June 24, 2022 Brethren Letter
If you have been in the Church of God for a number of years, it’s likely you have heard or read the words, “19 Year Time Cycle.” This week I was reading a “Personal” article written by Mr. Armstrong in 1972, that I found very excellent to read, especially in connection with the gospel message Mr. Armstrong preached. Tonight, I’m sending the first portion of that article for you also. Since it is a fairly lengthy article, I have split it into two parts, and will send the last portion of it next week.
Please have a wonderful Sabbath!
Your Brother in Christ,
The Good News of Tomorrow’s World
Personal from the Editor (Herbert W. Armstrong)
The 19-Year Time Cycles – What HAPPENED Jan. 7 —
What My Commission IS!
SIGNIFICANT THINGS DID happen on January 7th! In this Personal I want to tell you what happened — but also to make PLAIN and CLEAR:
1) What our Commission IS, and what it is NOT!
2) What are the criteria for determining through whom God is carrying out that Commission which is HIS WORK on earth today.
Thousands know that I, personally, have been called and chosen for a very definite commission in God’s service. But I have definitely NOT been called to be a PROPHET — except as that word, Biblically used, does sometimes refer to a minister or speaker — one who proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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 God — separate from, and apart from what is contained in the Bible. And I never have claimed to be.
THERE IS NO SUCH HUMAN PROPHET LIVING TODAY!
The Bible is the written Word of God — and, for our time now, it is COMPLETE! Never have I believed or claimed that God reveals to me new truths not contained in the Bible — in addition to, or apart from the Bible.
In a special group festival held at Belknap Springs, in Oregon, in the autumn of 1951, I was shocked — and so were those there — to hear Herman L. Hoeh, then recently graduated from Ambassador College, say with conviction, as if with authority, “Mr. Armstrong IS NOT A PROPHET — but a man called to the same kind of commission as the original evangelists and apostles of the first century Church of God — to proclaim the Message — the Announcement — the Good News of the Kingdom of God — the Message that Christ brought from God and taught His disciples.”
I shook my head in astonishment that he would make that statement. I KNEW WELL I was not a prophet. I simply knew I had been called to proclaim Christ’s Gospel of the Kingdom of God — to get a job done — but I had no illusions about being an evangelist, or an apostle, or anything more than my own part in proclaiming and publishing this Great NEWS, as a witness, to as many as I could reach. I had no vision then of a worldwide ministry.
Let’s take a look at the Church of God of the first century, as we find it revealed in the Book of Acts, beginning from the day of Pentecost, 31 A.D. The Bible was not fully written — only the Old Testament — in 31 A.D. God then was still communicating new truth, instruction and knowledge directly and personally to prophets. As the Church progressed, it was the function of a prophet to communicate to the apostles special messages which God had personally revealed to them. Others were inspired in the writing of the books of the New Testament.
So we read, in Acts 11:28 and 21:10-11, of the prophet Agabus. But today we have the COMPLETE Word of God, for our time, in the Bible. There are no such prophets — except false ones.
Now a word about what my Commission is NOT. It is NOT to become an infallible expert on, or to preach, chronology.
I feel at present that the whole question of chronology is in confusion, and no one can be positively SURE of dates.
As of the present I, and a majority of our historians in Ambassador College, and researchers in the School of Theology, feel that it is utterly unsafe to try to SET DATES in regard to future prophesied events, especially the return of the living Christ in supreme Power and Glory to rule all nations of the earth.
But we are only human, and it is natural that we should have been curious to know, as far as possible, how much time we had to GET THE JOB DONE. (More about that later.)
That, however, in fact, is not our MAIN PURPOSE, OR COMMISSION — which is to proclaim Christ’s Announcement of the advance good NEWS of the coming Kingdom of God to rule all nations — and the message commonly called salvation — the fact we may be born again through Jesus Christ — born into that Kingdom.
Our Commission is to GET THAT JOB DONE!
We have been GETTING IT DONE!
The question which Christ, the Head of God’s Work, has NOT revealed in the Bible is, HOW THOROUGHLY He intends it to be done!
The prophecy of the proclaiming of this Message IN OUR TIME, is in Matthew 24:14. Jesus said: “And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached (and published — Mark 13:10) in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end (of this age) come.”
Let me say now, that in early July last year (1971), I could not have said that had as
yet been done. But, in the literal Scriptural meaning of that commission, as of January 7, 1972, IT HAD BEEN ACCOMPLISHED! Six months before we had not yet gotten the Message into Japan, nor into the Scandinavian countries. Now we have!
