Article Based on a Bible Study given 5 October 2002

Philadelphia - Part 1

by Jon Bowles


At the opening night of the Feast this year, I asked the question; "Why am I personally here with a little group, rather than elsewhere?" And I brought out the fact that because there is a God, and God when He says something, He really means it. He expects us to believe what He says.

I then showed in Daniel 12 where it talks about running to and fro and knowledge being increased. If you look at the world and the way the world has been, the way God looks at it - a thousand years to God is a day - you are looking at a week really of our existence. And if you look at the inventions and the way in which communications have increased, science has increased, it is the last few hours on a Friday before the Sabbath starts. Everything has taken place basically in those last few hours. All the major inventions, all the technology, all the running to and fro.

Even with Shoutcast, the server that we have now, going across various places in the world, it would have been impossible ten years ago. It just wasn’t available in any way, shape or form. The internet wasn’t there. It is quite incredible when you do look at it, and look at the dates involved with some of these things. Everything seems to have occurred in these last few years, the last couple hundred years, which is, as I say, a matter of hours before the Sabbath starts.

It is an indication, because Daniel 12 does mention there that at the end time this will be the case. This will be one of the indications of the end time. In Malachi 3 it talks about that same end time, and it talks about an individual who was prophesied to be sent, the very word 'apostle', means sent, to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ before Christ comes. It was so that Christ returns to a Temple. That is at the beginning of Malachi, chapter 3.

If you put together scriptures such as Haggai 2:6-9, where it talks about the glory of this house will be greater than the first. It was very clear it was not talking about that house, because that physical house was not greater. It was the spiritual house, the very Church, as it is mentioned over in Ephesians 2, which I again read to you where it talks about us growing together to become a Holy Temple, a dwelling place of God. It was that understanding that Mr Armstrong had as to what Temple it was that Christ was to return to.

So, it was very clear prophetically that there was going to be an individual that was sent to prepare that way. There was therefore going to be a Temple to which Christ was going to return. Yes, many of the people involved in that Temple are going to be dead, but the indication is that the pillars are going to be there ready, if you look at the Philadelphian Church.

II Thessalonians 2:3 talks about there being a falling away, before the end comes. You can’t fall away from something, unless something has been restored. Whatever needed to be restored for that Temple to exist has been restored, and that really is the essence of what Mr Armstrong did. He restored the truth to the Church so that the Temple could be rebuilt. Revelation 3 is what I ended that opening night address on:

"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."(Revelation 3:11)

I was pointing out that men are going to be taking our crown if they possibly can. We are commanded to hold fast what we have. Now during the Feast, I concentrated primarily on our future roles, and the need to learn to become teachers. The teaching that we have been receiving and the things that we need to learn and need to keep in mind, so that we can be teachers in that coming Kingdom.

I think it is fitting that, coming back from the Feast, we need to really examine a little bit more about where we are now, and what is very important for us to do. I think this is a very good place to start as a Bible Study. I almost foresee this extending from this Bible Study into another one as well. I don’t think I will be able to cover this particular subject in one Bible Study, it will be probably two.

There will be a third which will be a sermon, which I would like to give on the Place of Safety and Petra. And what evidence there is on the Place of Safety and Petra. People have heard about it, but what is there in scripture? Where does it actually come from? Well, there is a fair amount in scripture that is indicative. Certainly, I have a 'Good News' dated back in the fifties or very early sixties from my mother which basically goes into Petra, and into the reasons why they felt it was Petra at that time.

Today what I want to do is concentrate on this section in Revelation, chapter 3. It is almost like a lead in to that, because we are looking at the Philadelphia era. We are looking at a group of people, that as it says in the preceding verse, Revelation 3:10;

"...I also will keep thee from the hour of [trial], which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." (Revelation 3:10)

It looks as if this group is the one that is going to be preserved. When you are reading these sections that are addressed to the church, they tend to start being addressed to the individual. It says, " the angel of the church [of whatever]..." The word angel is messenger. It can apply not to just the angel, i.e a spirit being, but also to the one who carries the message, the one that takes the message. But as you get towards the end of each section, it is addressed more toward the membership. So, the address really to us is:

"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou [have], that no man take thy crown." (Revelation 3:11)

The vital thing therefore that it says here is; what do we have? What is it that we’ve got that we need to hang onto? I don’t want to make too much of a deal out of this, because there is an awful lot that we have been given, an incredible amount, that we have been given over the years. But I want to point out that the Bible really does explain itself. There are things within this passage, within this section of scripture, within Revelation 3, talking specifically to Philadelphia, that actually tells us what we have.

