April 21, 2017 Brethren Letter
I thought it would be a helpful review for all of us to read Mr. Armstrong’s article written in the Plain Truth magazine, March, 1962. His article discusses the Kingdom of God, and what the Kingdom is.
Also, Mr. Armstrong reviews the history of MAN’S ruling kingdoms as well as prophecy yet to be fulfilled. This is PART I of the article. I will continue with PART II, next time.
Please have a wonderful Sabbath!
Your Brother in Christ,
The Plain Truth
Just What Do You Mean — KINGDOM OF GOD?
Is it the CHURCH? is it something beset up in the hearts of men?” is it the British Empire? is it “the God within you?” Is it “the Millennium?” Each of these is widely taught — yet none is right! The shocking TRUTH is here made PLAIN!
by Herbert W. Armstrong
WHY cannot the churches agree on WHAT is the GOSPEL? Jesus Christ came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Yet FEW preach about the Kingdom of God today, for they have lost all knowledge of what it is!
A prominent evangelist said to a world-wide radio audience that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is not for us today. Some denominations proclaim a “Gospel of Grace;” some what they call a “Gospel of Salvation;” some a gospel ABOUT Christ; some a social gospel; some the “Science of Mind” or “Religious Science.”
Not One is Right!
Some churches claim either that their particular denomination, or “Christianity” as a whole, constitutes the Kingdom of God.
Not one is right! Could anything seem more incredible? Yes, to the mind reared in this world’s concepts, one thing is, indeed, still MORE incredible! And that is the PLAIN TRUTH about what the Kingdom of God really is!
This truth is not merely surprising — it is shocking — staggering! Yet it is truly GOOD NEWS — the most glorious GOOD NEWS ever to enter human consciousness!
What is the one and ONLY Gospel of Jesus Christ? THE WORLD DOES NOT KNOW! It has not been preached for 18 1/2 centuries, strange as that may seem. Look into your BIBLE. Look at it from the very beginning!
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ” you’ll read in Mark 1:1. “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and saying, the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15).
It is necessary to BELIEVE THAT GOSPEL to be saved! And how can you BELIEVE it, unless you know what it is?
Jesus went everywhere preaching the GOOD NEWS of the KINGDOM OF GOD. He taught in parables about the KINGDOM OF GOD. He sent out seventy men preaching, and commanded them to preach THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Luke 10:9). He sent the Apostles, on whom the Church of God was founded, to preach only THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Luke 9:1-2).
Isn’t it amazing that the world has LOST the knowledge of what it is?
The Apostle Paul preached THE KINGDOM OF GOD. (Acts 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31). And God Almighty, through Paul, pronounced A DOUBLE CURSE on man or angel that would DARE reach any other Gospel! (Gal. 1:8-9).
WHY, then, do so MANY DARE to preach so many OTHER gospels?
The good news of THE KINGDOM OF GOD is something you must UNDERSTAND, and BELIEVE, in order to be saved! Jesus Christ said so! YOU had better be finding out WHAT IT IS!
Haven’t you heard men speak of the Kingdom of God something like this: “By Christians everywhere working together to bring about world peace, tolerance and brotherly love, the Kingdom of God may at last be established in the hearts of men.”
Because they REJECTED Christ’s Gospel 1900 years ago, the world had to supplant something else in its place. They had to invent a COUNTERFEIT! So we have heard the Kingdom of God spoken of as merely a pretty platitude — a nice sentiment in human hearts — reducing it to an ethereal, unreal NOTHING! Others have misrepresented that the “CHURCH” is the Kingdom. Others confuse it with a “millennium.” Still others have, in our century, claimed the British Empire is the Kingdom of God. How DECEIVED CAN THIS WORLD GET?
The prophet Daniel, who lived 600 years before Christ, knew that the Kingdom of God was a real kingdom — a GOVERNMENT ruling over literal PEOPLE on the earth.
Jesus Christ brought additional knowledge about it which the prophet Daniel might not have known. Still, Daniel knew there was going to be a real, literal Kingdom of God on the earth.
Daniel was one of four extraordinarily intelligent and brilliant Jewish lads in the Judean captivity. These four were stationed in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar of the Chaldean Empire, in training for special responsibilities in the Babylonian government. Daniel was a prophet who had been given special understanding in visions and dreams (Dan. 1:17).
Nebuchadnezzar was the first real world ruler. He had conquered a vast Empire, including the nation Judah. This king had a dream so impressive it troubled him — moved him to tremendous concern. He demanded that his magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers tell him both WHAT he had dreamed, as well as what it meant. They could not. They were baffled. Then Daniel was brought before the King.
Daniel disclaimed any more human ability to interpret dreams than the Chaldean magicians, “BUT,” he said, “there is a GOD in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.” (Dan. 2.28).
