< > >
The End-Time Elijah--Has He Already Come?
< >" ehold,
I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the
great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts
of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children
to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a
Prophet Elijah came on the scene at a time when the Northern
Kingdom of Israel was reeling in idolatry and religious confusion.
Yet for a short time, this great man succeeded in turning
the hearts of many of the people to the God of their fathers
(cf. 1 Kings 18). For more than two decades, Elijah proclaimed
God's Truthnot only as a witness to rulers, powerful
men and a wayward society, but also in a more in-depth manner
to the three schools of the prophets he oversaw. Finally,
the Eternal decided to take him away by a fiery chariot into
the sky. In later years, the Jews would look for him to returna
notion fueled by the prophecy quoted above from the book of
like all men, Elijah died. And he will not be resurrected
until it is time for ALL of God's people to be raised in perfection
(cf. Heb. 11:39-40)at the END of the year-long "dreadful
day" of the Lord. How, then, would the prophecy be fulfilled
that Elijah would come before that time? Part of the
answer can be found in a statement Jesus Christ made in Matthew
11: "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John
[the Baptist]. And if you are willing to receive it, he
is Elijah who is to come" (vv. 13-14). So was John the
Baptist actually Elijah the person? Clearly not. Indeed, when
the Jewish priests and Levites asked John, "Are you Elijah?,"
he replied, "I am not" (John 1:21)that is, he was not
the same person who had walked the earth 900 years earlier.
So why did Christ identify him as Elijah, as prophesied in
explanation can be found in the message the archangel Gabriel
brought to John's father before John was born: "And [John]
will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their
God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power
of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,'
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready
a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:16-17). In essence,
John came holding a similar office and bearing a similar commission
to that of Elijahto do an Elijah-like work. John was
empowered by the same motivating force and spirit that Elijah
are other elements to John's mission that should be brought
out. His father Zecharias prophesied of him, "And you, child,
will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will
go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to
give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission
of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which
the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to
those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide
our feet into the way of peace" (vv. 76-79). John was no doubt
aware that he was to fulfill these prophecies as his father
must have told him of them as he grew up.
when he denied being Elijah, and the priests and Levites asked
just who he was then, John identified himself as "the voice
of one" foretold in Isaiah 40 (John 1:21-23), and the Gospels
confirm this (Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:3-6). Notice the
citation in Luke: "And [John] went into all the region around
the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission
of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah
the prophet, saying: 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
"Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought
low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough
ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."'"
prophecy was in part a reiteration of Isaiah's prophecyand
of another prophecy about preparing the way before the Lord
that had been given in Malachi. Jesus said that John "is he
of whom it is written [in Malachi 3:1]: 'Behold, I send
My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before
You'" (Matt. 11:10; Luke 7:27). This prophecy is directly
linked to Isaiah 40 in Mark 1:2-3. Putting all this together,
we see that the "voice of one" and the "messenger"both
preparing the way for the Lordas well as the "Elijah
to come," are all the same prophesied figure. But there is
a major element yet missing here.
certainly prepared the way before Christ's human ministrybut
that did not immediately precede the "dreadful day of the
Lord" heralding Christ's return in power and glory. When the
disciples witnessed what is known as the "Transfiguration"a
vision of the Kingdom wherein Jesus, Moses and Elijah were
all glorifiedthey asked Christ, "'Why then do the scribes
say that Elijah must come first?' Jesus answered and said
to them, 'Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore
all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already,
and they did not know him....' Then the disciples understood
that He spoke to them of John the Baptist" (Matt. 17:10-12).
They understood this because, as we've seen, He had earlier
told them that John was "Elijah to come" in Matthew
11. But in Matthew 17, John the Baptist had already been dead
for some time (13:1-12). So in the passage just quoted, Christ
was referring to more than one "Elijah"one who
had "come already" (i.e. John) and one whom Christ said "is
[yet] coming" or "SHALL first come" (KJV) and "WILL restore
all things." The restoring of all things, then, is another
element of the Elijah commissionto be fulfilled by,
at least, the later Elijah.
some have taken Christ's statement that "indeed, Elijah is
coming first and will restore all things" to be a mere reiteration
of the scribes' position that "Elijah must come first"and
that Christ was pointing to John the Baptist alonenot
any future personas fulfilling the Elijah prophecy.
This would mean that John had restored all thingswhatever
that would then have meant, as we otherwise have no record
of him doing so. However, whether John restored anything or
not is somewhat irrelevant since the way Christ said what
He did certainly seems to indicate that there would have to
be an Elijah in the futurethat is, after the
time of His statementbesides the one who had
already come and was now dead. Adding weight to this is the
fact that the scribes are not recorded as having mentioned
that the coming Elijah would "restore all things." Neither
is there any prophecy that he would do so recorded in the
Old Testament for them to have been quoting. There is, then,
no real support to the conclusion that Christ was reiterating
an already-extant idea when He said this Elijah "WILL restore
all things." Indeed, this definitely appears to be a new
prophecy Jesus was giving. We are, therefore, much safer in
concluding that He was speaking of a yet future individualmaking
the Elijah prophecy dual.
there are those who do believe that Christ must have been
speaking of a future Elijah who would restore all things,
but think that He was referring to Himselfsince
the return and rule of Jesus Christ will mark the "times of
restoration of all things" (Acts 3:19-21). Now it's true that
Jesus will be the ultimate Restorer. But remember that
He said the future Elijah would come "first"that is,
before the time portrayed in the Transfiguration and
thus prior to the establishment of His Kingdom. And
in this regard, it makes absolutely no sense that Jesus would
precede His own coming. While He did precede His Second Coming
when He came in the flesh, this was certainly not the future
event that He was speaking ofas He, like John, had already
come. The understanding that makes by far the most sense is
that John, coming in the spirit and power of Elijah before
Christ's First Coming, was the forerunner of a future person,
not Christ, who would come in the same spirit and power before
Christ's Second Coming as a later fulfillment of the
the prophecies of the end-time Elijah been fulfilled yet?
Are they now being fulfilled? Or are we still waiting
for the Elijah to appear on the world scene? And just what
value does this understanding have for us today?
the Work of the Global Church of God to be a continuation
of the ministry of the late Herbert W. Armstrong, who pastored
the vast majority of God's people for more than 50 years.
Ever since the Apostolic Era, numerous apostasies and scatterings
due to persecution had taken their toll on the true Church.
