Sermon given 9 May 2015

Petra

by Ian Henderson

(PLAY FROM START)

Someone said to me sometime ago, they didn't think I could possibly give a sermon without referring to the news! So, I thought I would get round that problem by talking about something - oh Petra, and that would fit the bill. And as I was preparing the sermon, the little Windows Live mail went ding dong and here came a news item. 'No business for Petra store holders as Jordan suffers tourism drought'. Evidently the hotels are saying that bookings are being cancelled as never before and the stores have remained shut, so all the Arabs down there are not able to sell all their little trinkets. Two hotels have already closed down. I just want it on the record - at least I did try!

The question is, is there a Place of Safety for God's people at the end of the age? Everybody has gone through this. Everybody asks the question. It is something we need to look at, because it has caused a lot of confusion over the years, and especially now with the present situation within the Church.

Some say that God can protect His people wherever they are. Others think that the falling away hasn't even occurred yet, they don't need to worry about the Place of Safety, so there is plenty of time left. Some don't believe there is a Place of Safety at all. At least one Church leader claims that he and only he can decide who actually gets there.

So let's have a look at the evidence. Let's turn to Revelation 3: {1}

"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience [this is Jesus Christ talking to us today], I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation [or hour of trial], which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." (Revelation 3:10)

If you just drop down to Revelation 12:14:

"And to the woman [of course that's the Church, as Mr Armstrong has explained] were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent." (Revelation 12:14)

Which, of course, is three and one half years. Now, at various times these wings of a great eagle have been mentioned to be representing modern aeroplanes. If you go back to Exodus 19:4, we can see one of those particular spots. Christ is effectively saying to the people:

"Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself [now there were not jumbo jets back then, so it seems to be indicating protection]. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation [isn't that the goal, isn't that what we are heading for ? To be kings and priests?]. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel." (Exodus 19:4-6)

Now if we go to Isaiah 40:31, again we will see the eagle:

"But they that wait upon the [Eternal] shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

So, it is a matter of strength. Now, there is a Place of Safety. However, there is a place of protection promised to God's people. So, let's look at some of the Old Testament references, and there are of course many of them. Just make a note of Isaiah 16:4:

"Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab..." (Isaiah 16:4)

Which indicates that it is the area of what we regard now as Jordan. So why are they being hidden in the land of Moab? Why Jordan?

Turn to Daniel 11:41 and you will see a rather interesting scripture as we all know of course. When the European army comes down into the Middle East, Moab and Ammon (or Jordan as we know it today), escapes. So, this area is protected from the European army that comes down:

"He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom [modern day Turkey], and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon." (Daniel 11:41)

Of course, if you take out the vowels, which there aren't any in Hebrew, Amman today of course is the capital of Jordan and that is exactly where Petra is located.

Why Are We Being Hid (PLAY FROM 05:02)

Now why are we being hid? Well, we are being hid from God's anger. God is Almighty. Remember what He said to the Egyptians. He let them get right into the middle of the gap between the sea, between the wall of water on either side, and when they were right in the middle, He took the wheels off the chariots. He could have just let the water rush in, but He did that so that they would know. The Egyptians said, "Oh, we are fighting now the God of Israel." When they are resurrected, to them it will seem like the next instance. That is what they will realize. They will realize that is why what happened, happened.

It must have taken some guts from the point of the Egyptians if you think about it. This is a really unusual phenomenon to see a path of dry land through the sea. It must have been very wide. It wasn't just a little narrow channel. They went into this and came out short halfway through. The Israelites, of course, saw the bodies washed up on the shore. If you turn to Zephaniah 2:3, one of the so-called minor prophets, not so minor when you look at what they have actually got to say:

"Seek ye the [Eternal], all ye meek of the earth [remember, "...the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5) as Mr Armstrong was so timelessly saying, we don't inherit heaven, they inherit good old terra firma], which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness [meekness of course being the ability to learn, to be teachable, those that want to learn God's Way]: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the [Eternal's] anger." (Zephaniah 2:3)

Now in the New Living Bible Translation in more modern English, Zephaniah 2:2 says: {2}

"Gather before judgment begins, before your time to repent is blown away like chaff. Act now, before the fierce fury of the [Eternal] falls and the terrible day of the [Eternal's] anger begins. Seek the [Eternal], all who are humble, and follow his commands. Seek to do what is right and to live humbly. Perhaps even yet the [Eternal] will protect you - protect you from his anger on that day of destruction." (Zephaniah 2:2-3)

It is hard to take in when you read Revelation as to what is coming on this earth. Basically, it is going to be the biggest re-landscaping job in history. There are several scriptures like that in the Old Testament. Luke 21:36 is a scripture that I know Mr Armstrong has used several times, and we will use it later on. Just make a note of it, we all know it:

"Watch ye therefore, and pray always [comma], that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." (Luke 21:36)

Now, it's interesting here if you look at some of these Greek words. The Greek word for escape is 'ekpheugo' (Strong's G1628). It literally means to 'flee out of'. That you may be accounted worthy to flee out of or flee away from all those things that are going to happen. What is really interesting is if you turn to Hebrews 2:3 the word 'escape' there is actually the same word - to flee out of. You could read that:

"How shall we [flee], if we neglect so great salvation..." (Hebrews 2:3)

