out with some amazing details in Revelation 2-3; whereas Satan’s collections are generally known as of the Synagogue of Satan.

(1) The Ephesus Era

1 “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: ‘These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks:

— the church at Ephesus, started on the day of Pentecost and being the original apostolic church; known originally as Nazarenes (Acts 24:5), a church whose records had been documented in the Acts of the Apostles, which patiently labored to spread the Gospel to the nations, the Gentiles; and were met with many obstacles but remained steadfast to the truth, though persecuted till the end;

2 I know thy works and thy labor and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them that are evil; and how thou hast tried them that say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars; — I know thy works; for the eyes of the Lord are throughout the earth, being omnipresent, beholding the evil and the good; and all things are continually open and naked before him;

— “apostles and are not, and hast found them liars” are false apostles, and they could be found right from the start, Simon Magus, from the Samaritans (Acts 8:9-25), who were famed for their worship of the Sun; but went on masquerading itself as the One True Church or the first church that ever existed.

3 and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast labored and hast not fainted. — and hast not fainted; and hast persevered so as thou hast neither been seduced to other doctrine by false teachers, nor lost any integrity or thy character.

4 Nevertheless, I have something against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. — I have against thee that thou hast left thy first love, namely, the zeal and fervour of it,

5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the works as at first; or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, unless thou repent. — remember therefore from whence thou art fallen; the eminence which you once occupied; this is a call to remembrance the state in which you once were.

6 But this thou hast: that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. — reference in Revelation 2:14-15 that is, corrupters of the people, the existence of a sect called Nicolaitanes in the second century “which I also hate.”

7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.’ — any man, whoever can hear at all, ought carefully to hear this;

— this Ephesus Church, headquartered at Jerusalem, fled to Pella in around 69 AD before the Romans razed the city and the Temple to the ground; until probably the time of Emperor Constantine;

— Paul, Barnabas; and later such men as Polycarp and Polycrates, they were called “Quartodecimani” because they kept the true Passover celebration the Jewish way on the fourteenth instead of Easter on a Sunday.

(2) The Smyrna Era

8 “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘These things saith the First and the Last, who was dead and is alive: — and unto the angel of the church in Smyrna; “Smyrna was the nearest city to Ephesus, and for that reason probably was addressed in the second place.

9 I know thy works and tribulation and poverty (but thou art rich), and I know the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. — they called themselves Jews but from God’s point of view they are of the assembly of Satan; this is a serious charge!

What happened was an attempt by the Catholics to stamp out the true scattered Church who observed the true Passover from the world?

Let the Catholic historian Eusebius, who lived in the time of Constantine, tell the story:

“But before this time another most virulent disorder had existed, and long afflicted the Church; I mean the difference respecting… Easter. For while one party asserted that the Jewish custom (as to time) should be adhered to, the other (did not).

“Accordingly, the people being thus in every place divided in this respect… no one appeared who was capable of devising a remedy…. Constantine appeared to be the only one on earth capable… He convoked a general council…”

After the Nicaean Council closed, Emperor Constantine sent the following letter to all the churches: “At this meeting the question concerning… Easter was discussed… First of all, it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this… feast we should follow the practice of the Jews…

Let us then have nothing in common with the Jews… It has been determined by the common judgement of all, that the… feast of Easter should be kept on one and the same day.” The Council of Nicea decided, under his authority, that Easter MUST be celebrated on Sunday and that the Passover must be forbidden!

— but are “the synagogue of Satan;” deserve rather to be called the synagogue of Satan? The synagogue was a Jewish place of worship, but the word originally denoted “the assembly” or “the congregation.”

10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of Life.

11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. He that overcometh shall not be hurt by the second death.’ — the second death; this phrase is a new one in Bible language. It points to a death which is other than that of the body; one that stands in contrast to the crown of life.

(3) The Pergamos Era

12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write: ‘These things saith He that hath the sharp sword with two edges: — as a result of the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), the great false Church commenced 1260 years of persecution (Revelation 12:6) with full force. The true Church fled into the valleys and mountains in Asia Minor and Europe.

