Despite gender or color, all human beings can trace their lineage back to the first created man—Adam. Imagine that—of an estimated 50 billion people who have lived on this Earth the past 6,000 years, all can trace their family tree back to one man!
Two thousand years after Adam, God used one man, Abraham, to raise up a people—His chosen nation Israel. God promised to make Abraham’s seed a great nation (Genesis 12:2). Through Abraham, God would bless all the families of the Earth (verse 3)—a prophecy pointing to a future Messiah coming from Abraham’s seed.
After Abraham died, God reiterated these promises to his son Isaac (Genesis 26:4). Ishmael and Abraham’s other sons had no part in these birthright blessings. The promises were made to one man only—Isaac. As Isaac was dying, he passed on these blessings to Jacob only. Esau was Isaac’s firstborn, but he sold his birthright for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:29-34).
Notice Genesis 28:14, where God says to Jacob, “And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth … and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” The same promises God had made to Jacob’s father and grandfather.
Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel, had 12 sons. The families of these sons multiplied greatly. The nation of Israel grew. But because of a severe famine in the land, they migrated to Egypt where they became slaves.
While in captivity, the children of Israel cried out to God. God heard their cry and remembered the promises He had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 2:23-25). So He raised up one man to deliver Israel—Moses. Read Exodus 3:9-10. Notice how God says to Moses, “I will send you unto Pharaoh,” and “You may bring forth my people.” Israel was God’s nation. But He used one man to deliver them.
Of course, since Israel was now a family of 3 or 4 million, Moses could not do it all himself. On the advice of his father-in-law, he chose captains of hundreds, fifties and tens. Israel’s leadership was pyramid in form, with Moses ultimately responsible for all major decisions and judgments.
Moses wasn’t perfect. In fact, he made one serious blunder that prevented him from leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. God chose another man, Joshua, to do that job. At Joshua’s lead, the people of Israel crossed the River Jordan on dry land. At Joshua’s lead, Israel circled Jericho for seven days, before its walls tumbled down. At Joshua’s command, the sun and moon even stood still in the heavens. At Joshua’s command, Israel conquered six nations and 31 kings. Through Joshua, God cleared the way for Israel to possess its Promised Land.
“And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua …” (Joshua 24:31). What an impact one-man rule had on the people of Israel.
After Joshua died, however, Israel gradually slipped into idolatry and immorality. For 400 years, Israel was governed by judges—some more zealous than others. The end result of this unstable period in Israel’s history is recorded in Judges 21:25: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
God then raised up one man, the Prophet Samuel, to purify the priesthood and to restore godly leadership in Israel. When Samuel grew old, however, the people wanted a king like all other nations. Upon God’s counsel, Samuel complied with their wishes, realizing the people had rejected God’s rule over them (1 Samuel 8:4-7).
God, nevertheless, continued working through one man at time. He started by giving the people the kind of leader they wanted—a weak but charismatic king named Saul.
For 400 more years, kings ruled over Israel—some, like David, feared God. Others, like Solomon, turned to idolatry and fornication. Sadly, God-fearing kings did not prevail. Israel increased in wickedness. They eventually divided into two nations—Israel and Judah. God sent both into captivity and removed them from the Promised Land.
Yet, even during their captivity and the days leading up to it, God repeatedly sent prophets to warn Israel and Judah of their impending doom. But they would not listen.
After Judah had been taken captive to Babylon, a band of Jewish slaves finally did repent and God intervened. God raised up one man, Zerubbabel, to lead a band of Jews in rebuilding the temple. (Solomon’s temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians.) God told Zerubbabel that no human effort could complete such a project. They would need God’s power behind them (Zechariah 4:6). But it would, however, be led by one man. “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you” (verse 9).
God works through one man at a time.
This present evil world, as we have pointed out, began with one man—Adam. By him, Paul said in Romans 5:12, sin entered the world. But just as sin began with one man, so too did righteousness begin with one. God’s plan for bringing salvation to the whole world begins with one man—Jesus Christ.
One purpose for Christ’s first coming was to prepare others to lead the Church. Christ personally taught 12 disciples to fulfill this responsibility, but there was one, even among these 12, whom Jesus selected to be the leader—Peter. His original name was actually Simon. But Christ gave him the surname Peter because of his unique position as chief apostle. Prior to this time, the surname Peter had been a title designating a religious leader or head.
After the establishment of the Church, Jesus instructed Peter and the other original apostles to go unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:6; 15:24). These captive Israelites had been taken to central Europe.
So after Peter and the apostles left Palestine, God raised up another man—this time the Apostle Paul—and gave him supervision over the churches in Asia and the Middle East. Paul received training for this office directly from Christ, by revelation (Galatians 1:12).
After Paul and the other first-century apostles died (most of them were martyred), the Church almost died as well. Jesus said the one true Church would continue through seven Church eras right up to His Second Coming to this earth (see Matthew 16:18 and Revelation 2-3). But He also prophesied that its members would be scattered—its work weak and ineffective.
Until the end time, that is. That’s when God would raise up one man, and thousands of others in support of that man, to do the greatest work in the history of the Church. That man was Herbert W. Armstrong. Several prophecies refer to him.