Now I don’t want to negate, I don’t want to take away from the primary thing, that it is the administration, the spiritual heritage that we received. We need to hang onto that. I don’t want to take away from that at all. If anything, I want to just elaborate on certain aspects of that heritage. But I do want to point out, that there are certain things within this section. If you notice in Revelation 3:7;

"And to the angel [or messenger] of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;" (Revelation 3:7)

There are six points that I want to go through within the next two Bible Studies. It might be that we might get through the whole lot, I don’t know. We will see how it goes. I somehow doubt it. I think we will probably only go through a certain amount today. But the six points I have put down is:

1) Whatever we have, or whatever the Philadelphia people who are preserved have, must come from somewhere. These opening comments where it talks about "he that is true and he that has the key of David" and so on, is the source of what these people have. We have got to look at that source. It is not Herbert Armstrong. It is the source, which is Jesus Christ. But Jesus Christ reveals His truth in a certain way. So we have to go back to that source. That first point I want to deal with, is that what these people have, comes from somewhere.

2) They have a little strength. Now the indication is 'very' little strength. So, the indication is where does the strength come from? There is a lot in that section as well that we need to understand, and I will make a few comments on that aspect. The fact that one of the things they have is a little strength.

3) They have kept My word. There is another thing that is mentioned that they have. So you see each of these things that they have is actually explained in some way.

4) They have not denied My name.

5) It also mentions that; "...I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved thee." (Revelation 3:9) In that sense they have been loved by God.

6) The final point I want to deal with, it says; "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience..." (Revelation 3:10) That is something that they have and it is because of that, that they are actually preserved.

What Philadelphia Has Must Come From Somewhere (PLAY FROM 11:07)

So let's go into this first point then, that what they have actually comes from somewhere. If we compare Philadelphia with many of the other eras, it is very clear that it is quite a special group. It is not just the run of the mill church. They 'have' a great deal more than the other eras. If you consider just what we have been given, e.g. the revelation of the meaning of life, through the Holy Days. Many of these church eras would keep the Sabbath, yes, they had the Sabbath, but they didn’t have necessarily all the Holy Days. You go back and look at the eras there. And yet, from what Mr Armstrong had been given - the restitution of all things, the restitution of all the things that were necessary to us at the time that we find ourselves in - there is something special about Philadelphia.

It is very interesting when you start looking at what these other eras have. If you notice in Revelation 2:2;

"I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:" (Revelation 2:2)

So here, Ephesus has tried these people who were claiming to be apostles, which is another indication that there were more apostles than just the twelve. Revelation 2:3;

"And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted." (Revelation 2:3)

So these people have done several things there. But the Ephesian era had certain qualities that were prominent, that were definitely praiseworthy. If we go to Smyrna, notice Revelation 2:10;

"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Revelation 2:10)

So these people, again it’s not something we all want, but they had trials all these ten days. In Pergamos notice in Revelation 2:13;

"I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith..." (Revelation 2:13)

So here again, there are two things; holding fast the name and not denying the faith are things that Pergamos was being praised for and something they actually had. You go to Thyatira, Revelation 2:20

"Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou [allow] that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." (Revelation 2:20)

So what they had was actually negative and they were allowing Jezebel to teach. In Sardis, Revelation 3:4;

"Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy." (Revelation 3:4)

So, again something that they have. In Philadelphia, as we have gone through that list, there are several things mentioned that these people had. But the interesting point, and that is why I went through these other verses, is that when you come down to Laodicea, you can go down to Laodicea and there is nothing, absolutely nothing. They don’t actually have anything. They reckon they do, but they don’t. What you find is that Jesus Christ is on the outside knocking in the case of Laodicea.

They say they are rich and increased with goods , but they 'have' nothing! Christ is on the outside, and He is knocking, they are not listening. They don’t have what they think they have. All the other eras before, at least had something. Although, there was one there that allowed Jezebel to teach, which is a negative in the case of Thyatira.

Now, if you bear that in mind, and we look also at another aspect, because each of these sections within Revelation 2 and 3, you can go through and divide each church era up into the greeting, and the various points that are in there. You can go through there, and colour the Bible tying each of the points up. There are seven all together, seven points within each church era.