It was the close of the twelfth century. In Lyons, France, lived an astonishingly successful and wealthy merchant, Peter Waldo. “One day, while in the company of some of the leading citizens, one of his friends fell lifeless at his side. Terrified by the event, he said to himself: If death had stricken me, what would have become of my soul?”

Being a Catholic, Waldo asked one of these theologians what is the PERFECT way. ‘Ah!’ answered the theologian… ‘here is Christ’s precept’: ‘”If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come take up thy cross and follow me.”‘” (Comba, “History of the Waldenses,” p 21).

Waldo disposed of his property by distributing to the poor. But from his wealth he also had a translation of the Scriptures made. In this translation he noticed the command to the apostles to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God. His mind began to understand the Scriptures.

God was using Peter Waldo.

Comba says that “he brought to the study of the Scriptures that practical common sense which had guided him in his business transactions… The word of Christ was clear enough, for Waldo it was simply a question of furnishing a literal translation” (p 243 of Comba’s “History”).

The humble remnant of the Church of God listened to him. Soon many new disciples were coming to repentance. “His disciples became almost as many C0-workers for him” (p 26). The world called them Waldenses.

But in 1315 AD, long before the crusade against the Waldenses occurred, the truth of God was carried to England by a German Waldensian preacher, Walter Lollard. It took deep root for a while until the Protestant Reformation.

Through the preaching of Lollard and other helpers, hundreds were repenting. Thousands were learning for the first time that baptism means immersion — that the world’s religious holidays came from paganism and that Sunday was not the Sabbath.

It was not until about 1650 that there were again enough Sabbath keepers to establish local congregations. They often called themselves the Church of God, but the world termed them “Sabbatarians” and Sabbatarian Baptists.

From England the remnant Sabbath-keeping Church spread to America. In 1664, Stephen Mumford, sent to Newport, Rhode Island, raised up a small church mainly from Baptist converts. One by one new churches were established through continued help of the Seventh-day Baptists in England.

13 I know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is; and that thou holdest fast My name and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

— Benson: that in the war with the Albigenses and Waldenses, there perished of these poor creatures in France alone a million! From the first institution of the Jesuits to AD 1480, that is, in little more than thirty years, nine hundred thousand orthodox Christians were slain; (for more, click here)

14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

— the instruction Balaam gave to Balak, which is a doctrine, was that Balak should get some beautiful women in his kingdom to ply the men of Israel, and draw them into sins and impurity and so to idolatry;

— in today’s world, the pull of ecumenism is extremely strong; it is to be accepted by the world as a recognized religion, hence ecumenism as it is now commonly used refers to interdenominational cooperation between different Christian churches. These initiatives can range from local churches of different denominations operating a soup kitchen for the poor;

— hosting an ecumenical Bible study with participants from different Christian traditions, inviting all baptized Christians to partake in a Lovefeast when churches celebrate them, to holding an ecumenical Stations of the Cross service on Fridays during the Christian liturgical season of Lent with the service being held at a different local church each Friday. Many of these churches have, as a result of ecumenical dialogue, established full or partial communion agreements, so as to be considered to be within the realm of orthodox Christianity.

15 So thou also hast them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. — the natural meaning seems to suppose that the Nicolaitanes taught the same things which Balaam did; to wit, that they led the people into corrupt and licentious practices.

They called themselves by adopting the name “Seventh-day Baptists.” But as always happens, after several generations their children take truth for granted and slowly lost surrendering their wills and lives to God and soon they began teaching the false Trinity doctrine! In less than one hundred and fifty years, the English churches almost disappeared.

Members of the Seventh-day Baptists migrated to America and the number of churches increased as the gospel was spread from state to state. But so nearly dead were these congregations that in 1802 many began to organise themselves together into a General Conference. At this serious juncture, most of the local churches joined together to form the Seventh-day Baptist General Conference where they still held these meetings today.

16 Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. — with the Sword of my mouth; and fight against them by his Word; whose true and doctrines shall be like a Sword to devour and to destroy all false ones.

17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it.’

