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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 3)
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.
Before returning to Haggai (Part Three), two important announcements can be made official. They involve the second and third buildings of our new Headquarters campus, both previously introduced. Construction is now tentatively scheduled to begin on our Mail Processing Center in mid-June. This two-story 12,000-square-foot building will house the Church’s mailing and in-house print operations, as well as the Landscaping and Construction Departments. And construction will now begin on our Media Center in mid-July. Over 4,000-square-feet in size, this one-and-a-half-story building will be a truly state-of-the-art facility. It will contain three studios of different sizes, as well as our growing Media Production Services Department (already six full-time people, with others on the way in September). We are currently finalizing construction documents.
Also, we officially moved into the new Hall of Administration building on Monday and everything went extremely well. Incredibly, God’s Work was only “down” for one business day. The building has already turned out to be much more beautiful—and functional—than anyone anticipated. We are still receiving furniture, hanging pictures, finishing certain “touches” here and there—and of course unpacking. The thought that three buildings will be in place and complete before Thanksgiving on a magnificent campus has all of us inspired beyond words. Perhaps also before Thanksgiving we could be announcing a beautiful fourth building—the Student Center.
Part Two of this series covered Haggai chapter one. This includes the meaning of the “houses,” the people who occupy them, as well as the ongoing process of punishment that God is bringing to those He calls “this people.” If you have not yet read Part One and Part Two, stop and read them first. Otherwise, this article will make no sense to you. The first two parts provide crucial context for all that we will see in Haggai 2. We learned that, cut off from Christ, organizations outside God’s ONE Church are doing works amounting to almost nothing, and what little they are doing God declares that He is “blowing away.” (Part Two carried a policy statement to all ministers that is repeated at the end of this announcement.) But there is more to understand about chapter one before examining chapter two. We pick up repeating Haggai 1:12:
“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, and the people did fear before the Lord.”
First recall that verses 12 and 14 both use the term “ALL” to describe the remnant returning to work in God’s House. As with some instructions recorded multiple times in the Proverbs and elsewhere, God occasionally repeats a word or phrase to bring stronger emphasis to His message. Understand God’s intended meaning in the word “all.” The Hebrew word means “whole…all, any or every…altogether…whatsoever.” Take this word for exactly what it means. A loving God is bringing “all”—ALL!—of His people (everyone who has the Spirit of God) back to His Church. Other Scriptures (to be seen later) make plain that every true Christian around the world who does not take action—at a certain crucial moment evidenced in verse 12—will lose God’s Spirit. (My article on this subject—“God’s People Back Together—SOON!”—provides more proof of this.) Think of it this way. There will not be any remnant of the remnant! Those who do not come, have ended their relationship with God. Other passages outside Haggai make this PLAIN. For now, just know that God is unmistakably clear that this is what happens to such people. In weeks to come, this moment of decision will be more fully explained. We saw that the people are waiting for reunification, but mistakenly believe it is not yet time. When God provides a clear opportunity, He expects His people to ACT—and quickly! I repeat: those who do not—whether laymember or minister, rich or poor, young or old—will LOSE GOD’S SPIRIT!
Another point from verse 12 becomes absolutely critical to examine—and understand. Since Haggai says that the remnant “OBEYED the voice of the Lord their God,” it becomes obvious that previously “this people” had been DISobeying God. Otherwise, why this statement by God? But what were they disobeying? Here is a partial list: They rejected God’s command to be part of His one Church, which then automatically put them in disobedience to His one government. Third would be that they were not doing His Work (explained momentarily). They were also (unwittingly) stealing God’s tithes and giving them to His enemies. In addition, these enemies were teaching a wide range of other “damnable heresies” that caused God’s “truth” to be “evil spoken of” (II Pet. 2:1-2). Acceptance or tolerance of these many false beliefs had put the remnant in a further state of very REAL DISOBEDIENCE. How so?
“Obeying the Truth”
Even those who are newly converted understand that Christians obey God. They know that they must obey the Ten Commandments and other of His laws. But there is a related vital element of obedience that almost no one considers—and it has application to Haggai’s prophecy. Most of God’s ministers have been derelict in teaching this closely related Bible principle.
In numerous verses, God specifically commands His true followers to also “obey the truth.” Most generally think of God’s many truths as things to be believed—or understood—not as things that must be obeyed. Has this not generally been your thinking? In fact, how often have you heard Bible doctrines described in this context? For instance, the apostle Paul told the Romans that some had not “obeyed the gospel” (10:16). Have you not generally seen the gospel as something to believe rather than obey?
Here is what the apostle Peter wrote, and it introduces how obedience to truth is tied to conversion. Read carefully: “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren…” (I Pet. 1:22). The Greek word for obey carries the additional meaning of “attentive hearkening [listening],” “compliance” and “submission.” This is strong.
