Feast of Tabernacles 2001
Do we regard ourselves as very ordinary people living in an extraordinary time? If we don't, we are! We have the distinction of living at the end of one age and on the cusp of another. The old world, under Satan's influence for six thousand years, is about to be swept away in a cataclysm so terrible that Christ said there has been nothing like it before, nor ever to come. The world in Matthew 24:21 is kosmos and it means the world as re-created, ordered and arranged by Christ in only six days, almost six thousand years ago.
What could be more terrible than the Noachian flood, which destroyed through drowning the entire world population bar four men and four women? Yet in the near future, the surface of this planet will be largely burned up and as Isaiah 24:6 tells us, "few men left." In the Hebrew language there are four words translated "man" in English. Here the word enosh is used and in regard to mankind it frequently has a negative connotation. It means physically frail and morally depraved and reprehensible. It is because of such men, under Satan's influence, that the birth of Christ's new age will be very painful. Why? Because as Christ points out in various places throughout Revelation 16, they utterly refuse to repent and acknowledge God.
Yet Christ has promised faithful Christians they will be rescued and physically protected from this disaster, which will undoubtedly reduce the earth's population from billions to just a few millions.
In a time when terrified men, women, and children will be crying out for mercy and deliverance and not finding either, because they won't repent, why is it that certain faithful Christians will receive both? What is so important in God's sight about faithfulness and what exactly is this faithfulness related to?
One noteworthy fact about faithfulness is to be found in the book of Proverbs. In chapter 20, and the latter part of verse 6, we are told, "But a faithful man who can find?" The latter part of the verse is set in contrast to the former, which in the New Berkeley Version reads as follows, "many a man proclaims his own steadfast loves." Put together in the NIV we read, "Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?" In this context faithfulness is connected to unfailing love. But love for whom? From a Christian perspective, first and foremost a love for God the Father and Christ His Son. How is this love manifest? In the desire and attempt at total obedience! We learn about God's love through His law, in especially the Ten Commandments, which show us how to live happy and productive lives. They display God's concern for His created children; Christ's sacrifice underlines that love. Why? Because no human can keep God's law perfectly. Through faith in His sacrifice, the penalty due to God for our sinfulness is paid. In this way the death penalty for breaking God's law is removed from us. So God has every right to expect steadfast love from us. Yet there is another important fact that we must never lose sight of, God works through men! He uses men to deliver His truth to those He is calling. Herbert W. Armstrong was such a man!
I vividly remember the profession of love and the standing ovations he used to receive annually at the Feast of Tabernacles until his death in January 1986. At his death there was much outpouring of grief, but today few honor the memory of this man; the man God used to reveal himself to us. If Mr. Armstrong was not such a man, who in all the twentieth century was? The answer is obvious, no one! Yet except for a very small number of Philadelphian Christians, it is almost as though Mr. Armstrong never existed! This is very displeasing to both God and Christ. Compare John 5:23 (NIV) with John 12:26 (NIV), ". . . He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." ". . . My Father will honor the one who serves Me."
God the Father will only accept honor to Himself that extends to Christ and the faithful servants He chooses to carry out specific commissions. This creates and contributes to the unity that God demands within His family.
Many of you probably wonder when you hear that your destiny is to rule with Christ, just what you can do now to prepare for such a responsibility? Possibly you cannot conceive of what such a position involves? Don't worry, when you are spirit, very God, you will have the power and means to understand and successfully carry out your duties.
What you need to be concerned about is learning what God requires of you now, so you will have qualified by the time Christ returns. For Philadelphian Christians that means qualifying before the tribulation begins three and one-half years in advance of Christ's return.
What do we need to develop and prove now to qualify? The short answer is given in the latter part of Revelation 17:14 (NIV), which tells us ". . . And with Him [Christ]" as He returns to establish His millennial government, "will be His called, chosen and faithful followers." The word faithful means trustworthy and reliable.
But faithful to what? To the truths God opened our minds to understand via His Spirit, through the work He gave Mr. Armstrong to do. This includes recognizing that Herbert Armstrong, just like Peter, Paul, or John, was a man selected by Christ, to prepare the way for His Second Coming by taking the true gospel of the millennial kingdom to this evil society. The fact that this simple declaration of facts was ignored by the world and now today by most of the Church only magnifies its importance as a means of shedding light on who are the true Philadelphian Christians at this point in time.
It is their faithful adherence to these truths which sets them apart for protection during the tribulation. However, it is not fear of the terrible tribulation which motivates them, but rather their love of the truth, their deep respect for the man God used to bring that truth to them, and most of all their desire to never let their loving savior down (I Pet. 2:17; Jn. 15:12, 17). In II Thessalonians 2:10 (NIV), Paul says that people perish "because they refused to love the truth and so be saved [delivered or rescued]" which is exactly what is to happen to Laodicean-minded Christians in the soon coming tribulation. It is in this terrible ordeal that their love of the truth is rekindled.
Everywhere today the truth we received is being undermined and ridiculed. Only a tiny few are even keeping this Feast of Tabernacles and fewer still keep it honoring Mr. Armstrong, who revealed its importance to them. I know it is hard to be a minority, excluded by former brothers and often alone physically, but remember Christ said in reality we are never alone! He and the Father are always with us. They will never forsake us if we never forsake Them.
On their behalf I want to thank you for being at Their Feast to honor Them and the memory of Their faithful servant, Herbert W. Armstrong.
Hold fast to the end and we will all rise to meet our elder Brother, Christ as He returns to gather His government together. When that day comes we will have proved to be more than ordinary people; we will have proved extraordinary.
In Christ's service,
Robert J. Elliott
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Feast of Tabernacles 2001
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