Keep the Lamp Burning
God’s people have a great responsibility in this dark world. But when we draw on His power, He will fight for us and lead us to victory!

Revelation 4:5 describes God’s throne room: “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” Seven lamps burn before His throne.

We have to pattern God’s Church after God’s throne room. Those seven lamps represent the seven eras of God’s New Testament Church (Revelation 1:20). A Church era is all about bringing light to this world. These are brilliant lights, and God wants to ensure they are always burning.

Study Church history, however, and you find that five of the seven eras turned away from God! That is a frightening statistic!

We are in the final, Laodicean era of God’s Church (Revelation 3:14-22), in which 95 percent of God’s people have turned away from that lamp. Why is that so easy for some people to do? How do we prevent that from happening? When the majority of God’s people turn away, you see what a challenge it is to stay the course and do the Work of God.

We must keep God’s flame of fire burning! We need to think intensively on these seven lamps. This is a deep, foundational subject.

A Flaming Light

Revelation 4:5 speaks of “seven Spirits.” A spirit guides every era as it does the Work of God. Those angels are watching over this Church, protecting, guiding and helping us.

The root word for “lamps” in that verse means to make a field shine. We are here to make this message shine before the world! This world is in darkness. You see it clearly in ways you couldn’t have even imagined a few years ago. People today desperately need light. The Great Tribulation is rapidly approaching—the worst time of suffering ever. There will be extermination camps where human beings are considered to be less than dung! That’s how the Jews were viewed during World War ii, in which some 60 million people were killed. But what is coming will be far worse!

Soon, nuclear bombs will start dropping. Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently threatened to use them against Ukraine and said he’s not bluffing. He has enough nuclear bombs to wipe out the United States in a day. God says if He didn’t return, there would be no flesh saved alive! (Matthew 24:21-22). We are facing that today.

Amid this darkness, God wants a flaming light. He wants people who will speak up for Him and are unafraid because they know the only fear they need is of God.

To keep God’s lamp burning is not easy. But if we pattern this after God’s throne room and are empowered by God, we will make a light shine in this world.

A Golden Lampstand

During an excavation in Jerusalem on the Ophel in the summer of 2013, the team serving under Dr. Eilat Mazar discovered a hoard of rare gold coins, silver and gold jewelry. Among these treasures was a large gold medallion ornamented with the iconic seven-branched lampstand, as well as a Torah and a shofar. This lampstand is described in God’s instructions regarding the tabernacle in the wilderness and appears repeatedly in the Bible.

“And you shall make a lampstand of pure gold …” (Exodus 25:31; Revised Standard Version). For this lampstand, God wants the best metal there is. “[T]he lampstand shall be made of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece. And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side” (verses 31-32; New King James Version). The King James Version calls this a “candlestick.” But it is a lampstand. A candlestick emits much less light; this is a brilliant, burning lamp! This is the light God wants out in this world. It must always burn brightly.

We are a small group of people who have taken on the Work of God after Herbert W. Armstrong died in 1986. Imagine what we could do if everyone who supported Mr. Armstrong were supporting and doing this Work! Yet even with our roughly 5,000 members and a number of co-workers, who give over 30 percent of our income, look at what we are doing. We also have amazing, unparalleled technology today that Mr. Armstrong never had. This technology makes it possible for us to be a witness to this entire world! We are a little army that is eager to work! If you have God on your side, what difference does it make if you have 300 or a thousand times a thousand times a thousand? With God, you cannot lose!

What do the shofar and Torah scroll on the menorah medallion have to do with God’s people? The Torah is the foundation of the Bible—the Pentateuch; it is about the law of God, which includes God’s holy days. The shofar is primarily an alarm of war. Somebody must sound the trumpet! God’s people today believe in the Torah and support the alarm of war going out from this Church. They are warriors!

