The Three Elijahs
There were three
Scriptures clearly reveal there were THREE MEN who would be used by God with the name Elijah: the original Elijah and the other two men in their appointed times. The last two would only be in the spirit and power of the original Elijah, as we can see from what the father of John said of his son:
“He (John) will also go before Him (Jesus Christ) IN the Spirit and Power of Elijah . . .” (Luke 1:17; II Kings 2:15).
Background and Mission of the Three Elijahs
It is needful at this point to review some background of the original Elijah. This is necessary to add to the understanding of why the two who would follow him at different times in the ongoing history of Israel would also be named Elijah though not actually named Elijah. However each of the following two would be in the same spirit and power that God had given Elijah.
In so doing we will come to be better acquainted with each one and their individual missions as we follow the thread of their life-stories. At the same time we will come to see the vital importance of the mission of the end-time Elijah, as well as fully establishing his true identity to the unbiased mind.
Elijah the Prophet
Scripture reveals very little about his background and earlier life. What little is known is found in only one Scripture when he makes his appearance before King Ahab:
And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead. . . . (I Kings 17:1).
He was a native of Tishbe, a village in Gilead.
The New Bible Dictionary, Page 363
“Even this reference is obscure. The MT suggests that while Elijah resided in Gilead his birthplace was elsewhere (perhaps Tishbe of Naphtali . . . A Tishbe of Gilead. Josephus seems to concur.”
There are other references that indicate he could have been of the tribe of Manasseh (United States) or Naphtali (modern day Sweden); we cannot be sure.
This is all that is revealed about the background of this ancient and very important prophet of God in the ongoing history of Israel.
John the Baptizer
John the Baptizer was born into the priestly tribe of Levi to the childless and aged Zacharias and Elizabeth. His miraculous birth was much like that of Isaac who was born to aged parents well beyond the age of child-bearing (Luke 1 and 3, plus).
He came to know of his very special role and mission in life as a prophet of God; and he also knew he would be in the same Spirit and Power of Elijah in fulfilling his particular mission.
How did he know? Undoubtedly, his parents made this known to him and reminded him of this numerous times as he grew into adulthood (Luke 1:17, 76-79).
However, John also knew he was NOT the end-time Elijah the Jewish people were looking for during that time; just as they were also looking for the Messiah as He will come the second time.
Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not” . . . (John 1:19-21).
Even the Disciples of Christ were looking for the end-time Elijah without realizing that John was also to be in the same Spirit and Power of that prophet who had served God in his mission to Israel many years before.
And His disciples asked Him (Jesus Christ), saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first (that is before Christ returns the second time, Matthew 16:27)?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed Elijah is coming FIRST and will RESTORE all things (Malachi 4:4-6). But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did NOT know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.” (Matthew 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-12).
These Scriptures speak very clearly that there would be another Elijah to come at the end-time to restore all things (verse11)! One should also know that John had already been martyred with his head having been cut off by the order of Herod (Matthew 14:1-12). By reading carefully about his mission it can also be seen that John did not restore anything.
Part of the realization of John’s special mission was in knowing he was a NAZARITE from birth and would be all of his life, as were Samuel (I Samuel 1:11) and Samson (Judges 13:3-5). His being a Nazarite would continually be a reminder of his mission from God to mankind. It would also set him apart from others, and as such attract attention, as would his way of life.
“. . . For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. . . .” (Luke 1:13-17, Numbers 6:3).
John’s diet and dress would also serve as a topic of wonderment about him as to what his mission would be in their time.
And John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4).
The garment that John wore was an outer garment. This was the kind that prophets of God wore signifying they were prophets (II Kings 2:8, 10; Zechariah 13:4). Though it was a coarse mantle or robe it was not a cheap or bedraggled looking one.
And unlike all of the other prophets of God, who were to have short hair, as well as all of the true people of God (I Corinthians 11:14), John, and all others who would have this Nazarite vow, could never cut their hair as long as they had the vow: “. . . no razor shall come upon his head. . . . (Numbers 6:5). Because John was to remain a Nazarite all of his short life of 31 years, his hair must have been very long.
Undoubtedly there was great wonderment by the people of the hill country where John was born as to how and when he would be used by God to fulfill his mission. They knew of his miraculous birth. And they also heard what his parents had told them about what the angel had said about his preparing the way before the Messiah.
This in itself would heighten their curiosity: “. . . And all those who heard them (what Zechariah the father of John said about him) kept them (his words) in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?’” (Luke 1:65-66).
John’s Baptism of Repentance
In addition to preaching a message of repentance, John baptized the repentant people of Judah (Matthew 3:5-6).
Baptism among the Jews was considered to be the washing of polluted persons prescribed by the law. The baptism of a proselyte implied legal uncleanness, the washing away of the Gentile pollution, and being transplanted into the religion of the Jews. The Gentile proselytes were also circumcised and obligated to perform the law of God.
