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Founder and Pastor General of The Restored Church of God, Editor-in-Chief of The Real Truth magazine, and voice of The World to Come program, David C. Pack has reached many millions around the globe with the most powerful truths of the Bible—unknown to almost all. He has authored 80 books and booklets, personally established over 50 congregations, and appeared as a guest on The History Channel. Mr. Pack attended Ambassador College in Pasadena, California, entered the Worldwide Church of God ministry in 1971, and was personally trained by its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong.Learn more
HAGGAI—A Prophecy for OUR TIME! (Part 2)
By David C. Pack
NOTICE: This is the FIFTH in a series of special announcements. They collectively unveil the massive, ongoing expansion that God’s Church, Work and Headquarters are experiencing. There is a reason for this expansion! The reader should contrast these announcements to the increasing bad news and bad events in UCG, LCG, PCG, COGwa and ALL splinters and slivers of the Worldwide Church of God. You must see what they are NOT announcing, and why they never will—and what GOD is bringing upon them. The place to start reading is either the fifth announcement—“God’s People Back Together—SOON!”—or the first one to catch up on all you have missed. If you begin with the fifth announcement, then read those before and after it. They are all important. An enormous and detailed prophecy is now being carried out by God. He is preparing events to soon bring His people back together—all of them. It is not my task to convince you the prophecy is true. God will do that! My job is to systematically lay out the specifics of what will happen and WHY—good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant. YOU WILL NOT WANT TO MISS A SINGLE ANNOUNCEMENT! If you do, CATCH UP. Also, you will miss the full impact if you skip sections of these announcements.
Read to the conclusion, especially if you are a MINISTER. A policy statement appears that you will want to know.
This is Part Two in a series of articles announcing an awesome prophecy in Haggai about all of God’s people coming back together. Last Friday’s announcement (the twelfth one) laid the groundwork. We saw Mr. Armstrong taught that Haggai and Zechariah were prophecies for God’s people alive in the end time. Historical background, general principles about understanding prophecy and the biblical definition of God’s House were explained, along with the first two verses of Haggai. With only the foundation laid, we have just begun what there is to learn. Part Two is not the place to begin.
The task from this point on is not to include much detail by examining every Hebrew word, which certainly could be done. There is a great deal of backup material that proves the brief summary points included here. Some concise proof is included so the reader sees that comments are not mere assertions based on my or anyone else’s opinion.
As we go verse by verse through Haggai remember that every verse is prophetic. You should be able to easily see this. Recall that prophecies usually include symbols and GOD must always interpret them. Haggai is filled with symbols. This means remembering one of the greatest rules of Bible study is that the Bible interprets itself. I nor any other man have authority to “interpret” the meaning of a symbol God uses. He must do this through His Word.
One more short quote from Mr. Armstrong (there were three others in Part One) sets the stage for what we will cover. It comes from his 1978 Opening Night Feast message titled “Zerubbabel’s Temple” (CAPS reflect his delivery—italics are mine):
“Now these books in the Old Testament are not so called ‘Old Testament stuff.’ They were written for us. I’m going now to the book of Haggai. What I just read was in the last book in the Old Testament, in Malachi. But, these books were written at a time when BOTH Israel and Judah were IN CAPTIVITY. And the only people at Jerusalem was that small contingent, comparatively small, of the Jews who had been sent back 70 years after the destruction of the Temple (which means about, let me see, that would be right around 475 BC) to build the second Temple…As it starts out, you may think this is just some old history. Oh, no, it isn’t. This is a prophecy for NOW. So, let’s listen.
“‘In the second year…’ [Haggai 1:1]. This is Haggai—just about the second or third to the last book in the Old Testament.
“‘In the second year of Darius the king [and this was the Persian, Medo-Persian Empire now], in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the [Eternal] by Haggai, the prophet, unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel [now Zerubbabel is the governor of Judah.]…and to Joshua [who is the high priest] the son of Josedech…saying, Thus speaketh the [Eternal] of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built’ [Haggai 1:1-2].
“You know, that’s a prophecy for today. And that’s what we’re saying today. And when you see what the Lord’s house is, you will see that what I’ve been saying to you up to now is absolutely true.”
Verse by Verse
Now begins verse by verse examination of the book. We pick up repeating Haggai 1:1-2, which opened with God describing a group of people—“this people”—who are detached from His “House.” Notice again:
“In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s House should be built [repaired].”