Over the centuries, many important biblical doctrines had
been lost. And when Mr. Armstrong came among God's people
around 1930after being called directly through the Scriptureshe
found a few thousand people stagnant in growth and "ready
to die," as the "Sardis" Church is described (Rev. 3:1-2).
Mr. Armstrong, ordained under their ministry, was zealous
to proclaim and live by the whole truth, as God revealed
it to him from His Word. And God blessed him for it. Many
vital truths were restored through him. And from a humble
beginning of 19 people in Eugene, Oregon, the Church Mr. Armstrong
pastored grew to an international attendance of around 150,000.
Millions heard the true Gospel preached through the mass media.
And world leaders actually sat down with Mr. Armstrong and
had the message communicated to them directly.
time, Mr. Armstrongin looking back over what God had
accomplished through himcame to see himself as fulfilling
the prophecies of the end-time Elijah. Indeed, he said so
in numerous sermons and publications (see box "Herbert W.
Armstrong's Statements on the Elijah"). In fact, this was
the official doctrinethat is, teachingof the Worldwide
Church of God. For instance, notice this from Lesson 18 of
the 32-lesson Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course:
that John the Baptist was the 'messenger' whom Malachi prophesied
would come to prepare the way before Christ's ministry
during His first coming to earth (Mal. 3:1; Mark 1:4, 7-8;
Luke 1:13-17). An angel prophesied that John would go ahead
of Christ "in the spirit and power of Elias (Elijah), to turn
the hearts of the fathers to the children, and... to make
ready a people prepared for the Lord' (Luke 1:17).
After John was put in prison and Christ had begun His ministry,
did Jesus prophesy that another 'Elijah' was yet to
come? Matt. 17:10-11. Is it clear that John the Baptist was
a type of yet another Elijah? Verses 12-13. Did Malachi
also prophesy of another Elijah's coming? Mal. 4:5. What would
this 'Elijah' do? Verse 6; Matt. 17:11.
These verses show that John was a type of the future
'Elijah'one who would also be sent by God to the world
in the spirit and power of Elijah the prophet, this time prior
to Christ's coming in great power and glory as World Ruler
(Mal. 3:1-6). Before the day of the Lord, a human messenger
would be commissioned by God to prepare a spiritual people
for God, and turn the hearts of the children to the fathers
and vice versa before the second coming of Christmuch
the same as John did before Jesus began His ministry.
also said the Elijah to come would 'restore all things' (Matt.
17:11).... Just as Christ shall restore the government of
God over the entire earth, the one who was to come in the
spirit and power of Elijah would restore it in God's Church.
God's government has been restored in the one true
Church of God! In the process of restoring the government
of God in the Church through the modern Elijah, God
has used him to restore many related truths. Of primary
importance was the restoration of Christ's true gospel of
the Kingdom of God! That gospel was restored when Pastor General
Herbert W. Armstrong of the Worldwide Church of God
first went on the air with 'The World Tomorrow' radio program"
even for some time after Mr. Armstrong's death, this was still
the official position of the Church. Mr. Armstrong's successor
Joseph Tkach Sr. and the WCG Editorial Staff printed the 18
truths restored by Mr. Armstrong with the following as part
of the introduction: "Shortly before the Great Tribulation
and the Day of the Lord, someone would come in the spirit
and the power of Elijah... and would restore all things to
the Church.... Though Mr. Armstrong didn't know it at the
time God began to call him, God had a lifelong job for him:
to restore to His Church truth that the centuries had dimmed"
(Worldwide News, Aug. 25, 1986).
over time the official teaching was changed. Two years after
Mr. Armstrong's death, Mr. Tkach wrote, "Just as Malachi prophesied
of John the Baptist and just as the angel Gabriel expounded,
a people would be prepared for God. From the Ephesian era
until now, the Church of God fulfills that role of preparing
a people for God" (Worldwide News, Feb. 15, 1988).
And of course, as more time went on, the WCG abandoned many
of Mr. Armstrong's teachingseven essentially rejecting
him, as being a false minister.
when the Global Church of God was beginning, many people were
anxious to see where we would stand on the Elijah question.
At the time that I, Raymond McNair, came to Global in April
of that year, Roderick Meredith and I were in almost complete
doctrinal agreementas we had been for the past 50 years.
But a significant point about which we then disagreed
was that concerning the Elijah to come. I firmly believed
that Mr. Armstrong had fulfilled this prophetic role.
Dr. Meredith, howeverwhile rejecting the idea that the
Church in general primarily fulfills this roledid not
believe that Mr. Armstrong had fulfilled it either. The reason
he gave was that Mr. Armstrong and the Work he did weren't
well enough knownthat Mr. Armstrong didn't make a big
enough impact on the world to qualify him as the one who fulfilled
the Elijah prophecies. I heartily disagreed. Furthermore,
over the course of Global's six-year existence, our ministers
had numerous discussions with Dr. Meredithat private
ministerial lunches and doctrinal meetingsconcerning
this question. But in all those discussions, he held steadfast
to his position.
I must say here that I believed this to be his private opinioneven
if made in a public context. After all, our stated objective
early on was to stick to the doctrines taught at the time
of Mr. Armstrong's death unless there was a consensus
among the leading ministry that a point should be changed.
Most of the ministers I spoke to about this believed that
Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah to comeindeed this
was the prevailing belief. Although Dr. Meredith talked to
us a number of times about the Doctrinal Team officially taking
up the Elijah question, we never did. However, I have since
learned that personal correspondence department (PCD) letters
were being sent out with Dr. Meredith's viewpoint on the matter
as Global's official position. This should never have happenedthough
those in PCD were not to blame as the Church's position had
essentially been misrepresented to them.
an example of a response Dr. Meredith gave in 1993: "You asked
'Was Mr. Armstrong Elijah?'... The original Elijah was well-known
to all Israel. And the second Elijah, John the Baptist, also
virtually 'shook' the whole nation (Mark 1:5, 'Then ALL the
land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and
were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their
sins'). But in my own broad experience, and through extensive
interviews and research, it becomes very obvious that Mr.
Armstrong was virtually unknown to at least two-thirds or
three-fourths of the American people. And all the leading
men in the Worldwide Church of God's British Work have told
me that even Mr. Armstrong's name would not be recognized
by ninety-nine percent of the British peoplelet alone
what he preached. So it may be that God will raise up a powerful
spiritual leader just before the Great Tribulation, and that
this man will perform great miracles and shake the nations!