John’s baptism, however, was one of repentance from having broken the laws of God.
It is in this light that the Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court of Judea), having heard of many Jewish people being baptized by John, wanted to know from whom he had received his authority to baptize Jewish people? Since John had disclaimed any connection with the Christ, Elijah, and that Prophet, they wanted to know who had given him that authority.
And they (priests and Levites (verse 19), asked him, “Why then do you baptize IF you are NOT the Christ, NOR Elijah, NOR the Prophet” (John 1:25)?
The Jews did not understand that the PROPHET was in reality referring to Christ Himself! (Please write and request an article on the subject of “THAT PROPHET” showing Scriptural proof that Christ and THAT PROPHET are one and the same.)
Having all of this attention from the officials and the people of Judea would also make possible a much wider audience for John to proclaim the announcement of the long-awaited coming of the Messiah, who they were expecting at that time (Daniel 9:24-27)!
John’s parents had told him numerous times that one of his responsibilities would be to prepare the way before Jesus Christ, so he was well aware of what he was to do in making this known.
Because of his experience with Gabriel, the special angelic messenger from God, Zacharias remembered very vividly the day and time when he was visited by the angel! He also clearly remembered what Gabriel had said regarding John preparing the way before the coming Savior.
It was on his mind continually, as though it was just yesterday that Gabriel had said to him: “. . . He will also go before Him (the Messiah) in the Spirit and Power of Elijah, to TURN the hearts of the fathers to the children; and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people for the Lord. . . .” (Luke 1:13-17).
Almost immediately following the six months of his mission, as he and others were gathered at the Jordan River, John saw the Messiah walking toward him to be baptized. Knowing this man was indeed the promised Messiah, very God in the human flesh, John, realizing his own humanity, reluctantly baptized Him.
The following day John saw Christ again and pointed Him out to those gathered around him as the One all Judea was expecting at this time due to the 70 weeks prophecy found in Daniel (9:24-27).
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not know Him, but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” And John bare witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending like a dove, and It remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God’” (John 1:29-34).
Though John knew he personally was in the Spirit and Power of Elijah, he also knew he was not the one that was prophesied by the prophet Malachi yet to come. It is with this understanding in mind that he told those who asked him if he was the Elijah to come and he said he was not: “. . . And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not. . . .” (John 1:19-28).
We can see from the context of this writing the Jewish people were looking for the Elijah spoken of by the prophet Malachi to come in their time even as they were expecting the Messiah (Malachi 4:4-6).
In actual fact many of the Jews are still looking for him yet today. In many of their homes there is the customary practice of having a place setting on their dining tables, set apart for Elijah at the time of the Passover meal, which they observe each year, called by them sedar. It is my understanding they are looking for him to return in possibly a fiery chariot to do a mighty work as he did in Israel of old (II Kings 2:11-12).
The Jewish leaders of that time were blinded to the recognition of the Messiah! Even though they conversed with Him there was no real recognition of His true identity. They have also been blinded to the Elijah who was to come in our time even though he spent many friendly hours with them in Jerusalem. There was even a little park there that was named after him.
This was also true with the disciples of Jesus Christ. They knew John as a prophet of God but their knowledge went no further for they also were looking for the end-time Elijah.
Jesus Christ identified John the Baptizer as the second Elijah to His disciples. Based on these Scriptures, hardly anyone outside of John and his parents knew he was fulfilling his role and mission in the Spirit and Power of the prophet of ancient times, Elijah.
(A note in passing: One should also know that John was the last of the prophets of the Old Testament, Luke 16:16).
Identifying the End-time Elijah
When we bring to mind this world as it is now in its deplorable moral condition, with its unsolvable problems, and the ever-present threat of nuclear extinction since the 1950s, and then seriously think about how God used Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, there should be no real question but that he was the very man prophesied by the prophet Malachi to be on the world scene at this perilous end-time.
Think! There has been no other man to come on the world scene before or since his death that has done even on the same level what he did in fulfilling that commission from Jesus Christ. And time is fast running out for this present age!
Though Mr. Armstrong was not aware of it at the time, God began preparing him in the early years of his youth for the mission he would perform later on in his life (Please read his Autobiography, volume 1).
It was God’s intention that Israel in particular, and the world in part, would hear the Good News of mankind’s incredible potential along with the Warning message over the 54 years of his ministry. Though it began small like a tiny mustard seed it continued to grow over the years until he was reaching the world through the use of radio, television, and the printing press before his life came to an end.
There were also the personal appearances he made before the leaders of other nations during the last few years of his life.
Mr. Armstrong called himself “an ambassador without portfolio for world peace”. He spoke to them of a coming time when their problems would be solved; a time when the world will come to be at peace.
Rather than writing much about the background of Mr. Armstrong at this point I will once again refer the reader to his Autobiography.