— a sign and testimony of newness of life in righteousness by putting on the new name, a fresh revelation of God’s name and nature whom no one inwardly knows, but only those who have received it can comprehend its full significance.

(4) The Thyatira Era

18 “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘These things saith the Son of God, who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass:

— during the 1800s various form of revivals were initiated, both in the Jewish world (witness Abraham Geiger in Germany who started Reform Judaism); and the Christian world under various personalities but mainly located in the United States.

— during this time William Miller also arrived, starting the advent movement among Sunday-observing churches. In 1843 several followers of Miller in Washington, New Hampshire, became reacquainted with the Sabbath as a sign between God and man (Exodus 31:13). It was not until after their miserable Great Disappointment of 1844 that the general body of Adventists had the Sabbath question called to their attention.

19 I know thy works, and charity and service, and faith and thy patience, and thy works, and the last to be more than the first. — a small number accepted the Sabbath and teamed up with the few others who refused to be affiliated with the Seventh-day Baptist Conference.

— they called themselves the “Church of God” and began publishing “The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald.” Their first songbook was dedicated to “The Church of God scattered abroad.”

20 Notwithstanding, I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. — that woman Jezebel; the daughter of Ithobaal I of Tyre and the wife of Ahab, King of Israel, 1 Kings 16:31;

— Jezebel, a Phoenician princess who defiled Israel with her idolatrous practices, now calleth herself a prophetess; no other church group has a better fit than one among the Seventh-day Adventists, a Ellen G White, who fulfils this prophecy exactly to a T;

— with each passing year, new and different doctrines were being introduced by prophetess Ellen G White to explain away the Adventist failure of October 22, 1844. The original church members resisted initially but eventually went along with her fornication, with her “inspired testimony” from her Jezebelian goddess, now established as Sister Ellen G White;

— and finally, a meeting was held by some of the members in Battle Creek, Michigan, September 28 through October 1, 1860. And that is how the Seventh-Day Adventist began to regard her officially as a prophetess, and who was responsible for naming their organisation and the birth of her dreams;

Ellen G White, wrote of rays of lights from the throne in one of her “inspired” visions, or in one of her dreams, of “her revelation” about volcanoes, earthquakes and how the Flood was formed:

“At this time immense forests were buried. These have since been changed to coal, forming the extensive coal beds that now exist, and also yielding large quantities of oil. The coal and oil frequently ignite and burn beneath the surface of the earth. Thus rocks are heated, limestone is burned, and iron ore melted.

The action of the water upon the lime adds fury to the intense heat, and causes earthquakes, volcanoes, and fiery issues. As the fire and water come in contact with ledges of rock and ore, there are heavy explosions underground, which sound like muffled thunder.

The air is hot and suffocating. Volcanic eruptions follow; and these often failing to give sufficient vent to the heated elements, the earth itself is convulsed, the ground heaves and swells like the waves of the sea, great fissures appear, and sometimes cities, villages, and burning mountains are swallowed up.

These wonderful manifestations will be more and more frequent and terrible just before the second coming of Christ and the end of the world, as signs of its speedy destruction.” (Patriarchs and Prophets, Pacific Press, 1958, pg 108-109).

Full of hot air, and it’s suffocating; and that’s the substance of Ellen G White’s visions!

21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication, but she repented not. — in fact, instead of the true Passover and feast days and prophecies of the Old Testament, especially of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, their ministers taught a “third angel’s message,” which they had accepted from Ellen G White; so much emphasis that it is as if it’s more important than the Word of God itself.

22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. — the Adventist movement didn’t regard themselves separate from the mainstream Protestants, but rather as one of them, and in doing so, took in Trinity in their false teachings along with their annual Christmas jinglebells celebrations.

23 And I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He that searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. — “I will kill her children with death” sounds serious, and this warning is from God, whom they were supposed to believe. There must be some serious abominations within the church, within their practices and doctrines;

— all the churches shall know; implying that these addresses are designed for the whole associated churches especially at the endtime; so shall God’s hand be seen in the judgement on Thyatira, that the whole churches shall recognize it as God’s doing.

