“And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Testimony comes from the Latin testimonium, which is the word used for the Ten Commandments. Webster’s offers three primary definitions: the tablets inscribed with the Mosaic law; a firsthand authentication of a fact; and a solemn declaration.
So this testimony the Apostle John wrote about is very different from most: It is a declaration from God in the flesh!
The Temple Dictionary of the Bible writes: “In the plural, this word stands in the Old Testament, especially in Psalm 119, for the divine law. … Testimony is frequently joined with ‘commandments’ (2 Kings 23:3) …. It is used emphatically for the two tables of the law.” This is a testimony from God in the flesh. It was His message when He came to Earth.
And this testimony is the spirit of prophecy. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines it as “a testifying: the office committed to the prophets of testifying concerning future events ….”
Christ said, “I receive not testimony [the same word used in Revelation 19:10] from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved” (John 5:34). Christ’s testimony didn’t come from a man. It is perfect and it’s in the spirit of prophecy.
Thayer’s further amplifies this word: “[T]he testimony of Christ is that which He gives concerning divine things, of which He alone has thorough knowledge … that testimony which He gave concerning future events relating to the consummation of the Kingdom of God ….” That is prophetic testimony!
It is critical that we, like Christ, understand and have the spirit of prophecy!
The Faithful Witness
Revelation 1:4 speaks of God as “him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” We must always keep in mind: God is going to come in the future!
Verse 5 calls Jesus Christ, “the faithful witness,” who “washed us from our sins in his own blood.” “Witness” is from the Greek martys, from which we get “martyr”—someone who dies for a cause. This is the testimony God left us, and He expects us to follow in His footsteps. These verses show that we are giving a testimony that may require us to be a martyr.
In Revelation 6:9 we read about saints who “were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” Their testimony—their message, their commission—caused them to be put to death! You have to have God’s Holy Spirit and a lot of understanding to grasp this.
“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God …” (1 John 5:9). Here the word “witness” is the same Greek word as “testimony.” This is the testimony of God, not of man. This is perfect obedience to God’s perfect law and plan for the future of man. Christ had to be a martyr, and many others have had to be martyrs to publicize this message to the world.
Jesus Christ was always in the spirit of prophecy.
If your vision is limited to the past or the present, you will become discouraged—you may even give up! To endure, you must have the spirit of prophecy! You must keep your mind on what is coming and what God is giving us.
The Laodiceans promote a “prophesy not” message (Amos 2:12). That destroys the message of God, and it comes from the devil! If you don’t have prophecy, you don’t have the power of God!
What will be your testimony? Here is what God requires of us: Christ said you must be willing to give up father, mother, sister, brother—even your own life! (Luke 14:26). We must be prepared to do that. And if you have the spirit of prophecy, you will be.
Herbert W. Armstrong said in his 1985 Pentecost sermon: “Jesus Christ came for a number of reasons. One was to qualify to replace Satan on the throne of this Earth and to rule the Earth as a King. He was born to become a King, and He came to qualify to be the King and replace Satan on the Earth. The churches have lost all knowledge of that. They don’t preach Jesus Christ as the coming King, as a ruler and someone to obey. They have lost all knowledge of it. It is all in the Bible, however; but they don’t follow the Bible. They get their religion from other people before them, and people have just made it up in their minds. They don’t believe what the Bible says.”
God’s true Church truly is unique. The Bible is filled with prophecy, and yet every other church has lost that knowledge, and they don’t really believe the Bible.
Right before his death, Herbert W. Armstrong made an immediate change in the Church of God that changed the course of history. “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). Anciently, the Prophet Elijah prophesied that it would not rain in Israel. But in this end-time prophecy, the Elijah-type prays for no spiritual rain for 3½ years. Mr. Armstrong prayed for a spiritual drought in God’s Church. (Read “The Mystery Prayer of James 5:17-18,” in the November-December 2020 Royal Vision, for more details.)
On Jan. 10, 1986, six days before his death, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “This is my first letter to you in 1986, and could very well be my last. Now in my 94th year I am in a very physically weakened state enduring severe pain and with virtually no strength whatsoever. … It may be that the work God has given me to do is complete, but not the work of God’s Church, which will be faithfully doing God’s Work till Christ, the true Head of this Church, returns.” How wonderful that is: If God gives you a work and you stay there and finish it, no matter how you finish, it’s done. God knew Mr. Armstrong had finished his work, and He allowed him to die.