I want to deal with the first point, and I want to just point something out to you, that again means Philadelphia is unique amongst the eras. It is interesting that Mr Armstrong understood these eras as being successive, primarily successive. Now, yes, we admit that there was undoubtedly qualities from each of the eras present in each of the eras. But the primary and dominant meaning of these eras is succession down through time. That can be shown because you can tie in where it says at the end of Revelation;

"Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me. [With] And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand." (Revelation 22:12,10)

Now the prophecy of the book, if you go through Revelation you will find that it is all to do with the end time. The only bit that’s not is the church eras. You will find therefore that if "...the time is at hand." (Revelation 22:10) that it is talking specifically to the churches - and that's the introduction in chapter 1, that it is actually to go to these seven churches - then it is clear that the churches, or a church era existed at that time, which is the reason why we feel it is successive, primarily.

Comparison of Messages to the Churches with Revelation 1 (PLAY FROM 17:55)

I want to point something out to you. Notice where it talks about Ephesus in Revelation 2:1;

"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand...(Revelation 2:1)

Now you can go back to verse 16 of chapter one and you can find that this is Christ, holding the seven stars in His right hand.

"... who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;" (Revelation 2:1)

You go back to verse 13 of chapter one and you will find that Christ is walking in the midst of the candlesticks. This is Ephesus, in Revelation 2:1, where you find that Christ is being referred to as holding the seven stars in His right hand. You can go back to chapter one, verse 16 where it says; "And he had in his right hand seven stars..." (Revelation 1:16) Then go back to Revelation 2:1 again where it says He walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. And then back to Revelation 1:13;

"And in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks one like unto the Son of man..." Revelation 1:13

So you can tie back to chapter one. In every single case you are tying back. He is describing Himself as this vision that you have in chapter one. Notice in Smyrna in Revelation 2:8;

"And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last..." (Revelation 2:8)

Now if you notice, go back into Revelation 1:8{1} "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending..." (Revelation 1:8)

In Revelation 1:11 "..I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last..." (Revelation 1:11)

Revelation 1:17 says; "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:"(Revelation 1:17)

So He is clearly referring back to this vision of Himself within these candlesticks. Notice it says in verse 8 of chapter 2 "...which was dead, and is alive;" (Revelation 2:8) then go back to Revelation 1:18;

"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore..." (Revelation 1:18)

So again, you are tying in back into that vision continually. What I am trying to show you is that there is a difference when you come to Philadelphia. Philadelphia is different. There is more to it than that. It is a different church era. It is a church era that really has a focus placed on it because the primary reason why this book was written, and the primary events that are going to occur in Revelation are for us! For the people that are living at the end time! There is a focus placed on this era, and this is why I am giving this coming back from the Feast, because we need to understand this. And keep these things in mind, as we move into events that are going to be unfolding. We need to make sure that we keep these things firmly in our minds as we move into them.

Notice in Pergamos in Revelation 2:12; "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;" (Revelation 2:12)

You go back to verse 16 of chapter one and it says; "And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." (Revelation 1:16) So again, you are going back to looking at that vision.

If you go to verse 18 of chapter two, in Thyatira, you find; "And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;" (Revelation 2:18)

So you go back to verse 14 of chapter one; "His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters." (Revelation 1:14-15)

You go to Sardis, chapter 3, verse one; "And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." (Revelation 3:1)

Again, you can go back to verse 4 in chapter one; "John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;" (Revelation 1:4)

So there are the seven Spirits of God, and in verse 16 it says; "And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword..." (Revelation 1:16)

So again, it is tying back to that vision each time. If we skip over Philadelphia, we will go straight to Laodicea, we find in chapter 3 and verse 14; "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;" (Revelation 3:14)

Again, go back to Revelation 1:6; " him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen [now I agree, it is not referring to Him specifically]. Behold, he cometh with clouds...Even so, Amen. ['So be it']." (Revelation 1:6-7)

Revelation 1:18; "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." (Revelation 1:18) That more than the other verses shows a reference to Christ, that He is the Amen.

The faithful true witness, notice Revelation 1:5; "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth..." (Revelation 1:5)

'The beginning of God’s creation, the first begotten from the dead' - again in verse 5 we see in that case also, it is referring back into that vision.

Philadelphia is Different (PLAY FROM 23:57)

When you come to Philadelphia it is just strange. It says in Revelation 3:7;

"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;" (Revelation 3:7)

You can go back and you can read in Revelation chapter 1, and the nearest thing you get to it is verse 18, where it says;

"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." (Revelation 1:18)

So the word key is mentioned. It has nothing to do with the key of David. It has nothing as far as 'He that is holy, and He that is true.' It doesn’t refer back. It doesn’t go back to that vision. Now I don’t want to make any big deal out of it, because there is no big deal to make. All I’m pointing out is that Philadelphia is different.