As you will see, the whole thing is actually tied up with a certain attitude that exists in the end time. The attitude of the people at the end of the age that decide whether they flee or whether they stay. It is how we are living. It is what we believe. It is where we are going. If you turn back to Psalm 27:5, David has quite a lot to say on this subject actually:

"For in the time of trouble [bearing in mind that what we are going into is a time of trouble, the likes of which has never been before and will never be again] he shall hide me in his pavilion [the word 'pavilion' there in Hebrew is refuge (Strong's H5520)]: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock." (Psalm 27:5)

Now the Hebrew word rock used here is not 'sela' or 'selah', which is the normal word for rock. The word for Petra in Hebrew is Selah. Now this is 'tsur' (Strong's H6697), which means 'refuge'; "...in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a [refuge]." He shall hide me upon a rock which is a refuge. Of course the area of Petra is rocky. In fact the area of Petra is very rocky. If you just go forward to Psalm 32:7 it says:

"Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah." (Psalm 32:7)

That is where David's mind, where David's attitude was directed. After all, David, as Mr Armstrong mentioned, David is a man after God's own heart. It sounds very Biblical. What it means is that David thought like God thought. That is what we have got to try and get to. It says elsewhere that God says to Israel, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the [Eternal]." (Isaiah 55:8). We are being converted so that our thoughts are God's thoughts and our ways are God's ways, so that we can teach them to other people in the very near future. Now, if you go to Psalm 91:1, it is funny how you look at something when your mind is going in a certain direction, and suddenly you see something that you have read over before:

"He that dwelleth [bear in mind the context of the Place of Safety, it also can apply to other times, but read what it says] in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 91:1)

Now where is this talking about? Where do we dwell in a secret place, under the shadow of the Almighty? That could very, very well apply to Petra. It, of course, could apply particularly to people who are out in the Laodecian era of the Church as well if God decides to protect people. I just thought, you know, "He that dwelleth in the secret place... (Psalm 91:1) ...It reminds us in actual fact, of the people escaping Egypt, you know. They were under the cloud and the fire, weren't they? They were protected. Psalm 91:2:

"This I declare about the [Eternal]: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection." (Psalm 91:2-4 NLT)

That really is very interesting. I remember when I was at College, we had a swan that decided to build a nest over near the edge of the lake, and I was actually working in the gardens at the time. There was a bit of litter down towards the nest which I went very carefully down to pick up this piece of paper, and the female was sitting. I didn't realize she had chicks that were actually hatched. As I approached, the head went down. That was the first warning. I thought, I only have another couple of feet to go, so I slowly went and slowly reached down to pick the piece of paper up, and as I looked up, she stood up to her full height, and she just wrapped her wings around the little chicks and her head was pointing straight at me. In other words, it was "That's my red line! Step over that line and I'm going to go for you." It was really nice. So later on in the day, we saw her swimming on the lake and the babies were all on her back. You could see their little heads popping up from under the feathers. It was quite remarkable. Psalm 91:5:

"Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you." (Psalm 91:5-7 NLT)

Now, are we in the Place of Safety going to be able to see what is going on outside? It is not technologically impossible. We can have a laptop. We can have a solar cell. We can have a satellite phone, and we can dial into beast.net, and see what they are all doing, couldn't we? If we are going to be down in that area, if it is that area, the arrows that fly by day could be missiles flying over. After all, Petra is literally in the eye of the hurricane, isn't it? It is right there where everything is going to happen.

We have big events coming up right now, I mean before the Church flees. If you are watching the news, you will notice that ISIS is now taking root in America. This is a terrible thing to happen because there is an awful lot of Muslims in America. It has already started and you are going to see more and more and more terrorism along those lines. It is probably going to happen over here in the UK as well. This Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was seriously injured in an airstrike and they are now going to take revenge against Europe and America. So, who knows what is going to happen. One person with the right kind of training can cause havoc as you have already seen. Psalm 91:8:

"Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished [we see that right now; we have total chaos all around the world, we are going to see some of this carnage that is going to take place before we are taken away]. If you make the [Eternal] your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won't even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The [Eternal] says, I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name." (Psalm 91:8-14 NLT)

Now, you know we should be praying this every day. It says: "...rescue us from the evil one." (Matthew 6:13 NLT). That word 'deliver' in the King James there is rescue (Strong's G4506). We are under constant threat from the wicked spirits in high places. We need to be constantly rescued. We need to be conscious of the fact that we need rescuing.

Again, keep in mind the word 'name'; "...those who trust in my name." (Psalm 91:14). The word name invariably means authority (Strong's H8034). We are going in a direction, we have set our heart on God, He says, "... therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my [authority]." (Psalm 91:14). He has known my law, he has known my way of life; he is therefore going to be qualified to teach that in a very few years' time. Because we acknowledge the fact that Jesus Christ is God, He is our High Priest. He is the King of Kings, and we are going to have the awesome privilege of working with Him under His authority for a thousand years. Psalm 91:16:

"With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation." (Psalm 91:16)

It is a fantastic Psalm, and you know it can apply very much to the people in the Place of Safety, especially when you look at those first few lines.

The Different Names for Petra (PLAY FROM 18:12)

Now, some people have said, "Well, Petra is not mentioned very much in the Bible." Now, it is actually all over the Bible, but the trouble is, it is hidden in plain sight. You have got to do a little bit of detective work to find out where it is actually mentioned.