The true Church of God must have this powerful flaming fire, a message we must publish to the world—three nations in particular—about the coming war that will inflict the worst suffering ever on this planet. This is a shofar-blowing work! Most people won’t receive it, but we must keep it in our minds and realize what a great glory it is to be able to be a witness to this world.

Biblical Archaeology

Herschel Shanks was the founder and editor in chief of Biblical Archaeology Review. Speaking of Eilat Mazar, he said: “No one would question her professional competence as an archaeologist. Her chief sin, however, is that she’s interested in what archaeology can tell us about the Bible.” What a statement!

Some scholars today believe if you follow the Bible, you can’t be a good archaeologist. Many people of stature in Israel try to discredit the Bible’s validity. The current editor in chief of Biblical Archaeology Review doesn’t even believe much in biblical archaeology. Yet judging by her many landmark discoveries, Dr. Mazar was probably the best archaeologist in modern times! She was an amazing woman. These scholars would verbally abuse her in meetings, yet she fearlessly persisted.

The Philadelphia Church of God has received a lot of favor in Israel. And while we don’t know exactly what will happen in the future, we do know that if God is behind it and there’s something He wants to do, it cannot be stopped. Nobody will close that door, even if an army of 4 billion men tried! Any door God says is to be opened will not close. He opens, and He closes. That is the God we serve!

King Hezekiah

We have hosted two major archaeological exhibits at Armstrong Auditorium: “Seals of Jeremiah’s Captors Discovered” and “Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah Discovered.” It was astounding that we were able to bring these artifacts to our headquarters campus—and it was the world premiere of those seals! God was behind that, probably far more than we realized, the more I think about this.

The Hezekiah bulla had this inscription: “Belonging to Hezekiah, [son of] Ahaz, king of Judah.” It received a lot of press coverage (though it wasn’t publicized within Israel as much as it should have been). Because we helped uncover this wonderful artifact, some of our Armstrong College students were even mentioned in international media.

Hezekiah’s father was wicked, even sacrificing his own children to pagan gods. But Hezekiah, who ascended the throne at 25 years old, decided he would be different. 2 Kings 18:5 says this of him: “He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.” He directed the people to look back to King David. He knew that was the path to a successful kingship. He reinstituted proper holy day worship and refurbished the temple, the greatest physical building ever constructed.

Yet at this time, Sennacherib and the Assyrian Empire were rising up as a daunting enemy (2 Chronicles 32:1). They had a formidable army, much greater than Judah’s. Sennacherib moved into Judah and began taking over cities and a great deal of the nation.

Initially, Hezekiah made the mistake of trying to buy off Sennacherib with gold and silver from the temple. This only emboldened Sennacherib. He became more determined than ever to attack Jerusalem.

Then Hezekiah changed. “And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 19:1). He went to God’s house and prayed his heart out. He was beginning to see how to successfully fight the Assyrians—or any army, anywhere! That is a hard lesson for anyone to learn, especially a young man with such a terrible family life. Yet he was learning.

Amid this trial, Hezekiah became sick unto death. He had made some serious mistakes, but God was getting his attention. Hezekiah again turned to God in heartfelt prayer, and God answered. He told the Prophet Isaiah, “Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake” (2 Kings 20:5-6).

Hezekiah wanted a sign that he would be healed. God gave him two options: He could move the sun forward 10 degrees or backward 10 degrees. Hezekiah asked that God move the sun backward—and God did so! He performed that miracle for Hezekiah because of his repentance. He was also interacting properly with God’s prophet. Isaiah writes a lot about this in his book because it is really a message for us in these last days.

God Delivers

Sennacherib was still marching through Judah. There is a great deal of secular proof of what happened at this time. Sennacherib nearly conquered the whole country! Only Jerusalem was left. He brought 185,000 of his soldiers there. Sennacherib wrote on an artifact known as the Taylor Prism, “As for Hezekiah, I shut him up like a caged bird in his royal city of Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem was surrounded. The Assyrians were prepared to destroy everyone inside. What would Hezekiah do?