Parallels of Missions Made Known by God
Though we do not know exactly how and when God made known to Elijah his mission to King Ahab and Israel, it is interesting to see the parallels of how God made known to John and Mr. Armstrong what their special missions to His people Israel and Judah would be.
God’s special messenger angel, Gabriel, was sent by Him to the parents of John to make known the miraculous birth, role, and mission, their son was to perform (Luke 1:11-17).
In his Autobiography, volume 1, pages 203-205, and also in his book, MYSTERY OF THE AGES, pages 15-17, Mr. Armstrong wrote of A VISION his wife had of an angel coming to them and making known their special calling would be to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ back to this earth.
To briefly summarize what Mrs. Armstrong saw and heard in that vision: Mr. Armstrong wrote that it seemed to his wife that Christ had descended and placed His arms around the both of them, He then told them He had a very important work for them to do in preparing for His return to this earth.
Though Mr. Armstrong did not put much stock in this at the time, he came to realize that this was indeed a true vision from Christ in view of what He was using them to do in this end-time.
One might ask what part his wife performed in this great work of the end-time. This is easy to answer: I have personally seen and heard Mr. Armstrong, while giving a sermon, look down at his wife sitting in the front row, and say with tear-filled eyes and choked voice, that she had been fifty percent of the Work in helping him.
Since there was no one else that saw this vision, we have to take his written word for it. Yet, knowing them very well, as many of us have, and being close to them on a day-to-day basis for some years, we can vouch for their character and know what she saw was true. Their integrity is also known well by the Work they did and the fruits from it (Matthew 7:16, 18, 20).
When we seriously think about where we are in time and how Jesus Christ used him for over 50 years, there is no question but that he was the man God used in this end-time role.
However it is a sad fact there are many who still deny that he was the man sent by God to Israel with this special mission even though they well know all of this having lived through those times.
A Denial by Mr. Armstrong
In the early years Mr. Armstrong also strongly opposed anyone who might even suggest that he was the Elijah to come in the end-time. I remember the time, possibly 1955 or 1956, I took copies of articles to Pacific Press in Los Angeles for the printing of the Good News Magazine. One of the articles I read while waiting for the person to whom I was to give the articles was on this subject.
The article was written by Dr. Herman L. Hoeh in which he made known that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was fulfilling the role of the end-time Elijah. Upon getting the articles back for proof reading, Mr. Armstrong read the article and became very upset about it. He would not permit it to be printed.
Approximately 25 years would pass before Mr. Armstrong came to accept the fact that he was the Elijah to come. In retrospect, he could see that Dr. Hoeh was right in what he wrote in that article though Mr. Armstrong did not understand it at that time.
Finally, Recognition by Mr. Armstrong
It was in the latter years of his ministry, while looking back, thinking about it and the vision revealed to his wife, along with all that God had used him to do, he could no longer deny the plain and very clear fact of the role and mission God had given him. He then knew he was indeed the Elijah to come (Mystery of the Ages, pages 9-10).
Perplexing Doubts before Mr. Armstrong’s Death
Some who were close to him have said that toward the very end of his life he sometimes expressed doubts as to whether he really was or was not the Elijah. In view of his imminent death it is easy to understand why he would have doubts at times and yet at other times he would not deny it, as can be heard in some of his last taped sermons and in his writings.
Undoubtedly some of those doubts surfaced with the realization he was going to die before Christ would return to this earth. Mr. Armstrong’s belief had been based upon his special calling and mission of the end-time that would enable him to continue the work until Christ’s return (Malachi 4:4-6).
And now realizing he would not live that long gave him room for occasional doubt while wondering how the work would go forward after his death and continue until the coming of Christ.
Added to those perplexing thoughts was the realization there was no one else qualified to do it. This left him bewildered as to what Jesus Christ would permit to take place after his death.
Mr. Armstrong also knew there was no indication in Scripture that Christ would use another man to replace the Elijah of the end-time. It is no wonder he was sometimes perplexed in thinking about his mission and wonder how the work would continue after his death with no one else with the needed qualifications to do it.
This is a major reason why he appointed his successor to the office of pastor general instead of an apostle.
The Work of the Elijah Continues Today
Undoubtedly the thought never occurred to Mr. Armstrong that it could be possible he would again be used to finish the Work for the technology had not yet been developed at that time as it has since come to be in our time. With that realization in mind it is highly questionable that he ever gave any serious thought to this possibility.
If he had given this any thought, the question would follow as to who Christ would use to do it? He knew there would be a great falling away of the membership after his death that would also include many ministers. Just prior to his death he told his personal aide that 50 percent of the Church of God would fall away after his death. And they did including most of the ministry.
With this in mind the question would follow: WHO would Christ use to faithfully see that the Work would be done.