The reason we don't recognize it is because it is under different names. Dr Hoeh once said that Petra is mentioned more often in the Bible than any other city with the exceptions of Jerusalem, Samaria and Babylon. It is the fourth most mentioned city in the Bible. He concluded that Israel spent considerable time in Petra on their way to the Promised Land, and that the Eternal would do likewise to His people in the last days. I will give you some of the references here: Numbers 10:11:

"And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony. And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran." (Numbers 10:11-12)

It refers to the wilderness of Paran. If you look at your Bible Atlas you will see that they have Paran at various stages all over the desert. Some of them have it dodging around the top of the Red Sea and so on. The word Paran in Hebrew means full of caverns, caves. Now where does that refer to? It's a bit of a giveaway, isn't it? If you turn to Numbers 13:1, it says:

"And the [Eternal] spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them. And Moses by the commandment of the [Eternal] sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel." (Numbers 13:1-3)

So the spies were sent out from the Wilderness of Paran. Notice, a wilderness. Numbers 13:25:

"And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh [so now we have Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran, that is the second name] ...and shewed them the fruit of the land." (Numbers 13:25-26)

Now, we know there is a rather sad ending to that story because frankly, the vast majority of these men were wimps. They just couldn't believe that God could possibly keep His promise. So, God kicked them out, didn't He?

Kadesh has got two names. The second name is Kadesh-barnea. Many Bible Atlases will stick Kadesh-barnea someplace way, way away from Kadesh, but, in fact, it is the same place. Barnea basically means place of the wanderers or the vagabonds. It was later renamed Kadesh-barnea to remind the Israelites why they were there. Now they came to Kadesh as we will see right now. At the Waters of Meribah they sinned. There's another name coming up you see. They wandered around for thirty nine years and they came back to Kadesh, back to the Waters of Meribah, back to Paran, then they went into the Promised Land.

So, let's look at Kadesh. What does Kadesh mean? Kadesh means sanctuary. Oh, surprise, surprise. That is what it means. They were supposed to leave Kadesh, or forty years later Kadesh-barnea, and go up to possess the land. Deuteronomy 9:23:

"Likewise when the [Eternal] sent you from Kadeshbarnea [that was the second time He sent them], saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the [Eternal] your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice." (Deuteronomy 9:23)

So, the big question is do we go up in type to inherit the Kingdom from Kadesh? This is just another little interesting sideline. So they got kicked out and they wandered around for thirty nine years.

As we go along another name comes up. The Wilderness of Zin – not the Wilderness of Sin, but the Wilderness of Zin. Petra remained hidden for going on two thousand years. It was only known to a few Bedouins until the 1800s when one of these explorer types found the place. It has been hidden for all those times. Numbers 27:14 ties in again some more names:

"For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin." (Numbers 27:14)

So, now you have four names. You have Paran, Meribah, Kadesh and the wilderness of Zin. It is all Petra. They are all linked together. It is the same place. It is remarkable the incidences. This is why Dr Hoeh said, "It is hidden in plain sight." Here again, interesting: "...pitched in the wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh." (Numbers 33:36). Zin means a mountainous crag piercing the sky. So again, it is that rocky area. Like everything else, it refers to a rocky wilderness area with lots of mountains. Now the Waters of Meribah we saw in Numbers 27:14. Moses got so angry that he actually disobeyed God there, didn't he? He struck the rock and so on.

Moses was reminded again by God in Deuteronomy 32:51. Let's turn to that one. It is almost like detective work trying to work your way through all this, but it is fascinating. It is almost like God didn't want the name too obvious until you really study and get into it:

"Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of MeribahKadesh [it is now linking Meribah with Kadesh], in the wilderness of Zin [which, of course, is also is the wilderness of Paran]; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel." (Deuteronomy 32:51)

Now, we know that Moses was punished by not being allowed to go into the land, but we also know he made it into the Kingdom of God, because of the transfiguration.

Now, here is another interesting one, which may or may not have any credence, but it is worth having a quick look at it. The apostle Paul was in Arabia, wasn't he, for three years? After his conversion at Damascus, Jewish persecution became so severe that Paul fled to Arabia where he apparently remained for three years returning to Damascus and going to Jerusalem. That is in Galatians 1:15:

"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days." (Galatians 1:15-18)

Now, it appears that during this time, Damascus was under the rule or control of King Aretas of Petra. Petra was a key point at that stage. It was a major distribution point almost on a main trading route. When they went into that area they were protected. They came under the protection. It was very protected having gone through the Siq, which is quite a dramatic entry, I believe, from what I can see, and of course you paid for that protection. The King of Petra was quite a wealthy character. Just make a note of II Corinthians 11:32. That was when Paul was let down over the wall in a basket to escape this King; it says:

"In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me [he does say that ever so nicely - you know there must have been political correctness even back then – a garrison, desirous to apprehend me]: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands." (II Corinthians 11:32-33)

Mr Armstrong wrote his co-worker letter from the Middle East in 1956 where the apostle Paul spent nearly three years in Petra, in Arabia when he was taught by Christ. Just in case you want some verifications on the other side: The Catholic Church historian Eusebius preserved a record of this. According to old tradition, Paul visited Petra when he went to Arabia. So the good guys and the bad guys all agree that Paul was in Arabia. The other name for Arabia, of course, is Petra.

It's interesting. It would make sense because if you go in there and get lost quite happily there, and go through the process of being taught personally by Jesus Christ.