In fact, he might end up being one of the 'two witnesses.'
However, Mr. Armstrong did do an Elijah-like Work to the extent
Dr. Meredith related to a number of us that he felt God would
use him to "really shake the nation and the world"
with a powerful end-time message. Let it be stated here that
we do not agree with his assessment of the scope of Mr. Armstrong's
work, as will shortly be explained.
W. Armstrong's Statements on the End-Time Elijah
1980, pp. 25-26:
did not know it as a young man, late teens, 20s
and into my 30s, but God was guiding my life from
birth.... Jesus Christ, through His written Word,
opened my mind to the PRIME BASIC TRUTHS He wanted
me to have in starting me out as His servant....
God's TIME had come! His time for one, of whom
John the Baptist was type and forerunner, to prepare
for Christ's SECOND coming.... I did not seek
these basic foundations of TRUTH of my own volition!
Jesus Christ revealed them.... He was preparing
one called and chosen by God, even against that
one's will, for an important service IN RESTORING
THE LAW AND GOVERNMENT OF GOD to eartheven
in the comparatively small Worldwide Church of
God. He was preparing one whom HE conquered
and brought to repentance and faith, for this
great END-TIME commission."
March 6, 1981, pp. 10-11:
the Baptist was a man in the power and spirit
of Elijah. John the Baptist came to prepare the
way before the first coming of Christ. He was
a type of someone to prepare the way for the Second
Coming of Christ. So now prior to the Second Coming
of Christ, there is someone... with a voice in
the spiritual wilderness... crying out amid religious
confusion... and preparing the way not for a physical
Jesus, but a glorified Christ.... I'm going to
say something to you now, that I would not have
said five or six years ago under any circumstances.
I DON'T GO OUT TRYING TO FULFILL PROPHECY.
BUT Jesus said, BY THEIR FRUITS YOU KNOW.
And sometimes you look back on fruits and you
can tell some things you couldn't tell in advance
before the fruits had been performed.... God was
going to raise up SOMEONE who is going to prepare
the way for the Second Coming and calling people,
preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. That's
exactly what Elijah did physically. He reminded
them that they had gotten away from the Kingdom
and the GOVERNMENT OF GOD, and needed the RESTORING
OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. And now before the Second
Coming, as John the Baptist fulfilled that before
the first coming, someone had to build the spiritual
temple. Of course, God is doing it all. Christ
is the One who is doing it.... God has built
it, but He has used me.... Do you think
that has happened? Do you think we're near the
time of the coming of Christ? Has anyone proclaimed
the Gospel of the Kingdom of God? Has anyone proclaimed
the law of God? Has anyone been calling on them
to repent?... The job God has called me to
do is a prophesied job. It has been being done."
Letter, March 19, 1981:
John the Baptist prepared the way, in the PHYSICAL
wilderness of the Jordan River for the first coming
of the HUMAN Jesus (both man and God), then coming
to His MATERIAL temple, and to His PHYSICAL people
Judah, ANNOUNCING the Kingdom of God to be set
up more than 1,900 years later, so God would use
a human messenger in the SPIRITUAL wilderness
of 20th-century religious confusion, to be a voice
CRYING OUT the gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD, about
the SPIRITUAL CHRIST, coming in SUPREME POWER
AND GLORY to His SPIRITUAL TEMPLE, to actually
ESTABLISH that spiritual KINGDOM OF GOD. Brethren,
HAS THAT BEEN DONE BY THIS CHURCH? Did God
raise up a one-man LEADERSHIP [a 'voice of one']
to be used by Him... in proclaiming after 1,900
years the true GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD in
ALL THE WORLDto even go s and heads
of nations (Rev. 10:11)in bringing the Church
back to the faith once delivered (Jude 3)? HAS
THIS HAPPENED, IN YOUR DAYS, AND HAS GOD BROUGHT
YOU INTO THIS PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT AS A PART
OF IT? HAS ANYONE ELSE DONE IT?"
October 2, 1982:
said the Elijah shall yet come and restore
all things. [The original] Elijah did not restore
what was taken away.... The government of God
was taken away. It was to be restored.... God
raised me up to restore it. God raised
me up to restore the government of God.
But it is only restored so far in the Church.
I have no authority from God, no ability, to restore
the government of God any further than just over
you brethren in the Church. But that has been
done. That has been done, brethren. You go
back and read Malachi 3:1-5 and Malachi 4. [And]
where Jesus said, 'Elijah truly shall come'even
after John the Baptist was put in prison,
he was yet to come. He [the Elijah] was
to restore. John the Baptist didn't restore. You'd
better realize what this Church is and what you
are behind when you say you are behind me 100
of the Ages,
1985, pp. 9-10, 290-291:
the book of Isaiah is a 'NOW' prophecy:
'The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord.... lift up thy
voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid;
say... Behold, the Lord God will come with strong
hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold his
reward is with him, and his work is before him'
(Isa. 40:3, 9-10). That voice now cries out!
The prophet Malachi confirmed this: 'Behold, I
will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the
way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall
suddenly come to his temple....' (Mal. 3:1).
Elijah to Come.
Both of these prophecies have a dual application.
First, they refer to John the Baptist, who prepared
the way before Jesus' human ministry more than
1,900 years ago. BUT, as a prototype, or forerunner,
these prophecies foretell one to prepare the way
before Christ's Second Coming as the King of kings
and Lord of lords to RULE over ALL NATIONS! Malachi's
prophecy, like Isaiah's... refers to a human messenger
preparing the way before Christ's now imminent
the duality principle here. These prophecies refer
to a type and its fulfillment. John the Baptist
was a voice crying out in the physical
wilderness of the Jordan River area, preparing
for the human physical Jesus' First Coming
to a material temple at Jerusalem, to a
physical Judah. But that was a prototype,
or forerunner of a voice 'lifted up' (greatly
amplified by modern printing, radio and TV), crying
out in the midst of today's spiritual wilderness
of religious confusion, announcing the imminency
of Christ's Second Coming as the spiritually glorified
Christ, to his spiritual temple (the Church resurrected
to spirit immortality) (Eph. 2:21-22). Jesus came,
over 1,900 years ago, to announce the FUTURE kingdom
of God. He's coming this time to ESTABLISH that
kingdom. That end-time last warning message
is now going out worldwide in amplified power.