Sennacherib recorded all his victorious conquests in reliefs on the walls of his palace. The British Museum has an exhibit with the Lachish wall reliefs, on which Sennacherib recorded his victory over Lachish, Judah’s second-most important city at that time. On three different prisms, Sennacherib recorded his conquest of Judah up to Jerusalem. But then the history goes silent. He recorded nothing about conquering Jerusalem. Why? Because his entire army was conquered in one night by God!

It was an embarrassing defeat. Sennacherib returned from his conquests alone. All his soldiers had been slaughtered. His sons thought that was the most ignominious thing that could ever happen, so they assassinated him!

This is a subject we must talk about and dig into because God is using Hezekiah to teach us how to solve our problems. If an army of 185,000 soldiers is coming at you, you probably know there’s no way you can win—but you don’t give up because you can take it to God! As He did for Jerusalem, God can send an angel to wipe out your enemy in one night!

Shouldn’t this be something people in this world talk about as we face nuclear weapons wiping out every man, woman and child? Isn’t it time we look to God? Archaeology has proved this account and many other biblical accounts true! We need to get a message out there, warning people not to scoff at God’s miracles! God would do the same for them if they would just listen to Him! Why won’t people trust God as Hezekiah did?

Facing so many problems today, you would think more people would be seeking God. They could even simply study national history and see what God has done in America, Britain and the Jewish nation. Establishing the Jewish state in this end time was a miracle, and people knew it at the time. Yet they have forgotten those remarkable wonders of God.

Let God Fight Your Battles

This powerful example really got Mr. Armstrong’s attention. He wrote about it in a Good News article titled “Let God Fight Your Battles.” How deeply do we understand this? God wants us to dig deeper into it.

The Jews facing the Assyrians “were helpless,” wrote Mr. Armstrong. “They faced certain defeat—just as you may feel helpless in the face of your troubles today. If some of you try to solve your problem or overcome your bad habits or resist sin in nothing more than your own power and strength, you, too, will find yourself outnumbered, overpowered and doomed to defeat!” (March 1985).

Mr. Armstrong tried to get us to understand this spiritually: If we’re looking to our own strength and power, we will fail. We need real spiritual power and God intervening in miraculous ways at times. Learn this as deeply as you can. I don’t care who the enemy is—this way works and always has! “You must learn, as this ancient king did, that God stands ready and willing to fight your battles for you,” Mr. Armstrong continued (emphasis mine throughout). That’s how you win your battles!

This is such a powerful, meaningful event in the Bible. Mr. Armstrong emphasized this during the sixth era of God’s Church when the lamp was burning brightly. And in this era, God give us Hezekiah’s personal bulla—a signature of this great king of Judah—to exhibit in the auditorium.

This history is primarily for us. 2 Kings is part of the former prophets, which is mostly for this end time. We must keep God’s lamp burning! We can do that in part by keeping this Hezekiah example alive as Mr. Armstrong did.

Zechariah 4:6 reminds us that we cannot succeed by human might or power—only by the power of God. To build for God, you must build through the Spirit of God. Get that power in your life and you will impact this world and this Work, and we will accomplish amazing things.

We must not sit around moping, feeling sorry for ourselves, even if we’re dying! I understand we’re all weak, and we all let down at times when we shouldn’t, but we must let God fight our battles!

Mr. Armstrong tried so hard to get the story and lesson of Hezekiah across to people. He reminded them to study Hezekiah in a detailed way. He learned this foundational message, and he really hammered it. God is telling us we need to comprehend this more deeply. If we can understand the Hezekiah bulla and what God is trying to teach us, that will make such a difference.

Last year, we held a Church-wide fast, beseeching God for more healings. Since that time, someone asked me: “Do you think we’ve had more trials than healings?” I believe that could be true. There are times when, like Hezekiah, we make serious mistakes, and God keeps the pressure on until we finally learn to let Him fight our battles! Maybe we haven’t received the healings we thought we would, but they will come if we follow this formula. Perhaps we need to be tried more intensely to learn it deeply.