As In the Days of Noah... (PLAY FROM 27:36)

All right, so there is a Place of Safety; and maybe it is Petra. How did it get there? Turn to Luke 17:26:

"And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man [welcome to our world]. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;" (Luke 17:26-28)

Life was going on as normal. So, we are going to have a financial crash. It seems almost certain, and out of that will come all sorts of new restrictions and so on. But it is just another birth pain, so don't worry about it, as some people are saying. We might have to change currencies. We might have to do all sorts of wonderful things, but you see, this is the attitude. Luke 17:29:

"But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." (Luke 17:29-30)

In other words, you get the impression that when the Church actually flees it is literally by the skin of our teeth. The Church isn't going to flee and then like, have a six month gap before anything happens. It all follows one thing after another and people just won't have time to think. The only people that will be able to keep their heads straight are people who are plugged into the vine. Luke 17:31:

"In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back [a tremendous sense of urgency, then it says strictly]. Remember Lot's wife." (Luke 17:31-32)

There is a sermon – well, it's two split sermons that Mr Bowles and I gave quite a few years ago. You might want to go back there, they are on the web. You know, we have to decide beforehand where we stand with our families. I have four sons. I have two of them right here today. I have one of them who was in the Church and is no longer, and I have one of them who was never in the Church, never called. So what's going to happen to them?

The key factor is, we can't go back. We can't do anything for them. This is one of the things I think that has been coming to mind recently an awful lot. You know, we can't change anybody, you think about it. The only person who can change anybody is Christ. Christ grants repentance.

These children have made their minds up what they are doing, or in some cases, they are just wallowing around. It is not all over for them by a long way. I said, "We brought our children up in the way they shall go," but we forget the second part of the Proverb, you see. It says, when they are old, they will get the point. Suddenly, after a lifetime, the bells start ringing.

God brings them back into the land and protects them all the way through the Tribulation. They will be very easy to work with. "Remember Lot's wife." (Luke 17:32). It is almost certain she went back because of the children. The more you read that story, their was a tremendous sort of family upheaval going on here. It was kind of a close call. I mean, they were running down the road literally, being dragged by the angels when they heard the blast behind them, didn't they? In seconds, they were all gone.

Turn to II Chronicles 30:9, because this is one of the tests that could hit a lot of us in the Church. You know we had Mr Armstrong just now going through the thing with the sacrifice of Isaac on the altar, or the almost sacrifice of Isaac. God said, "...now I know that Abraham will obey my voice." (Genesis 22:12 paraphrased). This could be a trial on some in the Church. In other words, "Oh, my kids. I can't leave my kids behind." There is a promise here. If we rely on this promise, that doesn't then become a problem:

"For if ye turn again unto the [Eternal], your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land [that happened to the Jews, didn't it? They went into captivity for seventy years, then they came out of it; some of them went back and rebuilt Jerusalem and rebuilt the Temple]: for the [Eternal] your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him." (II Chronicles 30:9)

Believe it! Believe it. Lot's wife didn't. Lot's wife died.

Both Sides of the Story (PLAY FROM 33:02)

Now, I think it is always interesting when you are dealing with history if you can get both sides of the story. If you can get the good guys and the bad guys and look at what they both wrote about a certain event. Well, in prophecy we have the same thing, you see, because the Catholic Church has got their prophets and their prophetesses and I would like to look over one or two of the things that they promulgate. Bearing in mind that the Catholic Church is becoming more and more - like the end-time Catholic Church that we expected.

They are starting to talk about miracles. They are starting to talk about one church. This Pope is talking about being a leader. There is more new material coming out almost on a daily basis. The Catholic saint and prophetess named Hildegard – guess what? a German, warned that, those in a place of caves worked for the devil and were an advance group who support the Anti-Christ. Right - those that live in a place with caves worked for the devil and were an advance group that support the Anti-Christ. You see the Catholic Church believes that what we know is Christ's coming and destroying that vast army, is undoubtedly the Anti-Christ.

First, understand that the Catholic Prophets get most events completely the wrong way around. The One that lands on the Mount of Olives is the Anti-Christ, according to the Roman Catholic Church. Here is an example that I got off the internet. According to a compilation of 104 approved prophesies – now, prophesies have all got to be approved by the Pope:

"Concerning the end times, God will send a chastisement to the world to cleanse it of sin and bring about the renewal of God's two part kingdom on earth, i.e. the kingdom of the church and it's servant, the Great Monarch [ring any bells?]. These prophesies clearly predict a global economic crash that will give way to civil wars in nearly every country in the world. French will fight against French, Americans will fight against Americans, Italians will fight against Italians, and so on, the world over. In the end seventy five percent of the world will perish. Then, under the leadership of the Pope and the Great Monarch [alias the false prophet and the beast], world peace will be restored. All that will remain is the one church ruled by a Holy Catholic Pope, known as the Glory of the Olives."