The Marvels of Modern Media Technology
With the marvels of the sophisticated technology that is now at our fingertips, Jesus Christ has begun using the RECORDED WORKS he was used in doing and recorded on high quality equipment during his life-time ministry. In this manner he continues to sound the end-time warning through the use of computerized websites.
It is interesting to observe this is turning out to be his greatest work though he is sleeping in his grave while doing it. He will come to know it upon Christ’s return to this earth at which time he will be resurrected from the dead.
Mr. Armstrong Rose above any Real Doubts
Mr. Armstrong rose above those doubts and did finally fully acknowledge this fact as can be read in the following excerpts from his writings and sermons in what God used him to do in this end-age.
Further he knew he was the Elijah to come and a living type of the Zerubbabel who would build the spiritual temple (Zechariah 4:6-10).
Admission by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong from his own Statements Regarding His Role as the End-Time Elijah
In the Good News Magazine of April 1980, pp 25-26; Worldwide News March 6, 1981, pp 10-11; Co-worker Letter, March 19, 1981; excerpts from sermons he gave, and other writings, some here and some there, he acknowledged in the latter years of his life that he had indeed fulfilled the role of the end-time Elijah.
Reflecting on those Scriptures regarding the Elijah, and based on how God had used him over his long years, and also considering the end-time in which we now live, he could come to no other conclusion.
Mr. Armstrong also came to realize that John the Baptizer was a type and forerunner of the Elijah to come. At the same time, he also knew he was the very one Jesus Christ would use in restoring and preaching those foundational truths of God in a spiritual wilderness while preparing the way for the soon-coming glorified Jesus Christ!
Looking back to his youth, he wrote that he never had any idea that God was guiding his life from birth to the time the true teachings of God would be revealed to him. He could also see that Jesus Christ guided him in all the needed areas that would be necessary for him to PREPARE for the Work while preparing the way for the coming of Jesus Christ back to this earth.
The Fruits of His Life
Mr. Armstrong further wrote that sometimes one has to look back on fruits in order to see some things that one could not see in advance before the fruits had been performed.
He makes this very plain and believable to the unbiased mind in an article that can be read from a transcribed sermon he gave in Seattle, Washington, entitled Building the Temple, February 14, 1981 in the Philadelphia Remnant Magazine, May/June 2008.
Note a few short excerpts from the closing part of that sermon:
THE TEMPLE CHRIST WILL RETURN TO
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong
14 February 1981
“. . . YOU, BRETHREN, ARE THAT TEMPLE! Now, let's go on a little bit further. Well, let's turn over to the next chapter now; of Malachi, the fourth chapter, beginning with verse five.
Malachi 4:5 Behold, [He's talking about the time at the very end of the whole world, and the time at the end of the Millennium even; and they're all part of the fourth chapter. But the fourth chapter, verse five: "Behold," I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
Now, here again, just before the Day of the Lord – when the gospel of the Kingdom is to be preached to the world – and it hasn't been preached for 1950 years. In fact, it was one century of time cycles (or 1900 years) when it began. Exactly, if that means anything to you …
Malachi 4:5-6 ...before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. (6) And he shall turn the hearts 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.
The word "curse" is used in the Hebrew language; otherwise translated as total destruction, utter total destruction! It's just before lest He does that, and the earth would be in total destruction if Christ didn't come.
Now then, John the Baptist was asked, "Are you the Elijah that was to come?" He said, "No, I am not." I have been asked, "Are you Elijah?" And I have said, "No, I am not." Jesus Christ said one time, "But if you will bear it, the Elijah has already come." Then they questioned Him a little further. And then Jesus Christ said Elijah in person, the same Elijah, didn't come. But John the Baptist came in the power and spirit of Elijah. That prophecy meant and referred to John the Baptist coming, but that was only the First Coming. The prophecy is someone to prepare the way for the Second Coming. The first was physical -- the physical Jesus coming to the physical temple, to a physical people. Someone to prepare the way for the Second Coming is preparing the way for THE SPIRITUAL CHRIST to come to HIS SPIRITUAL TEMPLE for the marriage of the Lamb (of Christ) with the Church; and the Church is that temple!
Now, let me read this in Ephesians the second chapter, near the end of it.
Ephesians 2:19-21 Now therefore you [You people up at Ephesus, who were born Gentiles. You...] are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. [Now they are citizens. That is like a country. But they are in a household. That is, a family. Notice, they are a family.] (20) And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone [They're the Church.]; (21) in whom all the building fitly framed together [The Church is a building fitly framed together.] groweth unto A HOLY TEMPLE IN THE LORD.
"Grows into a holy temple in the Lord." THE CHURCH IS THAT TEMPLE! The Church is to meet Christ in the air. The Church will be changed from human to divine. We won't be human beings. We'll be God-beings. We'll be God-persons, just like God is. GOD IS REPRODUCING HIMSELF. Now that temple has to be built for Christ's coming.