24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine and who have not known the depths of Satan (as they say) I will put upon you no other burden. — there is great rewards for those who are judged faithful and true, avoiding false doctrines; yet penalties are great, too, for those who harbour many Jezebelian doctrines and teachings within.

25 But that which ye have already, hold fast till I come. — the weekly Sabbath and the food law are what they have, so hold fast to what they already have, but others need lots of work to do;

26 And he that overcometh and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations, — Jezebel and her idolatries, he that overcometh; means he that could tell the truth from their fallacies which they have so much ingrained into their doctrines; and only then could they qualify to have authority to rule the nations;

27 and “he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers,” even as I have received from My Father. — and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; there is an allusion in Psalm 2:9; “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

28 And I will give him the morning star. — the morning star; that is, Christ will give unto him personally, who am “the morning star” (Revelation 22:16); thus reflecting Christ’s perfect brightness;

29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches!’

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One thing which is a serious charge is that Adventists put Ellen G White’s writings ahead of Moses and the Prophets, ahead of God’s Word in actual fact; hence they subbornly insist wine is grape juice; and Passover is observe quarterly, on every thirteenth sabbath, and not annually on the fourteenth of Nisan as the Scriptures say.

And even during the Millennium, Passover will be observed the same way as before:

“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days. Unleavened bread shall be eaten,” Ezekiel 45:21

“Behold, I will cast . . . them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent” ~ unfortunately a great tribution await them (Revelation 2:22):

“And I will kill her children with death (Revelation 2:23)” perhaps this great tribulation should be tied in with a similar vision the prophet Ezekiel had: “Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” Then they began with the elder men who were before the house, Ezekiel 9:6. “Begin at My sanctuary” means his own righteous deserve to be offered as a sacrifice;

These same righteous to be slained together with the wicked could be better understood when tied in with Ezekiel 21:3, the Sword from the South! “and say to the land of Israel, ‘Thus saith the Lord: Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth My Sword out of his sheath and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked.”

Revelation 3

In Chapter 2, we went through the Ephesian era, the Smyrnian era, the Pergamenian era, and the Thyatira Era; here the last three Church eras continue.

It must be emphesized that the only sign God has given mankind being classified as his true Church is the Sabbaths; it is a sign between God and man (Exodus 31:13) that keepers of the Sabbaths are his elect:

“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, ‘Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that ye may know that I am the Lord who doth sanctify you,” Exodus 31:13.

“To santify” means to make holy; Sabbath-keepers are to be made holy before God! Hence all Sunday-keeping churches without exception disqualify themselves as being God’s church! Going through the same ritual every Sunday, they are not worthy of mention, but at best, they are just pretenders, or could be better known biblically as of the Synagogue of Satan!

(5) The Sardis Era

1 “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: I know thy works, and that thou hast a name that thou livest, but thou art dead. — here were seven Spirits of God, and since the Spirit is inherently Holy, there would be seven Holy Spirits; yes, seven Holy Spirits!

— and we would add Jesus the Son and God the Father, resulting in Nine Personage. Nine in the Godhead; we should have a Polygon or a Nonagon; it might be more realistic to believe in the Polyty or a Nonaty, but certainly wouldn’t be a Trinity;

2 Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

— “ready to die” one of the characteristics of this church, namely the Church of God, Seventh Day, is that they believe there is no new truth; which means there no nothing more to be revealed; nothing else to be learned, and therefore it is deemed “ready to die” a dead church: “that thou hast a name that thou livest, but thou art dead, (verse1).”

The Church of God, Seventh Day, represents a line of Sabbatarian Adventists that rejected the visions and teachings of Ellen G White before the formation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1863. Robert Coulter, ex-president and official historian of the General Conference of the Church of God, Seventh Day, in his book The Journey:

A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day) (2014) credits Gilbert Cranmer of Michigan as being the founder of the church. Cranmer was a Christian Connection minister and a biblical Unitarian. He was introduced to Sabbath keeping in 1852 by Joseph Bates, known as the founder and developer of Sabbatarian Adventism.

In 1858, five years before the founding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a group led by Cranmer separated from the Adventists who supported James Springer White and Ellen G White. Another independent Sabbatarian Adventist body formed in Iowa in 1860, and joined with the Church of God, Seventh Day, in 1863.