It's going before kings, emperors, presidents,
prime ministers of nationsand to their peoples,
on all continents and all nations of the earth!...
is revealed in Malachi 3:1-5 and 4:5-6 that God
would raise up one in the power and spirit of
Elijah, shortly prior to the Second Coming of
Christ. In Matthew 17:11 Jesus said, even after
John the Baptist had completed his mission, that
this prophesied Elijah 'truly shall first come,
and restore all things.' Although it is plainly
revealed that John the Baptist had come in the
power and spirit of Elijah, he did not restore
anything. The human leader to be raised up somewhat
shortly prior to Christ's Second Coming was to
prepare the wayprepare the Churchfor
Christ's coming, and restore the truth that had
been lost through the preceding eras of the Church.
Also a door was to be opened for this leader and/or
the Philadelphia era of the Church to fulfill
Matthew 24:14: 'And this gospel of the kingdom
shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end come'....
These prophecies have now definitely been fulfilled."
Sermon, Feast of Trumpets, Sept. 16, 1985:
was an Elijah to come and to
restore things in the Church. THAT HAS
and what has been restored is the GOVERNMENT OF
GODand many of the truths, at least 17
or 18 principal, vital doctrines of truth,
have been added to about the three that had survived
in the Sardis era of the Church."
We Identify Him?
Herbert W. Armstrong the Elijah to come? Or will it be someone
elseperhaps one of the two witnesses? Remember that
there was to be a "voice of ONE crying in the wilderness"not
the voice of TWO witnesses. What is clearly indicated is a
lone voice in a wilderness of spiritual confusionone
man fulfilling this role, just as John the Baptist did. Now
that doesn't mean this person would be absolutely alone
and would have no help. Elijah ran three schools of the prophetsin
Jericho, Bethel and Gilgaland his students, including
Elisha, assisted him. John the Baptist also had disciples
(John 3:25). And in an interesting parallel to Elijah, Herbert
Armstrong founded three Ambassador College campusesin
California, Texas and Englandto train ministers to assist
him in his work. Still, Mr. Armstrong could clearly be described
as the "voice of ONE."
message was to be conveyed? Continuing in Isaiah 40,
the commission is to announce how fleeting this life is and
the importance of trusting in God's Wordand to warn
that God will destroy those who don't (vv. 6-8). John the
Baptist preached a warning of the "wrath to come" (Matt. 3:7).
But he also came to "give knowledge of salvation" (Luke 1:76),
preaching a "baptism of repentance for the remission of sins"
(Mark 1:4). Remember his famous announcement? "Behold the
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29).
But the Elijah was also to lead "Zion," the Church, in relaying
a message of good news about the future, saying, "Behold,
the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall
rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work
before Him" (Is. 40:10). In this spirit, John preached
the Kingdom of God (Matt. 3:1-2). And it cannot be disputed
that Mr. Armstrong preached ALL of these important elements
of the Elijah's messageindeed, he restored a great deal
of understanding about each one mentioned.
was to be the purpose of the message? As so many verses
we've looked at say, it was to prepare the way of the Lordspecifically,
to prepare a people for the Lord (Luke 1:17). This
preparation was to be done, as we've seen, by giving this
people the knowledge of salvation, by giving "light to those
who sit in darkness" and by guiding our feet "into the way
of peace" (v. 79). God's WordHis Truth (John 17:17)is
the "light" that guides us (Ps. 119:105). But what people
were to be prepared? Remember, the "messenger" of Malachi
prepares the way for Christ to return to His temple (3:1).
Today that temple is spiritualthe Church (Eph. 2:19-22).
And Mr. Armstrong certainly restored and taught God's Truth
to the Church, preparing its members with the true knowledge
of salvation. Indeed, concerning the way of peace just mentioned,
national leaders saw Mr. Armstrong as an ambassador
for world peace. And so he was.
there is the commission in Malachi 4:5-6 that the Elijah would
turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts
of the children to the fathers lest God strike the earth with
a cursethat is, wipe out its inhabitants. We have often
associated these verses with someone strengthening families,
especially within God's Church. And there is no doubt that
Mr. Armstrong did this. Besides restoring the truth about
the very purpose of the family, he taught parents the
importance of loving and properly rearing their children.
And for the development and godly training of the Church's
young people, Mr. Armstrong instituted three Imperial Schools,
established several summer camps, published Y.E.S. Bible
Lessons and the Youth magazine, and created Youth
Opportunities United (YOU)all for turning our young
people's hearts to God and their parents. But though all of
this may be intended by Malachi's prophecy, there may also
be a dual application.
the hearts of the children to the fathers is specifically
interpreted in Luke 1 as turning "many of the children of
Israel to the Lord their God" and turning "the disobedient
to the wisdom of the just"again, to "make ready a people
prepared for the Lord" (vv. 16-17). This makes sense because
immediately before giving the Elijah prophecy in Malachi 4,
God says, "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which
I commanded him in Horeb [Mount Sinai] for all Israel, with
the statutes and judgments" (v. 4). Essentially, then,
we may perhaps understand the prophecy this way. The "fathers"
are the patriarchs and prophets, whose hearts' desire was
for their descendants to be blessed through obedience to the
Lord, which they taught. The Elijah to come would proclaim
their wisdom and instruction about obeying God to the disobedient
descendants of Israel in his generationas the original
Elijah did in his day among the Northern Kingdom of Israel
and as John the Baptist did in his day among the Jews of Judea
(in both cases, only part of Israel). Thereby, the
Elijah would turn the hearts of many of these "children" to
the "wisdom of the just"to obeying God.
Armstrong definitely did this. Perhaps as many as 20 million
people have read his book, The United States and Britain
in Prophecy, telling the modern Israelites their identity.
Even "British Israelists" acknowledge that he did more for
this understanding than anyone in modern times. Also more
than anyone else in the modern era, Mr. Armstrong reintroduced
God's law, and the need to obey it, to a wayward society.
Seventh-day Adventists have acknowledged him as single-handedly
doing more for the Christian observance of the Sabbath than
anyone else in this century. Furthermore, God used Mr. Armstrong
to bring back many important statutes, such as the Holy Days.
Though not keeping them, a number of evangelical preachers
today are teaching the significance of God's Festivalsunderstanding
that seems to have come, directly or indirectly, from the
work of Mr. Armstrong. But thankfully many people are
keeping themmany people who have come into the Church
of God, spiritual Israel (Gal. 6:16), as a result of Mr. Armstrong's
ministry. And because of thisbecause many have become
the elect of God and are remembering to obey the law that
Moses deliveredthe Almighty will not eradicate mankind
was the Elijah to appear on the scene? "Before the coming
of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5). Of
course, John the Baptist did so in that he came long
before the terrible time described here. However, we can be
confident that the later Elijah would not precede the day
of the Lord by hundreds or thousands of years as John did.