This verse starts with “the Lord” speaking to Zerubbabel and Joshua. It is immediately necessary for a crucial inset. Like so many other teachings of God from Mr. Armstrong’s time, the truth of the identity of Zerubbabel (and Joshua) has come under attack. This must be briefly addressed.
Zechariah 4:9 states, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this House; his hands shall also finish it [the foundation].” There are two elements to this verse: (1) Mr. Armstrong laid the foundation of God’s Church, meaning that the groundwork was completed for the Temple (God’s Church) to be finished in our time. And (2) he established the standard (s) of God’s Church—the Philadelphian standard(s). If you reject Mr. Armstrong’s role as Zerubbabel, believing he got this wrong, many other BIG doctrines he taught (too many to name) fall apart like a house of cards. (I have explained this in many other places.)
Their former thinking now overthrown, recognize that many former Worldwide Church of God (WCG) brethren no longer believe Mr. Armstrong fulfilled the role of Zerubbabel—and many of these are adamant in their new position. These articles may or may not help such people. But we might ask: If Mr. Armstrong was wrong about this, who else could have been Zerubbabel? Who else laid the foundation of God’s House? You will see the prophecy plainly speaks about a man who did this.
Many of God’s people now regularly waste time reading what are no more than gossip columns (disguised as blogs) produced by laymembers whom God does not authorize to teach—anything! Proverbs warns, “An ungodly man digs up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire” (16:27), and such “columnists” almost invariably do plenty of digging up evil against Mr. Armstrong. As the Psalms direct, these rebellious “haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves to Him” (81:15), but instead they lampoon all forms of government, including most of all the government of God in His Church. These loathe the idea that Mr. Armstrong could have been ANYTHING special. They have NO IDEA what they are talking about when some claim that Zerubbabel is Christ, or others that Joshua is Christ. Imagine Christ inspiring the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to carry messages to Himself, or rather to both of “Himselves” since He might be both Joshua and Zerubbabel. Next imagine Christ telling Himself (twice) as He does in Haggai to “fear not” and to “be strong” and that “I am with you.” How would the God of the Old Testament be with Himself? Now imagine Christ saying He “stirred up the spirit” (Hag. 1:14) of Himself when speaking of doing this to either Zerubbabel or Joshua, or both. Further—and this is all plainly found in Zechariah 3—Joshua is: (1) seen standing with the Lord, (2) described as receiving Christ—“the Branch”—at His Return and (3) an angel duly charges (“protests” to) him about matters no angel would DARE say to Christ, who is God.
Understand. Certain biblical illiterates have spoken out, trying to quickly “answer the matter before they hear it” (Prov. 18:13), because they must influence you away from the coming explanation and facts in this series. They know that otherwise you will reject their silly ideas for what they are. From their perspective, this must not be allowed to happen. They must block correct thinking at all costs early on. Will you let ignorant laymembers or even ministers do this to YOUR thinking?
Why do so many brethren (and even ministers) who once knew better, including perhaps you, listen to these confused UNAUTHORIZED, government-of-God-hating false teachers? This will for some come at a terrible price. But it is not too late for you.
Now back to Haggai 1:1-2. God is delivering a prophetic message to Zerubbabel and Joshua, each in his own time. Again, God introduces a group called “this people” who are under the impression that they are not yet supposed to build the House of God, seen in Part One to be the Church of God (or Body of Christ). Their contention is that “the time is not come” to build or repair God’s House. Realize “this people”—we will see to be the great majority of GOD’S PEOPLE TODAY—are not saying they do not desire to build God’s House, but rather that the time for doing this is not yet come. See this. They have fallen into a series of wrong “ways” and wrong attitudes that block their thinking. (Competing false leaders over them have helped foster their wrong conclusion.) Near the article’s end we will revisit the identity of these people, and show who they cannot be. At this point they are someone, and they have to do with the Church of God. Mr. Armstrong’s four quotes (Part One and Two) make this much absolutely plain. Those who remember that God’s Church is also His “House” have another incontrovertible proof of this. For now, just think of “this people” as they are described—people in some way associated with God’s House—His Church—but who would rather spend time in their own houses (churches) instead of God’s House (Church). Let’s see.
Verses 3-4: “Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O you, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this House [God’s Church] lie waste?”
