I remember my first pyc. It was the first pyc. For only five days in July 1992, 15 guys and 15 girls met in Red Top Mountain, Georgia. On the weekend, we were excited because Pastor General Gerald Flurry was coming all the way from Edmond, Oklahoma, to deliver the sermon.
Mr. Flurry began the sermon by saying he had planned to speak about a subject that pertained more directly to young people, but God had given him some new understanding. And even though it might be a bit heavy for teenagers, he wanted to give this message at Philadelphia Youth Camp. That new revelation was this: Malachi’s Message was the “little book” of Revelation 10.
Mr. Flurry wrote in his booklet on James that this understanding “significantly elevated Malachi’s Message in importance!” In God’s Church, we now consider it our most important piece of literature after the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong’s Mystery of the Ages.
In The Epistle of James, Mr. Flurry clarifies why Malachi’s Message should have special meaning to young people. The first person to ever read that book was his son, who was 19 years old at the time and not even baptized yet. And he read it exactly 3 1/2 years after Mr. Armstrong died. That teenager reading Malachi’s Message at a campout in Oklahoma fulfilled a major prophecy in James 5:17 about the “rain” (new revelation) coming to God’s Church once again after 3 1/2 years of no rain (order your own copy of the James booklet for more detail).
“That refreshing spiritual rain had started on July 16, 1989, with one young, unbaptized man reading a rough draft of God’s revelation. … God began the latter spiritual rain with an unbaptized person! Is there any doubt that God can powerfully use our young people?” (The Epistle of James).
Mr. Flurry states: “In the summer of 1992, three years [almost to the day] 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. … 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!” (ibid).
The James booklet makes clear the connection between 1) Malachi’s Message being read by an unbaptized teenager, and 2) God revealing to teenagers at youth camp that that book was prophesied in Revelation 10. “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!” (ibid).
Young people: God wants you to understand your strong connection with Malachi’s Message!
Gripping and Modern!
How does Malachi’s Message relate to teens? you may ask. Isn’t it about the Worldwide Church of God and its ministers? I was never in the wcg. I’m not a minister. I’m not even baptized. What does any of it have to do with me? Those are fair questions. And they can be answered when you read and study this monumental book! It’s not just correction for a ministry and a church gone astray. Malachi’s Message is also for you! And it is exciting and easy to read.
Revelation 10:9-10 show us that this little book has both a sweet and bitter message. So imagine this on the back cover of the book, or as the voiceover to the trailer of a movie:
Malachi’s Message contains a gripping story from cover to cover. It is a bitter story: one of monstrous betrayal. A story about a massive leadership crisis. An abuse of power. A story about evil things happening to someone’s wife. A story about people being mistreated, ignored and ostracized for believing the truth. But it is also a sweet story filled with hope. It is a story about a small group of people who could see through a huge lie. It’s about people who exercised a type of forensic science to see such a lie. About people uprooting their lives to keep a legacy from dying. People who went against the crowd and took a stand for the truth. This is the story of the great reward that awaits them. It’s a story about the blessings and protection and eternal honor they will receive.
The book itself says this: “The message of Malachi is to be delivered in modern times. … This matter is all going to be concluded before ‘the great and dreadful day of the Lord.’” Malachi’s Message is a modern, up-to-date message! It is for you! In fact, it’s ahead of its time! 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 show that a falling away would come in the Church of God just before the return of Jesus Christ. It’s a futuristic message. And God is challenging you to forge a strong connection with this book—to really understand what it is saying. Are you up to it?
You don’t even have to have God’s Spirit to receive revelation, as long as the Spirit is guiding you and you are following and listening to it. The first person to read Malachi’s Message was young and unbaptized. The first group of people to hear about it being the little book were also young and unbaptized. If you are young and unbaptized, Malachi’s Message is still for you.
In it, Mr. Flurry writes,“If Malachi’s Message is revealed knowledge—it must be from God! If you see it as such, God also must have revealed that to you.” An unbaptized young man could see that Malachi’s Message was from God. That means God revealed it to him. If you understand it, then God has revealed it to you! Malachi’s Message contains truths that you can understand at this stage in your life. There are seven themes in this book that relate directly to young people. God challenges you to learn them!
1. Avoiding Deception
Malachi’s Message is about God’s people being lied to—and their buying into it. Is that something you can relate to? 2 Thessalonians 2:8-11 show that God’s Church believed “the lie.” But that little book helped God’s loyal people see through the lie. You understand that Satan “deceiveth the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). There is a lot of deceit in this world—pure lies that are designed by the devil to lure people into misery.