Ring any bells? That was written a thousand years ago, by the way. It is difficult to know with these things where to go, you know. This business of food and water miraculously supplied is coming up in one of the Catholic prophesies. Let's turn to Isaiah 33:5 it says:

"The [Eternal] is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness [isn't that what we are aiming for? Zion, of course, obviously being the Church]. And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the [Eternal] is his treasure. [Verse 14] The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites..." (Isaiah 33:5-6,14)

It is pointing out there, too, with almost a certainty, a Laodecian Church, because they know they are in that sense hypocrites. They know God's Law, they have the testimony of Jesus Christ, but they are not keeping it. I think we are all fairly familiar with some of the stories that are going around. So the question is, who among us will be there? Who will be in the Place of Safety? Who will ultimately be in that Kingdom? Isaiah 33:15:

"He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;" (Isaiah 33:15)

Isaiah 33:16 we will cover a bit later because it's got another point in there. We need to look at this section first. Zion refers to God's Church. Christ calls some of them hypocrites. That is something that we are going to be seeing more and more of, unfortunately. Just make a note of Revelation 12:17:

"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Revelation 12:17)

They have the spirit of prophecy which is the testimony of Jesus Christ, but they are not keeping it, and they obviously haven't believed it. The old Protestant concept of believing ON Christ, the person, while totally neglecting the depth of His message could well be the problem. Not living God's Way.

When somebody gets up and says, "The falling away hasn't yet occurred," I just shake my head. What do you think we have here? Mr Bowles and Mrs Bowles have just come back from going on a whirlwind tour all over America, visiting one here, two there, one here, three there, a handful here, because the Church is shattered and scattered. Now if there is anybody out there who does not believe that, go and clean your glasses. Go and clean your glasses because you aren't seeing straight. The Church is totally shattered. It doesn't matter what flavour you want in the Church of God, if you go on the internet, I'm sure you will find a group that believes what you want to believe. It's that simple.

Go back to Jude 1:1-4. I want to read this in the New Living Translation in the light. And keep in mind that we are talking about the end of the age; we are talking about part of the Church being taken to a Place of Safety, we are talking about part of the Church going off track. This is Jude writing, getting on two thousand years ago:

"This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James. I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love. Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God's marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (Jude 1:1-4 NLT)

That's the thing, isn't it? It doesn't matter if you believe in make-up. I'm sure you can find a group that will quite happily accommodate you. If you believe in interracial marriage, I'm sure there is a group somewhere that will accommodate you. It doesn't matter what you want to believe, there is somebody out there, but who is right? The ones that are right are the ones that are sticking to that faith once and for all delivered to the saints. We all go around this in circles and we always come back to the same point on the table, don't we? That truth only came through one man. Revelation 3:14, and this is again from the New Living Translation:

"Write this letter to the angel of the church of Laodecia [remember this is Jesus Christ saying this now]. This is the message from the One who is the Amen - the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's new creation: I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, 'I am rich. I have everything I want. I don't need a thing!' And you don't realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. [Verse 20] Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends." (Revelation 3:14-17, 20 NLT)

Christ wants to be with this group. They have to make their decision to open the door and let Him in. Now, how do you open the door? It's not complicated. By turning back to the faith that was once and for all entrusted to God's people. It is that simple. It is not complicated. To do that, all the daft ideas that people have got have literally got to be flushed down the drain. Let's get back to what we were taught by Mr Armstrong in the first place.

You see, none of these problems are new. You often sit and let your mind dwindle a little bit about the future. You think, what if I got to work under one of the Old Testament patriarchs? Let's just say Joseph, for argument's sake. Let's say you are assigned to work with Joseph and re-planning the whole food production in the whole world, and all the rest of it. How are you going to communicate with him? He was a ruler in Egypt, and who are we? We are nothing.

But look at the technology we've got. You know, we have a few wires and a few boxes and all over the world people can hear what I'm saying right now. Not only that, they can listen to it for the next several days, a time to suit themselves. It is clearly amazing the technology that we've got. Mr and Mrs Bowles – actually, it was a miracle, they had ten flights and every single one of them was on time. That is amazing, ten flights! Think where they went and what they did – the technology involved is awesome, frankly.

You know what? People haven't changed. That is why you can look in here - this is King David. Now David was around about a thousand years before Christ. That's how I remember it, basically. Go back a thousand years from Christ and you have David. Go back another thousand years and you have Abraham. That gives you the approximate time scale. David gives a warning about 'presumptuous sin'. I often wonder what do you mean 'presumptuous sin'? Well, Psalm 19:13, bearing in mind David is now King of Israel, he is very successful, most of the people literally worshiped the ground he walked on. He is a good ruler and he has got it all right, and he is close to God. He says, and is still saying:

"Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression." (Psalm 19:13)

Presumptuous sins. Presumptuousness is taking on something that you don't have the right to take on. I want to change the speed limit on the motor way to eighty miles an hour. That is presumptuous because that is not the law of the land. We drive around and I've not seen an accident on the road for several years. And yet, there was one today, going round a roundabout. An elderly lady driving a huge 4x4 just cut right across and ripped the side of the guy's car off – right in front of a policeman! Just in front of us. So, perhaps eighty miles an hour isn't a good idea. This was all happening at twenty miles an hour.

Presumptuous sin. Like I said earlier on, a leader of one of the larger COG groups is on record recently as saying that he will decide who will be in the Place of Safety. THAT IS A PRESUMPTUOUS SIN! Seriously, that is about as presumptuous as you can get, but people still follow. Isaiah 33:16 says:

"He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off." (Isaiah 33:16-17)

That is a promise to these people that are going to be in this Place of Safety. Now this 'munitions' (Strong's H4679) is a stronghold, a castle, a fortress. It is a place of protection. Going to a fortress to be protected. In old medieval England you had the walled part of the city, and in the middle you had the keep, and outside you had all sorts of defense. The whole thing was to defend people when an enemy came. So this munitions of rock is talking about a Place of Safety.

"...bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure." (Isaiah 33:16). That is a promise we are going to have to totally and utterly rely on. It is a promise.