Mr. Armstrong continued: “After much counsel and prayer over the past months God has led me in announcing a decision last week to appoint Mr. Joseph W. Tkach, director of Church administration, to the office of deputy pastor general to assist me while I am in a weakened state, and should God choose to take my life, to place himself totally in Christ’s hands to lead God’s Church under Christ, succeeding me as pastor general, in the difficult times ahead. Christ will lead in the decision about which men will continue the telecast.” Notice: He didn’t call Tkach a prophet or an apostle; he called him the pastor general.
Within the next six days, however, Mr. Armstrong had a total change of mind.
Mr. Armstrong died at 5:59 a.m. on January 16. In the last six days of his life, Mr. Armstrong went from appointing Joseph Tkach as pastor general to praying that God would halt all spiritual rain from entering the Church for 3½ years. What could cause such a sudden change?
In those days between January 10 and 16, God showed Mr. Armstrong that, not only was Mr. Tkach going astray, but the whole Church was. And he knew he had not made the right choice. But maybe it was the right choice, according to God’s will. God approved for it to unfold this way.
After Mr. Armstrong died, terrible spiritual destruction fell on the Church. God started that famine, exactly as Mr. Armstrong prayed it would. And look at what has happened since. “And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (verse 18). On July 16, 1989, exactly 3½ years later, my son read Malachi’s Message. The latter rain started at that time, and “brought forth her fruit.” We are that fruit! One man prayed to God and changed the course of everything. Look at the fruits of that prayer. We are here because of Mr. Armstrong’s prayer and God’s blessing. We have all kinds of marvelous new truths God has given—truth that God and Mr. Armstrong didn’t want the Worldwide Church of God to ever have again. He raised up the Philadelphia Church of God to receive God’s new revelation.
Only one wcg minister continued for about six months to deliver the truth of God. Eventually, he too caved in and accepted wrong doctrines. If you were in the spirit of prophecy, you would never follow that church because they were teaching “Prophesy not”! That’s no small mistake—it’s rejecting God and His law and our testimony.
Mr. Armstrong knew what that leadership was all about. He knew Mr. Tkach was not going to lead God’s true Church. And he saw to it that he didn’t receive any new revelation. He saw an evil that he hadn’t seen six days before.
We are dealing with those who are “according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.” We are in a war against that evil being, and Satan is in his worst wrath ever. That is what we are fighting against. Being in a war can result in a lot of persecution. This is why we must understand the spirit of prophecy.
Know We Are at War
Prophecy describes Mr. Tkach being in the bonds of Satan and his son being a spiritual Antiochus. God says these men are liars, and He’s going to expose them. These ministers were in the synagogue of Satan (Revelation 3:9). Satan is the father of liars and a murderer from the beginning because there is no truth in him (John 8:44).
You see the same thing in American politics today. There is a great deal of deceit, and there are people at the top surrendering to the devil. The 2020 election was stolen, and there is an active, political Antiochus on the scene. Many Republicans recognize this—yet they will not fight! They don’t understand what will happen to them and to this country if they don’t fight for what is right. They think they can sustain themselves in the swamp, but they cannot. They are in a war, but they don’t know it! They have given up. They don’t love freedom like they should. America is a constitutional republic with a foundation in God’s law and the Bible. It seems most Republicans are willing to give that up! They don’t have the will to survive—the will to live!
We too can be in a war and not know it. That is exactly what happened to the Worldwide Church of God. After Mr. Armstrong’s death, the Tkaches showed me the new direction the work was going. The commission was shifting to the college—but they were leaving God out of the picture! There was no spirit of prophecy. And what happened? What did they produce? It was a big bust.
Ninety-five percent of God’s people have just followed along. Many of them could see what was happening, but did nothing. Ministers and members allowed diabolical evil to pass. And look at the consequences! Soon these people will experience the Great Tribulation, and 50 percent of them will die forever because they acted like there was no war! But even that reality doesn’t impact you if you are not in the spirit of prophecy.
We are the only ones who really fought against that evil! But we need not pat ourselves on the back for that. That is what we are called to do: to fight for God! When we do that, what great results that brings.