3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard; and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. — Christology has been a long debated issue in the Churches of God (7th Day); a position paper written by the Jerusalem Conference states the following:

“The Amen, the faithful and the true witness is no one else but Jesus Christ and speaking of himself he said, he is “the beginning of the creation of God” that is, the very first manifested act of YHWH was the creation of his son Yehoshua (Jesus).

Do other scriptures support this? Col 1:15 “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” A creature is life which has been created, whether terrestrial or celestial: Colossians supports Revelation, it says of Christ he is “the firstborn of every creature:”

5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

— more on “but thou art dead” ~ the Church of God, Seventh Day, or CoG7 has a good name; showing “that thou livest” but it is a dead church actually. It is like a behemoth being swept up upon a beach at night and all who came into contact with it in the morning wonders whether it is dead or still alive. To revive or overcometh been dead for such a behemoth would require some herculean effords if it still has any chance of revival.

Besides the Thyatira church one condition lies in the Sardis exist side by side with the Philadelphian and the Laodicean eras at the “end time” groups that may or may not be accounted worthy to escape the tribulation;

They were refusing to repent and allow the spirit to work through them to establish the truth that was ready to perish!

6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches!’

Within this Church of God, Seventh Day, or CoG7, an ambitious man grew among the brethren; and not long after his ordination in 1931, and when certain leading ministers demanded that no more new truth be preached to the brethren, he broke off and started his own branch; he was Herbert W Armstrong;

(6) The Philadelphia Era

Most of the congregations of the CoG7 succumbed to spiritual growth; dying, but the age of this Sardis continues, limping along. Elsewhere, the era of Philadelphia had began.

Paul was chosen, who was highly train in Judiasm, for spreading the gospel to the Gentiles. He later raised up Peter Waldo, a successful businessman, to keep His truth alive during the Middle Ages. In later days when the Gospel must go around the world, a man trained in advertising was tasked to shoulder the mission, Herbert Armstrong;

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth:

8 I know thy works. Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it. For thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My Word, and hast not denied My name. — here is a church with little strength, few in numbers, but which has kept the word of God; here is a church which would preach the gospel with power before it an open door;

Paul was struck down; in like manner Herbert Armstrong’s business went bankrupt in order that he might come to understand the truth;

Shortly before this event, God had opened the mind of Mrs Armstrong to understand the Sabbath truth from an elderly Church of God woman. After six months of study, unsupervised, in a persistent effort to prove Sabbath-keeping unscriptural, Armstrong accepted the Sabbath.

9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but do lie — behold, I will make them to come and worship at thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

10 Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth.

11 Behold, I come quickly; hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. — from this moment forward, Mr and Mrs Armstrong came to understand further truths. The brethren with whom they associated became interested that Herbert soon found himself speaking at their insistence; then preaching to small groups in Oregon!

12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God, and I will write upon him My new name.

13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches!’

During Herbert Armstrong’s reign, the church grew rapidly, claimed of up to 30 percent year on year for some 30 years. But as the organization grew in wealth, so did its membership; pride went into his head and claiming his is the one and only true Church, Herbert became a tyrant like any other tyrants one could be found in the African continent.

And when enriching himself for self importance, he flew in a corporate Grumman Gulfstream II, pursuing a political agenda while meeting with dictators from many countries, including the Middle East (Egypt, Jordan and Israel), India, the Philippines, Thailand and Japan; and his apostate treasures of plates and cutleries would of no less eminence than that of the Czars.

A few unauthorised biographies could give more details:

(a) Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web, An Insider’s View of the Worldwide Church of God, by David Robinson, 1980

(b) The Truth Shall Make You Free, Herbert Armstrong’s Empire Exposed, by John Tuit, 1981

When Herbert Armstrong died in 1986 January, the mantle passed on to Joseph W Tkach (Sr), but the same dictatorial and totalitarian structure managed under the Armstrong regime continued. By 1991 some members were able to detect changes within the organization. For the most part, little change, if any, spilled over to the membership until 1993.