First, God’s purpose was to reveal to this world-ruling human king that there is a GOD in heaven — that GOD IS SUPREME RULER over all nations, governments, and kings — that God RULES THE UNIVERSE! This Chaldean king knew only about the many pagan demon gods. He knew nothing of the true LIVING ALMIGHTY God. Like people and rulers, even today, he did not know that GOD is the living, REAL, active, RULING and GOVERNING PERSONAGE who actually and literally GOVERNS not only what is on earth, but the UNIVERSE ENTIRELY!
The whole purpose of this DREAM was to REVEAL GOD’S GOVERNMENT — the FACT that God RULES — the truth of THE KINGDOM OF GOD — the very thing that is the one and ONLY true GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! And, secondly, to reveal — preserved in writing for us TODAY — what is to happen “IN THE LATTER DAYS”…
For US, Today!
This is no dry, dull, dead writing for a people of 2500 years ago. This is LIVING, TEMENDOUS, BIG NEWS for OUR DAY! It is ADVANCE NEWS for us, NOW. News BEFORE IT HAPPENS — of the most colossal event of all earth’s history certain to occur IN YOUR LIFETIME…
This is THE TRUE GOSPEL! It is the very Gospel Christ preached! It is intended for you and me TODAY! It is vital that you UNDERSTAND!
Read, in your own Bible, verses 28 through 35. In his dream, this king had seen a vast statue — larger than any image or statue ever built by man — so tremendous it was terrifying, even in a dream. Its head was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, legs of solid iron, feet a mixture of iron and clay.
There was a time element. Nebuchadnezzar had viewed it UNTIL a supernatural STONE came from heaven, smashing the statue on its feet. Then the whole of the statue broke into small pieces, and was actually blown away by the wind — it disappeared! Then this STONE expanded miraculously and quickly became a great MOUNTAIN — so great it filled the whole earth!
What did it mean? DID it have meaning? Yes, because this was God’s doing. Unlike ordinary dreams, this one was caused by God to convey the message of God’s sovereignty to Nebuchadnezzar — and, because it is part of the written Word of God, to us today — to reveal important facts of the TRUE GOSPEL!
“This is the dream,” said Daniel (verse 36), “and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.”
This, then, is GOD’S interpretation. It is decidedly NOT Herbert W. Armstrong’s interpretation. Men ought never to INTERPRET the Bible. The Bible gives us GOD’S OWN INTERPRETATION!
Here it is:
“Thou, O king, art a king of kings:” — he was the first real WORLD RULER over a world empire! “… for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.” God was revealing Himself to this human world-dictator as the MOST HIGH RULER OVER ALL.
People today, like this Chaldean king, seem not to think of God as a RULER — as the Supreme One who GOVERNS — as the Head of GOVERNMENT. The Eternal was revealing Himself through Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar — and through the Bible TO YOU AND TO ME TODAY — as a SOVEREIGN, ALL POWERFUL, GOVERNING GOD who IS TO BE OBEYED!
“Thou,” continued Daniel to this human emperor, “art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another KINGDOM inferior to thee, and another third KINGDOM of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.” (Verses 37-39).
What IS a Kingdom?
Notice! This is speaking of KINGDOMS. It is referring to kingdoms THAT BEAR RULE OVER THE PEOPLE ON EARTH. It is speaking of GOVERNMENTS! It is not speaking of ethereal sentiments “set up in the hearts of men.” It is not speaking of churches. It is speaking of the kind of GOVERNMENTS that bear RULE and AUTHORITY over nations of PEOPLE here on earth. It is literal. It is specific. There is no misunderstanding, here, as to what is meant by the word “KINGDOM.”
There is no misunderstanding the interpretation. GOD gives His own interpretation through the prophet Daniel. The great metallic image represented national and international GOVERNMENTS — real, literal KINGDOMS.
It represented a SUCCESSION of world-ruling governments. First was the head of gold. That represented Nebuchadnezzar and his Kingdom — the Chaldean Empire. AFTER him — later, in time sequence — was to come a second, then a third KINGDOM which shall bear RULE over all the earth — “WORLD EMPIRES!
Then, verse 40, the legs of iron represent a FOURTH world-Empire. It was to be STRONG, even as iron is strong — stronger militarily than its predecessors. Yet, as silver is less valuable than gold; brass than silver; iron than brass, though each metal was harder and stronger, the succession would deteriorate morally and spiritually. The two legs meant the fourth Empire would be divided.
After the Chaldean Empire came the still larger Persian Empire; then the Greco-Macedonian, and fourth, the Roman Empire.
It was divided, with capitals at Rome and Constantinople. Now — verse 44! Read it! Get your Bible. See it with your own eyes in your own Bible. Here, in PLAIN LANGUAGE, is God’s explanation of what the KINGDOM OF GOD IS:
“And in the days of these kings, …” it is here speaking of the ten toes, part of iron and part of brittle clay. This, by connecting the prophecy with Daniel 7, and Revelation 13 and 17, is referring to the new UNITED STATES OF EUROPE which is NOW FORMING, out of the European Common Market, before your very eyes! Revelation 17:12 makes plain the detail that it shall be a union of TEN KINGS OR KINGDOMS which (Rev. 17:8) shall resurrect the old ROMAN EMPIRE.