This little group, with a powerful message going around the world, believes in the spirit of prophecy! If you are in the spirit of prophecy and you have the testimony of Jesus Christ, you see the future and you know it is worth any trial we have to endure.
With the spirit of prophecy, you understand that we have a spectacular future when Christ returns. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). We are going to be like God! What a stirring God Family potential!
If you understand this truth with the spirit of prophecy, what will you do? “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (verse 3). God wants us to be pure. Have that hope that comes from the spirit of prophecy, and see what is coming—and we will overcome and become pure. Not by human might or power, but by God’s Spirit.
Josiah and the End Time
2 Chronicles 34 and 35 are about King Josiah of Judah. And God has showed us how chapter 36 is a spectacular conclusion that ties the book of Chronicles to Ezra-Nehemiah—a conclusion specifically for the pcg. Chapter 35 leads into that conclusion.
Since 2 Chronicles 36 is for the pcg, and you have Josiah just before that, then that really does link to Mr. Armstrong. Chronologically, chapter 35 and Josiah are placed right where you would expect Mr. Armstrong and his work to be placed. I’ve written before that Josiah was a type of Mr. Armstrong; I wouldn’t make it that strong, however. He was not a direct type, but these ancient events are for this end time. There are some interesting scriptures here that we need to examine more deeply.
Josiah had provided great leadership for Judah. Still, the Prophetess Huldah told Josiah and Judah that because most of the people failed to repent, frightening prophecies would be inflicted upon Judah. Huldah spoke on God’s behalf: “Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched” (2 Chronicles 34:25). This was a very sobering prophecy.
But because Josiah had humbled himself and had shown such zeal, God decided He would delay the fulfillment of the prophecies until after Josiah died (verses 27-28). This prophecy caused Judah to feel somewhat secure. Josiah was still a young man at the time; he was 39 years old. It proved to be a false sense of security.
Egypt decided to march on the Assyrians, and Pharaohnechoh wanted to pass through Judah to save time. He didn’t want to fight Josiah. He told Josiah he merely wanted to pass through and sought no trouble. Josiah, however, got upset. He led his army out to fight the pharaoh. This proved to be a foolish mistake. In the battle that followed, Josiah was suddenly killed (2 Chronicles 35:22-24). You’re going to see some terrifying things happen suddenly in the near future. The Great Tribulation will come suddenly—and then there is nothing you can do.
Josiah’s death horrified the whole nation. They knew about the prophecy and recognized what this meant for the nation. “And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations” (verse 25). Despite what many biblical scholars say, this refers to the book of Lamentations.
In his doctoral dissertation for Ambassador College, Design and Development of the Holy Scripture, Ernest Martin wrote: “It is no coincidence that from this time forward, Jeremiah began his series of long prophecies about the imminent captivity of Judah. At the very critical moment—the time of Josiah’s death—Jeremiah was inspired to compose an important work.” Then he quoted 2 Chronicles 35:25. “This is a remarkable testimony to the writing of one of our Old Testament books: the book of Lamentations,” he continued. “It was a prophetical song, to be sung in a minor or mournful key. It was a composition written as a result of the slaying of Josiah.”
The nation knew a chamber of horrors was coming. They should have squarely faced what was coming. But when Josiah’s son became king, rather than facing reality, they decided to have a big, splashy party.
Based on the length of reigns after Josiah’s death and the final Babylonian attack in 585 b.c., God still gave Judah over 22 years to respond to the warning (see 2 Chronicles 36:2, 5; 2 Kings 24:8, 18). They heedlessly continued with their lives, deluding themselves into thinking everything was fine. Then, terror came suddenly on the nation!
The warning the Jews received anciently is a warning for us today as well. People don’t want to think about it, but our nations are about to enter a holocaust even worse than the Jews did! When the Babylonians destroyed Judah, they left it looking like a plowed field. That is the way it will be with the three nations of Israel in this end time.
Warning signs for America and Britain are everywhere. Our sense of morality is in tatters. Businesses are crashing. America’s national debt is approaching $30 trillion. What will happen when the system crashes and the dollar is worthless? That reality is coming suddenly! I’m sure God’s people will be in a place of safety when that happens, but nonetheless, it is coming. And we have to expect it to be sudden.