Why? Because Malachi 3:1 says that Christ would come "suddenly"
after the Elijah messenger's work. John, the first messenger,
immediately preceded Christ's First Coming. And to ultimately
fulfill this dual prophecy, the later Elijah would appear
soon before Christ's Second Coming. Mr. Armstrong fits
this picture also. We have numerous proofs that his work was
done in the last days. Indeed, we must be living in
the end timeunless our whole understanding of end-time
prophecy is completely wrong. And as everything fits so well,
that seems extremely unlikely. Furthermore, the fact that
Mr. Armstrong died before the Great Tribulation poses no problem.
For as the two witnesses prophesy from the beginning of the
Tribulation until three days before Christ's return (Rev.
11), it is evident that the "voice of one" would precede
let's observe the fact that God said He would send Elijah
"the prophet." Indeed, the original Elijah was a prophet.
And so was John the Baptistin fact, Christ called him
"more than a prophet" (Luke 7:26). Some have argued
that this disqualifies Mr. Armstrong since he wasn't a prophetand
then point to the prophesying of the two witnesses. To answer
this, let's first notice a problem in that only "the prophet"
is in quotes above. The Bible says "Elijah the prophet"or
simply, the Prophet Elijah. It doesn't say "a prophet in the
spirit of Elijah." Indeed, just as the Elijah to come is not
Elijah himself, there is no clear requirement that he be a
prophet either. Rather, he simply comes in the spirit and
power of Elijah the prophet.
let's carry this further and, for the moment, assume that
being a "prophet" is a requirement. Now it's true that
Mr. Armstrong claimed he was not a prophet in the sense of
seeing visions or actually hearing God tell him what to say:
"Emphatically I am NOT a prophet, in the sense of one
to whom God speaks specially and directly, revealing personally
a future event to happen or new truth, or new and special
instruction direct from Godseparate from, and apart
from what is contained in the Bible" (Tomorrow's World,
Feb. 1972, p. 1). But Mr. Armstrong long taught that "prophesying"
could be interpreted as simply speaking for Godthat
is, inspired preaching from the Bible (cf. p. 1). Indeed,
though John the Baptist may have heard a supernatural
voice or received visions from God, we have no record that
he did. He may have simply communicated the meaning of Old
Testament prophecies. Yet we would all acknowledge him as
an inspired preacher who, Christ explained, was a prophet.
Likewise, although the two witnesses are to "prophesy,"
the Bible doesn't specifically say whether or not they will
see visions or hear voices. As for Mr. Armstrong, then, we
certainly believe that he was often inspired in preaching
from the Word of God.
that, we understand that Mr. Armstrong was an apostle
who was taught what to say directly by Jesus Christthat
is, by the Bible, which is essentially Jesus Christ, the Word
of God, in print. And the office of apostle, it should
be realized, supersedes that of prophetand includes
it. Paul wrote that Christ "gave some to be apostles,
some prophets, some evangelists [i.e. preachers of the Gospel],
and some pastors [i.e. shepherds] and teachers" (Eph. 4:11).
That these are ministerial ranks and not merely separate job
functions is apparent from the fact that some of the "tasks"
described are the same. For instance, apostle means
"one sent forth"that is, with the Gospeland evangelist
means "preacher of the Gospel." What's the difference? Their
scope of oversight and accompanying ministerial authority.
As far as job functions go, notice that each succeeding rank
includes the functions of those beneath it. No wonder we find
the apostles recording prophecies in their writingsthey
were also prophets in function, as well as evangelists, shepherds
and teachers. Of course, oftentimes they were merely giving
inspired explanations of prophecies that had already been
given in the Old Testamentjust as Mr. Armstrong did.
always used Amos 3:7"Surely the Lord GOD does nothing,
unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets"as
part of the reason Mr. Armstrong's ministry existed. Were
we not, then, attributing to him a prophetic role? And perhaps
most significant of all in this regard is the fact that the
whole panorama of end-time prophecy was to be opened during
the time of the sixth "head" of the Holy Roman Empire.
Remember "five have fallen, one IS, and one is yet to come"?
(Rev. 17:10; cf. The Beast of Revelation, pp. 36-37).
And it was opened at this timeto primarily one
man, Herbert W. Armstrong. Clearly, he played an important
end-time role in generally revealing the events of the last
days to God's peopleindeed, with more clarity than ever
before, as these prophecies were "closed up and sealed till
the time of the end" (Dan. 12:9). His preaching from the Bible
was, therefore, specially inspirednot just as
any minister expounding the Scriptures. It is therefore not
at all far-fetched to see Mr. Armstrong as occupying a prophetic
officesince, like John the Baptist, he was apparently
"more than a prophet."
the strongest supporting evidence we have for Mr. Armstrong
being the Elijah to come is what he RESTORED to the Church.
Remember, Christ said the end-time Elijah would "restore all
things." Now as we've seen, the Bible does elsewhere mention
the "times of restoration of all things," but this clearly
refers to the reign of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19-21)when
God's direct rule and precious Truth will be restored to this
earth as a whole. The Elijah work occurs before Christ's
returnpreparing the way. The restoration under the end-time
Elijah is clearly on a smaller scale. Does he, then, restore
God's way, including God's government, to the people of physical
Israel? Noas they are destroyed "for lack of knowledge"
(Hosea 4:6) and will not repent, as many scriptures show,
until after Christ returns. What Mr. Armstrong said makes
much more sensethat the restoration described is to
God's Church, those who are truly His people. And what
Mr. Armstrong did restore to the Church is staggering to grasp.
As Joseph Tkach and the Worldwide Editorial Staff noted in
the 1986 article mentioned earlier, "Without Herbert W. Armstrong's
legacy of these 18 restored truthsthere isn't much left."
Further, consider that if Mr. Armstrong wasn't the
Elijah to come, the restoration is yet to happen. This would
mean that we are still far from the faith once deliveredand
that either Mr. Armstrong was wrong about most of what he
said or the truth he restored is insignificant with respect
to what is still to be restored from the Apostolic
Era. Yet can you imagine all that Mr. Armstrong restoredwhich
includes the understanding of who and what God is, as well
as the overall purpose and plan of God for mankindbeing
paled into insignificance? This seems highly unlikely.