There may, now, be a very few little countries virtually unheard of into which we have not penetrated. But I was mentioning three or four such tiny nations as an example before some of our executives the other day, when Mr. Ronald Dart, Vice President in charge of the foreign Work, grinned, on the mention of one of them, saying, “We are broadcasting regularly on the leading radio station in that country.”
BUT — the unanswered question is — HOW INTENSIVELY DOES God intend ALL these countries to be reached? That is the question He has not answered — IN THE BIBLE. (Unless by one implication of which I will cover later.) But, by what HAPPENED on that very day, January 7th, and since, it appears He has now given us the answer — He intends the nations to be reached MORE INTENSIVELY than as of now!
More of that, later!
Go back, once again, to the beginning and founding of the Church. First, Jesus called His disciples, whom He taught and trained to START getting this job done. Whom did He call? The most highly educated, the leaders of the world? No, Peter and Andrew, brothers, fishermen by trade. Then next He called James and John, brothers, also fishermen. He chose Matthew, a publican (tax collector) — and tax collectors were held in no high regard in Judea.
After Christ’s resurrection, Peter and John were brought before the high priest and chief rulers. They were accused of benefiting and healing a man crippled from birth. It is recorded (Moffatt), “They were astonished to notice how outspoken Peter and John were, and to discover that they were uncultured persons and mere outsiders” (Acts 4:13). These apostles were from Galilee — outsiders in Jerusalem. The AV renders it, “… and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men,” but that is misleading; as the Greek implies, NOT ignorant, and illiterate, in the ordinary sense but, as Moffatt renders it, uncultured in technical learning of Jewish scribes and rulers, and in their acquired mannerisms.
Again, speaking of true Christians, we read, in I Corinthians 1:26: “For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh (intellectually), not many mighty, not many noble, are called ….”
The sophisticated churches of the world seek leaders who are intellectual, socially cultured, leaders in the community. But when GOD chooses His human instruments, He is more concerned about the sincere and honest of HEART. He calls imperfect (ALL men are, anyway) but sincere and dedicated human instruments. THEY ALL MAKE MISTAKES! This fact needs NO APOLOGY!
When I was first called — autumn 1926 — spring 1927 — I first looked for PROOF, one way or the other, as to whether GOD exists. I had had little or no religious interest previously. I did not ASSUME, because of my Protestant ancestry and parentage. I wanted to KNOW — to be SURE — I wanted PROOF one way or the other.
After much careful research, involving study of evolution — the writings of Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel, the earlier Lamarck, plus Spencer, Vogt, Chamberlain and other modern geologists and evolutionists — as well as a careful study of Genesis and other parts of the Bible — of all the scientific facts bearing on the subject I could find — I became SURE! I had PROVED that God IS!
Next I entered an intensive study to determine whether the Bible can be PROVED to be the inspired Word of God — the revelation of knowledge from the Creator to mankind. By many infallible proofs, this was PROVED!
After that, I had a SOLID FOUNDATION on which to start.
I began then to learn God’s Truth, but not until after surrender to Him, repentance, believing, baptism, and receiving His Holy Spirit. This opened my mind to UNDERSTANDING of the Bible. Never before could I understand it!
Now I began to learn, a truth, a subject, a teaching, or a doctrine at a time. Baptized in 1927 (late spring), I was not ordained to the Ministry until late May, or early June 1931. (Pentecost was May 25th). In my study, I did not receive everything perfectly all at once. There were instances where, having felt I had come to understand the true Biblical teaching on a certain subject, other Scriptures discovered later put a different light on it. I HAD, ON OCCASION, TO CONFESS I HAD BEEN IN ERROR, and to correct it.
The Apostle Paul, telling us under God’s inspiration of how he came to KNOW God’s Truth, said: “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is NOT AFTER MAN. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” He received it, as he implies, from an appearance of the living Christ, in person, even after His resurrection and ascension.
I, too, received Christ’s Gospel NOT from MAN. I, too, certify that the Gospel I have taught and proclaimed is NOT AFTER MAN. I entered no theological seminary, where I would have received a particular denominational teaching and set of doctrines and practices. I was not taught by MAN. But I was taught, as was Paul, by the revelation of Jesus Christ — Paul from the living Christ IN PERSON — who is the Word of God in PERSON — but I from the WRITTEN WORD OF GOD — which is the SAME revelation, now set in print.
