Where are we in Bible prophecy? A lot of people are asking this and related questions amid disease pandemic, mass unemployment, economic fragility, food insecurity and other problems affecting literally billions of people.
One of the most foundational, yet little-understood answers to where we are in Bible prophecy surrounds one specific sign of Jesus Christ’s soon-coming return—a promise from God about a specific individual.
Pivotal prophecies in the Bible speak of God sending a man in the end time, just before the Second Coming. In Malachi 3:1-5, God said He would send His “messenger” to prepare the way before Him. Malachi 4:5-6 speak of Him sending an “Elijah” just before the Day of the Lord. In Matthew 17:10-11, Christ said this end-time Elijah would “restore all things”—all the major truths of God. Matthew 24:14 says Christ’s gospel would be preached around the world as a witness—presumably by this same man—“and then shall the end come.”
I can prove to you that these prophecies have already been fulfilled.
As Jesus said regarding John the Baptist, the “Elijah” type who prepared for His first coming, “But I say unto you, That Elias [Elijah] is come already, and they knew him not” (Matthew 17:12). Today, nearly 2,000 years later, the end-time Elijah, preparing for His Second Coming, has already come and gone! That is how close we are to the end of this age and the arrival of Jesus Christ in power and glory!
We believe these pivotal prophecies were fulfilled by Herbert W. Armstrong. His work was primarily “a witness,” Matthew 24:14 says—meaning there wouldn’t be nearly the conversions that there should have been. But some people were converted and backed and supported this work.
He had approximately 725 congregations in 27 countries. He had a phenomenal multimedia work, reaching hundreds of millions of people. His Plain Truth magazine had a subscription of 8.4 million, more than Time and Newsweek combined at that time, and was distributed in seven different languages. His television program, The World Tomorrow, aired on 382 television stations and 36 radio outlets worldwide. Millions of people received his free books and booklets. Mr. Armstrong also visited more than 500 leaders around the world: prime ministers, kings, presidents, vice presidents, other dignitaries and ambassadors. And he gave those people a message that meant everything to him.
Matthew 17:11 says Mr. Armstrong restored “all things” to God’s Church. That indicates how little truth the Church had when he came along! That restoration was a pivotal change: God was intervening in the world, spiritually, in a spectacular way.
Malachi 4:1 says, “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Those who reject God will be destroyed forever—eternal death. The stakes are that high.
Then comes the prophecy about the end-time Elijah: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (verses 5-6). God promised to send an Elijah before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord. He would have a message about how to solve the problems and destroy the evil of this world.
Verse 6 is about bringing fathers and their children together and building a godly family. The physical family is only a type of the spiritual family that is about to rule this world.
But before that world arrives, there will be a lot of suffering if men don’t repent (my book Malachi’s Message explains this biblical book to you, and all our literature is free).
Viktor Frankl endured the Holocaust of World War ii. He was imprisoned in several death camps, including Auschwitz. It was the most horrible experience he ever had. He said you never really knew what would happen, but one thing was certain: Every single day you would be hated and unimaginably abused. Every day you had to face that.
Frankl also said that since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of, and since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.
And it is far, far worse today. Even more crushing problems face this world in the end time: the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord—3½ years of terrible suffering!
What is wrong with man that he gets enjoyment out of hating and killing and abusing other people? Something must be changed with human beings. There is something we must learn, remember and never forget.
Malachi 3:16 talks about a book of remembrance written for those people who do God’s Work; they need to remember to be able to finish this Work of God. But in this end time, 95 percent of God’s people have turned away from God. That is the greatest crisis on Earth! How could that happen?
The Original Elijah
Let’s review the history of the original Elijah, of whom the end-time Elijah was a type. The biblical book of Kings, which records that history, is part of a section of the Bible called the former prophets. As my free book The Former Prophets explains, this means it is prophecy mainly for this end time (request a copy).
Elijah had founded three colleges. And toward the end of his life, God had revealed that He was going to take Elijah away. “And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elisha went with Elijah from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel” (2 Kings 2:1-2). The same thing happened twice more (verses 3-6). Elisha refused to leave Elijah. God was moving him to remain with his teacher, because after Elijah was taken away, Elisha would be in charge of the work.
