This prophecy tells us much about an end-time Elijah and some vital history of God’s Church.
“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17).
The epistle of James is for the end time. If you look at 1 Kings 17, you will see that the original Elijah prophesied about rain and drought—he didn’t pray for it. James is speaking about the end-time Elijah, who prayed about spiritual rain and drought. James is talking about a man who faced a different set of problems than did the original Elijah. In this verse, Herbert W. Armstrong prayed that it not rain—that there would be no revelation from God.
“And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (James 5:18).
This prophecy has been fulfilled during the Laodicean era of the Church of God.
Consider what this verse is really saying.
Mr. Armstrong fervently prayed that the spiritual rain—the revelation of God—would stop coming into God’s Church, and that it would begin again after 3½ years. In order to pray that, he must have recognized the rebellion in the Church—probably far more than we have realized. Why else would he pray that God would cut off His revelation and guidance until He raised up a new work?
Events prove that this prayer was answered. After Mr. Armstrong died, the Church suffered through precisely 3½ years of spiritual drought, and then we received rain.
The End of the Drought
Daniel 8:10-12 prophesy of a false leader in God’s Church being used by Satan in destroying God’s Work. The “daily”—the Work of God—was cast to the ground, and the truth was stopped because of transgressors in the Church. These rebels were causing difficulties for Mr. Armstrong before he died (they are described in Revelation 3:9 as “the synagogue of Satan”).
Verse 13 of Daniel 8 shows that the sanctuary (the Church) and the host (the angels supporting the loyal people of God) were both trodden underfoot! The work in God’s Church was replaced by a “mystery of iniquity,” or lawlessness. The very elect were crying out to God, How long before you cleanse the sanctuary? And in verse 14, God answers that it would be after 2,300 sacrifices—or 1,150 days. All of this is explained in our free booklet Daniel—Unsealed at Last!
This was the most traumatic time in God’s Church for God’s loyal remnant.
Mr. Armstrong died on January 16, 1986. After 1,150 days, or around March 11, 1989 (probably that exact day), God began revealing to me the truths contained in the book Malachi’s Message. In God’s eyes, it was at that point that the sanctuary was cleansed.
But look again at the prophecy in James 5:17-18.
Though the sanctuary was cleansed through God’s prophet, spiritual rain was not watering the Church immediately.
God reveals His truth to apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:5), but that truth doesn’t rain into the Church until His man speaks to the Church.
You can see the same pattern in Revelation 11:1. When God measures His temple, first He measures the altar—then He measures “them that worship therein.” To get His message to the people, first it must go to the altar, or the ministry, when God reveals it to His man. It takes time, then, for that truth to get beyond the altar and to reach the Church.
As God was revealing Malachi’s Message, my children were at Ambassador College in Pasadena, California—my daughter, Laura, in her senior year; my son, Stephen, in his freshman year. That was where I felt they could get the best education on this Earth. But I became increasingly uneasy as I detected the wrong direction the leaders were taking God’s Church. Both of them were alerted to problems in the Church. I convinced Stephen to continue his education at the Ambassador campus at Big Sandy, Texas, closer to where I was in Oklahoma.
That summer, on his way to Big Sandy, my son visited us in Oklahoma. I picked him up at the airport and took him immediately to our July 14 weekend church campout at Robber’s Cave, Okla. (My son was keeping a diary at the time, and recorded these events.) It was a tense weekend, because I had a rough draft of Malachi’s Message with me that I had decided to share with my son. When I gave it to him on that Sabbath, he was the first to see it, and I was very concerned about how he would respond.
Some others in the Church were already suspicious about what I was doing. Stephen was also slightly unsure of where I was spiritually and didn’t read my manuscript immediately (on July 15)—he didn’t want to be accused of blindly following his dad.
We need to remember that Mr. Armstrong had provided strong leadership in the Church for 57 years. We were usually suspicious of anybody who spoke against Church headquarters—that includes me! Anybody who left the Church in that period was considered to be rebelling against God. Also, Stephen’s teachers at Ambassador College had been teaching against “heretics.”
So I waited in vain, and rather tensely, on that Sabbath day for my son to read Malachi’s Message.
Finally, my son read the rough draft of Malachi’s Message on Sunday, July 16, 1989—exactly 3½ years after Mr. Armstrong died! My son was positive in what he said, but he didn’t say much. I could tell he had been sobered by what he read. The sanctuary had already been cleansed, but it took a few months before that rain began to reach beyond the altar, or ministry.
In God’s eyes, that is when the “latter rain” began (James 5:7)—with my son. At that point, the drought ended. With great relief and joy, we thanked God that He was once again revealing truth to His very elect!