At that time, a new recruiting and marketing strategy was launched in an effort to train members to recruit through evangelism techniques. The World Tomorrow television program did not result in new recruiting and the Plain Truth lost renewals and subscribers and the church went into rapid decline. And then it collapsed and suddenly disappeared.

In him covering up feelings of inferiority with an inflated ego was the next era started, the Laodicean:

(7) The Laodicean Era

But spiritually Herbert Armstrong and the church become blind, stiffnecked, unable to see that Passover is a composite festival celebrated from the fourteenth to the twenty-first of Nisan:

“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days. Unleavened bread shall be eaten,” (Ezekiel 45:21); and Pentecost, he followed the Samaritan version of always having it on a Sunday.

14 “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write: ‘These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God:

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth.

17 Because thou sayest, “I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing,” and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable, and poor and blind and naked,

After Herbert Armstrong’s death in 1986, many splinters broke off; made up of individuals who are spiritually lukewarm! each saying to the other: “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.”

His college, Ambassador College, was built on sand, loose sands, and within a few years of his death, students enrolment collapsed, faulty dismissed or sacked and the land and properties of the college sold.

18 I counsel thee to buy from Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed and that the shame of thy nakedness may not appear, and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Gradually, the assets (airplanes, land, convention centers, Pasadena headquarters, etc) of the Worldwide Church of God organization were sold. Some holdings were transferred to the “extension” churches. In March 2003 they sold the copyrights of Herbert Armstrong’s literature to an offshoot, Philadelphia Church of God, for $3 million in July 2004 auctioned off many valuable items which PCG purchased.

The multimillion-dollar empire has simultaneously downsized its lucrative holdings, creating factions within the membership. The WCG offered no accountability for its financial dealings. They claimed it was audited by a reputable firm, but refuses to publish financial reports openly.

Splinter groups resulted; the Philadelphia Church of God (founded by Gerald Flurry); the United Church of God (founded by David Hulme); Living Church of God (founded by Roderick Meredith); the Restored Church of God (founded by David Pack); and many others; all “wretched and miserable, and poor and blind and naked.”

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.

21 To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with Me on My throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with My Father on His throne. — instead of overcoming, some of these smaller splinters subcumbed to the whimps of the devil; without any evidence, they charge a man of God, Ezra, (one who “had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord,” Ezra 7:10), of tempering the Scriptures, making it a forgery:

“Whatever I command you, observe to do it. Thou shalt not add thereto nor diminish from it (Deuteronomy 12:32). Vandalising the Bible is a serious charge, risking eternal life; as warned in Revelation:

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this book,” Revelation 22:18-19.

Wolves among Sheep: One visible in the picture, others are hidden!

But on the other hand, if Ezra isn’t guilty of vandalising, then his accusers would be in danger of death.

Fred R Coulter, in his book, “The Christian Passover,” says:

Although Deuteronomy 16 contains instructions for the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the two other holy days seasons, the fact that the word “Passover” appears in Verse 1 has caused great confusion in the minds of many Bible students and scholars. They are not aware that these verses were edited by Ezra long after the book of Deuteronomy was originally written, and that in Ezra’s time the entire eight-day observance of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread was called “Passover.” When we understand that the term “Passover” was used for the Feast of Unleavened bread, the seeming discrepancy between Deuteronomy 16 and other Scriptural passages is eliminated. (Passover, pg 165)

Fred Coulter’s charge isn’t alone. He has two other comrades who share his view; namely Frank Nelte and John Ritenbaugh.

From Frank W Nelte, referring to Deuteronomy 16:1, 2, 4, 5, 6

These verses, he wrote, claiming of a forgery by Ezra, give the impression that the Passover is being spoken about. But the word “Passover” was deviously inserted into these verses by some dishonest scribe. The motivation for these devious changes was to justify the Jewish custom of referring to the Seven Days of Unleavened Bread as “Passover.”

The evidence for the fraudulent changes in this section of Scripture is not found in preserved manuscripts but in the pages of the Bible itself. We are dealing with a passage that is absolutely vital to upholding a Jewish belief, which belief is clearly unbiblical according to all the other Scriptures in the entire Old Testament. And these fraudulent changes have been accepted in every preserved manuscript, because they endorse a specific Jewish custom.