As they went to cross the Jordan River, “Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground” (verse 8). That is an impressive miracle!
Elijah then asked if he could do anything for Elisha, and Elisha responded that he wanted a double portion of God’s Spirit. Elijah answered, “Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so” (verse 10). Then, “as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof …” (verses 11-12). Elisha saw Elijah as his spiritual father! He was subject to that man spiritually.
Elisha saying, “My father, my father,” is really the same message in Malachi 4:5-6 about bringing fathers together with children, which is a type of God the Father bringing the whole family of man into His Kingdom. All those who have ever lived will be given this wonderful opportunity!
Elisha was also talking about the entire world. When he said Elijah’s work was a fiery chariot and horsemen, he was saying this is the only chariot of Israel; there is no other! The name Elijah means “my God is God.” There is only one God Family, currently composed of God the Father and the Son. Again, this is all about building the Family of God.
There is only one path that will lead you to God. There is only one Church doing the Work of God on Earth. It is a “little flock,” but they have a lot of power because they are following the Eternal God of Elijah, who can send a fiery chariot anytime He wants to help finish His Work. God’s true Church must be following that fiery chariot. This is no fantasy—it is reality! These men saw this, and that chariot is still here today. The same God is here! We need to understand that this is a tremendous opportunity to do His Work!
James 5 has another prophecy about this end-time Elijah: “Elias [or Elijah] 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. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (verses 17-18). Most people think this refers to the original Elijah, but this is an end-time book, and this passage describes the end-time Elijah. This man prayed there would be a 3½-year drought. The original Elijah didn’t pray for a drought; he prophesied about a drought. But the end-time Elijah was talking about spiritual rain. Rain is a type of the new revelation God pours into His Church in every era. That revelation is the lifeblood of God’s true Church.
It turns out there was a spiritual drought in this end time that lasted exactly 3½ years.
After Herbert W. Armstrong died on Jan. 16, 1986, new revelation into God’s Church stopped. The Church began going off track, rebelling and turning away from God.
My son kept a journal back in his college days, especially when we began to have problems in the Worldwide Church of God after Mr. Armstrong died. For his sophomore year at Ambassador College, he transferred from the campus in Pasadena, California, to Big Sandy, Texas. That summer, I gave him a draft of my book Malachi’s Message on the Sabbath of July 15. He was the first person I gave it to. I wanted him to read it and give me his thoughts. He didn’t look at it right away. He wanted to make sure he wasn’t just following along with his dad; he wanted to prove these things for himself.
He read that rough manuscript of Malachi’s Message on July 16, 1989—exactly 3½ years after Mr. Armstrong died.
As I explain in my booklet The Epistle of James, this fulfilled this prophecy in James 5. Mr. Armstrong had recognized that there were serious problems within that Church, which he prayed intensely about. The revelation that had stopped after he died was flowing again after 3½ years.
These may seem like insignificant events, but we need to view them as God does!
‘Where Is the God of Elijah?’
2 Kings 2:13-14 say, “[Elisha] took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” Once Elijah was gone, everybody was wondering, Where is the God who did all these miraculous deeds through Elijah?
Then Elisha smote the waters again, and they parted just as they had for Elijah! It was a tremendous miracle, and it showed that the God of Elijah was with Elisha (verses 14-15).
Some might have seen Elisha following Elijah and saying, “My father, my father,” and thought he was following a man. Elisha knew he wasn’t—he was following the Eternal God of Elijah. The man is nothing; God is everything! We must focus on God.
In a way, we had a similar “Jordan miracle” in this end time. After Mr. Armstrong died, almost immediately, the Work of God ceased—his successors stopped it. The Church of God was confused, and 95 percent of God’s people were turning away. How can you know where the God of Elijah is—this God who did so much through Mr. Armstrong?
Then, God revealed Malachi’s Message. Mr. Armstrong died on Jan. 16, 1986. Four years later, Malachi’s Message first went out, and some people received it on the four-year anniversary of his death: Jan. 16, 1990. We didn’t plan it that way; we just worked to get it out as quickly as we could. That book revealed where the God of Elijah was—just as surely as the miraculous parting of a river!