It is an era that, quite frankly, the entire book of Revelation has a great deal to say to. It is interesting and it is also vital for us that we recognize where our understanding came from. Because that understanding did not come from Herbert Armstrong. Herbert Armstrong was merely the messenger. He was the angel if you like, which is what the word angel means, messenger. He was the apostle, the one sent, but the message came from Christ. It was a case of restoring all things. It was restoring all the things that were necessary to be restored - now - as we approach the time that we are about to go into. These people are instructed to hang onto what they have that no man takes their crown. Men, obviously are going to be taking crowns. Men are going to be saying different things. It is vital that as we come back from the Feast and we go into the time in the future that we have before us, that we review these things.

I know we have gone over them a great deal. I don’t want it to be looked upon as "the only thing he ever talks about", but it is absolutely, totally vital that we go back and we understand it. I think that doing a Bible Study on this section is a very good place to start this year that is ahead of us right now. As I say, I don’t want to make a big deal about this. It is just the fact that the coming era has nothing. They reckon they have everything, they actually have nothing. The era of Philadelphia has an enormous amount given to it, but it’s the source, where it comes from, that is what is utterly crucial.

If you think in fact of what has been revealed; I mentioned the meaning of life. That is the philosophers' holy grail. That is what philosophy is all about. What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Why were you born? And yet that is what we have been told, clearly, unambiguously, proven from scriptures, an understanding, a revelation. A man who kept the Holy Days year in, year out for seven years without realising why, was given that understanding - the Plan of God, the reason why the world exists, the way it exists today. It is absolutely a phenomenal revelation that came through that man. The spirit in man, the incredible human potential, all of these things are truly phenomenal.

The Key of David (PLAY FROM 27:59)

Now one of these things that was revealed was where David’s throne is. Where the identity of Israel is. That is one of the areas. It has always been understood that where he talks about "...he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth..." (Revelation 3:7) it is to do with where that throne is. Turn back to Luke 1:30, when the angel first came to Mary and addressed who it was that she was going to give birth to;

"And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS [or Joshua, Jeshua]. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:" (Luke 1:30-32)

So He actually was to be given the throne of David. Now you can go back to Psalm 110:1 and it says; "...Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." (Psalm 110:1) At that time He would get that throne. He has not got that throne yet. It is within Israel, within Ephraim and that crown, is on the head of the Queen at the present time.

This is some of the understanding that we have been given. As I say, it did not come from Herbert Armstrong. The identity of the nations that are mentioned to the largest degree within prophecy, is an incredible open door. If you go back to Revelation 3:7 again, it says;

"...These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it..." (Revelation 3:7-8)

And then it goes into some of the other things. This open door seems to be linked to this Key of David. So, the open door that we had as an organization that was given to Mr Armstrong was that of radio and television and it was prophetic. It was prophetic understanding that gave him the broadcast, that was the 'World Tomorrow'. What were the words he used? " Greetings friends around the world, this is Herbert W Armstrong bringing you the Plain Truth about today's world news and the prophecies of the World Tomorrow." It was prophetic. It was understanding what was going on now, and looking forward into the world tomorrow. The thing that unlocks the prophecy was his understanding of where the throne of David is, and where the people of Israel are.

Now the quotation that is used here in Revelation 3 comes from another area of scripture however, and that is over in Isaiah 22:22;

"And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house." (Isaiah 22:22-23)

Now it’s talking in verse 20;

"And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open." (Isaiah 22:20-22)

So it is actually referring to this chap called Eliakim. You say, “Okay, but who is he talking to?” You have got to go back a little bit, because it is talking to Shebna, let’s pick it up in Isaiah 22:12;

"And in that day did the Lord [Eternal] of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink [and be merry]; for to morrow we shall die [which is where that quote comes from]. And it was revealed in mine ears by the [Eternal] of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord [Eternal] of hosts. Thus saith the Lord [Eternal] of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say, What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock? Behold, the [Eternal] will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee. He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord's house. And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open." (Isaiah 22:12-22)

Type and Anti-type (PLAY FROM 34:32)

Now we can see this actually taking place in type physically back then. Remember, we need to understand when Isaiah was actually written. Isaiah was written. Go to the beginning of Isaiah;

"The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." (Isaiah 1:1)

It is being addressed to Judah and Jerusalem, which is where the temple was. It is the area where the temple was, is what it is being addressed to, and yet it is during the time of these kings, when the Northern kingdoms were taken into captivity by Assyria.