ZERUBBABEL AS A TYPE
Now let me show you another prophecy about building that temple. Let's go back now for just a moment in the Old Testament, to Haggai; Haggai the second chapter beginning with verse three. Now, I want you to notice the time he's talking about. This is a prophecy; and duality is here again (a first and a latter; a first and a second). Notice it now.
Haggai 2:3 Who is left among you...
This is not a history, but it's talking about the time when they were building the temple to which Christ came the first time. Zerubbabel was a governor of the colony, and he was sent there to build that temple.
Haggai 2:3-9 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? [It's talking about Solomon's temple that was so glorious as a physical temple.] And how do ye see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? (4) Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel [The second temple was like nothing compared to Solomon's. It was bigger, but it was not as fine. Now "Be strong, O Zerubbabel," saith the [ETERNAL]; and be strong, O Joshua, son of [Well, his father; and so on.] ...and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD [That is, work in building the temple.]... (5) According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. (6) For thus saith the LORD of hosts: Yet once, it is a little while, and I WILL shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; (7) and I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come [Meaning, peace which will come with Christ.]; and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. (8). The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. (9) THE GLORY OF THIS LATTER HOUSE SHALL BE GREATER THAN OF THE FORMER...
The glory of the house he was building was NOT ANYWHERE NEAR as glorious as the former temple of Solomon. But he's talking about a time when the thrones of nations will be destroyed; when God is going to shake the earth, and shake nations. He's talking about our time, now. He's talking about the Second Coming of Christ. Can you see that? He's not... It's a prophecy. It's not a history. Malachi 2:9 ...and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
He hasn't given that yet; but He will, at the time He's talking about. Now, He's talking of a time of building the temple for Christ to come to. That temple is a spiritual temple. Zerubbabel was a TYPE. He built the physical temple to which Christ came the first time. Someone has got to be, not in the physical wilderness of the Jordan River, but amidst the spiritual wilderness and Babylon of religious confusion of our twentieth century, who is paving the way for the Second Coming of Christ to HIS GLORIOUS TEMPLE, a spiritual temple; and not to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God, but TO SET UP THE KINGDOM OF GOD and to rule it right then and there.
Brethren, I would never have preached that to you even one year ago. But how do we know whether anything is true or not? Jesus says by their fruits you know! What are the fruits? HAS ALL OF THIS BEEN DONE? IF IT HAS BEEN DONE, YOU KNOW! YOU ARE THAT TEMPLE. GOD HAS BEEN USING ME TO BUILD THIS TEMPLE. I've said I hope that I am the one of which Zerubbabel was a type, because it says that this the word unto Zerubbabel (in Zechariah):
Zechariah 4:6 Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the[ETERNAL].”
End of quotes from that sermon.
This should be sufficient to satisfy anyone as to what his belief really was in fulfilling the mission of Elijah in this end-time.
Someone had to Fulfill that Prophecy
Bible prophecy makes known that SOMEONE would be raised up toward the end of this age and would preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God! He would also prepare the way for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ; as was John the Baptizer used to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. He would also be used to establish the Philadelphia era of the Church of God and prepare the membership for the coming of Jesus Christ.
And in the process the Elijah of the end-time would restore the true identity of God and His laws. This is exactly what Elijah did in ancient Israel!
He also made known the Church of God needed the RESTORING OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD.
And now before the Second Coming, as John the Baptist had fulfilled his role that led to the coming of the Messiah, someone had to prepare the way for the return of Jesus Christ and began building the Spiritual Temple.
It should always be remembered, as Mr. Armstrong reminded us at the time of his writing, “. . . Christ is the One who is doing it. God has built it, but He has used me! Do you think that has happened? Do you think we're near the time of the coming of Christ? Has anyone proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom of God? Has anyone proclaimed the law of God? Has anyone been calling on them to repent? The job God has called me to do is a prophesied job.”
The gospel was prophesied to go to the world as a witness before Jesus Christ will return. From his writings, Mr. Armstrong asked the question whether or not this was done by God’s Church: “Did God raise up a one-man leadership to be used by Him in proclaiming, after 1,900 years, the true gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world – to even go to kings (Revelation 10:11) and bring the Church back to the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3)?”
Brethren, for those of us who have been blessed to be members of God’s Church for many years should know that this is very true, for we have witnessed it in our own lives.
In view of all of this, Mr. Armstrong asked the questions: “HAS THIS HAPPENED, IN YOUR DAYS, AND HAS GOD BROUGHT YOU INTO THIS PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT AS A PART OF IT? HAS ANYONE ELSE DONE IT?"
Sermon, October 2, 1982: "Jesus said the Elijah shall yet come and restore all things. [The original] Elijah did not restore what was taken away. The government of God was taken away. It was to be restored. God raised me up to restore it. God raised me up to restore the government of God. But it is only restored so far in the Church.