Further, obedience to points of truth is seen in this passage to be inseparable from three things: (1) the purity of one’s conversion, (2) the role of God’s Spirit—the “Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26)—actively assisting in obedience to true doctrine and (3) how one genuinely loves the brethren. The last point becomes very difficult (in fact, impossible) when most of one’s brethren are scattered throughout other competing, disagreeing organizations where he can never see or know them. This verse cannot be read any other way.
But the subject grows much more serious.
Next notice what Paul wrote to the Galatians: “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth…?” (3:1). The Galatians had become confused and foolish, allowing themselves to be tricked—“bewitched”—into believing something other than the truth. The Galatian congregations had lost sight of the true gospel and fallen under a curse (1:6-9).
Paul later summarized what happened: “You did run well; who did hinder you [Greek: “beat back”] that you should not obey the truth?” (5:7). This latter verse describes the problem with the splinters today. Now think. Scores of thousands of God’s people once understood exactly what was the Church that Jesus built. For decades they “ran well.” But today, having themselves grown foolish, they have also been “bewitched” and “beaten back”—now having become disobedient in belief, thinking they can now reside in many “churches,” as long as they call them “branches” of the true Church.
This sets up a final passage that puts the gravity of the matter into its fullest context—that of how GOD sees disobedience to truth.
Paul also wrote to the Romans about some who were “contentious,” who wanted to argue about established truth: “But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, [comes] indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that does evil” (2:8-9).
God views those who will not hold to the truth—will not obey it—as obeying unrighteousness! Beginning Bible students learn that “All unrighteousness is sin” (I John 5:17).
How many of God’s people even REMEMBER this passage, let alone all the others cited?
Disbelief of truth is now seen to be SIN! We could ask: How much worse is the sin of rejecting truths that stand among the greatest in all of God’s Word? The close of Romans 2:8-9 brings this subject into perspective. It speaks of God’s “indignation” and “wrath”—and of the “tribulation” and “anguish” He has prepared for those (“every soul”) who commit what He calls the “evil” of DISOBEYING TRUTH.
May this reality guide your thinking as you continue to read!
One More BIG Related Point
Before leaving the subject of obedience, it is more than interesting that Haggai’s prophecy specifically states that the remnant also “OBEYED…the words of Haggai the prophet,” which is of course its own part of the Word of God. First, God gives special—double—emphasis to the importance of obedience to what He expects. But this phrase also reinforces the understanding that not every form of obedience to God directly involves the Ten Commandments, or even other basic commands outside the Ten. In light of the last subhead, understand that God expects you to OBEY Haggai’s prophecy either NOW, for those who fully understand its implications, but no later than the moment described in verse 12 when it arrives. In effect, God twice tells you in this prophecy we had all better obey Him. This paragraph underscores the need to have Haggai’s prophecy carefully explained as I am doing. People cannot obey what they do not know or understand. Turn and reread Haggai 1:12. Notice that the people obey Haggai “as the Lord their God had sent him.” Grasp this. God “sent” Haggai with a truly unique prophecy—we might say one with special intent. The people are described as “obeying” that intent. This is the sole purpose for this prophet with such a small book bringing such a BIG MESSAGE.
Now a crucial related point.
Realize that something caused the remnant to FEAR—“and the people did fear before the Lord” (vs. 12). This is on top of obeying Him. Fear is invariably a reaction to something that happens. Whatever took place was so powerful it brought obedience in a single day. There is no hesitation described. As I have mentioned in previous announcements, a final culminating event wakes up “this people” and causes them to MOVE en masse, no matter the “house” (church) of which they were a part.
Adding More to Part Two
Let’s again read verses 13-15: “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.”
Think. The remnant is described as coming to work in an existing House of God. It does not say they came to build the House. This is what the ancient Jews in Ezra’s account did! Ezra details the Jews building Zerubbabel’s temple (the second temple), where there was not yet even a foundation in place. They came together to build from the ground up a completely destroyed temple. The more than casual reader will want to read the book of Ezra to understand this. This becomes yet another proof that Haggai describes PROPHECY, not history. The remnant arrives to work in a structure already built, but in a comparatively smaller, and somewhat neglected, condition. The Church that Jesus Christ built in AD 31 does still exist, and it is readying for the return of God’s people. While God says His House “lies waste” in verse 4, He makes plain that this does not mean non-existent because, again, the remnant comes to work IN it. See the difference.
Also, do not fall into the idea that this people is working inside a literal building that is separate from where they live. This is not describing people who work “in” a factory for eight hours and then go home each night before coming back the next day to again work “in” the factory. Christians ARE God’s House. Christians are either inside or outside it 24 hours a day! God’s Church is not something we leave and enter on a daily basis as with a physical House of God in Old Testament times.
Consider further from Part One. The “remnant” also could not possibly be referring to Jews in modern Israel. First, there is no physical temple on Earth today. Then try to imagine a large number arriving to work in it in one day. Besides having no existing temple to work IN, why would many Jews suddenly come? Also, modern Jews as a whole were never in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), thus would not fit the description of being a “remnant.”