So if there is a type and an anti-type, we are looking now to a time when Israel today, and again we understand from where it talks about the Key of David, that we are looking at where are these people, because they are going to go into captivity. They are going to return from captivity at the time of the end and they are going to then come into their own land and they will form the nucleus of the world tomorrow. So we are looking at this type and anti-type. Let’s just go back and have a look at Shebna and Eliakim - not to draw any big deal from it - but just be aware of what happened in the case of 'the type'.

If you notice where we have been reading, in Isaiah 22:15 it says; "Thus saith the Lord Eternal of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house..." (Isaiah 22:15)

So it’s over the house within Judah and Jerusalem. It is over the king's house, is what it is talking about. You compare that with II Kings 18, and you find something that shows that in fact Shebna wasn’t over the house. II Kings 18:18;

"And when they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household [so Shebna was no longer over the household. He had actually been demoted at this time], and Shebna the scribe [he was merely a scribe but was not over the household and yet when this prophecy was issued, 'the type', we are looking at Shebna at having been over the household], and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder. And Rabshakeh said unto them..." (II Kings 18:18-19)

Now this is the account when Rabshakeh who was in fact one of the principal officers within the troops of Shalmaneser, was calling to the people on the wall in Jerusalem, and saying “Look, don’t listen to Hezekiah, he is telling a pack of lies. You listen to me, come with me, and I will take you people like the Northern Tribes, and take you across into the area by the Black Sea. Then you will have your own vineyard", and all the rest of it. In fact, he was going to try and destroy the nation in that way. It is interesting that this verse in II Kings 18:18 shows very clearly that Eliakim had by that time taken over Shebna’s role.

Go on to II Kings 19:21. Now Hezekiah sent to Isaiah saying, “Look, we’ve got this real problem", and he actually went and took the letter that came from them, and he laid it before God, in the House of God, and the reply that came back, it said;

"This is the word that the [Eternal] has spoken concerning him; The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee..." (II Kings 19:21)

In Isaiah, when you are talking about Zion, so often it is talking about the church today. Again, it is worth going and just actually reading some of that. Go back to Isaiah again. In Isaiah 1:2, it is concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah and so on, the kings of Judah.

"...I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me." (Isaiah 1:2)

It goes into that, and then in Isaiah 1:8; "And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city." (Isaiah 1:8)

But if you go over to Isaiah 2:1;

"The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the [Eternal's] house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the [Eternal], to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the [Eternal] from Jerusalem." (Isaiah 2:1-3)

The Zion and Jerusalem being mentioned within Isaiah is talking about the church. When you see Israel mentioned, it is talking about physical Israel. When you see Zion and Jerusalem being mentioned, it tends to be talking about the church, because that is where the law is going to come out of, in the World Tomorrow.

Seeing this type and anti-type, you can then start to say, “Well why is this important? Why is it mentioned over in Revelation where it says 'I open the door and no man shuts, and I shut the door and no man opens?'"

Well let’s go back and have a look in II Kings 19:21 again, and with that understanding that, OK, this is a type - but it is a type of what is going to happen to the church. And it is this Philadelphian era that is going to be crucial within this scenario. So we can take lessons from what actually happened in the type. We don’t have to apply it in rigorous detail to the present situation, but we do need to be aware of what happened in the past, and the way in which God solved certain problems in the past, because we are going to go through the same thing. We are going to go through very similar things. Remember, here was Hezekiah, the Northern Tribes had been taken into captivity. They had come down and they were now besieging Jerusalem and the temple, and they then had this letter. He took the letter before God into the temple and read it and said; "Look, do you see what these people are saying?" This is Assyria that is doing this. Isaiah who makes all these prophecies, if you read through Isaiah, and all these future prophecies at the time of the end, is saying this. II Kings 19:21;

"This is the word that the [Eternal] hath spoken concerning him; The virgin the daughter of Zion [now we as the church are the virgin church waiting for Christ’s return] hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee. Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel. By thy messengers thou hast reproached the Lord, and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedar trees thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel. I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places. Hast thou not heard long ago how I have done it, and of ancient times that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps. Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up. But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me." (II Kings 19:21-27)

Hezekiah Looks to God (PLAY FROM 43:58)

Now we are going to face this in the future from official sources. We have got to be aware of the way in which God handled official sources. This was the official might of the greatest nation on earth at that time, which was Assyria. II Kings 19:28;

"Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest. And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such things as grow of themselves, and in the second year that which springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof. And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the [Eternal] of hosts shall do this. Therefore thus saith the [Eternal] concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the [Eternal]. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the [Eternal] went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses." (II Kings 19:28-35)

One hundred eighty five thousand! Now there is more to the story than just that, because if you go over into II Chronicles it gives a little bit more detail. II Chronicles 32:21;

"And the [Eternal] sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword. Thus the [Eternal] saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib..." (II Chronicles 32:21-22)

It is interesting that Rabshakeh went before Hezekiah, and was taunting him, and disobeying his request not to speak in the Jewish language. Rabshakeh is not mentioned afterwards. Rabshakeh was one of the mighty men that presumably died when one hundred eighty thousand, and they were all the leaders. It was not just the case that one hundred eighty thousand people died of whatever size his army was, it was all the leaders that were in that army. They were the ones that got wiped out. So here, Sennacherib just basically goes back with his tail between his legs. He can do nothing else. He's absolutely no way of doing anything! He's lost all his leaders, all his mighty men, all the men of valor - completely and utterly wiped out in one night and he goes back.

It is interesting that this campaign down into Judah and Jerusalem is totally wiped off all records within the Assyrian records. You find all kinds of records about his campaigns in the North, Tyre and all these other campaigns in meticulous detail apparently, but this one down to Jerusalem, there is not even a mention. Not a single mention. Because it obviously was an absolute cataclysm. The one hundred eighty thousand of the principal men.

The interesting thing is, if we go back to Revelation, and remember you are looking at Eliakim, you are looking at Shebna being involved in this particular scenario. We are looking at an event that occurred at that time. Go over to Revelation 12:9;

"And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation [now is come the rescue], and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Revelation 12:9-11)

You know, we have got to put first things first. It may be that some of us need to die - it may be. As long as we put first things first, it will work out. Revelation 12:12;

"Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child." (Revelation 12:12-13)

Persecution Will Come from Official Sources (PLAY FROM 49:40)

Now we need to be aware of this, and aware that this persecution will come, and it will come from official sources. So we can see how Hezekiah laid this letter before God, and we can see the result of this letter being laid before God, and we can go back to that time. Revelation 12:13

"And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman 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 [three and a half years], from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood [the flood is quite clearly peoples, I will go into this a little bit more in the sermon on the Place of Safety] which the dragon cast out of his mouth." (Revelation 12:13-16)

Now, I want to turn over to Psalm 46, because tradition has it that this psalm was written by Isaiah. This psalm is supposed to have been written by Isaiah, and it was written supposedly at the time at which Hezekiah was facing this problem from Sennacherib and from Rabshakeh. It is talking very much about the destruction of the enemies of Zion. But you know, you read it in the context of what we just read over in Revelation 12, and it makes equal and more sense;

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah ['think about that']." (Psalm 46:1-3)

Now the mountains are nations, huge nations. The waters are peoples. So we are looking at even though.... "... the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled...There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early." (Psalm 46:2-5)

As it says in the margin, 'when the morning appears'. Now if we find ourselves fleeing and an army comes after us, you can just bet your bottom dollar that should it come into morning - and that is what this word means - we need to be thinking of this psalm, because this psalm is describing the event.

It says; "The heathen [the nations] raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The [Eternal] of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah ['think about this']." (Psalm 46:6-7) So it is the earth that actually melts. The earth moves. It says the earth helped the woman.

"Come, behold the works of the [Eternal], what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in [two]; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The [Eternal] of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah." (Psalm 46:8-11)

Now that was reputedly written by Isaiah. It was written at the time of Rabshakeh and Sennacherib. It was written when this army lost one hundred eighty thousand of its principal officers. As I say, Isaiah was writing about a Zion that will exist at the end time. That Zion is a spiritual Zion, and that Zion is going to face a very similar situation. It is going to face problems that are very, very similar in many ways.

Philadelphia has a Little Strength (PLAY FROM 54:14)

So the question really is, where is the source of our strength? Well this psalm lays out the source of our strength, and what we also have got to make sure we keep in mind as we go into that time.