So, mark carefully the TIME ELEMENT! “In the days of these kings” — in the days of these ten nations or groups of nations that shall, … resurrect briefly the Roman Empire — notice what shall happen:
“… shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed … but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever!”
Yes, in OUR TIME!
Now here we have described the FOUR universal world-Empires — the ONLY four that ever existed! Revelation 13 and 17 show that, after the fall of the original Roman Empire, there would be ten revivals — SEVEN of which would be ruled over by a Gentile CHURCH — the daughter of ancient BABYLON — a Church claiming to be Christian, but actually named by God “MYSTERY BABYLON the Great — or, more plainly, BABYLONIAN MYSTERIES!
Six of those have come and gone. The seventh is now forming — the last, final, BRIEF resurrection of the Roman Empire by ten European groups or nations. These are the ten toes of iron and clay mixed.
In their days — and they shall last but a VERY short space, possibly no more than two to three-and-a-half years — shall the GOD OF HEAVEN SET UP A KINGDOM.
This, then, shall be THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
Compare with Revelation 17. Here is pictured a Church. Not a small church — a GREAT Church. She rules over “many waters” (Verse 1) which are described in verse 15 as different nations speaking different languages. She posed as The Church of GOD — which Scripture says (Eph. 5:23; Rev. 19:7; Mat. 25:1-10, etc.) is the affianced “bride” of CHRIST, to be spiritually MARRIED to Him at His second COMING.
But she has committed fornication. How? By having direct POLITICAL intercourse with HUMAN GOVERNMENTS of THIS WORLD! She sat on (Rev. 17:3) all seven of these resurrections of the Roman Empire — called the “Holy Roman Empire. She RULED OVER the human kingdoms — as a common-law and unmarried “wife” ruling her paramour husband — a totally unnatural and ungodly relationship.
She is, therefore, to “sit on” this last “head of the Beast” — this final resurrection of the Roman Empire. It is to endure but a VERY short time. It is to FIGHT AGAINST CHRIST at His SECOND COMING! That will be its END.
We see it in process of rising, now. Therefore we are CLOSE to the coming of Christ! We are now VERY NEAR the END of this world.
When Christ comes, He is coming as KING of kings, ruling the whole earth (Rev. 19:11-16); and HIS KINGDOM — THE KINGDOM OF GOD — said Daniel, is to CONSUME all these worldly kingdoms.
Revelation 11:15 states it in these words: “The kingdoms of this world ARE BECOME THE KINGDOMS OF OUR LORD, AND OF HIS CHRIST; and He shall reign for ever and ever!”
This is THE KINGDOM OF GOD. It is the END of present governments — the governments that rule Russia, China, Japan, Italy, Germany — yes, and even the United States and the British nations. They then shall BECOME the kingdoms — the GOVERNMENTS of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, then KING of kings over the entire earth.
This makes completely PLAIN the fact that the KINGDOM OF GOD is a literal GOVERNMENT. Even as the Chaldean Empire was a KINGDOM — even as the Roman Empire was a KINGDOM — so the
KINGDOM OF GOD is a government. It is to TAKE OVER the GOVERNMENT of the NATIONS of the world.
Jesus Christ was BORN to be a KING — a RULER!
When He stood, on trial for His life, before Pilate, “Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art thou a King then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world.” But Jesus also said to Pilate:
“My Kingdom is not of this world” — (John 18:37, 36). His Kingdom is of THE WORLD TOMORROW!
Have you not read what the angel proclaimed to Mary, the mother of Jesus, prior to His birth? Jesus told Pilate He was BORN to become a KING. The angel of God said to Mary: “… thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the THRONE of His father David: and HE SHALL REIGN over the House of Jacob forever; and of His Kingdom there shall be NO END. (Luke 1:31-33).
These Scriptures tell you PLAINLY that GOD is supreme RULER.
They tell you in plainest language that Jesus was born to be a KING — that He is going to RULE ALL NATIONS OF THE EARTH — that His Kingdom shall rule eternally.
But all this is only PART of the fantastic, amazing, actually SHOCKING TRUTH about the KINGDOM OF GOD.
The KINGDOM OF GOD will rule OVER the peoples and nations of the earth. Yet these mortal peoples and nations will NOT be the Kingdom, nor even IN the Kingdom of God. They shall be merely RULED OVER BY IT!
We have established that the KINGDOM OF GOD is a ruling GOVERNMENT. We still have to learn OF WHAT, OR OF WHOM it is composed. Can YOU, as an individual, ever become A PART of this Kingdom? The BIGGEST PART of this tremendous subject is yet to come. It is startling!
(To be continued…)