The word 'defense' (Strong's H4869) there means a cliff or a lofty or inaccessible place. I believe the Siq, as you go into Petra, is not that wide, but evidently the walls go up several hundred feet. It must be quite interesting. The thing is, the back is open. Even when we are in Petra, we are going to have to be protected supernaturally. It is difficult to get through the narrow Siq but it is very easy to come over the mountains from the back.

The Qualifications to be Protected (PLAY FROM 48:35)

I want to go back to Isaiah 33:15 in the New Living Translation about who will be there, the qualifications to be protected:

"Those who are honest and fair..." (Isaiah 33:15)

Right, US members of Congress you see on the news on Sunday, have now challenged the Courts, because the Courts have accused a member of Congress of insider trading, because obviously they know the laws that are coming out, and they can then know what is going to happen in the Stock Market. I think the example given was something medical, ObamaCare, and so on. They knew that it would bolster the shares of the medical companies, and they are accusing this guy. Congress turned around to the Courts, and said you can't challenge us on this matter. Quite incredible. Isaiah 33:15:

"Those who are honest and fair, who refuse to profit by fraud [oh, if only], who stay far away from bribes, who refuse to listen to those who plot murder, who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong - these are the ones who will dwell on high. The rocks of the mountains will be their fortress. Food will be supplied to them, and they will have water in abundance. Your eyes will see the king in all his splendor, and you will see a land that stretches into the distance. (Isaiah 33:15-17 NLT)

I believe one article said that if you climb onto the top of one of the peaks in Petra, you can actually see Jerusalem. I can't verify that, as it's a hundred miles away or thereabouts. You get quite a terrific view of the world from those high peaks. Bearing in mind that we have Google Earth, and we can go charging off all around the world and going to street view, and go through the middle of Hong Kong and all the rest of it. These people back then could only see what they could see with their eyes.

We were on the top of a ridge a couple of days back, in Dorset, right on top of a ridge in Dorset. On both sides, the land was going for miles and miles and miles and all you could see was sheep, lambs. I don't know how many lambs. I couldn't count them. I just thought, you were driving up there, you see all the land going way, way, way in the distance. It was a lovely sunny day, and it was all lush green with the spring greens and so on. It looked absolutely beautiful. But these people, the ones that are going to see the King in all his splendor, I think that is pretty self explanatory.

Now, when will all these things come to pass according to the other side? When do the Catholics say? Now this is Mother Shipton, who is relatively modern, sixteenth century. So you are looking about four or five hundred years ago:

"The great chastisement will come, when carriages go without horses and many accidents fill the world with woe. It will come when thoughts are flying around the earth in the twinkling of an eye, when long tunnels are made for horseless machines, when men can fly in the air and ride under the sea. When ships are made wholly of metal; when fire and water great marvels be [steam engines], and even the poor can read books and many taxes are levied for war."

That is a Catholic prophetess speaking four or five hundred years ago.

Now, how can you come up with that unless it is a demonic spirit that is giving you that information? Quite incredible. I just thought that was rather interesting. But the Catholic Church is going more and more down this road. The Pope's favorite book - He has this book that he reads from memory now. He was the son of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the late 1800's. He wrote this novel, very similar, along the lines of '1984' and that sort of thing; but in it, the main thing that gets hammered is the Catholic Church. The Pope evidently reads this and is an avid reader. He quotes regularly from this book. It just shows you the mind this man has. His mind is on the supernatural.

One Taken, One Left (PLAY FROM 53:04)

Right let's have another point here - one taken, one left. When we were down in South Africa, we had this Church in Johannesburg way back, with seven hundred fifty people every Sabbath. We had a Regional Director, Assistant Regional Director, Pastor, Assistant Pastor, and half a dozen preaching elders, a dozen local elders, and deacons by the score. This was a big organization, this one Church. Every Sunday, we used to all go, three hundred at least, for a huge picnic. We'd play softball, have a barbecue and so on. It was fantastic! It was a great club. We saved ten percent of our annual earnings and went down to the Feast in Durban and had a great time on the beach. We had about three hundred kids going to SEP, and powerboats and sailboats and all the paraphernalia. Fantastic! Where is it? Where has it all gone? It is all gone. Completely and utterly gone.

The key point in all of this is, if we first seek the Place of Safety, we won't be there - we won't be there. That is the key. We are told, "...seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and [then] all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33). And the 'all these things', by the way, were food and clothing and so on. Is that not interesting? Go back to Matthew 6:31 when Christ was giving that piece of information to the apostles. He said:

"Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?... But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 3:31, 33)

Now, today it is a little difficult to take in. I mean you've got your freezer with food in it, the fridge with a bunch of food in it, the supermarket down the road that is stocked up every day. You turn the tap on, at least in the Western World, you turn the tap on and the water comes out. Well, some of the Western World. Depends on who you are in America. The Americans are just waking up to the fact that California has a serious problem and, frankly, I think it is a lot more serious than most people actually realize. We've got all these things, but if you are in a Place of Safety, all you have is a bunch of rocks. Christ still says the same thing. Don't worry about what you are going to eat. Don't worry about what you are going to drink, "...seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness..." (Matthew 6:33). That is what we have to be seeking.

Now turn to Luke 17:34 This is one of these cases where you get the words in italics which you obliterate:

"I tell you, in that night there shall be two [men] in one bed..." (Luke 17:34)

Now, lets just stop right there. This is not talking about San Francisco or Brighton. 'Men' is not there, it just says two in a bed, which I presume would refer to a man and his wife. Luke 17:33:

"...the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left."