If you go back to Revelation 3 now. So when we are looking at "...he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;" (Revelation 3:7) We have seen events happen within this world, and an individual have revelations of understanding such as nobody has ever had to the best of my knowledge before. Mr Herbert Armstrong has had understanding such as, well I don’t know of anybody else that has had at that degree. Maybe I am wrong, maybe you can say apostle Paul. Maybe he understood all of those, understood mysteries and all the rest of it. Okay fine, but it is a phenomenal thing. Certainly if you look at the other church eras, it is something which is phenomenal. This key of David unlocks the identity of Israel, and where David’s throne is. It’s certainly something which allowed the doors to be opened and allowed a message to be preached.

It goes on and it says; " ....for thou hast a little strength..." (Revelation 3:8)

Now as we read back both in the Psalms and also back in II Kings, the people that were facing this enemy, had no strength themselves and yet God went and stepped in on their behalf. If we turn over to Zechariah 4, it is interesting again that it is talking here about types and anti-types. In Zechariah 4:3 it says;

"And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the [Eternal] unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the [Eternal] of hosts [in other words, the oil that is going in there, you are looking at by the spirit of the Eternal of hosts]. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the Eternal came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it..." (Zechariah 4:3-9)

Now I personally feel that it is very important for us to make sure that the words of Mr Armstrong are on the website, so that people that may be converted in the future will have access to them. I am going to do my level best to make sure that, that is the case. Because his hands wrote all those words. It says his hands laid the foundation of the house, and they did, and his hands will finish it. Now whether in fact this is referring to Mr Herbert Armstrong, it is not absolutely one hundred percent clear, but it says "...and thou shalt know that the [Eternal] of hosts hath sent me unto you." (Zechariah 4:9)

But in this context, these two olive trees on either side, it says in verse 13; "And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." (Zechariah 4:13-14)

So two anointed ones will use this very Spirit of God. You tie that with Revelation and the two witnesses. You do wonder what link do they have to the one that laid the foundation of this house, and whose hands will finish it? It is unclear, but I would imagine they are at least holding fast to what that individual had to say. It is very clear in verse 6 where it says; "...Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the [Eternal] of hosts." (Zechariah 4:6)

That is going to be a crucial ingredient in the future. It is a crucial ingredient regarding Philadelphia. The only way that Philadelphia is going to survive what is coming on this earth is through the Spirit of God. It is our contact with God that will make - not just the difference - it is the only thing that matters! It is the only thing that we really, really do have.

Dangers of Not Being Ready (PLAY FROM 59:16)

Go over to Matthew 25. Remember we are looking here how they only have very little strength. In Matthew 25 there is a problem where you have these five wise and five foolish. The problem is the oil. And we've just read over in Zechariah how the oil is likened to the Spirit of God. There is an end time element in that prophecy in Zechariah. It is very clearly mentioned about the two witnesses. Over in Revelation it clearly points back into that time and into that passage. In Matthew 25, talking about this same time, there is very clearly a problem with oil, there is a problem with the Spirit of God, there is a problem with their contact with God. Go back a few verses into Matthew 24, because there is no chapter break;

"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up [our house has been broken up, it has been shattered]. Therefore [because of that] be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 24:42-44)

It is a similar way in which Christ will come as well. The events that will lead into Christ’s return will come in a similar way to what we witnessed. It almost seemed to indicate that. Matthew 24:45;

"Who then is a faithful and wise servant [a servant, a minister, a slave], whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? [I would hope that I am doing that now] Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;" (Matthew 24:45-48)

In other words, by his actions. That also implies losing urgency. We are seeing that increasingly within the churches of God today. What in fact is currently being said is, 'if Christ doesn’t come for a thousand years, yet they will recognize that these are the people of God'; or 'between two comings' is being used and various other things. That is not just Worldwide, that is within other fellowships.

"But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him [in two or cut him off], and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 24:48-51)

Now the context of Matthew 24 is not specifically when Christ’s feet touch the Mount of Olives, it is when Noah went into the ark, as it says in Matthew 24:38. It talks about the days of Daniel. It talks about he who reads Daniel, let him understand. The days of Daniel give us the indication of when Christ will return. We know that when the Church flees, we know how long we’ve got. It is absolutely inevitable; three and one half years, Christ will be there. It can be shorter than that, because it says; "...except those days should be shortened..." (Matthew 24:22) but it can’t be longer. So we are looking at a crucial time. Matthew 24:51;

"...cut him [off] and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 24:51)

" Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:" (Matthew 25:1-3)

Now we just read in Zechariah what the oil means. It means the Spirit of God. "...Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit..." (Zechariah 4:6) That is the power through which we have got to operate as a church, in this time.