How to Solve Your Problems
The sons of the prophets who saw Elijah taken up into the heavens thought he might have been dropped someplace on a mountain, and they wanted to go look for him. They were really attached to their teacher. Elisha told them no, but they persisted until he finally relented. Fifty of them went out to search, and after three days returned not having found him. Elisha said, “Did I not say unto you, Go not?” (2 Kings 2:16-18). These students lacked faith. They couldn’t find him because God was taking care of him. Elisha knew that; after all, God is very capable of caring for a man, or a nation, or a world. In the Millennium, He will give the world nothing but peace, prosperity, happiness and joy. But first they have to learn to accept God’s rule.
The world is plagued by problems. Right now it is suffering from the effects of coronavirus, besides ongoing suffering, family breakdown, political strife, international tensions and even wars. How can such problems be solved? The rest of 2 Kings 2 shows us.
Something was wrong with the water, and it was killing the people and making the land barren. Men approached Elisha about the problem. “And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him. And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land. So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake” (verses 20-22). That was a big problem, but with a comparatively small miracle, God solved it.
In this end time, God performs miracles for His people. We could never do His Work otherwise. We do have trials and tests, because God has to build His character within us so we can rule with Him. But He always watches after those who truly look to Him.
Where is the Eternal God of Elijah? He is available to anybody who will look to Him and trust Him as Elijah did. That is the only way to solve the nations’ problems and your individual problems. Find where that God is, with that fiery chariot and fiery horses, and do what He says. That is how we have been working for years, and it is a wonderful way of life.
A Pivotal Change
Revelation 12:9 and 12 prophesy of a time when Satan and his millions of demons would be cast down and confined to Earth. I strongly believe this happened at the time of Mr. Armstrong’s death—probably on January 16 or 17 (we consider Jan. 17, 1986, the beginning of the final era of God’s Church, called the Laodicean era—Revelation 3:14-22). That is the major reason this world has grown so much darker in recent years.
Once cast down, Satan immediately began attacking the Church (Revelation 12:13). He installed a “man of sin” who began destroying God’s Work (2 Thessalonians 2:3). He forcibly cast to the ground the precious restored truths Mr. Armstrong taught (Daniel 8:12).
January 16 points back to the end-time Elijah. God wants us to remember that man who was so central to everything in this end time. Many Bible passages say we need reminders because we tend to forget. Sometimes being reminded of what has happened in the past is more important than other instruction, so we don’t allow great foundational truths to fade away.
God has orchestrated many important events to occur on January 16. He uses the anniversary of Mr. Armstrong’s death to remind people to remember the end-time Elijah. Look to the Work God accomplished through him, and you will find the solution to this world’s problems. But men are not interested in God’s solutions—they seek their own way.
When our work was just beginning in 1990, I noted that the third 19-year time cycle of the work of the Worldwide Church of God would end in January 1991, the same month as the anniversary of Mr. Armstrong’s death. I asked in the first edition of Malachi’s Message, “Will we see some dramatic event in the world … then?” On Jan. 16, 1991, exactly one year after we first distributed Malachi’s Message, and the five-year anniversary of Mr. Armstrong’s death, the United States launched Operation Desert Storm, beginning the Persian Gulf War!
A similar wonder happened when we completed the Amos booklet in January 1992. Anciently, when the Prophet Amos delivered his visions, two years later there was a powerful earthquake. In December 1991, I noted that many people would receive the Amos booklet around the anniversary of Mr. Armstrong’s death. I asked if we would possibly see an earthquake two years later around January 16. Well, on Jan. 17, 1994, a massive 6.7-magnitude earthquake rocked Southern California, killing 70 people and injuring 9,000. It was one of the costliest disasters in American history. And the epicenter was in Northridge, about 20 miles northwest of Pasadena, which had been the headquarters of Mr. Armstrong’s work.
