King Solomon recorded in Proverbs 29:18 that without vision, people perish. For many Christians this is a memory passage, but how often do we pay attention to the latter half of that verse? “[B]ut he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The vision that keeps us from perishing revolves around God’s law. Through His law, God reveals His plan for mankind.
Each year we learn about the details of God’s plan for man as outlined through the holy days. And each week, we are reminded of God’s rule when we enter into the rest He created for man (Genesis 2:2-3; Mark 2:27-28).
As the Feast of Trumpets clearly depicts, Jesus Christ will return as “a strong hand from someplace” to set things right. His rule will revolve around the enforcement of God’s law. That law will produce peace and happiness—but because of human nature, man will not initially embrace it. Mankind will need to be forced to obey.
The fall holy day season teaches us how God will save all mankind. It teaches us how He will rule the Earth. It shows us how He will bring happiness, peace and joy to mankind. And it all revolves around that latter half of Proverbs 29:18: keeping God’s law.
God’s Law and Government Established
Speaking of the relationship between God the Father and the Being who became Jesus Christ, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote: “Their way of life produced perfect peace, cooperation, happiness, accomplishment. This way of life became a law” (Mystery of the Ages). God’s law is the codification of His way of life. These two eternal Beings live a lifestyle of total agreement and cooperation—they had and will for all eternity.
For this to be possible, there had to be leadership. “The very fact of law presupposes government. Government is the administration and enforcement of law by one in authority. This necessitates authoritative leadership—one in command,” Mr. Armstrong continued. “When the only conscious Life-Beings existed, God was leader—in authoritative command. Thus, even when the only conscious Life-Beings were God and the Word, there was government, with God in supreme command. The government of God is of necessity government from the top down. It cannot be ‘government by the consent of the governed.’ Its laws originated and are handed down from God—never legislated by the people—never dictated by the governed how the government over them shall rule them. Since they created other conscious, thinking life-beings, this very fact of necessity put the government of God over all creation, with God supreme Ruler.”
The Vitality of God’s Rule
Arguably the doctrine that most distinguishes the Philadelphia Church of God from the various Laodicean groups that have splintered and re-splintered since Herbert W. Armstrong died is God’s teaching about His government. Only the Philadelphia Church of God clings to it.
Realize why this is so important.
In his renowned Pentecost sermon of 1985, Mr. Armstrong lamented: “You were called to become a student. You were called to learn how to save others when God’s Kingdom comes, when Jesus is sitting on the throne on this Earth. Brethren, you don’t get it!… We are called for a special mission: to become teachers. We are not called to become some to go out and convert the world now. We are called to learn how, in the resurrection, we can berulers and teachers.
“To the Church—and not to anyone but the Church—Jesus said, If you overcome (you that are studying to be teachers, if you overcome), I will grant for you to sit with Me on My throne; and help Me rule the world and teach the world. Jesus is the Teacher, and Jesus is a ruler. Revelation 5:10: We will be kings and priests: and we shall rule on the Earth. Brethren, I don’t think you’ll ever learn that.
“Has my teaching been in vain, brethren? Sometimes I wonder. I get terribly discouraged. I don’t think you get it” (emphasis added throughout).
Mr. Armstrong was deeply concerned that the majority of the brethren did not thoroughly understand how vital the rule of God will be when Christ returns to Earth. They weren’t studying to learn how to rule.
Hostility to God’s Rule
God’s Family government is the first among the 18 restored truths. Yet most of God’s people have rejected that doctrine. These truths had been lost for centuries, but they were restored to the Church through the end-time Elijah, Mr. Armstrong. God restored this understanding to help us keep the vision of what He is doing. Embracing these doctrinal truths ensures perfect peace, cooperation, happiness, accomplishment and true freedom. It also ensures our readiness to teach and rule with and under Christ in the Kingdom of God.
This truth is so important, it is not overstating it to say that it sums up the truth of the Bible.
The Prophet Habakkuk pinpointed the crux of the Laodicean problem: “[T]here are that raise up strife and contention. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous …” (Habakkuk 1:3-4). This is speaking of the spiritual “abomination of desolation” that descended upon God’s Church—a hostile takeover that revolved around abolishing God’s law. Whenever the law is slacked, people perish! The Laodiceans will have to pay a terrible price for failing to cling to God’s law and government. Fifty percent will disqualify themselves from ruling in God’s Kingdom because of their hostility against God’s law and government.