I did not get it all PERFECTLY at the beginning. No one could. Most of God’s truths, assuredly, were revealed perfectly and in truth from the beginning. But, as an example, even Peter says “… our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures unto their own destruction” (II Peter 3:15-16). And sometimes, in the light of other Scriptures, I had to confess error AND CORRECT IT.
There were at least two occasions when I was accused by hostile women, bent on discrediting me, of error. On more thorough research, in these two instances, I discovered I had unknowingly been in error — and they were correct. Humiliating or not, I OPENLY AND PUBLICLY CORRECTED THESE ERRORS AT ONCE.
Even the first century Church at Antioch was UNSURE about a truth, and when they appealed to the Headquarters Church at Jerusalem, so were the apostles there — UNTIL THE HOLY SPIRIT corrected them, and revealed the real truth to them (Acts 15th chapter).
Let me ask you this question. Do you know of any large, established, well-recognized professing Christian denomination which has PUBLICLY confessed it had been WRONG in what it had been teaching, and which then CORRECTED the error, and turned to the TRUTH?
No, the big established churches and denominations feel they cannot afford to admit having had any error — having ever mis-taught the people.
But are they ALL perfect and correct in what they teach? If so why do not any two AGREE in all points of doctrine? The REASON is simply that they DO teach certain errors which they are afraid to confess, for fear they would lose members.
THUS THEY HAVE EDUCATED THE PEOPLE TO SUPPOSE THAT IF ANY LEADER, ANY CHURCH, AND WORK OF GOD CAN BE FOUND TO HAVE BEEN IN ERROR IN ANY POINT, THEY CANNOT BE TRUSTED. To confess and correct error is to be branded a false prophet!
Yet they are all HUMAN. They are ALL subject to error, and so are YOU — and so am I — and so is this Work of God. Even though it is God’s Work, directed, empowered and blessed by Him, He carries it on through frail, weak HUMANS, and we humans are ALL of us subject to mistakes!
What are God’s CONDITIONS for salvation? 1st, is REPENT. Repent means CONFESS YOUR SINS — your errors — your mistakes — where you have been WRONG! It means CHANGE from the wrong, and TURN TO the right! A church or a group activity, even such as ours, is made up of HUMANS. Such church or work is merely the INDIVIDUAL HUMANS that comprise it, COLLECTIVELY. If no one of the humans is infallible, NEITHER CAN THE ORGANIZED GROUP BE.
If I were looking for God’s one true Church, I would assuredly LOOK FOR ONE THAT HAD CONFESSED AND CORRECTED ITS ERRORS! FOR ALL HAVE HAD THEM — even the early churches (Rev. 2:4, 14, 20)
Any criterion assumes God’s TRUE Work through humans is absolutely perfect, unable to be wrong or make mistakes or hold to any error, is a false measuring stick and will mislead you.
You may ask, do I, then, feel that we in this Work are full of errors, misleading the people? MOST EMPHATICALLY NO! We have not had to correct error many times. But each time we have corrected an error, we have had one fewer error left. If we KNEW of any error still remaining, now, we would CHANGE it! If and when we find one in the future, we shall correct it! The one who follows that principle is THE MOST FREE FROM ERROR!
So, confessing such an error is one of the SUREST proofs to identify the people through whom the living Christ IS WORKING — and whom HE is USING!
If you are looking for a leader who claims that he is PERFECT, and you think you have found him, and he is human, HE IS A FALSE LEADER. There is ONLY the ONE Leader who is perfect today — and He is the LIVING CHRIST! We follow HIM — and we trust YOU, with us, will do the same.
Peter made mistakes. He was openly rebuked by Paul (Gal. 2:11). All prophets and apostles were IMPERFECT — ALL MADE MISTAKES. All but Christ!
Now I want to tell you the TRUTH about the two 19-year time cycles, ending January 7, 1972, with a frank, straightforward explanation of where we were mistaken — and WHERE WE WERE RIGHT!
In a Co-Worker letter dated May 22nd, 1953, I wrote the following: “Listen now to an ASTOUNDING fact! God has set time running in cycles of 19 years. Just once in every 19 years the DAYS, divided by the sun; the MONTHS, marked by the new MOON; and the YEARS, divided by the revolution of the earth around the SUN, all come into conjunction.