One thing adults in God’s Church find challenging is helping their teenagers to see through the lies of Satan’s world. For instance, they may try to get you to see how advertisers are deceiving you in order to sell you something—to get your money. Satan also tries to sell you on a certain way of life by making it look attractive, though underneath it is miserable. He uses modern media to promote those messages: messages that, unless you really question them, you will simply accept as fact.
Here’s one example of the media’s lies: A human being just cannot go long without sex before he goes crazy. He needs it as much as food or oxygen. That is pure hogwash, but the media repeats it over and over as if it is a fact. Another lie Satan tries to push at you is this: You need a degree from an accredited college to get a decent job. That is another lie designed to discredit God’s college in your mind. Students from Herbert W. Armstrong College have a tremendous amount of marketable skills from actual varied job experiences that can make their résumés stand out over the cookie-cutter résumés from Anywhere University.
Seeing through deception is a fundamental lesson from Malachi’s Message. We must all learn to do that—whether it’s deception coming from corrupt Church leaders or from the world’s media. Malachi says those who are loyal to God’s truth “discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not” (Malachi 3:18). Those who fall away—the Laodiceans—are deceived because they “blindly followed human government—not the government of Jesus Christ! … God says you either put [your leaders] to the test or you can easily be deceived” (Malachi’s Message).
Malachi’s Message gives us three specific ways to avoid deception: 1) Focus on the message—on what is being said. 2) Judge whether something is good or bad by the fruits, not outward appearance. 3) Hold fast to the true instructions you have been taught in the past.
2. Remembering History and Holding Fast
Holding fast to past instructions is another major theme in Malachi’s Message that relates to teenagers.
Malachi 3:16 says “… a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.”
Malachi’s Message is about a group remembering God’s truth and holding onto it, despite the massive changes occurring in the Church. Even if you do not fully grasp the finer points of Church history that Malachi’s Message discusses, you should understand how vital it is to learn to study lessons from history—world history, Church history and even your own history.
This is the way to be a real success: Remember your history. The Laodiceans “could be a smashing success,” Malachi’s Message says, “but they turn away from this history.”
Later he writes, “The only thing the world learns from history is that it never learns from history” (ibid).
We must learn from and act on what we learn from history. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 states: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught ….” Malachi’s Message says that the Greek meaning there is “to hold firmly and surely, by the greatest exertion of strength.” Mr. Flurry writes: “Hold on to these divinely inspired truths of God. This is how we become established … in God’s precious Word, so that we shall never fall!” Earlier, he writes: “God is telling us to stand fast by holding on to past instructions. This is how we hold fast. This is our spiritual anchor.”
3. Caring What God Thinks Instead of Men
The critical lesson of Malachi’s Message is that we have to follow God—no matter what men think or say or do. If men are following Christ, we are to follow them (1 Corinthians 11:1). But God knew thousands of years ago that the end-time leadership in His Church would rebel against Him. He would allow that to test His people to see if they would follow Him or follow disobedient men.
That’s not much different from many situations you find yourself in. When you are around other teens who are not trying to live God’s way of life, you can find yourself constantly having to choose between following them or following God.
That is exactly what God’s people had to do in the end time. In Malachi’s Message, Mr. Flurry says God condemns the Worldwide Church of God for “trying to win the world—not warn them!” and for fearing “the critics and the world more than they fear God.”
Caring what men think over what God thinks—trusting in men—brings curses (Jeremiah 17:5). Do you care what your friends think over what God thinks? This is a powerful lesson from this little book.
4. Taking a Stand
Standing up for the truth revealed in Malachi’s Message meant that those who were truly obedient to God had to “leave the church”—something the wcg always warned its members against. Those who left the wcg at that point, however, were only following Christ, because He had left the wcg already. Malachi’s Message proved that.
Imagine taking that stand against the wcg when it was still a powerful organization and everyone around you thought you were wrong. If you left, you would be called a rebel, marked and prevented from having any contact with wcg members. But Malachi’s Message offered this assurance: “We are not rebelling—we are taking a stand against those who are!” So this book is about taking a stand for God’s truth.
Many failed to do so, as Malachi 1:10 prophesied. Mr. Flurry wrote: “‘Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates! God is pleading with His temple servants … to take a stand! … [Christ] drove out those who bought and sold in the temple! He overthrew the moneychangers’ tables!” (ibid).