Within six months, we were mailing Malachi’s Message to a large number of the Laodiceans. Revelation was again raining into God’s Church. Many of God’s people realized they had been starving and thirsting to death because of a lack of spiritual nourishment! This eternal, life-saving rain brought God’s people to the pcg.
That refreshing spiritual rain had started on July 16, 1989, with one young, unbaptized man reading a rough draft of God’s revelation.
God’s Challenge to Young People
For me to give Malachi’s Message to my son placed a heavy responsibility on him. I knew this was going to be a test for my son. When something like that happens, we have to make the right decision! Clearly, the way God viewed it, that was a far more significant moment than it would have appeared.
Young people, realize: My son really wrestled with that choice—as probably any unbaptized person would have. He loved college, yet here was his dad doing something that many members dismissed as rank rebellion! God made him choose—just as He makes each of us choose. It would have been so easy to turn away from God at that point and to miss all the blessings. But if we make the right choice, God can accomplish tremendous things in our lives! We must always strive to get ourselves out of the way and let God lead us.
Look what one person can achieve by choosing correctly and going wherever God leads him!
God began the latter spiritual rain with an unbaptized person! Is there any doubt that God can powerfully use our young people?
Clearly, such choices aren’t easy—sometimes they are the most difficult of our lives. But don’t choose wrong and then make the excuse, I did it because I’m unbaptized. That’s no excuse—that is a cop-out!
It’s easy to choose the wrong way. But the young people in God’s Church have an opportunity to choose correctly with noble and eternal consequences! What marvelous results your life will produce if you choose right!
In the summer of 1992, three years after my son made that choice, I received the understanding that Malachi’s Message was actually the “little book” spoken of in the 10th chapter of Revelation. (This truth is explained in our free booklet The Little Book.) I first delivered this revelation at our Philadelphia Youth Camp that summer. That is the only time I have given new revelation to a group of unbaptized young people. I didn’t make that choice, God did!
Is there a connection between what happened in Robber’s Cave with my son and what happened with the new revelation about the little book?
God is certainly challenging you young people to follow Him and to let Him bless your life!
Our youth have a strong connection to Malachi’s Message—the little book. And God wants them to fully understand that!
Then look how closely this is all tied to God’s revelation of James. How much could we have understood James 5:17-18, without knowing when my son would read Malachi’s Message for the first time? Those verses would not have had the explosive impact they now have.
Mr. Armstrong is involved in our Work today in a way we had not understood before. And God is involved in the pcg much more deeply than we often think!
This is just one more reminder about who is in charge of this Church. Christ keeps showing us how our Work is tied to the end-time Elijah.
“Where is the God of Elijah?” He is extremely active in the pcg today!
The Little Book
Malachi’s Message is the seminal book of the Philadelphia Church of God. When we came to understand that it was actually prophesied right in the middle of the greatest book of prophecy in the Bible, that significantly elevated Malachi’s Message in importance!
If you want to identify the people of God, just find the little book of Revelation 10. It must be special to us. If it isn’t, we need to repent of that.
This is a gentle reminder of who is the Source of revelation—and who is in charge of this Church. A few people leave this Church over trivial things. They don’t understand the depth of what God is doing, or they would never walk away!
What sets the pcg apart from other churches? The revelation of God! It is raining into this Church all the time! The Laodicean churches have none of it—because of the way they treated God’s servant the Elijah! They will have to repent to escape the lake of fire.
Both of these events—the rain beginning on July 16, 1989, and the 1992 revelation about Malachi’s Message—revolved around the little book of Revelation, and God disclosing where He is working today.
Both events give us a strong idea of just what God is talking about in the prophecy of James 5:17-18.
How specific James’ prophecy is! It tells us of Mr. Armstrong’s fervent, faith-filled prayer that God would cut off revelation from His Church and then start it again 3½ years later. God answered that prayer mightily, and honored his end-time Elijah in a truly special way.
There is no question that the epistle of James is for this end time!
Read Revelation 10. It describes a very impressive angel delivering the little book, which contains a thunderous, lion-roaring message (verses 1-3). Remarkably, the Apostle John was told not to write the message down (verse 4). The label “little book” is also a prophecy that it would later be written in book form. Then verse 6 reveals that the little book initiates a time of “no more delay” (rsv)—and verse 7 prophesies of the Philadelphia Church of God winning the copyrights to Mystery of the Ages and delivering that book to the world before Christ’s Second Coming. (This sequence of events is all explained in our free booklet The Royal Book of Revelation.)