God says this group dwells in paneled (the Hebrew meaning of “cieled”—think of wainscot in upscale homes, as one Bible commentary states) “houses.” (This certainly eliminates the ancient Jews, who will be addressed at the end of this Part Two.) This should automatically bring to mind the large organizations that formed after the apostasy, having come out of God’s House thinking they could form many houses and still all be part of the Body of Christ—part of God’s House (Church). How interesting that in regard to wealth these organizations have collectively taken in a great many hundreds of millions of dollars (perhaps up to one and a quarter BILLION dollars when totals are combined). Meanwhile, God says that His House lies “waste.” His Church still exists because Christ said it could never be destroyed (Matt. 16:18). But it has moved far from its previous glory. God later even says as much. “This people” seem to want to do some kind of Work, but are confused about where, what and how.
The next verses are powerfully instructive. God outlines what the people (including ministers) expected to accomplish through their works, followed with descriptions of how it always came to little or nothing.
Verses 5-7: “Now therefore thus says the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but you have not enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earns wages earns wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus says the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.”
Read this passage a second time, more slowly. God TWICE tells the people to “Consider your ways.” Yet most brethren today are not even reading Haggai, and those few who are do not do so with much or any understanding. These articles are part of God telling YOU to consider your ways! God is reaching out to His people, explaining that, cut off from Him, their efforts have brought no real “yield.” Think of the splinters. After up to two decades, most of them are roughly the same size—or smaller. Their “works” are also roughly the same size—or smaller. Some much smaller! Phrase by phrase, God is telling His people in these other “houses” that what they are doing is not working. Their “earnings” go into “a bag with holes.” Keep asking as you read, and this could have begun at verse 2, who are these people that are associated with God’s House—who so perfectly fit the description of today’s many thousands in the big and small splinter houses that came out of the Worldwide Church of God? How could they be some other people doing something else, somewhere else? Make yourself come to grips with who (and what) God is describing. If you have an alternative, believing Mr. Armstrong misunderstood Haggai about it being for God’s Church today, why does your alternative better fit all that we have so far read, and will yet read? If you have, why have you accepted the teaching of those who reject so many other of Mr. Armstrong’s teachings?
Verse 8: “Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the House; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, says the Lord.”
This is further instruction—in fact a COMMAND!—to the people to get busy building (remember, the Hebrew can mean repairing) God’s Church, and that He will be glorified when they get busy and obey Him. By contrast, God is obviously not glorified when His people are divided throughout competing organizations, and when they are not helping “repair His (ONE) House.” The following verse grows more serious, revealing the result of the people’s stubbornness.
Verse 9: “You looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? says the Lord of hosts. Because of Mine House that is waste, and you run every man unto his own house.”
Again, this people and their leaders are seen to be producing almost no fruit. Their actions “came to little,” although they were expecting “much.” When they went to reap fruit of their labor, God declares that He “blew upon it,” meaning HE brought it to nothing. The margin adds “blew it away”—and the splinters’ efforts generally do look very much blown away. God’s plain reason for this: “you run every man unto his own house,” while His Church lies “waste.” Do not miss God’s meaning and how it applies to YOU and the group YOU attend! The Hebrew word for God’s “House” and the people’s “houses” is the same—bayith. There is a parallel in play. God has His Church and the people have their many churches. The context makes obvious that this is not speaking of individual people and their personal dwellings (their homes), but rather parallel “houses” occupying people in a way that puts them in contrast (and competition) with GOD’S House—that is NOT GETTING THE ATTENTION HE WANTS!
The people and ministers of these different organizations should have known that their efforts would come to nothing. Think. How often did these thousands of people sing the following hymn from the WCG Hymnal, “Except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it” (Psa. 127:1)? What other house than His own do you think God is talking about when He warns people not to build their houses? God is certainly not upset that people are building their individual dwellings. Again, Christ built His spiritual House—His Church (Matt. 16:18)—and men build their houses—their places of worship—their churches. God’s people were supposed to understand what the Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists and Catholics never understood. Like the Protestants, the splinters are building houses and doing works that are not blessed by God. Worse, God is actively BLOCKING their efforts—blowing them away!—in a fashion that He is not doing at this time with the churches of the world, with which He has never had ANY connection! Anyone who knows the barest basics of prophecy knows that the world’s churches and ministers are to be dealt with later.
Verse 10: “Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.”
This verse describes God’s long ongoing withholding of good things on His people due to their actions. How so? Dew is a biblical type of God’s blessings. (Read Psalm 133.) Dew is also related to water, which symbolizes God’s Holy Spirit (John 7:37). God is saying that He has removed His blessings from this group, including the outpouring of His Spirit. The Hebrew for “stayed” means “to restrict…hold back or…prohibit…forbid, keep (back), refrain, restrain…shut up, be stayed, withhold.” In summary, these organizations are cut off from God’s Spirit, and as a result produce no fruit—they are “stayed from fruit.” (For years, our annual “Fruits letters” have demonstrated the sharp contrast between God’s Church and the other groups.) Take time to read the context of the word “dew” in Psalm 133, but also these New Testament references—Gal. 5:22-23; Heb. 6:4-8; James 5:4-8—which explain God’s analogy of water bringing physical fruit from the earth and God’s Spirit bringing spiritual fruit in lives and organizations.