Luke 17:35:

"Two...shall be grinding together..." (Luke 17:35)

Again, 'women' is not there, it just says two grinding. In all probability in that case it was women, because that is one of the jobs they tended to do. Again in Luke 17:36:

"Two...shall be in the field..." (Luke 17:36)

The interesting thing is here we have two in bed in the dark of night, then we have two grinding. Now the grinding was done very, very early in the morning at first light, when it was cool conditions, making it better for the grinding process. Of course, the men traditionally went out into the field when the sun rose, not when the digital clock went off - BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. Luke 17:37:

"And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." (Luke 17:37)

So there does appear to be a gathering together at the end time, at the end of the age. It would seem natural that, that gathering together would be just as the Church flees, or very close to it. But, the ones that gather together are the ones that will be hanging on to the gospel "...which was once [and for all] delivered unto the saints." (Jude 1:3).

So, we are back to eagles again: "...Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." (Luke 17:37). We see the same sequence in Genesis 19, don't we, with Lot? During the night, the angels came. At first light, before the dawn, they ushered them out of the town. At sunrise Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. So you have the same sequence here in this thing with two in a bed, two grinding, and two in the field. It is the same sequence going up to from dark into barely the time of the sun rising.

Now this word 'shall be taken' is 'paralambano' (Strong's G3880). It could equally well be translated, 'to receive something transmitted' or 'the narrating to others by the instruction of teachers'.

Now the only example we have in the Bible of this fleeing is Lot. What happened? There was a knock on the door. They were literally led out. Will that happen? We don't know. You know what? We don't have to worry about it either. What we have to do is seek first that Kingdom of God, and He will sort it out and He will make it very, very obvious. I mean, we have that in Amos 3:7:

"Surely the [Eternal] God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7)

Or the teachers. Now this word 'paralambano' is also used in I Thessalonians 2:13. Let's go there:

"For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." (I Thessalonians 2:13)

You received 'paralambano'. They received it. It was received as teaching. So, there is a possibility that the instructions to flee would come via the ministry in the Church. Mr Armstrong seemed to indicate that in the Pastor General's Report where he mentioned the three things. The beast would be recognizable as the beast. Our work would be cut off. Which goes as a kill switch now to the internet, and that is finished basically. And, we would be given instructions for us to flee.

Because if, what we feel is we are going to be in the land of Israel and to flee to the mountains when the army is on its way. Then we somehow have to get down to Israel. When is that going to happen? So many questions, aren't there? But they don't matter. None of them actually matter. What matters is that we get ourselves right with God and focus on making ourselves ready. Making the Bride ready, and getting the righteousness angle right and getting ourselves geared up to be teachers of God's Way, and He will then take care of the rest of it. We don't have to worry about it.

Mr Armstrong Quotes (PLAY FROM 1:01:55)

So, quotes from Mr Armstrong. He has actually said quite a bit about Petra. If you go on "Get Back On Track" and just put in Petra, you can sit down for half an hour and have a good read, you can go right back. As we go through these quotes, you can see his knowledge increasing and his opinion changing gradually as he goes through the years. If you keep in mind that in 1927 he started off on his quest. Fourteen years later – around about 1941 when he had the Plan of God revealed to him, fourteen long years before he even understood the Plan of God.

Now, we just rattle it off, don't we? We know all about it. But that took fourteen years before God actually opened his mind. That is phenomenal and the knowledge that contains, and the fact that what God is doing is something we can never, ever take for granted. If you can imagine what it felt like to be Mr Armstrong, having kept these Holy Days for fourteen years and suddenly the light gets turned on, and he has the Plan of God revealed to him right smack in the middle of a World War. Think about it. Keep in mind in the 1942 March-April 'Plain Truth', this was right in the middle of a world war:

"Those who escape the frightful persecution to come will be those who heed Jesus' prophetic warning: "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." (Luke 21:36).

"But where shall those who escape flee to for refuge – WHERE? And HOW shall they go? and when? These questions, only those who are praying, earnestly, sincerely, constantly without ceasing, fully surrendered to God - and WATCHING! - shall be able to answer..." (The Plain Truth March/April 1942 Democracy's Fate in Prophecy)

As we look today from our point now, we can suddenly see the Europeans want an army. Correction – the European leaders want an army, the people don't. But the European leaders want an army. We see Russia and China all jumping in the same bed together now, in joint exercises in the Mediterranean of all places, which is very interesting. One of the items going up tomorrow is that China is now building a fleet of 40,000 drones to compete in all sorts of tasks. Some of them are armed, some of which aren't. Some of these drones actually go up onto the fringes of space; and glide down carrying atomic weapons. Just to put the Americans in a bit of fear of China, that is their goal. The whole world at the moment is getting very restless. When I say 'glide' by the way; these things glide at six or seven times the speed of sound. So, "...the arrow that flieth by day;" (Psalm 91:5) takes on a whole new meaning. We live in a crazy world. Just look at the recent election that we've had here and see what's happened. What does it all mean? We are going to have to see - it is all change. He then goes on to say:

"Will you be in that number?

"We may be sure that God will reveal the place in some prophecy which was to be closed and sealed until this 'time of the end' [bearing in mind this was written in 1942] – a prophecy now to be opened clearly to those thoroughly concentrated and close to God through prayer, but which no unconverted mind will understand."