In addition, there is also a mistranslation in verse 6.

The only evidence for these alterations consists of exposing incompatible, contradictory and illogical statements in the changed text, when compared to other biblical passages. The person who altered this text overlooked some things which expose his fraudulent tampering.

Here are the changes that were made:

In these verses some scribe REMOVED the expression “the Feast of Unleavened Bread” from verse 1, and then REPLACED IT with the word “Passover.” In addition, this scribe also simply INSERTED the word “Passover” into the text of verses 2, 5 and 6. (SOME SCRIBES CHANGE THE TEXT OF DEUTERONOMY 16:1-6).

From John W Ritenbaugh:

In the context of Deuteronomy 16, the word “Passover” is beginning to look clearly out of place. As we continue to look further, we are going to see that verses 1-8 have nothing to do at all with instructions for the Passover lamb, but rather for Unleavened Bread, and specifically the Night To Be Much Observed, which is of course the first night after the Passover, not the same night as the Passover.

How did the name “Passover” get in there? God certainly did not inspire it to be in there. It had to have been edited into Deuteronomy 16 at a much later time (when the entire eight days of the spring festival were commonly called Passover) than from when it was originally written. You will see this very clearly in the New Testament that the entire spring feast was commonly called Passover by the Jews. Somebody, in copying, must have deliberately removed the name “Unleavened Bread” and placed the name “Passover” into Deuteronomy 16 in order to give support to a 15th Passover—to a Temple-centered 15th Passover (Passover transcript, Part 9).

“Who would have the authority to make such a change from Unleavened Bread to Passover in Deuteronomy 16? The finger of history points to someone during or after the time of Ezra. Ezra came along in the period roughly between 530 BC and about 515 BC. When Ezra came on the scene, the Jews, who had just come out of captivity, were again starting down the same path that originally took them into captivity” (Passover transcript, Part 10).

Tampering and forging God’s Word are serious charges, whose penalty is death (Revelation 22:18-19):

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.

“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this book,” Revelation 22:18-19.

And to conclude this, maybe this need to be repeated: “if Ezra isn’t guilty of vandalising, or forging a forgery; then his accusers would be in danger of death,” all three of them, each guilty of his own account of such a hideous crime in making such a ghastly accusation!

22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches!’” — now notice the warning to the last era, at the close of this age, the Laodicea: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot:… I will spew you out of my mouth (Revelation 3:15-16);

— at the time of the end when prophecies hidden for ages are being revealed, knowledge increased; truth restored, but knowledge brings responsibility; it becomes dangerous if not handled rightly;

— notice Jesus’ admonition for today in Luke 21:36. “Watch ye therefore and Pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape ALL these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

There seems to be a parallel warning from the Book of Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 9:

4 and the Lord said unto him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and who cry because of all the abominations that are done in the midst thereof.”
5 And to the others He said in mine hearing, “Go ye after him through the city and smite. Let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity.
6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” Then they began with the elder men who were before the house. Ezekiel 9:4-6

A Slaughting is to begin at “My sanctuary” and of course, even in God’s Churches; the message and warning from Ezekiel were primarily aimed at the house of Israel, sometimes call the house of Ephraim; and his churches, even the Churches of God that bear his name!

And broadly speaking in the NT time, God’s people are collectively known as the Churches of God (1Corinthians 11:16, 1Thessalonians 2:14, IIThessalonians 1:4), their strengths and problems are named and spelt out with some amazing details in Revelation 2-3; whereas Satan’s collections are generally known as of the Synagogue of Satan.

And finally, a Question for all Sunday keepers: with all the Scriptures and other resources available in your hand, and if you couldn’t be trusted in figuring out a simple issue as to when the Sabbath is, how could you be raised as kings, who need to judge far more complex issues; or as a priests, who would be teaching others during the Millennium what the Sabbaths laws are among others?

(For the Originals with links, click here and here)

~ by Joel Huan on January 23, 2023.

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