“It took just ONE COMPLETE CYCLE of 19 years for this Work to grow from nothing until it carried the very Gospel of Jesus all over the North American continent in mighty power! That 19-year time cycle ended, and the second 19-year cycle began, during the first week of the present year, 1953!
“The very start of the second 19-year cycle marked the beginning of proclaiming this Gospel to ALL EUROPE AND THE BRITISH ISLES! It must still go to Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia.”
But MORE ASTOUNDING than I had noticed, or written then: We started on the air on the little station in Eugene, Oregon, the first Sunday in January, 1934. That first Sunday was January 7. For some time I talked of starting also on the air in Europe during the FIRST WEEK of 1953 — 19 years later — not the first Sunday, but the first Wednesday.
What I did not realize, then, is, that one year from today — or two, or 19 years from today will NOT be the same DAY OF THE WEEK as today!
Let me add here, THAT I DID NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH
setting the DAY on which we started in Europe. I had negotiated to purchase time on that station two or three months earlier — late autumn, 1952. I sent over a transcribed or taped program, but for some reason the contents did not completely conform to technical station requirements. I re-recorded the program and sent over a second transcription. Because of language barriers, I had not understood their technical requirements. Again it was rejected.
The third time the program was okayed, as were all programs thereafter for years. The station put it on at the first open date thereafter — which happened (?) to be, the first WEDNESDAY in January, 1953.
But, incredible as it may sound, when later I checked with calendars, that Wednesday was January 7, 1953! 19 years to the exact SAME DAY OF THE YEAR. I checked with
the Hebrew calendar. January 7, 1934 was Sunday, Tebeth 20th. Also January 7th, 1953, was Wednesday, Tebeth 20, by the Hebrew calendar! So the door opened in Europe, NOT only the FIRST WEEK in 1953, but on the exact SAME DATE — 19 years TO THE VERY DAY!
That seemed SIGNIFICANT, to say the least!
Another possibly significant analogy: Jeremiah’s calling as a prophet was from the 13th year of king Josiah (Jer. 1:2) — apparently 626 B.C. It seems unlikely Jeremiah would have entered his ministry without some training.
If he underwent a 3-year training, similar to the training of Christ’s disciples, his actual ministry would have begun approximately 623 — (a date apparently not verifiable historically). The first phase of his ministry carried to the beginning of the siege by Nebuchadnezzar’s forces on Jerusalem, 604 B.C. That was 19 years, assuming the pre-ministry training period. His ministry then continued until the fall of Jerusalem, 585 B.C. — a SECOND 19-YEAR TIME CYCLE. However, there is ample reason to believe Jeremiah’s ministry continued into, but probably not completely through, a 3rd 19-year period with his escaping from Jerusalem and, with one of King Zedekiah’s daughters, migrating to northern Ireland, where this “King’s seed” took root downward, and bore fruit upward.
If you will put yourself in my place — and in the place of my associates in God’s Work — I think you may imagine how we felt! This was ASTOUNDING — yet it was FACT!
As God set the earth, the moon and the SUN TO MARK TIME HERE ON EARTH, each 19 years is A DEFINITE CYCLE OF TIME. Granted, there was no prophecy in the Bible specifically saying THIS WORK would be given one 19-year time cycle, at which time God would open the door for us to get His Message into Europe.
BUT, we checked the early Church. It STARTED on its mission from the day of Pentecost, 31 A.D. (Acts 2). The Apostle Paul said a DOOR was opened for him to get the Message into EUROPE (II Cor. 2:12-13 and Acts 16:8-13). This was in 50 A.D. — after 19 years. And there is reason to believe that the “Sabbath” mentioned in Acts 16:13 was the ANNUAL Sabbath called the day of Pentecost — or 19 years to the day from the time the Gospel was first preached by the Church!
To us these FACTS and probable facts were truly ASTOUNDING!
There IS the definite time cycle, SET BY GOD in the earth, moon and sun, of 19 years. That is a FACT!
It WAS, to the very DAY, precisely 19 years from the start of this Work until the door was opened to proclaim the Message to EUROPE! That is not surmise, conjecture, or “probably” — that is FACT! IT HAPPENED!
It appeared probable that Jeremiah had been given 19 years for the first portion of his ministry. It was definite that he was given another 19 years for the second phase of his ministry. It is established by prophecy that a third stage of his ministry carried INTO a third 19-year time-cycle — though probably lasting only an indefinite few or several years during the 3rd 19 years.