We need trials to make sure we’re really letting God fight our battles! We need to know that God is there and that He’ll fight for us, and He’ll win those battles.

Look at the tumult in the world, and it makes sense that God is getting us ready for what is coming. He wants us to be eager for the battle, ready to challenge anyone who tries to take God on! We need to pray for this a lot more and fast about it for deeper understanding. We have to keep God’s lamp burning. God has all power! If we keep that in mind, we’ll continue this Work with a bright, flaming fire!

Do Your Part

When Sennacherib’s attack was drawing near, Hezekiah recognized a vulnerability: The Gihon was Jerusalem’s only source of freshwater. He knew the Assyrian army could easily cut off that water supply. So he ordered a 1,700-foot tunnel be dug through solid rock, redirecting the water from the Gihon Spring to inside the city walls.

Hezekiah was still looking to God to fight his battles, but he knew God wanted him to dig. If you have to dig through rock, then dig through rock! Do everything you can—but know that still, it is God who will win it for you. It’s going to take His power even to dig a tunnel like that! Doesn’t it take a miracle from God?

That tunnel is impressive. But Mr. Armstrong said, “You must learn, as this ancient king did, that God stands ready and willing to fight your battles for you.”

Shortly into Hezekiah’s reign, he warned the northern kingdom of Israel about Assyria’s impending attack: “For if ye turn again unto the Lord, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him” (2 Chronicles 30:9). They had turned away from God and the throne of David and the temple. But he explained what they needed to do. Sadly, they didn’t listen and were taken captive.

Eyes to See

The Second Coming is almost here. Zechariah 3:8 describes the Laodicean leaders rebelling against God as a “sign” (nkjv and other translations) of Christ’s impending return.

Verse 9 says, “For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes ….” So many of God’s people have turned away. God says, I have given you eyes—my eyes—to see what is coming! Mr. Armstrong gave them so much spiritual truth. But they wouldn’t listen. That is inexcusable, considering that he restored all things!

Consider all the new revelation God has given us today. We know so much about God’s plan because we’re right here at the end, and we see it all! We will be held accountable for that.

“And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep. And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a [lampstand] all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel …” (Zechariah 4:1-6). The two olive trees represent God the Father and Jesus Christ. Zerubbabel is a type of Mr. Armstrong.

Look at that man’s fruits. He restored all things. And now the stone of destiny is his prayer rock! It is vital that we pray and cry out to God and realize that that’s the most important thing we can possibly do spiritually. We have to get into the holy of holies if we are to achieve what God wants us to.

“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by [human] might nor by [human] power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (verse 6). Mr. Armstrong believed that and lived by it. He learned deeply that God will fight your battles and win your battles for you!

The Laodiceans are not with God today because they didn’t let God fight their battles. Look how quickly they gave up and surrendered to the devil! God put this inset here to show them how to avoid becoming Laodicean and worse.

We have to keep God’s lamp burning! We do that by God’s Spirit—that’s where the power is!

“Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone …” (verse 7). Even if an army of 185,000 soldiers comes after you, Christ Himself will arise and ensure that you win!

God is telling us that if we follow Elijah’s example, we will wipe out any mountain! That is a promise. He will level that mountain—He will fight your battle. Of course we’ll be tried and tested—we need that. But God has given and is giving us so much. The new stone and new throne show us that we are royalty, and we must be thankful for that.

“For who hath despised the day of small things? …” (verse 10). God started this work with $80 for our treasury. We certainly looked like a peanut shell floating on the ocean. But we had a miraculous book that God had revealed, Malachi’s Message, explaining what was happening and what He wanted us to do. Today, God has given us America Under Attack so this world knows what is happening and who is the power behind it. If people would just listen to God, the crisis could be wiped aside! He did it for Hezekiah, and He would do it for anybody else.