The next verse describes God intensifying—turning up the heat on—His punishment in the face of the group’s continuing resistance to returning to His Church. What He brings to bear is SERIOUS—and CLIMACTIC—and you must understand what is being described.
Verse 11: “And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground brings forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labor of the hands.”
This verse details what are seen to be categories of God’s punishment that are being intensified. First, the Hebrew for “drought” is more correctly translated “desolation.” Similar but different Hebrew words are typically used when drought or dearth is the intended meaning. Unable to understand prophecy, and in light of not understanding the symbolism of “dew” and “fruit” in Haggai 1:10, the King James translators thought maybe God’s carefully chosen word (choreb) had to do with some ancient drought in Israel. But the subject is desolation of the houses attended by “this people.” This verse reveals that God is bringing DESOLATION to them in seven separate areas. Each term has critical meaning. This is a loving God’s attempt to further WAKE THE PEOPLE AND MINISTERS UP, and what is happening in this process is thoroughly explained in my NINTH announcement, which described them as seven trends or conditions occurring in the splinters today.
Experienced, and even many inexperienced, Bible students would understand some of the verse 11 terms as they are found throughout the Bible. Each could be carefully explained in a way that would make this article too long. The land is simply the pastoral “field” that (from the time I was called 47 years ago, and before) has always been the term used to describe God’s Church around the world. It is the people—the landscape, if you will—of the Church. A mountain is a type of government throughout Scripture. Mr. Armstrong well knew this. Many paragraphs could be taken to prove it, but do your own research. “Mountains” plural are the governments of the splinters. One look today and it is obvious these governments are ALL in trouble—unproductive, divided, outright splitting, or electing one terrible leader after another, etc.
MANY verses make plain that corn, wine and oil refers to tithes and offerings. Take the time to look them up so you have no doubt what God is talking about. This is why I have previously announced and explained that the big organizations are all seeing a significant loss of income (no matter their denials) that will only grow worse. Here are just two verses from Deuteronomy: “You shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place which He shall choose to place His name there, the tithe of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil…that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always” (14:23), and “The firstfruit also of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil…shall you give Him” (18:4). I repeat: Many other verses say the same. God is diminishing the tithes and offerings going to these groups, which should ALL have been coming to HIM—all 1.25 billion dollars that false leaders have STOLEN from Him. This is but one reason, and it is a big one, that God intends to soon REMOVE these leaders.
Here is what I covered in the NINTH announcement, describing the phrase “that which the ground brings forth”: As groups long cut off from the Vine, Jesus Christ, and outside His Body, but still having a little of God’s Spirit, the production of even this small amount of God’s Spirit will dissipate and dry up. This is already happening. Part of this will be co-workers and donors drying up. Consider. All that in a sense “naturally grows of itself” will disappear with organizations starving toward nothing. Now think. All “widget” companies of the world get some “return.” But these “returns” in the splinters will disappear! Also, there will be a growing sense when attending services, or working at various headquarters, that one is in a kind of wilderness that is growing colder. All perceived advancements (basically smoke and mirrors that were never real, anyway) will come to a grinding halt—and possibly soon. But this is not saying fruit from God will disappear, because there has never been any in these groups. Christ did not build, and has never headed, ANY of these organizations.
A desolation of men carries a pretty obvious meaning. My NINTH announcement discusses the meaning of cattle in Haggai 1:11. The last category—labor of the hands—is equally obvious in meaning. The “works” that these men carry out—their “labors”—which leaders describe as the Work of God (and they were always far from this), God declares that He is destroying—desolating or wasting. This is why the “works” of all the big groups are today so visibly contracting (or, like COGwa or COGaic, have been all along doing virtually nothing). In light of this prophecy, think carefully whether you want to believe this general shrinking of efforts today in the splinters is merely coincidental with Haggai’s description. Now add our explosive trajectory upward in contrast. Is THIS also a coincidence?