Notice what Gerald Flurry wrote concerning this passage: “Someone is doing violence to the law and the government. The government is supposed to administer the law. If the law is slacked, that means no one is properly administering the government! There is a deep government problem in God’s Church.
“Mr. Armstrong established the law (Matthew 17:10-11). But now, the very church that God founded through him is saying people don’t need the law for salvation—only grace. They have lost contact with God! They are not crying out to Him. …
“When the government is not being administered and the law is slacked, there is a great falling away. God’s people are surrounded by evil leaders, evil ministers, evil spirit beings. Without government, it all disintegrates! You cannot raise up a work and sustain it if you do not have the government to administer the law” (Who Is ‘That Prophet’?).
The Laodiceans promised themselves freedom, but became terribly enslaved (2 Peter 2:19). And because they lost the law and government of God, they are no longer able to do God’s Work.
Love God’s Law in Times of Slavery
Our entire world is in bondage to sin and to the author of sin. But Satan’s rule is about up; he is about to be dethroned; the saints of God are about to help free mankind by teaching them about God’s law.
Mr. Flurry wrote, “People everywhere fight and strive for greater freedom. At the same time, they fight against law. That shows a dangerous misunderstanding of the nature of true freedom and the need for righteous law. The fact is, without law there is no real freedom. Do you have the attitude toward law that leads to real freedom?” (No Freedom Without Law)
A hostile attitude toward God’s law exposes a lack of vision about God’s purpose. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Only God’s truth on a matter can make us free, Jesus Christ taught His believing disciples (verse 31). Truly believing Christ means wanting to think like Him (Philippians 2:5), to live like Him (Ephesians 5:1), and to prepare to rule with Him (Luke 22:29).
The Prophet Jeremiah lived when God’s law was being trampled. Yet he loved God’s law and continually thought about it (Psalm 119:97). At the time, the nation of Judah faced huge problems, culminating in its captivity by the Babylonians. Jeremiah continually reminded the people of Judah that their lifestyle was contrary to God’s and that they would ultimately end up as captives. They had forsaken God’s law (Jeremiah 9:13; 16:11). Yet Jeremiah continually contrasted God’s law to the way people around him lived (Psalm 119:113, 163). In a society that has turned its back on God, we need to take on Jeremiah’s mind-set. We need to meditate on and love God’s law, as we see society around us collapse. We should eagerly study God’s law more deeply and subject ourselves to God’s rule so we will be ready to free the world from slavery!
Uppermost in God’s Mind
Most people believe that God’s chief concern is “to get people saved.” But getting people saved is not God’s goal. It is merely a means to an end.
In a letter to co-workers of the Work, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “While I was showering and getting ready for a day’s writing at my typewriter, this thought came to me: What, I wondered, is the one thing that is
uppermost, above all, in God’s mind? About what is He most concerned?” (Sept. 29, 1976).
To answer this question, consider this pivotal passage in the Bible: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21). The term restitution means “the act of returning something that was lost or stolen,” or a “restoration of something to its original state.” What was taken away from the Earth? What will Christ restore when He returns?
Administrators In God’s Government
God created the angels even before the physical universe existed (Job 38:4-7). For what purpose did He create them?
In their wisdom, God and the Word created spirit beings to help perpetuate His way of life. “To aid them in the work of creating, governing and managing what was to be created, they first of all created other spirit beings on a lower plane than the God Family. Angels were created to be ministers, agents, helpers in God’s creation. They were created as servants of the living God” (Mystery of the Ages).
Earth was to be the testing ground to see how well these spirit beings would submit themselves to the administration of God’s government. “As long as Lucifer continued in this perfect way, there was happiness and joy unspeakable over the whole Earth. There was glorious peace—beautiful harmony, perfect love, cooperation. The government of God produced a wonderfully happy state—as long as Lucifer was loyal in the conduct of God’s government” (ibid).
Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 show that God placed the archangel Lucifer on a throne on Earth. He was placed there as a ruler over the entire planet. God intended him to rule by administering the government of God. And the government of God was administered on Earth until the rebellion of the sinning angels.
Sin is the transgression of God’s law, which is the basis of God’s government. Thus, these fallen angels rebelled against the government of God.
Satan stopped administrating God’s law, effectively abolishing it until it would be restored.
Bitterness Against God’s Law
Lucifer failed the “Earth test”! Mr. Armstrong showed how he failed: “[H]e allowed vanity to seize him. Then he turned to erroneous reasoning. God’s law—the basis of God’s government—is the way of love—outgoing concern for the good and welfare of others, love toward God in obedience, humility and worship—the way of giving, sharing, helping, cooperating. He reasoned that competition would be better than cooperation. It would be an incentive to excel, to try harder, to accomplish. There would be more pleasure in serving self and more enjoyment” (ibid).