I have no authority from God, no ability, to restore the government of God any further than just over you brethren in the Church. But that has been done. That has been done, brethren. You go back and read Malachi 3:1-5 and Malachi 4. [And] where Jesus said, 'Elijah truly shall come'-even after John the Baptist was put in prison, he was yet to come. He [the Elijah] was to restore. John the Baptist didn't restore. You'd better realize what this Church is and what you are behind when you say you are behind me 100 percent."
Please also read: Mystery of the Ages, 1985, pp. 9-10, 290-291:
Last Sermon, Feast of Trumpets, September 16, 1985:
"There was an Elijah to come and to restore things in the Church. THAT HAS HAPPENED and what has been restored is the GOVERNMENT OF GOD – and many of the truths, at least 17 or 18 principal, vital doctrines of truth, have been added to about the three that had survived in the Sardis era of the Church."
John and the End-time Elijah,
Their Own People
In view of the promised Elijah of our time, it is also interesting to realize that the same thing is true today as it was at the time of John the Baptist. The Disciples of Christ and the people of Judea believed John to be a special prophet from God (Matthew 14:5); however they did not realize he was also fulfilling the office of the second Elijah. This is made clear by what was said by Jesus Christ to them during the transfiguration (Matthew 17:12-13).
Though virtually all of the ministry in the Church of God admitted that Mr. Armstrong was an apostle, a very special man used by God, it is very rare to find, even among the ministry of the Church of God in our time, any real recognition and acknowledgment of the real identity of this man who powerfully fulfilled the role of the end-time Elijah.
With this in mind, it is difficult to understand why the very top ministers purchased as a gift “The Cup of Elijah” and presented it to Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong while he was alive, yet only one to my knowledge acknowledges that he was in actuality the man God chose to fulfill the end-time role of Elijah.
I can only ask WHY did they do it – if, they did not believe he was fulfilling that special office?
Perhaps part of the answer is found in what Jesus said, “. . . a prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house” (Matthew 13:57).
This has been a troublesome problem for all of God’s prophets and apostles in all ages.
The Fallibility of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong
Case in point: Sometime ago, I wrote a document with Scriptural proof that Jesus Christ only used His apostles to establish His doctrinal teachings within His Church. And further, I also showed that He used His late apostle to restore His doctrinal teachings within the Church in this end-time. And aside from the apostles no one of lesser office has the authority to make any changes in any of the doctrinal teachings.
This was mailed to the leaders of the United Church of God. There was only one response and it was from the leading man on the doctrinal research committee. By way of justifying their position, he said to me, “Mr. Armstrong was not infallible.”
That was a true statement by him. However this can be said about all of the great men God used including the prophet Elijah, as recorded by the apostle James. Even so, God used these imperfect men to fulfill His will through them, as can be seen from the following Scripture:
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:17-18).
Based on those very clear Scriptures, this minister, and all others who think as he did, are lacking in understanding of the Holy Scriptures by judging Mr. Armstrong in this manner rather than by the fruits God bore through him that also identified his office.
It is my prayer and hope that this man and all others like him will come to true understanding and will correct the errors they have made in their teachings; teachings that are not in alignment with the truth; and what they themselves once taught and supposedly believed.
A Letter of Concern
Consider a recent letter sent to me by a leading member who recognizes that Mr. Armstrong indeed fulfilled that office, and wrote of the problems found with most of the dissenters because of their not recognizing that office and mission:
“I would like to urge you to not let down your guard concerning the vital Elijah understanding. Those who no longer believe that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah have accepted many doctrinal errors.
“[One top leader] long believed and privately taught that one of the Two Witnesses, not Mr. Armstrong, would be the final Elijah—and most today have no idea that he believed this! During the apostasy, [he] accepted an avalanche of other false doctrines. Although he never made it out of the WCG — his false theory did! Certain ministerial “followers” have promoted his private teachings. Teaching, "We don't know" when it comes to the End Time Elijah question, yet in the same breath referencing the Two Witnesses as a possibility. In turn, these followers have trained their own disciples in his false counter-theory. Such ministerial "followers" have helped [him] successfully discredit Mr. Armstrong’s role by continuing to spread his theory. Satan wins when “the blind follow their blind” leaders into either ditch.
“God’s enemies always attack His greatest servants, while loudly asserting that they are not! Those who no longer believe that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah or subtly claim "we don't know" have accepted many additional doctrinal errors. Many today are blind to the grave danger of rejecting the Church’s previous understanding, large numbers seem willing to believe that Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment was little more than a theory. Losing the vital Elijah understanding is the door into Laodicea.
“Regarding the End Time Elijah, Christ prophesied that this man would “restore all things.” If Mr. Armstrong was this man, then all the PROVEN truths he restored must be retained — held fast. To reject his role, after PROVING these RESTORED TRUTHS is nothing less than utter deceit! Sadly, so many who want to “hold fast to the truth” have exempted this profoundly great doctrine.