We had warned that there might be a real tragedy at that time, and it actually happened. Such a forecast couldn’t have been made except we know where the Eternal God of Elijah is. (You can read much more about similar events in my free booklet January 16: God’s Miracle Day.)
We keep pointing back to Mr. Armstrong who restored all things. That was a pivotal turn in the Church of God and even in world events.
God did not leave after Mr. Armstrong died. He is alive and doing more today than ever to prepare for Christ’s Second Coming.
The Former and Latter Rain
When God punishes, He always does so for a purpose. He is trying to help people to recognize and acknowledge their sin, and to turn to Him in repentance.
You see this in the biblical book of Hosea, which is full of end-time prophecy. “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early,” God says (Hosea 5:15). What immediately follows is what the people will say in response: “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight” (Hosea 6:1-2). What wonderful news! That is exactly what God is looking for.
Verse 3 mentions “the latter and former rain.” In the context of our day, the former rain is symbolic of the wonderful truths and revelation God poured out on Mr. Armstrong’s mind. And today, the latter rain has been poured into this Church, adding to what God gave to Mr. Armstrong. This is talking about the final two eras of God’s Church, where the Eternal God of Elijah is.
When God gives all this revelation, that comes with tremendous responsibility. God has given the responsibility to His people to proclaim this message to the world. This is the world’s only chance to hear from the Eternal God of Elijah, to hear His message and know where He is. He is the fiery God who sent the fiery chariot and the fiery horses, and empowered a man in this end time. Mr. Armstrong built the greatest work we have ever seen in this world, as far as number of people reached.
Mr. Armstrong started this work, but he was unable to finish it. God has given us in this last Church era the responsibility to deliver the final warning to the nations of Israel. There is only one fiery chariot and fiery horses they can hitch their lives to. God will lead those who support this Work into spectacular truth and a wonderful way of life. He will give them a seat alongside Jesus Christ on David’s throne, ruling with Him from headquarters for a thousand years and then for eternity! What an honor! What a reward! What a blessing!
An Open Door
Revelation 3:7-8 say, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia [referring to Mr. Armstrong’s work] 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; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it ….” That is powerful: God said that when He opens a door, not even a million armies can shut it! If He opens a door, you walk through, and nobody will stop the message. That is a promise from God.
He continues, “for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name”—or God’s government and rule (verse 8). God’s faithful people let God rule them. This means the same thing as Elisha saying, “My father, my father.” He was submissive to God’s loving, family government.
When God opened a door, Mr. Armstrong walked through it. That showed he was the end-time Elijah, and that he was following the Eternal God of Elijah. That was why he did such a fantastic work: It wasn’t the work of a man; it was the Work of God. So it is today. This is the work of the Eternal God of Elijah. We have walked through the open doors, and God says no man will shut them. When we walk through those doors, God blesses His Work in unimaginable ways!
God has opened doors for His Church to participate in archaeological digs at David’s palace in Jerusalem. Mr. Armstrong always believed we were digging in the very place that Jesus Christ will establish His throne on Earth (see Jeremiah 3:17). There has to be a certain amount of preparation for that spectacular event. We have had the wonderful opportunity to contribute to that preparation for many years. It is the most inspiring archaeology project ever in this world, because it is about David’s throne, the very throne of God. It is the very throne that Jesus Christ will sit on, and He is about to return and sit on that throne at that very spot. Even today, God has given His Church the very throne of David! (request my book The New Throne of David). What spectacular open doors!
Where are we in Bible prophecy? How close are we to the Second Coming? God has very specific answers to these questions. But you have to be willing to do some study, and to accept what God says. You have to prove that He sent a man, a type of Elijah, to “restore all things”—and learn what those are. You have to recognize the open doors that the Eternal God of Elijah set before him. And you need to see who has picked up the mantle of Elijah and is continuing to receive miracles and open doors from that same great God!
The work we are doing today is the final preparations before the return of Jesus Christ to Earth to end man’s rule and replace it with the perfect, inspiring, utopian rule of God!
To learn more about how Herbert W. Armstrong’s work fulfilled the prophecies of the Bible, read our free booklet A Pivotal Sign of the End Time.