That's the key. No unconverted mind will understand.

"Some of us believe we are beginning to see rays of light on this vital subject. Light on the PLACE we shall go – HOW we shall get there, as revealed in these marvelous prophecies. When God removes those accounted to be worthy to escape [NOTE: WHEN GOD REMOVES THOSE ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE], there shall come a time of FAMINE - not of bread, but of the hearing of the words of the Eternal! Then men shall travel from one end of the continent to the other seeking the Word of God, and they will not find it!" (The Plain Truth March/April 1942 Democracy's Fate in Prophecy)

Then he asks something which we have got to ask ourselves right now today. Do we have it now? Do we have that Word of God now? The answer is a resounding YES! Do we value it? Some do. Are we grateful? Some are, but some aren't and that's the terrible thing. Do we study? Do we reverence it? Do we obey it? That is what he said back in 1942 just after having the Plan of God revealed to him. That is how he felt. I was minus two years old. Jumping swiftly forward, April 15, 1956:

"Petra may very well be the site for God's protection of His people. Those who are counted worthy to escape the terrifying great tribulation that is soon to strike on unsuspecting Israel. Petra, an ancient Arab stronghold deep in the rugged mountains, is accessible only by traveling through narrow twisting gorges on horseback, or by helicopter now."

September 1968:

"Apparently many are carelessly supposing that they are now sure of being protected through the great tribulation. Whether it will be Petra or another place, many feel carelessly secure and after that, entering God's Kingdom with eternal life [yeah, everything is fine; that is an attitude of a lot of people, isn't it?] But you don't have it made. You are still being tried to determine whether you will have this protection, whether you shall enter the Kingdom of God. It is those that are led by the Spirit of God, not those who are led by desire for more and more physical and material things. So hundreds of you are slacking off in your responsibilities in God's work."

He could see that back in 1968. In 1975 he wrote, "The true body of Christ will be protected until this tribulation will be over [and he quotes Revelation 3:10]. Applying to those faithful in God's work now going to the world, but YOU must make YOUR own decision and to neglect doing so is to have made the wrong decision. God isn't kidding. This is for real. The decision is now yours." You see now again he is not stressing Petra, he is stressing you and me, individually working out our own salvation, and quotes Philippians 2:12.

This takes on a whole new meaning when you look at the situation in the Church today. Individuals, yes, but working as a team. We are showing that love by which other men will know that we are His disciples and you can see it now. We put something on the Forum when somebody has a problem. Within minutes sometimes you see replies coming out. People are praying for people ten to twelve thousand miles away in some cases. 26 June 1978 – Pastor General's Report, including excerpts from a sermon that Mr Armstrong gave:

"Now where is the place? That's has been a great contention. I used to preach the possibility that it would be Petra [we are moving on a bit now]. Well, I don't know that it will be Petra, and I never said I knew it would be. But others say, 'Well, that is something we can get back at Herbert Armstrong. Let's just say he was wrong about that.'"

It was used as a thing to get back at him. But you check the words he used. It was always, "could be", "possibly be", and so on:

"And so some very high in the Church were saying that that is a lot of rubbish and hodgepodge. I say to you now I don't know whether it is Petra. I don't know where it is or where it will be, but I know God knows. But I do know this much: there are many indications that it is Petra and if it isn't Petra, then the Bible gives us absolutely no indication of where it will be. Now I'11 stand my ground with that and any of you who want to can come and face me with it. In any case, I've been to Petra and it's not a very pleasant place to be." (26 June 1978 - Pastor General's Report)

Unless you like the smell of camel dung. And then later on he says:

"Oh incidentally I know many of you have your hearts set on going very soon to Petra as the Place of Safety during the soon coming great tribulation. Well, GET YOUR MINDS OFF PETRA BRETHREN! I have never said Petra definitely is the place of protection where God will take us. I hope it is not. One reason it could be the place, is that nobody else would want to go there. It would be the most unpleasant, uncomfortable, miserable place you could go. There is nothing to be desired there. But just in case God has miraculously given me gracious favor, in the eyes of King Hussein and also his brother the Crown Prince, they are very friendly to me personally."

You see, this is what he is thinking, and has changed just slightly over the years because you can't tie it absolutely down. But you look at the types. The children of Israel were taken up to that area. They were kicked out of that area. They were brought back to that area, and from that area they went up into the Promised Land. These things were written aforetime as examples for us, so you can have that argument about it. You can look at all the Greek and Hebrew words that point to it, and yes it all ties up, but we can't pin it completely down. That is what he is trying to get across to people. We must get our minds off getting there, and get the job done sorting ourselves out so that we frankly qualify to be there. Philippians 2:12:

"...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12)

Again he says in the 26 June 1978 - Pastor General's Report:

"...there are many indications that it is Petra and if it isn't Petra, then the Bible gives us absolutely no indication of where it will be..." (26 June 1978 - Pastor General's Report)

And again in The Plain Truth March/April 1942 Democracy's Fate in Prophecy:

"WHERE? And HOW shall they go? and when? These questions, only those who are praying, earnestly, sincerely, constantly without ceasing, fully surrendered to God - and WATCHING! - shall be able to answer..." (The Plain Truth March/April 1942 Democracy's Fate in Prophecy)


Footnotes:

{1} All scriptures are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.

{2} Mr Henderson was quoting from the New Living Translation rather than the Living Bible.