“I urge all who "know and know that they know" to teach others with all patience and understanding, maintaining a balanced approach, as to Mr. Armstrong’s role and its implications. Do not slander and attack confused brethren on this matter.
“Do not reflect the unsound, unlearned, untrained, unbalanced, unteachable and ungovernable attitudes obvious in so many splinters and splits that have lost this vital understanding and important doctrine.
“This is a far weightier matter than merely who was the Elijah. It may be that many could yet have an opportunity to come to their senses—with God’s help—if they “anoint their eyes” as Christ instructed (Rev. 3:18).
“In brotherly love,
_____ _____ ”
The Elijah – One of the Two Witnesses?
It is also difficult to grasp that the very top leaders, who were there at the very headquarters of God’s Church, saw how God used this man, and who knew the Scriptures as well as they seemed to, can believe and lead others to believe the Elijah to come could possibly be one of the Two Witnesses!
It is very plain and clear that the ancient prophet Elijah and the end-time Elijah were to be sent to the house of Israel! It would appear that John, the second Elijah, only performed his mission to Judah, which was one of the Tribes of Israel. However, his mission was recorded in Holy Scripture and made available to all the tribes of Israel; so, in reality, his mission was for all Israel as well as just Judah.
Both Elijah and the end-time Elijah were to go to the house of Israel, as Scriptures make known.
To make this point, one among many, please consider the last Book of the Old Testament, the Book of Malachi. The introductory opening reveals it is an end-time book for Israel: “The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi” (Malachi 1:1).
Chapter 3:1-3, speaks of the way being prepared for Jesus Christ to come to this earth both times, first by John, and the second time by the end-time Elijah. Verses 6-7 address the house of Jacob, meaning all his sons, the 12 tribes. And in chapter 4, God says to “REMEMBER the Law of Moses My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb (part of the mountain range of Mount Sinai) with the statutes and judgments.”
Was it the Gentiles God was speaking to when He said to REMEMBER what He did and where He did it? Absolutely not! It is perfectly clear that He was speaking to Israel, for they were the ones there before Him in Mount Horeb when He gave those laws (Galatians 4:8-10; Ephesians 2:11-13).
In addition, Scripture reveals it was very rare when God sent a prophet to any Gentile nation.
Emphatically, God is WARNING Israel BEFORE the time of Jacob’s trouble comes upon him (Jeremiah 30:4-7)! And to sound that warning Jesus Christ sent a very special messenger to bring REMEMBRANCE of Him and His laws to Israel, His chosen nation, before calamity befalls them.
Remember – means, bringing back to mind something that was once known.
Throughout the ongoing history of Israel, God continued to send prophets to Israel and Judah with warnings of their sins and pleading with them to repent before He would be forced to punish them with the rod of correction!
Why would it be different here at the very end-time – before the Great Tribulation? It is not logical nor does it make sense.
The Mission of the Two Witnesses
By studying chapter 11 of the Book of Revelation it is very clear that the Two Witnesses’ mission, yet to be performed, is to go the Gentile nations at a time when the House of Israel will have been conquered and those who survive will be in enslaved in many nations, especially in Europe.
The Two Witnesses will be a type of both Moses and Elijah, as can be seen in the transfiguration, but not in actual fact (Matthew 16:27-28; 17:1-3, 9)! The mission they will perform will be to the Gentile nations and will be almost identical to that of Moses and Aaron going before the Pharaoh of Egypt.
The Two Witnesses’ mission will be during the very last three and one-half years of this age (Revelation 11:3). At the conclusion of their testimony the Beast will succeed in having them killed! This will coincide with the return of Jesus Christ back to this earth (Revelation 11:7-12, 15).
Jesus Christ has NOT yet revealed the identity of these two men. He knows who they are and will make this known to them according to His time-table just as He did to Moses at the burning bush. At the same time Christ is preparing them for this very hard and trying mission without their knowledge.
Before their mission begins the House of Israel will have to face the greatest trial of their history by undergoing the Great Tribulation. Never has there been a time like it not will there ever be a time like it in the future, so said Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:21; Daniel 12:1).
A Brief Review
Prophecy reveals that after the nations of Israel have been conquered; the survivors will be removed from their countries and transported to Europe by the Beast and his armies! The duality of history will be repeated and for the very same reasons (II Kings 17:3-23).
Upon their arrival the brutal mass killing will then begin taking place as it did with the Jews being slaughtered and cremated in the death camps by the Nazi henchmen of Adolph Hitler during World War II!
The people of Israel who survive will be sold into rigorous slavery! There they will remain for three and one-half years! This is the period of time that prophecy terms the Great Tribulation.