How much courage does it require for a young person to take a stand for God? That takes a great amount of faith. If you are striving to obey God, God is using His Spirit to guide and lead you—you can exercise faith even as a young person. Many adults who were teenagers growing up in God’s truth can attest to that and assure you that God always rewards those acts of faith. “We must act on our faith! … Faith is nothing more than acting on God’s Word!” (ibid).
Proverbs 28:1 states: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” As a teen, you may feel timid or afraid to stand up for God’s way. You may feel like everyone around you is a ravenous lion, ready to devour you with their verbal, emotional and perhaps even physical attacks. But God says, if you stand up for righteousness, you are the lion!
Read Malachi’s Message. It will strengthen your faith. People left the wcg when it wasn’t popular to do so—when the wcg was still trying to convince its members that nothing had actually changed. They took a bold stand, in faith. Reading that history—and acting on it in your individual circumstances—can make you bolder, like a roaring lion!
5. Being Forced to Choose
Another point in the little book that means a lot to young people is this: God has given us all the power of choice. He will not choose for us, but He will force us to choose. One way or the other, we have to make a decision. No matter how much we want to, we can’t sit on the fence. We either choose to follow God or we choose not to. It’s that simple.
Malachi’s Message drives home the point that salvation is an individual matter, and each of us is held accountable for what we know: “God is going to force each of us to make weighty decisions about what we have learned! Our eternal life hangs in the balance!”
Specifically, Malachi’s Message teaches us that God will force the Laodiceans to choose. In fact, He will actually hold back the Day of the Lord until each one of them has chosen whether to follow Him or to rebel against Him!
Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” Based on that scripture, Malachi’s Message admonishes: “God is going to force you to choose …. If they are able to discern the difference, can you imagine God rewarding them for sitting on the fence? … Your future is determined by what you do NOW!”
Does that relate to teenagers? Absolutely! Your future is determined by what you do right now! You are determining your future each day by what you choose to do or not do. “You can’t escape making this major decision. This is what walking by faith is all about,” Mr. Flurry writes.
That’s an important lesson: The power of choice is yours! God has given you that decision to make, and you must make it. God really wants to bless you and give you an incredible life, but He will not choose it for you.
Mr. Flurry writes of a good example of this in the James booklet. “Young people, realize: My son really wrestled with that choice—as probably any unbaptized person would have. … God made him choose—just as He makes each us of choose. … Look what one person can achieve by choosing correctly and going wherever God leads him! … 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!”
6. When No One Is Watching
Malachi’s Message talks about 2 Thessalonians 2:7 and shows how God “removed Mr. Armstrong to see if we would individually follow Christ’s government without that spiritually strong, physical leader.” You can relate to that. When a teacher is in the classroom, your classmates act differently. What do you do when your parents are not around, or when the boss has left the building? Human nature wants to rebel and set its own standard—just as the wcg leaders did.
Those striving to obey God know He is always watching. That is why Joshua, who followed Moses, “didn’t omit one word of all that Moses commanded—not one word! And Moses was dead!” (ibid). Don’t be surprised if God puts you in a situation all by yourself, where no one forces you to make the right decision. He wants to see what you will do.
“After this test of 2 Thessalonians 2, God will know a lot more about all of us! … God uses the end-time Church crisis to prepare His jewels! … These ‘jewels’ are the Philadelphians who refuse to be led astray by the Laodiceans. The process is going on right now! God is testing each one of us to see what we will do. This is all a carefully laid plan to reveal the quality of our character” (ibid).
7. Rewards for Those Who Pass
If you avoid deception, heed the lessons of history, focus on what God thinks, take a stand, and obey God even when no one is watching, God will bless you with magnificent rewards. One is physical protection. “God will save those who fear Him from suffering and death (Revelation 12:14). … Those who understand and support the message of Malachi will be ‘spared.’ That is how they qualify to go to a place of safety” (ibid).
The second, greater reward is eternal glory! Malachi’s Message teaches how God rewards you when you recognize His representatives. Even an unbaptized young person will be rewarded for understanding and supporting what is in this book. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21). You may not have had the opportunity to come out of the wcg, but you live in the Laodicean era. Holding fast to the Philadelphia standard—while the spirit of this age is so hostile to that—qualifies you to share Jesus’s throne at headquarters with Him.
What a magnificent reward awaits you young people if you forge this “strong connection” with the little book. What wonderful lessons you can learn from it.
And if you take up this challenge, face the choice God is putting before you, and choose the right even against all the pressure, then God will bless your life beyond measure!