When we have serious tests, we need to ask God to help us rejoice in them! Those trials are more precious than gold. That’s what God is trying to make us see: The gold is in the trial! Your Father sees something you need to change. We’re all flawed and sinners. But we can take on anybody, anywhere, anytime, and win!

God’s lamp is right here with us. We need to ensure we do everything to give all the light we possibly can to this world.

Jeremiah’s Captors

In addition to the Hezekiah and Isaiah bullae, we also showcased two seals of the princes who tried to have the Prophet Jeremiah killed. Jeremiah 38:1-6 talk about Gedaliah, the son of Pashur, and Jehucal, the son of Shelemiah. These princes had Jeremiah thrown into a miry pit without food or water, nearing suffocation. But an Ethiopian named Ebed-Melech beseeched Zedekiah on Jeremiah’s behalf and was given permission to free him. Of course, God did that.

How these little seals corroborate that history! They are tangible proof that Jeremiah really did live. They tell you that Jeremiah was trying to get this word out, but men wanted to kill that message, so they imprisoned him and tried to kill him.

The Bible warns that the Chaldeans—the same Babylonians who destroyed Judah—are going to destroy America, Britain and Judah if they don’t repent. They will have one last opportunity from God to see if they will turn from their sins.

Jeremiah warned Judah but wrote his book for these last days to warn the nations of Israel as well. These three nations fall together—Judah, Ephraim, Manasseh (Hosea 5:5)—in Satan’s worst wrath ever, unparalleled horror! We’d like to see those people repent and avoid that. So we must get the message out! We must make the lamp shine in the greatest splendor—this is their only hope! God’s message is, “[W]hy will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11).

Those two seals warn what is coming upon our nations. Jeremiah told them it was coming—and it did. Zedekiah’s sons were killed before him, they then put out his eyes and carted him off to Babylon. It appeared nobody was left to sit on the throne—as though God’s promise to David had failed. But it did not! People just have to put in the effort to look.

Do you think our hosting the world premiere of the seals of Jeremiah’s captors was a coincidence? What about the world premiere of the Hezekiah bulla? The message of Hezekiah is for us today, and the Jeremiah example highlights the strongest warning we must deliver to Israel. These are not coincidences!

These small, tangible seals reveal so much. That’s the power of biblical archaeology. Yet this goes far beyond archaeology. What about the new throne of David—God giving this Church the highest royalty, beyond anything on Earth? He has given us this because we have let Him fight our battles. If we keep doing that, nothing will stop us!

Two Olive Branches

In 1949, the State of Israel adopted as its national emblem the seven-branched lampstand with two olive branches on either side. The Jewish Virtual Library says, “The olive branches express the state’s peaceful intentions.” But is that really what the olive branches mean? It takes the revelation of God to truly understand.

What does God say those olive branches represent? The symbol comes from Zechariah 4, which describes the seven-branched lampstand with two olive trees on either side, and two olive branches feeding oil into the lamps. Verse 14 says the olive branches “are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” They represent Mr. Armstrong’s office and my office. The golden oil is the new revelation that was given to Mr. Armstrong and all that God is revealing today to me for the Church and the whole world. These are the two olive branches!

The golden oil is pouring through those pipes into that golden lamp, and God wants it to shine and fill the world with a splendid view of what is happening. You must have that oil to have light in your lamp!

We have the lamp that shines in this world and explains everything to people. If they would only listen, God would remove all those terrible problems—just as He did with Hezekiah and just how He plucked Jeremiah out of certain death to then go on and plant David’s throne in Ireland!

That is what God will do and is doing for us. We want to do everything we can, and do our part as Mr. Armstrong said, in giving to and putting our hearts into this Work of God. Then let God fight and win your battles. God’s people have always had trials and difficulties—but with God, we have nothing but glorious days ahead!