Scope of the Elijah Work
what about the scope and magnitude of the end-time Elijah's
work? We've already seen the opinion of some that this person
would be world-renowned, shaking the nations with miracles
and the message he preached. But the Bible doesn't say this.
Now it's true that the original Elijah performed miracleseight
are recorded in Scripture. Moreover, he proclaimed a drought
upon Israel that lasted a few years, and he had 450
false prophets executed (1 Kings 18). But did he really shake
the nations? The Bible says that there were many widows in
Israel but Elijah was sent to only one in a neighboring country
(Luke 4:25). And though he was known to Israel's king, Elijah
usually went unheeded. The queen wasn't afraid of his miracleseven
threatening to kill him after he had the false prophets executed.
He didn't preach to Judah at all, though it was just a few
miles to the south. And although his ministry spanned around
25 years or so, he was unknown in the greatest nations of
his dayAssyria and Egypt.
about John the Baptist? Dr. Meredith stresses that "ALL the
land of Judea" came out to John (Mark 1:5). According to Flavius
Josephus, that would constitute just a few million people
at most. But it should be noticed in the same verse that "ALL
[were] baptized by him... confessing their sins." Yet he called
the people a "generation of vipers" (Luke 3:7 KJV). So, obviously,
he would not have baptized all of them. What must be
meant is that people from all over Judea came out to him and
he baptized all those among them who confessed their sins.
He probably baptized a few thousandor a few tens
of thousands, at most. Remember, John was a voice of one crying
out in the wilderness. And although this was literal, we should
also see it the way we do today. His voice was lost amid the
general religious confusion of the day.
Bible also says that "John did no miracle" (John 10:41
KJV)that's right, not even one! Consider too that his
ministry was extremely short. "Assuming that John began his
ministry shortly before he baptized Jesus, it lasted about
a year and a half" (Halley's Bible Handbook, p. 497).
And how well-known was his work throughout the vast Roman
Empire? It wasn't. Furthermore, unlike Elijah, who preached
to Israel, John preached to only the remnant of Judah and
didn't go to the Ten Tribes at all. Although Jesus Christ
was "well known" for a time also (Mark 6:14), this was mainly
in a local sense. And even in Judea, He had to be kissed by
his betrayer to be recognized (Matt 26:48). It should, of
course, be noted that Jesus eventually became the most
famous person in the history of the worldat least in
namewhile John and Elijah, like other major biblical
characters, were posthumously among the most famous.
is really no biblical requirement that the Elijah to come
be extremely well known during his ministry or that he shake
the nations with miraclesor that he even perform miracles
at all. Nevertheless, in the case of Mr. Armstrong, God did
perform miracles through him. Though not highly visible, like
Elijah calling fire down from heaven, Mr. Armstrong certainly
had the miraculous "signs of an apostle""signs, wonders
and mighty deeds" (2 Cor. 12:12)such as divine healing,
casting out demons and doing a great work. Indeed, the organization
that God built through Mr. Armstrong was quite miraculous
in its development and growtha truly "mighty deed."
the scope of what Mr. Armstrong did with God's help, after
beginning with only 19 people. He trained thousands of ministers,
teachers, office personnel, etc. to serve in the Work of God.
Hundreds of congregations were raised up all over the globe,
and were pastored by hundreds of ministers, who were well-trained
at the three Ambassador College campuses to serve the needs
of those who were baptized and became members of the Worldwide
Church of God. Mr. Armstrong and those working under him probably
baptized more than 125,000 people during the course of his
ministry. As mentioned earlier, even after thousands had died
through natural death or had dropped out of the Church, about
150,000 were in regular attendance at Sabbath services when
Mr. Armstrong died. At its apex, the Plain Truth magazine
had more than eight million subscribersmore than Time
and Newsweekand thus an estimated 20 million
people reading it each month. One in eight Canadian homes
received it! The Good News magazine, the Worldwide
News and many other publications were sent out to hundreds
of thousands. Hundreds of powerful booklets, books and reprint
articlesalong with a well-written Bible correspondence
coursewere produced and mailed out from Pasadena by
the millions. Over several decades, the World Tomorrow
radio and television broadcasts were heard and viewed by many
millions, with weekly responses at the end ranging anywhere
from 20,000 to 80,000. In fact, the telecast was one of the
top religious programs in the country. So whereas John the
Baptist preached to mere thousands for just a year and a half,
Mr. Armstrong preached to scores of millions over the
course of his 52-year ministry. Thus, his work was thousands
of times bigger than that of John! Indeed, it is possible
that Mr. Armstrong reached more people with the Truth than
all of God's ministers in history combined.
his later ministry, Mr. Armstrong, like Paul, brought the
Gospel before world leaders (cf. Acts 9:15). He had personal
visits with presidents, prime ministers and kings of nations,
small and great, as well as various other leaders, including
the secretary-general of the United Nations. Mr. Armstrong
thus became well known to some of the major leaders of this
planetas the outpouring of condolences from them upon
his death can attest. Under Mr. Armstrong, the Worldwide Church
of God's beautiful headquarters in Pasadena became a showplace,
visited by thousands, including famous people in government,
education, music and entertainment. Thousands attended Ambassador
Foundation cultural events in the world-renowned Ambassador
about the religious leaders? Was he well-known among them?
Certainly. Of course, they despised him. To them, he
was infamousa cult leader who defied their traditional
doctrines. Part of their ministries became a reaction to his
teachings. The Protestant message that "the law is done away"
is not so blatant as it used to be. Shot so full of holes
by Mr. Armstrong, they've had to increasingly employ crafty
wording to disguise it. Nevertheless, they actually copied
a lot of concepts from himsuch as the meaning of God's
Feasts, a great deal of understanding about end-time prophecy
and the way to go about proclaiming their message. Mr. Armstrong
was a pioneer in broadcasting the Gospel through the electronic
media. A few years ago, one religious commentator remarked
that he thought Herbert W. Armstrong had made a bigger impact
on religion in America than any other man of the 20th century!
