Is it Important to Understand Prophecy Today?
Hold Fast Letter
How important is it to understand prophecy today? Some might consider this a stupid question, while others may indeed wonder why understanding prophecy is necessary in the overall context of developing holy, righteous character. What is more important?
Well, the two are not mutually exclusive. Someone in God's Church committed to developing godly character should, for that very reason, include an expectation of comprehending of prophecy. Prophecy is a declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means. You see, the natural, physical mind cannot understand God's Word. God has to open the minds of those He calls to prophetic understanding and its application to the times they are living in. It stands to reason that He is more inclined to do so for those who are serious about overcoming their carnality.
For example, in respect to prophecy, it is critical to know which church era we are in now. Most don't; because they fail to discern that this is the final era. As a result they exhibit no sense of urgency. This means that they are, and will be, unprepared for the momentous events rapidly bearing down on this society in the form of a new dark age. Those with a grasp of end-time prophecy should be urging themselves on in preparation for Christ's coming--making sure that their priorities are right and actively praying, studying and fasting to build more spiritual muscle in the time available.
A large portion of scripture consists of prophecy and it requires God-given insight to be able to make sense of it. A good example of this is found in Luke 24, where the risen Christ enlightens His disciples on the prophecies related to His death.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: (Lk. 24:44-46).
Spiritual blindness is a hallmark of most Christians living in the final era of God's Church. Christ castigates them for being lackluster, which undoubtedly contributes to their naked or sinful condition. Consequently, it is apparent that such people will not only be unable to understand end-time prophecy; they won't even be interested in the topic.
Those, who are enthused by recent prophetic revelation and have searched the scriptures to prove it bibilically sound and have found it so, should rejoice, because it had to be revealed to them by Christ! Now that is exciting!
Do you remember what He told His disciples in John 15:15? “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” Add to this His words in Jn 16:13, in which He promises to provide the Holy Spirit (power from above), which “will shew [tell or report] you things to come.” Prophecy is the future revealed ahead of time by God to His servants for a specific purpose. When the prophet Daniel was trying to grasp the significance of the 1260, 1290, and the 1335 days, he was told “. . . Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Dan 12:9). This information and its understanding were not pertinent to Daniel's time.
The time of the end is defined for us by Christ in Matthew 24:14, where we are advised that the gospel of the Kingdom must first be proclaimed before the end of this age can or will come. When Mr. Armstrong completed the gospel commission in January 1986, we entered the end time. During the succeeding ten years the Worldwide Church of God disintegrated and numerous off-shoots surfaced ostensibly in support of Mr. Armstrong. By 1997, God's Church, Worldwide came to understand the chronology of the 1260, 1290, and 1335 days. In doing so, previous misunderstandings the W.C.G. had in respect to the Church's flight to a place of safety were corrected. This was very important, because under the old belief it was assumed there would be seventy-five days in total to be warned to flee, to conclude one's affairs and then to travel to the location, conceived to be Petra in Jordan. You see, those who retain the old understanding will be taken completely by surprise, because there will be no seventy-five day warning! In fact, the tribulation will descend with little warning on modern Israel, but God will spirit away faithful Christians to be protected throughout that three and one-half year period, on Jerusalem's Temple Mount.
Brethren, in a time when most of the Church is slumbering with “their eyes wide shut,” it is comforting to know what we know. But why do we know it? Quite simply because we (a) recognized who Mr. Armstrong was, and (b) we have honored him for faithfully following through with the commission God gave him. If any of you do not understand how significant and important our recognition of Mr. Armstrong has been, then perhaps you also undervalue Christ's words in John 12:26, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour [value].”
Now think about it, why does God's Church, Worldwide have this understanding when those groups who broke away from the W.C.G., supposedly in support of Mr. Armstrong, don't? The answer is obvious and recent history has proved it. These other groups do not support Mr. Armstrong, and various of them didn't even support him when he was alive and they occupied positions in the W.C.G.. That is why they are blind, and therefore only qualified to lead the blind!
We know what we know now because God has decided the time has finally come to reveal it. We should be encouraged that He has honored us with that revelation. Do you grasp this? Are you getting it? Consider brethren, we know that the tribulation will begin at the feast of Trumpets, and that the work of God's two witnesses will commence three and one-half days earlier on a weekly Sabbath. Three years later the trumpet plagues will break out, also around the festival of Trumpets, and six months later Christ will return to gather His 144,000 saints to present them to the Father. As they await their audience with the Father in the third heaven, the seven last plagues are poured out upon the earth and the kingdom of the Beast. As the final mighty earthquake convulses the planet, the marriage supper of the Lamb is concluded and the saints return with Christ to smash the forces of the Beast at Jerusalem. With the Beast and the False Prophet thrown into the lake of fire, the following forty-five days are devoted to preparing Jerusalem for the commencement of the millennium on the feast of Pentecost.
We have been given a comprehensive, chronological outline of the last days of Satan's age, plus an understanding of what has happened to God's Church since Mr. Armstrong died. In addition, we know when the tribulation will begin.
Each feast of Trumpets brings us one year closer. Each feast of Trumpets reminds us that the next one may be the one and should spur us on to get better prepared. The rank society we live in is an increasing offense to God and much of His Church is in danger of passing from lukewarm to stone cold. Since Christ said His Church will not die out and since Laodiceans must still be in existence to be reformed in the tribulation, its beginning cannot be far off.
The United States of America stands as the last bastion against total world chaos, but as this presidential political year will prove, it is increasingly divided against itself and thereby all the more weakened. Add to this the clamorous denunciations, from across the nation, against God and all that He stands for and we can conclude that the sudden destruction predicted in God's Word draws rapidly on.
Even though many associated with God's Church today are not alert to the danger they are in, we have no excuse, for we have been amply warned.
Please don't ever regard having an understanding of prophecy as a sign of superiority; but instead, see it as a sign of God's mercy extended to us, because, in respect to Mr. Armstrong, we did only what should have been expected of us. For that one act of faithfulness, God is prepared to spare us and protect our children throughout the entire tribulation. However, to be profitable servants we must continue to hold fast in the faith and become leaders in creating the blessed unity God and Christ desire us to produce.
In his day, Herbert Armstrong was given a unique understanding of the scriptures which set him and the Worldwide Church of God apart in all “Christendom.” Based on the foundation he laid, God's Church, Worldwide has also been given a unique understanding of these end times to spur us on to develop the holy, righteous character that produces oneness and harmony. This is very pleasing to our loving God and our personal Savior.
So going back to the initial question posed in this letter, “How important is it to understand prophecy today?” The answer is very!
Hold fast brethren.
In Christ's service,
Robert J. Elliott
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