Prophecy also reveals that very near the end of this time will begin the Day of the Lord and come to be known by the beginning of the heavenly signs! This will lead into the second coming of Jesus Christ back to this earth (Matthew 24:29-31).
The Two Witnesses will be fulfilling their mission to the Gentiles during that period of three and one-half years (Revelation 11:7-12).
the History of Israel
the Plan of God
When reviewing the history of Israel it is necessary to keep in mind that God’s Master Plan is not only for the salvation of Israel but for all of mankind. And an integral part of God’s purpose for fulfilling His plan would be the necessity of selecting and sending to Israel the three men who would be used by Him in very special ways during times of vital need to keep His Master Plan intact and ongoing.
The very nation of Israel that God chose above all others would become an integral major part around which His plan would revolve for the saving of all other nations.
“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has CHOSEN you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure ABOVE all the peoples on the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 14:2; 7:6-11; Psalm 135:4).
Why God chose to use John the Baptizer and Mr. Armstrong, who would be known in Scripture as in the office and power of Elijah, yet not be called by that name, can only be understood by reviewing the history of Israel at the time of the real Elijah.
By so doing one can begin to see the parallel with the time of John the Baptizer who prepared the way for the coming of the Messiah as God in the human flesh; along with the end-time Elijah who was to restore the laws of God, while preaching repentance and the gospel, and at the same time preparing the way for the return of Jesus Christ as did John formerly for the Messiah.
This time Jesus Christ will return in all of His awesome glory and power (Isaiah 40:3, 9-10; Malachi 3:1; 4:4-6; Matthew 17:11).
With all of this in mind one should begin to see why Christ chose three different men with related missions at three different times in the ongoing history of Israel.
To truly comprehend the true teachings of the Holy Bible it is important that one should keep in mind the overall view of God’s Master Plan and His use of Israel to contribute to the fulfillment of it.
In addition to these three men one should realize it was necessary for Jesus Christ to send other prophets at different times in their ongoing history to try and return them to Him and His way of life.
One should also realize that the deplorable state of Israel at the time of Elijah the prophet and modern Israel today in reality pictures the sinful state of all of mankind to one degree or another.
The Passover the Beginning of God’s Master Plan
At exactly the precise time in God’s Master Plan the time came for the purpose of John the Baptizer to be fulfilled for the preparation of the coming of the Messiah who would make possible the fulfillment of the purpose for which God created mankind (John 3:16-17).
The Messiah would be the One who would make payment for sin by voluntarily sacrificing his human life by the shedding of His life’s blood for all of mankind, once true repentance really would come to take place in the hearts of each man and woman who has ever lived or ever will live.
God’s Master Plan began with the first Passover ever observed by Israel in their deliverance by Him from Egypt. This is symbolized by the annual observance of the Passover that began in Egypt.
During the mid-night hour of the 14th of the first month of God’s Sacred Calendar the death angel slew all of the firstborn of Egypt. The families of Israel were spared from death due to their having smeared the blood from the lambs they had killed over the doorways of their homes (Exodus 12). Upon seeing the blood the death angel PASSED OVER their homes and their lives were spared.
The physical lambs were to be a type of the true Lamb of God who would come to this earth and voluntarily give His life in sacrifice to make possible the blotting out of the sins of mankind upon repentance and as the result spare him from the second death (Revelation 20:14-15).
John made this well known to the people around him when he pointed out the Messiah in their presence: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me’” (John 1:29-30).
To keep God’s Master Plan in mind for the ultimate salvation of all of mankind, the Passover and His Holy Days that followed each year were commanded to be observed forever (Leviticus 23:1-44). The observance of these Days was restored by Gods late apostle in the early years of this Church.
By the time this writing is completed, it is my sincere hope and prayer that there should be no question to the open mind as to the identity of this man of the end-time; a man God used to fulfill such an important life and death role in the lives of all of mankind in our time.
I well realize this is hard to comprehend, but as we review the history of the deplorable state of Israel at the time God sent the ancient prophet to them, and then compare the abominable sins of that nation to the nation of today, it should be much easier to understand.
While comparing the same problems of today and of that time and then read in Scripture of Israel being conquered, and led into captivity by Assyria because of their abominable sins, it seems appropriate to use the quote from George Santayana: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
And end-time prophecy makes known the history of that time will fully repeat itself in our time by the same leading nation of the revived Holy Roman Empire, modern Assyria.
This will be a horrifying time in the lives of all of us.
Original Prophet –
Chapter Six A Review of the Background and the Escalation of Lawlessness
Chapter Seven Against This Background of Sin God sent to Israel the End-Time Elijah
Chapter Eight The Sacrificial Murder of Babies
Chapter Nine Legal License to Murder the Defenseless
Chapter Ten The Beginning Advances of Technology and the Work
Chapter Eleven The Mastermind of all Evil, Satan the Devil
Chapter Twelve The
First Stages of Famine