Indeed, his dynamic message became a powerful witness to many
truth is that Mr. Armstrong was familiar to many people
as a "radio preacher" and "televangelist" for some timeparticularly
during the 60s. As a major British publication, The Oxford
Dictionary of World Religions, states, "Armstrong began
as a preacher on radio in the USA in the 1930s, and became
widely known through the radio programme 'The World
Tomorrow'" ("Armstrong, Herbert W.," 1997, p. 90). Dr. Meredith
points out that 2/3 to 3/4 of Americans didn't know about
him. But that would mean that 1/4 to 1/3 didand
that's 60 to 80 million people! And considering how many Americans
today don't even know who the vice president of the country
is, that would be pretty incredible. Even if the figures aren't
as high as just mentioned, how many heard Mr. Armstrong or
read something of his and just don't remember? Keep in mind
that he too was a lone voice crying out in a wilderness
of spiritual confusion. How surprised should we be, then,
that people have forgotten him? How surprised should we be
that if he was the Elijah, he wasn't recognized by
the world as such. Christ said that John was the Elijah "and
they did not know him" (Matt. 17:12).
in mind also that just as Elijah, John and Christ have become
extremely well-known posthumously, the same thing could happen
with Mr. Armstrongindeed, it could happen overnight
with mass communications. Consider that if the Global Church
of God or any of the other offshoots from Worldwide becomes
well-knownwhether through a big work or just by getting
dragged in front of television cameras in being persecutedthe
world would refer to us as believers in "Armstrongism."
In this event, Herbert W. Armstrong's face would no doubt
be plastered all over the news, and thus not even by our doing.
So he could yet be very famous and his teachings more widespreadeven
before Christ's return. But again, there is no requirement
that this be the case.
Completing the Commission
Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah, did he finish
the Elijah commission? This is an interesting question. Some
say yes, and assert that there is therefore nothing left to
restore and no more turning of the hearts of the fathers
to the children and vice versa. Some even maintain that sincein
their viewthe Work is over, we no longer need to preach
the Gospel as a witness to the world. But an important fact
that seems to have gone overlooked is that the original
Elijah did not complete his own commission, as we will
see. Now it is true that Mr. Armstrong said that if he died,
what God had called him to personally accomplish would have
been completed (Worldwide News, March 6, 1981, p. 11).
And that was no doubt true in the sense that it was God's
time for him to be taken out of the picturejust as it
was time for Elijah to go when God took him away by a fiery
chariot in a whirlwind (1 Kings 2:11). Nevertheless, it is
also true that God had given a direct three-fold commission
to Elijah that was only one-third finished when he was finally
removed from the scene. After Elijah fled for his life from
Jezebel, God encouraged him at Mount Sinai and then gave him
the assignment of anointing Hazael as king over Syria,
Jehu as king over Israel, and Elisha as a prophet
to follow in his steps (1 Kings 19:15-16). But Elijah did
only one of these thingshe anointed Elisha. Hazael
and Jehu, on the other hand, would not be anointed until about
25 years laternearly a decade after Elijah was taken
out of the picture. So who anointed them? It appears
that Elisha anointed Hazaelbetween verses 13
and 14 of 2 Kings 8. And it is certain that Elisha had one
of the sons of the prophets anoint Jehu, as is recorded in
2 Kings 9:1-6. Elisha and the sons of the prophets, then,
saw it as their duty to finish Elijah's commissionand
it's apparent that John the Baptist was not succeeded by otherseven
his disciplesin his work of preparing the way before
the Messiah. For he preached right up until Christ appeared
on the scene (Mark 1:14). Yet if Mr. Armstrong was the end-time
Elijah, what are we to make of the fact that Christ has not
yet returned? Remember, the Elijah was to prepare the way
before Himto prepare a people, God's Church. Clearly,
the Church is not yet ready. The preparation of Christ's
bride, His Church, continuesin fact, Mr. Armstrong
told his successors to finish this task!and the
Elijah commission would therefore now be unfinished.
Yet who, at the end, makes Christ's wife ready? She
does (Rev. 19:7)with Christ's help (Eph. 5:27). Thus,
all of us are to have a part in finishing the preparation
begun by the Elijah to come. But should we also expect an
"Elisha" to appear? Mr. Armstrong said, "If I have been someone
in the power and the spirit of Elijah [for that's what he
considered himself to be!], remember there is no prophecy
that God will have an Elisha following Elijah" (p. 11). That,
of course, did not mean there wouldn't bemerely
that we should not expect one. And indeed, we should
not. Nonetheless, we do have a solid biblical example from
the original Elijah that someone's commission can be finished
by others. Perhaps that's part of the mysterious reason
God removed Elijahto teach us this lesson
(cf. 1 Cor. 10:11; Rom. 15:4). And if Mr. Armstrong was the
end-time Elijah, then all of us have a part in finishing
his commission. Perhaps that's also why God, in giving Elijah
a commission He knew that Elijah would not personally fulfill,
immediately informed him that He had reserved 7,000 faithful
men in Israel (1 Kings 19:18). Of course, Elijah's commission
was particularly fulfilled by those trained as prophets
under Elijahand so we would expect those Mr. Armstrong
trained in the ministry to lead the way in finishing what
God started through him. Perhaps, then, there may yet be some
truths to restore in the Church. And in any case, we are still
to preach the Gospel until the end of the age, as Christ told
us to (Matt. 28:19-20).
also be noted here that it appears the two witnesses will
essentially complete the warning aspect of the Elijah commission.
Many have viewed the fire proceeding from their mouths (Rev.
11:5) as really meaning that fire can be called down from
heaven at their wordand have then seen here a picture
of Elijah, as he is immediately identified with this
miracle (cf. Luke 9:54). The two witnesses also pray for and
deliver a 3 1/2-year drought (Rev. 11:6)again, just
as Elijah did (James 5:17-18). But they do not exactly parallel
Elijah as he ministered to one widow out of the country during
the drought of his daywhich was only a tiny part of
his overall workwhile the primary work of the two witnesses
occurs during the end-time drought, when they really do "shake
the nations." And again, they are TWO while Elijah was ONEjust
like the end-time Elijah. This all makes sense if we
understand the two witnesses to be completing an Elijah
commission that has already been partially fulfilled when
their major work begins.