In Malachi 3:1, God said He would send His messenger, singular, to prepare the way for Christ’s Second Coming, just as He sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for His first coming. Matthew 17:9-11 refers to this end-time servant of God as “Elijah,” saying he would restore all things to the Church.
Notice what that man wrote in a co-worker letter, dated March 19, 1981: “Remember God does things in dual stages.
“As Zerubbabel built the first temple of material stone, wood and other materials, he was a forerunner or type of one through whom Christ would raise up or build the spiritual temple—His Church of our time, prior to the Day of the Lord and Christ’s Second Coming. As John the Baptist prepared the way, in the physical wilderness of the Jordan River for the first coming of the human Jesus (both man and God), then coming to His material temple, and to His physical people Judah, announcing the Kingdom of God to be set up more than 1,900 years later, so God would use a human messenger in the spiritual wilderness of 20th-century religious confusion, to be a voice crying out the gospel of the Kingdom of God, about the spiritual Christ, coming in supreme power and glory to His spiritual temple, to actually establish that spiritual Kingdom of God.
“Brethren, has that been done by this Church?
“Did God raise up a one-man leadership to be used by Him in building this spiritual temple and in proclaiming after 1,900 years the true gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world—to even go to kings and heads of nations (Revelation 10:11)—in bringing the Church back to the faith once delivered (Jude 3)?
“Has this happened, in your days, and has God brought you into this prophetic fulfillment as a part of it?
“Has anyone else done it?”
Mr. Armstrong understood this principle of how God works—through one man at a time. Yet he also understood how important it was for God to specially call and train supporters to come along and back that one man. Through that process, God can perform a mighty work and a wonder!
That’s what God has done in this end time. Not since the first-century Church has God’s Work been conducted out of one centralized, headquarters location and preached to the world. As mentioned, during the centuries in between, God’s Work was mostly scattered and powerless.
But not in this end time. Consider, and study, the many scriptural passages which refer directly to God’s end-time Elijah: Isaiah 40:3; Zechariah 4:6-10; Malachi 2:4-6; 3:1; 4:5-6; Matthew 17:10-11; Luke 1:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Revelation 3:8. There are many other indirect references to Mr. Armstrong. God draws so much attention to him in scripture because of the critical work he would do, with the support of thousands, in this end time.
When Mr. Armstrong died, the final era of God’s Church emerged—Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22). God prophesied that during this era, most of His people would turn away from the truth. That has happened. And one of the most well-established Bible truths that all Laodiceans have rejected is in this area of how God works—always through one man, one organization, one Church and one Work at a time!
Former members of the Worldwide Church of God (wcg) might remember one of the first doctrines Joseph Tkach changed after Mr. Armstrong’s death. Mr. Tkach said in the Jan. 9, 1989, Worldwide News that “it is not appropriate … to assign various scriptures to Mr. Armstrong or me personally as though our leadership were specifically prophesied about in the Bible. Besides being erroneous and spiritually presumptuous, this kind of thinking only serves to falsely brand God’s Church as a cultish sect that worships its human leaders.”
Even Roderick Meredith, who broke away from the wcg in 1993 to form his own Laodicean administration, accepted this heresy. He wrote, soon after he began his church, that “many of us who have studied church history know that in fact very seldom in its 2,000 year history has God’s Church ever had one administration, with one man in charge.” Even worse than accepting this lie, Mr. Meredith tried to convince his readers that Mr. Armstrong believed this too.
God responded to this Laodicean heresy in powerful fashion. Once again, He used one man, Gerald Flurry, to fulfill His purpose. God has used him to warn the Laodiceans of their prophesied turn away from God and to continue doing the work by prophesying again in the tradition of Herbert W. Armstrong (see Revelation 10:11). Of course, as He did with Mr. Armstrong, God has brought many others into the Work in support of Mr. Flurry.
Now, as you might expect, God has much to say in the Bible about the work He is doing right now within the Philadelphia Church of God. You might want to study John 1:21; Isaiah 40:9; Jeremiah 1:11-12; Ezekiel 33; Hosea 8:1; Joel 2:23; Micah 2:13; Revelation 3:20; 10:11 and 11:1-2. There are also many other passages that indirectly refer to the work God is doing through Mr. Flurry and his supporters.
But for the purpose of this article, suffice it to say that God has always worked through one man at a time. His organization structure is from the top down, just as it should be in any family.
God is a family! And His overall purpose in creating man and placing him on this Earth is to restore the government of God to this Earth through family. God appointed the father to be head of the physical family because of what the family represents—God’s Family. In God’s Family, He, as the Father, reigns supreme! Under His loving, fatherly rule is Jesus Christ, His firstborn Son. Through Christ, God will save the whole world. But first, He must prepare a bride to marry His Son. That is why God raised up the Church, through Christ, in the first century. Once that bride is prepared, at Christ’s Second Coming, she will marry Jesus Christ. Then, all who have ever lived will have the opportunity to be born into God’s Family through that marriage union between Christ and the Church.
By then, everyone will know how God has fulfilled His purpose. From the top down. From God, down through Christ the second Adam, then continuing through Christ’s Bride, the Church, and finally on out to the whole world.