We will learn later of certain verses in the second chapter of Haggai that recount further intensifying of the level of punishment God is bringing, and how even this did not ultimately yield a repentant and obedient people. You will see that the people and their ministers are “dug in.” God must hit them hard—and believe me when I tell you He is going to hit them harder than they can imagine. But He need not hit you in this way.
Dramatic Turn of Events
The last verses of Haggai 1 should be read and understood as a single very powerful summary statement. Clearly something dramatic happens that causes ACTION. Suddenly God’s people all come back together in a spirit of FEAR and OBEDIENCE—ready to go to work in God’s House. The why is not important at this time, rather just that it happens. Let’s read:
Verses 12-15: “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with ALL the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him [they finally grasped the intent of Haggai’s message], and the people did fear before the Lord. Then spoke Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, says the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and THEY CAME and DID WORK in the House of the Lord of hosts [God’s one Church], their God, in the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.”
The group described as “this people,” but residing in separate houses, is seen to suddenly understand the reason behind their failed efforts. Key Hebrew words bring important meaning. “OBEYED” also means “to hear intelligently (often with implication of attention): consider, diligently, discern, give ear, listen, (be) obedient, obey, perceive, regard, understand.” The word “FEAR” means “to fear; to revere; to frighten: dread (-ful).” Recognize it is God’s Spirit that ultimately stirs His people to act, alongside a final culminating event found elsewhere in Scripture. The Hebrew for “STIRRED” means “(through the idea of opening the eyes); to wake: lift up, raise up, stir up.” “All”—ALL!—of God’s people are (twice) foretold to return from their houses to work again in God’s House. A full reunification is coming! And notice the Scripture describes it occurring in a single day. God reassures His people that “I am with you” (in this case, back with them)—and to “fear not” in the human sense of fear—after He previously had held back blessings from their groups.
The Remnant—Plainly Identified
The greatest question reappears: Who is this group that comes back to God’s House in a single day (clarified momentarily)? The answer should by now be obvious. Remember, several times in Haggai “this people” are also called a “remnant.” And remember that the Hebrew means “a remainder or residual (surviving) portion: that had escaped, be left, remnant, rest.” These people were a holdover—a “residue” (2:2)—from a previous time—a “surviving portion,” by implication of a once larger number of people. God’s choice of word makes the answer PLAIN. See it!
The people called a “remnant” (or “residue”) cannot be referring to ancient Jews. Mr. Armstrong well understood this. Only three aspects of Haggai’s prophecy can remotely relate to history: (1) Two ancient figures named Zerubbabel and Joshua did live during that time, but even these were to be prophetic types for our modern age. (2) A remnant of Jews from captivity lived in 520 BC, but these are technically not referenced in Haggai. (3) These Jews did come together (in what could be seen as another type) to start rebuilding Zerubbabel’s temple. But there is no historical evidence that these ancient Jews at any point refused to build—NONE! History in fact records that those Jews who returned to Jerusalem worked diligently and gave generously to rebuild the physical temple that was fairly quickly completed by 515 BC as soon as King Cyrus afforded them the opportunity.
Consider further. If chapter 1 were referencing long ago Jews during Haggai’s time, what other “houses” were they involved with? How could Haggai 1 be about Jewish history when God’s overall message is to a group that must come to work in God’s spiritual House just before Christ returns (2:7)? Another crucial point: Haggai “the prophet” is mentioned numerous times, and if God wanted this book to be an historical account, would He not have merged it into Ezra and Nehemiah? Why is the term “this people” found in a prophecy? Also, Haggai always uses “this people”—with not one reference to any Jews. The reason is that He was NOT TALKING TO JEWS!
Also, Haggai cannot be describing Baptists, Catholics, Methodists or any other worldly denominations. A world cut off from God does not know what is His House, including where it is, who constitutes it, or what its work is. And remember that God’s Word is written to His servants—not the world! All critics, opinion writers, gossip columnists and false prophets take note: NO TRUE ALTERNATIVES EXIST. Haggai MUST be describing individuals with God’s Spirit (that’s what God stirs in them) who are residing in “houses” (organizations) created by men, but who are a holdover/surviving portion from an earlier time. How obvious!
Finally, and this is the most crucial point of all, God says the remnant “CAME and did work IN the House of the Lord.” The plain meaning of English is that they were SOMEWHERE ELSE—they were OUTSIDE God’s House—and returned to it to be put back to work INSIDE (“in”) it. Also—and this is just as obvious—having been occupied elsewhere, they had NOT been doing GOD’s Work. This is impossible to misunderstand.
Parts Three and Four cover Haggai 2, and continue extraordinary understanding. They tie everything together.