how could the two witnesses be doing far greater miracles
than Mr. Armstrong if he was the Elijah to come and
they are merely succeeding him? Well, Elisha did
a greater work and was involved in more recorded miracles
than Elijah14, and 15 if you count the one after
Elisha's death where a man was resurrected by touching his
bones (2 Kings 13:21). But Elisha certainly wasn't greater
than Elijah (cf. John 13:16). He did receive a "double portion"
of the Holy Spirit that Elijah had (2 Kings 2:9). But as this
terminology was used in Israelite inheritance laws, this most
likely meant that the amount of God's Spirit Elijah had was
divided out to the sons of the prophets, with Elisha receiving
a double portionnot that Elisha received twice as much
as Elijah. Also notice that Jesus Christ told His disciples
that after He was taken away from them, they would do greater
works than He Himself had done (John 14:12). And indeed,
Peter's shadow healed people, the apostles preached for decades,
taking the Gospel to the far reaches of the known world, and
they gave people God's Spirit by laying hands on them. Yet
these men obviously weren't greater than Jesus Christ.
if we had a way to accurately tally the figuresfor income,
membership, television responses, distribution of publications
and other indices of "achievement"of all the "corporate"
offshoots of the Worldwide Church of God, we would no doubt
see that all of them together are doing very little in comparison
to what God accomplished through Mr. Armstrong and those working
under him. In fact, all these present efforts combined amount
to a mere whisper of the powerful globe-girdling work
that was done under his leadership. But it is important to
recognize that even if one of the current organizations
"took off," so to speak, and did a Work even greater
than Mr. Armstrong's, that wouldn't necessarily mean its leaderstaught
by Mr. Armstrongwere then somehow greater than he.
And it wouldn't take away in the slightest from Mr. Armstrong
being the prophesied Elijah to comethey would simply
be completing what he started.
are, then, strong indications that Mr. Armstrong was
the end-time Elijah. And for the record, let it be known that
the current stance of the Global Church of God on this issuefrom
our present understanding and all we've been able to seeis
that he probably did fulfill this role. Again, this is not
some new doctrine we are just now coming up with. Rather,
we are reaffirming our belief in a doctrine that was taught
in the Church from at least the late 70s until 1988. We
certainly do not consider it to be a point of salvation or
a tenet of faith someone must hold to be baptized or to fellowship
with Global. Indeed, many sincere Christians within our
fellowship may feel differently on this matter. But as it
is not a major issueand we do not intend to make
one of itit should certainly not be something that
divides us. We will assuredly not bandy Mr. Armstrong's
name about and invoke it in all of our articles in a cultic
way. But we will, of course, quote him from time to time as
an authoritative source, just as we always have. Our purpose
for publishing this article at this time is to answer those
who are asking where we now stand on this issueas well
as the fact that we do feel there is a benefit for God's people
in recognizing, prophetically, who Mr. Armstrong was.
what IS the value of understanding this? Is there really any
value in it? Well, clearly the recognition of the end-time
Elijah must have some value or God would not have foretold
him in the pages of the Bible. Remember, ALL Scripture is
profitable (2 Tim. 3:16).
this understanding helps to define part of our role and purpose.
We believe we are continuing the Elijah commission of helping
to prepare the way before Christ's Second Coming. Though Mr.
Armstrong, it appears, was the end-time Elijah, we are continuing
the work he was given to do, just as others completed the
original Elijah's work. We can use the Elijah commission to
help focus what we are doing as God's Church.
this knowledge gives us a proper perspective about where we
are in end-time events. We are not still waiting for Elijah
to precede the two witnesses. In our view, he has already
come. This helps to give us a healthy sense of urgency,
rather than being lulled to sleep on the notion that Christ's
return is yet a long way off.
this, understanding these things helps our focus in studying
the Bible. If Mr. Armstrong was not the Elijah, thenas
we've seenalmost nothing has been restored compared
to what needs to be and we should therefore be dissecting
the Scriptures in search of the lost volumes of Truth that
constitute the faith once delivered. All of our doctrines
would need to be thoroughly reexamined. On the other hand,
if Mr. Armstrong WAS the end-time Elijah, as we believe, then
we should tread very carefully on what he has delivered to
usfocusing more on preserving what we have, as
God told the Philadelphians (Rev. 3:11). This must not, of
course, devolve into a Laodicean attitude of "I am rich, have
become wealthy, and have need of nothing" (v. 17). Rather,
we can still be searching the Scriptures for refinements of
understanding in what we already basically knowrealizing
also that there may be some fairly major points of
knowledge still to be added.
in light of the whole Church government issue, all of this
helps us to better understand why there was one-man leadership
during Mr. Armstrong's tenure. We firmly believe that Mr.
Armstrong was inspired to restore God's hierarchical, top-down
form of government to the Church. However, we also believe
the Bible reveals that this hierarchy is to go from God the
Father to Jesus Christthe Head of the Churchand
then to a Spirit-filled group of elders leading God's
people. Why, then, during Mr. Armstrong's ministry, did it
go from God the Father to Jesus Christ to Mr. Armstrong and
then to the leading ministry? How do we explain the legitimacy
of Mr. Armstrong's one-man rule? Simplehe had a very
special calling from God.
He was the only human APOSTLE of his day, just
as the Apostle John was after all the other apostles had diedautomatically
leaving John as the authority over the Church.
Also, Mr. Armstrong was a "SPIRITUAL FATHER" to all
of us, just as Paul was to his converts (cf. 1 Cor. 4:15;
Philem. 10). Like Paul, Mr. Armstrong could say regarding
the message he preached, "But I make known to you, brethren,
that the gospel which was preached by me is not according
to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught
it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal.
1:11-12)in Mr. Armstrong's case, directly from the Bible.
Most of those in the Body of Christ today have come in because
of his teachings. In fact, even if someone is brought into
the Church now by a former Worldwide minister's preaching,
that minister is not this new person's "father" in the Gospel.
Rather, Herbert Armstrong isas this minister
did not receive the Truth directly from God's Word but instead
received it, directly or indirectly, from Mr. Armstrong.
Moreover, as we've shown, available evidence strongly suggests
that Mr. Armstrong was the END-TIME ELIJAH through
whom God restored His Truth to the Church. Thus, Mr. Armstrong
was in a unique position. No single individual can now "fill
his shoes"though a few misguided people have assumed
they can. But together, we can "walk in his footsteps."
Global Church of God is diligently striving to help complete
the Elijah work of preparing the way before Jesus Christ's
Second Comingthe work which God began by the hand of
His faithful servant, Herbert W. Armstrong. And with God's
help, we will continue to do so until Jesus returns in power
and glory. Then we can continue the Work with Him,
in restoring God's Government and Truth to the entire world.
May Christ now help us, His peopleHis bridein
making ourselves ready for that awesome and wonderful day.