Erroneous reasoning is often what leads to rebellion against God which, as the Bible reveals, is what happened to Lucifer. “He turned against God’s law of love. He became jealous of God, envious, and resentful against God. He allowed lust and greed to fill him, and he became bitter. This inspired a spirit of violence! He deliberately became his Maker’s adversary and enemy” (ibid).
This erroneous reasoning became the foundation of our present, evil world. “God changed the adversary’s name to what he became, Satan the devil—Satan means adversary, competitor, enemy,” Mr. Armstrong continued. “Satan directed his supernatural powers henceforth to evil. He became bitter not only against God, but against God’s law. He used his subtile wiles of deception to lead the angels under him into disloyalty, rebellion and revolt against the Creator and finally into a war of aggression and violence to attempt to depose God and seize the throne of the universe.”
Born to Rule
Following the re-creation, Adam was given the opportunity to replace the fallen Lucifer as the administrator of the government of God over the physical creation. Satan knew that and wasted no time to attack. He convinced Adam to reject God as his source of knowledge, his Ruler and guide in life (Genesis 3:6, 17), in favor of the way of get. As a result, God cut off mankind from the tree of life (verses 22-24), except for a select few, and sentenced man to be cut off from His truth for 6,000 years.
But Satan did not succeed. He who has usurped the government of God from the Earth will soon be dethroned. He never gained control over the rest of the universe, but in his rage he destroyed what God had created for the angels to beautify, manage and rule. The whole decimated universe now awaits the restoration of the government of God and the advancement of His purpose (Romans 8:19-22).
Soon, Jesus Christ will return and set His hand to restore and reestablish all things to all of mankind. But note that this will start with the restoration of the government of God (Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5). The establishment of God’s government is the only path to true and lasting freedom. By it, Christ will teach and direct mankind in the ways of peace, joy and prosperity. The “all things” mentioned in Acts 3:21 is another term for the lifestyle of God.
The Feast of Trumpets focuses on when Christ, at His return, will put an end to the way of sin. It marks the time when God will set His hand to educate and save all mankind. But remember that saving mankind is a means to an end, not the end-goal itself.
When God created mankind, He said: “[L]et them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. … And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26, 28). Man was created to rule God’s creation, to have dominion over it and to subdue it. You were born to rule.
We are in training today to do what God had originally intended the angels to do.
God’s purpose is to reestablish His government throughout the endless universe. And He wants mankind to aid in the process of administering that government, to rule the entire creation with the law of God. Like the angels before us, God will have us start with Earth before moving on to the rest of the universe.
Christ ascended to heaven to prepare government offices for those who grasp that vision, embrace God’s government, and love His law (John 14:2-3).
Pray About God’s Rule
In the prayer outline Jesus Christ left His disciples, He told us to focus a good portion of our prayer life on God’s rule. Immediately after addressing God on high (Matthew 6:9), our attention should shift to God’s rule (verse 10). We should be able to project beyond our lives today and fervently pray for the restoration of that rule throughout creation.
Note how Christ finished this outline in verse 13: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Kingdom, power and glory all result from the rule of God. Our prayers should focus deeply on the rule of God from start to finish!
If we focus our prayers on the Kingdom of God, and on God’s will being done in both heaven and Earth, then our vision of that rule deepens.
Do we seize the opportunity to prepare for that rule by being the best students we can be? “Before the restitution of all things to this Earth, all things must be restored to God’s Church. That way we can help Christ in restoring all things worldwide. God has called us to do something Lucifer was not able to do!” (Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet).
The Apostle Peter showed that the future of God’s people is comprised of “great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4). His admonition to all Christians is to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (verse 10). Our love for God’s law and His government is reflected in our diligence to make our calling and election sure.
See beyond the captivity that’s upon the horizon, like Jeremiah did, and love God’s law. Meditate on it each day. It is what we will teach as the solution for man’s abject slavery to sin.
Are we preparing to rule? Are we ready to teach? Will we fight to free the world from Satan’s clutches? Are we ready to be co-saviors with Christ in God’s Kingdom? (Obadiah 21).
God’s firstfruits are called out of the world not for the purpose of salvation, but to learn to teach properly that which is of uppermost importance to God: the restoration of His perfect government. If we really grasp God’s vision, we will soar and be inspired by what our heavenly Father is doing.
What a calling we’ve received!