Events are coming that will shake this world to its foundations! God’s people will need to be absolutely grounded in the spirit of prophecy!
A Sobering Warning
Lamentations is an end-time book, specifically for the Philadelphia Church of God. It is dual: It discusses physical Israel—the United States, United Kingdom and Judah, primarily. But it’s primarily about spiritual Israel, particularly God’s Laodicean Church that has lost the testimony of Jesus Christ. The Josiah event is somewhat like what it was with Mr. Armstrong and spiritual Israel. All that massive destruction by Satan the devil on the Church is like what Judah and Josiah experienced. And it’s a type of what we are experiencing today.
Lamentations is the most horrifying book in the Bible! Some of it is tough to read. It’s not something you sit and read before going to sleep—it would keep you up all night! But it is talking about real events that are going to happen to Israel. For example, Lamentations 4:10 talks about the “compassionate women” of Israel boiling their own children for food! (Revised Standard Version). The Laodicean churches are going to experience that! Unparalleled punishment is coming on God’s own Church! They are self-righteous and lukewarm. They can sound chic today proclaiming their messages of “love,” but they won’t be doing that when Lamentations is fulfilled! God will force them to face their rebellion!
Lamentations also contains the most elegant poetry. It describes unparalleled suffering, yet it is the Bible’s most poetic book! Why? Because God wanted to make this a powerful message. In His mercy, He wants so much to communicate this message to His people today!
“How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!” (Lamentations 1:1). This is talking about Jerusalem—a type here of the Laodicean Church. In God’s evaluation, the Worldwide Church of God under Herbert W. Armstrong was great among the nations! The rebellious Laodiceans turned away from this, and God says they will have to drink a very bitter cup. “She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies” (verse 2).
“The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness” (verse 4). Zion always refers to God’s Church in prophecy. These “solemn feasts” are God’s annual holy days, which the Laodiceans have turned away from. Those days have a magnificent spirit of prophecy, revealing God’s master plan and showing everything God is going to give us! Thankfully, there is a Church that still keeps those feasts.
“Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy” (verse 5). The Laodicean Church doesn’t have only a few sins; it has a multitude! As a result, the coming holocaust will be exponentially worse than what this world experienced in World War ii.
Verse 6 tells us that “from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed ….” Everything that took place under Mr. Armstrong was beautiful to God. The Laodiceans have lost that beauty. This shows us, however, what we do in the Philadelphia Church of God today is beauty to God. There is nothing like it on Earth! We have a ministry that looks to God and God’s Word and takes a stand for God no matter what!
“Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old …” (verse 7). The Church had so much “in the days of old” when Mr. Armstrong taught them.
Lamentations 2:15 talks about Jerusalem being “The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth.” That is how God sees His Church when we are doing our job! God’s faithful Church is the perfection of beauty in His eyes! It is the joy of the whole Earth—and shortly it will be the joy of the whole universe!
The book of Lamentations is a funeral dirge—a poem of the most intense grief and mourning. Yet we must remain encouraged. You need the spirit of prophecy to put all this into perspective. This book makes clear that God will do what it takes to bring members into His Family. If you lack the spirit of prophecy, then you won’t see the beautiful bigger picture in this book—God building His Family!
“Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger” (Lamentations 1:12). Many prophecies show that the coming suffering will be unlike any this world has experienced. And it will get even worse during the Day of the Lord—a full year of God’s fierce anger!
The Tribulation, though, is the time of Satan’s worst wrath. The devil is a liar who loves murdering people who have the potential to be in God’s Family. Already he is doing all he can to destroy us. We must have the spirit of prophecy and be empowered by God to stand up to the devil!
This will be the last time Israel has to go into captivity and give up its land. Christ is going to return and stop it and build His Family that lasts forever! Those in that Family are in the spirit of prophecy!
The spirit of prophecy is filled with hope. How could Jesus Christ endure the suffering of being marred more than any man—how could He be crucified—if He weren’t in the spirit of prophecy? He knew He was to be a King! He was born to rule this Earth and this universe under His Father. Nobody could stop Him from fulfilling that destiny!
We must have the testimony of Jesus Christ. If we are going to be like Christ and get through severe persecution, we need the spirit of prophecy!