The book of Revelation puts all prophecy into a time frame, or time sequence. Then, in Revelation 10 and 11, what develops around the little book is put into an extremely specific and detailed time frame.
God’s end-time Elijah died January 16, 1986. Just 1,150 days later, God revealed the heart of Malachi’s Message to me. The sanctuary was cleansed.
Then, 3½ years after Mr. Armstrong died, God began to rain new revelation (Malachi’s Message) into His Church beginning with my son—that continued the Elijah Work.
God reveals through James how Mr. Armstrong was beseeching God to stop new revelation from entering His sinning Church—and then continue to provide it 3½ years later. That is when God started raining the little book into God’s faithful remnant. We now see his prayers were fulfilled in a specific time sequence, which makes our spirits soar!
All of these events revolved around Mystery of the Ages—Mr. Armstrong’s most important book and a synopsis of the Bible. The message of the Bible was condensed into a smaller book—Mystery of the Ages. Why is this so vital? It clearly shows that the God of Elijah is powerfully alive in the pcg! The Elijah Work continues.
God makes it clear to our young and older people that we are all—each one of us—critical to the success of this Church. We are all an essential part of God’s miraculous Elijah Work. Malachi’s Message identifies us as the continuing Elijah Work. The latter rains indicate that we are the Elijah Work in the Laodicean era.
Look how God honored His end-time Elijah—before and after he died. The Laodiceans and this world must learn to honor him as God did and always will!
Verses 8-10 again bring the little book into the picture. “And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter” (verse 10). It is a bitter message because it reveals the eternal destruction that awaits so many of God’s people—but it is also sweet to know where God is and how He will bless His faithful people with understanding and revelation—and with an eternal future!
Remember, John was told not to write the message of the seven thunders. How could it be a “little book” if it wasn’t written down? Clearly this passage is describing an end-time fulfillment, when the little book would be written down. It had to be revealed to a man in this end time and written in book form so we could prophesy again! (verse 11).
God didn’t want that message revealed until the time was right, and John knew it.
Looking at James’ prophecy, I wonder how much God revealed to Mr. Armstrong just before his death that He also didn’t want written down at that time. We may be stunned when we find out how much Mr. Armstrong really knew!
The whole of Revelation 10 revolves around the pcg, Mystery of the Ages and Malachi’s Message. That leads right into Revelation 11, which also discusses the work of the pcg. Verse 2 shows how this work culminates in the Tribulation and Day of the Lord.
Notice, then, what else God ties right into the story flow here.
“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth” (Revelation 11:3-4). Very soon, two witnesses will come from this Church with a powerful message that will shock all humanity.
We are getting awfully close to the time of these two individuals!
Clearly the two witnesses would have to come from this Church, God’s faithful Philadelphia remnant. It is striking how directly God ties their work into the work of the pcg and the little book.
I don’t know who they are, nor do you. We don’t need to speculate about it. But I believe that God put the thought in my mind that we do need to tie their work in with the little book. It certainly is interesting the way it is linked here.
We need to carefully ponder these statements.
Consider the amazing events God is orchestrating for His Church.
On March 11, 1989, the sanctuary was cleansed, and God began to do a work again. But what good would it have been if God had given that revelation to me, and it never reached the people of God? That is who the message is for!
On July 16, 1989, that little book was delivered to my son, and from there that spiritual rain began to fall in the Church—“them that worship therein.” The drought ended.
Rain doesn’t come from a man! Rain descends from above! Spiritual rain comes from God!
Whoever the two witnesses are, Christ in them will be doing that work. How could men—apart from God—possibly fulfill a job like that?
All of these prophecies are being fulfilled in spectacular detail! We are living in the most wonderful, exciting times ever on Earth! Christ is making preparations to return very soon!
God is revealing the book of James now to show that He still has not given up on the Laodiceans. He wants His very elect to deliver one last warning to them, to persuade as many of them as possible to turn back to God so they can be in His Family! My son has written a book about the fall of the wcg, including our court battle with that church, which exposes in detail where the Laodiceans went wrong and turned away from God.
I believe that book will have a strong impact on the Laodiceans and the world. It will also help the pcg finish the Work.
God is giving us the tools we need to reach more Laodiceans, because God loves His Family! How special God’s people are to Him. Virtually all of the wcg ministers, and 95 percent of the brethren, deserted God. How easy it would have been for God to say, I’ve had it with them! I’m finished with them! But He persisted and patiently waited, knowing there would be a small elect that would rise up and be measured—people who would prepare for the future—who would be ready to rule the Earth with Christ when He returned.
Excerpt from: The Epistle of James booklet by Gerald Flurry