"But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept [so every single one of us was fast asleep]. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves." (Matthew 25:4-9)

You see, it is going to be too late. Even in my own case, I look at some of the things, having left Worldwide eight years ago, and yet the beginning of this year, there was a subject that I looked at again, re-examined and I had forgotten. The subject was make-up. I had forgotten what Mr Armstrong actually wrote on it. I thought it he'd gone both ways, different ways on the subject, and that is not what the last letter actually said if you go back and read that. There are areas like this that we are still trying to get back to that foundation. Actually trying to go and build on that foundation.

So it is going to be too short. When the time actually comes that we have got to be ready, we have got to be ready. It is as simple as that. We cannot get in contact with God at that time. We have got to have contact with God now. We have got to be changing now. We have to be overcoming now. When that time comes, it will be too late. There is going to come a time when it is going to be too late. Events will close in around us, and we will not be able to be ready.

The focus seems to be in this section, Matthew 24, coming into 25, more to do with the time the church flees than the time that Christ’s feet actually touch the Mount of Olives, because of those days of Daniel. There is going to be a time when it is literally too late to do anything about it. Lack of oil, lack of the very Spirit of God is going to be a problem at that time.

Spiritual Strength Built on our relationship with God (PLAY FROM 1:06:10)

Turn over to Romans 8. You see, what we have got to be building within the church, and what this church at this end time has got to make sure that we are rooted on foundationally, is the same foundation that Mr Armstrong had, or that he placed within the church. It was an administration. He was continually talking about the Way of Life, the Way of Give. He talked about a way which was a righteous way, the Way in which God thought, the Way in which God acted. The Law is a manifestation of that Way. It says in Romans 8:4;

"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:4)

Now the law is kept. Yes it is, but it’s kept by walking in the Way of Life. The law tells us when we are off track, but it doesn’t get us back on track. Just keeping the law the way the Pharisees kept it will not put us back on track. We are put back on track when we start walking after the Spirit, after the mind of God. We go back to the mind of God. The heart and core - that has got to be put right. It is not a case of just putting the peripherals right. That doesn’t happen overnight. We cannot do that overnight. If we try, it says, you go out and buy from those who sell, yourself. We are not going to be able to do that. As a last ditch repentance, it is just impossible.

"For they that are after the flesh [put their minds] on the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit [put their minds on] the things of the Spirit [in other words, their minds are on spiritual things]. For to be carnally [fleshly] minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind [this mind of flesh that we have, if it is on physical things entirely] is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." (Romans 8:5-7)

Mr Armstrong continually brought that out. He said, “Look, it is love that is the fulfilling of the law, but it is not our love. It is the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts.” (Romans 5:5) It is a change of heart. It is a repentance of the heart that then allows the law to be kept. It is not just keeping the law in a physical way. I think even some groups today have lost sight of that. They have gone to the idea that we can go ahead and keep the law just by being diligent. That is not true. We keep the law, we overcome, by being close to God, and that takes time - it is a relationship. Romans 8:8;

"...for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh [the fleshly minded] cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you [that takes time! It's contact with God that allows that dwelling of the Spirit of God to be there]. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you [this is the living Word of God. Remember, Christ means the 'Anointed One'- again going back to oil, the anointing of the kings, the anointed One], the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also [make your mortal bodies alive] by his Spirit that dwelleth in you [that is what makes the difference, that is what allows us to have that life]. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Romans 8:7-14)

That is what it’s all about. So when it says you have little strength, or you have a little strength, to the Philadelphian church, they have got to know where their strength comes from, the source of strength. We ourselves don’t have the strength. As we go into the future, we are not going to be able to have the strength to, for instance, withstand an army that is actually pursuing after us, which is certainly indicated. Turn to I Corinthians 1:26;

"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called [if you think of Rabshakeh, and you think of Sennacherib of the greatest nation that then was, and what in fact happened, they were the mighty, they were the mighty of the world]: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence." (I Corinthians 1:26-27)

Now if we go down to chapter 2:4; "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:" (I Corinthians 2:4)

So we have seen Paul, who was the apostle sent to these people in Corinth, and his approach was not with worldly wisdom. It was not with a kind of outside scholarship. You go back to what Mr Armstrong did as far as we are concerned, and you find exactly the same thing. It was not with worldly scholarship.

"That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (I Corinthians 2:5)

So, that again is where our strength must lie. It must lie in that power of God. It must not lie in our own strength.

I think I will finish there. I have covered two of the six points. I think those are the two main ones. We can then go into the other points in the Bible Study next week.


{1} Mr Bowles mentioned verse 1 instead of verse 8.