Be Ruled by God
The word Adonai means “God that rules.” It is used 14 times in Lamentations. The God that rules! This is a truth the Laodiceans must remember: God rules. They don’t want God to rule them! The Laodiceans must understand that if they are ever going to repent and get back to God, they must know that God rules. Either Adonai rules us, or we cannot serve Him! We must see the value in that and seek it with all our might.
The word Elohim, referring to the God Family, is never used in the book of Lamentations. This reveals the Laodiceans’ problem: They have lost the Family vision. They are not honoring the Father (Malachi 1:6). The absence of Elohim is the biggest warning of all in Lamentations!
“For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed” (Lamentations 1:16). In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter (e.g. John 14:16, 26). These people have lost the Holy Spirit! Even those who still have some little of it are without real spiritual power.
Thankfully, a great many Laodiceans will repent during the Tribulation. “The Lord is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment …” (Lamentations 1:18). This is the attitude ministers are looking for in Laodiceans who want to return. The Hebrew says, “I have grievously rebelled.” With that attitude, you can really work with a person. They first have to see and acknowledge that they have been grievously rebelling and are acting self-righteously! They may read our literature and listen to our programs, but they don’t want to do what God wants them to do—otherwise, they would be here with us!
Jeremiah and his scribe Baruch witnessed some of the horrors described here. Babylon besieged Jerusalem for 19 years, and Jeremiah witnessed a lot because he was in prison when Babylon came. Both he and Baruch were eyewitnesses to the cannibalism and other horrors that took place. They felt it and then wrote from what they saw (Lamentations 3:1-4). They saw affliction by the rod of God’s wrath.
In describing his experience, Jeremiah wrote: “He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old” (verse 6). “Dead of old” in the Hebrew means “dead forever.” Fifty percent of the Laodiceans are going to die forever! That is how God is going to deal with them.
But there are some who will repent. You see this in expressions later in this chapter. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him” (verses 22-24). When they repent, the hope they had lost will be resurrected! They will finally see that “[i]t is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord” (verse 26).
The spirit of prophecy is filled with hope. We must live by that hope and be inspired and motivated by that hope. That is what really motivates us.
‘Precious Sons of Zion’
Chapter 3 goes on to discuss our six-year court battle with the Laodiceans. “To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High, To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not” (verses 35-36). The Laodiceans worked to turn aside our rights; Lange’s says this expression refers to legal rights. Even the expression “in his cause” can refer to a lawsuit. The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible calls it “litigation, a judicial cause. The expression, used 60 times in the Old Testament, covers the entire process of adjudication.” Adjudication means to hear and decide a case, or to serve as a judge. Then the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible discusses various parts of a lawsuit. Like those battles we had in our court case.
Who were the Laodiceans really fighting? They fought “before the face of the most High.” They were fighting God! But God delivered us and gave us even more than we asked for!
We won the court case. But it required that the whole Church stand up and fight! God didn’t simply hand it to us. If we want victories, we have to fight and overcome the devil the way Christ did: with that testimony and that spirit of prophecy.
God says in verse 40, “[T]urn again to the Lord”! The Laodiceans are the only ones who can “turn again” to God. “How the gold has grown dim, how the pure gold is changed! The holy stones lie scattered at the head of every street” (Lamentations 4:1; rsv). What’s happened to all those people of God? What happened to the precious spiritual gold the ministry had and the people had? It all turned into “stones.” They won’t allow God to rule them. And look where they are today. God made some wonderful statements about the Worldwide Church of God under Mr. Armstrong, but now the Laodiceans are scattered stones. They have lost their “perfection of beauty” and become tarnished and ugly.
But look how God describes His very elect: “The precious sons of Zion, worth their weight in fine gold, how they are reckoned as earthen pots, the work of a potter’s hands!” (verse 2; rsv). What powerful poetry!
If you want to be a “precious son of Zion,” you must let the master potter shape and mold you! We are simply the clay in the potter’s hands. This is a powerful truth. These are people who give everything they have to God’s Work. How precious that is!
Live in the spirit of prophecy! If you can get this wonderful vision in mind, there is nothing like it and never will be anything better on Earth during this age of man’s rule! Allow that to stir genuine hope in your life and to stir your motivation and fire your imagination. Give everything to God, even your life if that is required. That is the perfection of beauty! That is what God loves.