Next notice again (from Part Two) that Haggai 1:14 describes the modern Zerubbabel as the “son of Shealtiel” and Joshua as the “son of Josedech.” The modern types of these two men are obviously NOT sons of these two fathers of long ago, yet this is what the Bible says. The Bible is speaking in code about what are two modern leaders. Mr. Armstrong certainly knew that the ancient Zerubbabel having been born to a man named Shealtiel had nothing to do with the prophetic fulfillment of this role. The same would be true of whoever is the modern Joshua regarding the irrelevancy of the ancient figure Josedech.
Similarly, the description of the timing of fulfillment (vs. 15) must also be in code. If God specified the exact year He had in mind, the entire world would know when the prophecy would be fulfilled. Get this! Now think. God does not name in the Bible (or need to) the modern Moses and Elijah of Malachi 4:4-6 and Matthew 17:1-11 because His Spirit will guide those who are looking to Him to see who fulfilled these roles. Fruits, as well as who fit the profile, reveal their identity. Similarly, to believe the prophecy is fulfilled during the reign of Darius would mean Haggai is an historical account, and not PROPHETIC. The thoughtful reader will understand this “message in code” and absorb it into his thinking in readiness for what God will do. Announcement #28 reveals much more about what can be known about the prophecy’s timing.
With this background, we now begin examination of Haggai 2.
Verses 1-2: “In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the Lord by the prophet Haggai, saying, Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying…”
Do not miss the shift forward in timing. Also note that instead of God solely addressing Zerubbabel and Joshua, He includes the “residue of the people.” (“Residue” is the same Hebrew word as “remnant.”) God now addresses the remnant since all of God’s people are back together, and have been for almost four weeks. As the whole Church is galvanized back into one after a period of separation for decades, certain critical messages must be heard. Verse three becomes what should be considered as a summary of God’s instruction to the regathered remnant. God next asks a crucial question that becomes another proof of who the chapter one “houses” are, and how they came out of something much bigger.
2:3: “Who is left among you that saw this House in her first glory? And how do you see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?”
First remember that this cannot be describing the temple that the Jews worked on 2,500 years ago. The context reveals that God is addressing those who previously saw the Worldwide Church of God at its peak. One of the first questions for the remnant is: How many remember God’s House—His Church—as it used to be—in “her first glory”? The Hebrew for “first” can also mean “former, of old time, past.” We might ask: How many brethren today remember the size and “grandeur” of the Church that existed, and the mighty Work that was done, under Herbert W. Armstrong? How many remember the way God’s Church was structured, and the wonderful unity that existed within it? God is telling the remnant to bring the past back to mind, and to consider the state of His House (the Church) today.
Another important point. God does NOT say His House/Church is completely gone, but rather it is “AS nothing”—that it looks tiny “in comparison” to how it looked during the Philadelphian era. Almost 152,000 people attended the Worldwide Church of God Feast of Tabernacles in 1990 (how many others did not attend?)—the Church’s zenith in attendance. Today, God’s Church consists of only a few thousand. The remnant will no doubt multiply this number many times over. But, because the remnant is but a remnant, it obviously does not mean the Church returns to being over 150,000. Thus, this unified group of faithful brethren is given special encouragement in the next verse.
2:4: “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land, says the Lord, and WORK: for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts.”
God’s people are told to be “strong” and for a SECOND TIME God reminds them, “I am with you.” The context of God’s emphasis is on DOING THE WORK! The Hebrew word for “strong” is a tremendously powerful word, and should be read several times to understand what God intends His people to begin focusing on now that they are no longer wasting time and energy “running” back and forth among their own divided “houses.” Strong means “to fasten upon, to seize…be strong, courageous, help, repair, be obstinate, conquer, be of good courage, be established, fortify, make hard, harden, hold fast, play the man.” The remnant is instructed to be “courageous” and “play the man”—be STRONG!—to help accomplish God’s Work in the difficult final run-up period preceding Christ’s Return. And to realize they are not alone.
The different Hebrew words for “labor” and “work” used throughout Haggai also bring critical meaning. There are four, and they are all different. (This is one reason the reader cannot speed through Haggai—a book rich in meaning below the surface.) The first of the four words appears in 1:11, where God calls for desolation upon the “labor of the hands,” among other categories described in Part Two. This word means “toil…a work, produce, property (as the result of labor).” This is not just talking about menial labor, but the “result” or “produce” of that labor. God desolates their efforts during His punishment.
The second of the related words is in 1:14 (turn there). It describes the work that the remnant does after returning to God’s House. The Hebrew can also mean “deputyship…ministry; generally employment…or work…business…occupation…” The remnant returns to the true Work of God, with an added implication of formerly disaffected ministry being involved.
The third word for “work” is in 2:4 (in all caps above) and has by far the most powerful meaning of the four. As you read its definition, think in terms of God’s Work: “To do or make, in the broadest sense and widest application: accomplish, advance, appoint, apt, bear, bring forth, be busy, have the charge of, commit, deal (with), execute, finish, fulfill, furnish, gather, get, go about, govern, be industrious, keep, labor, maintain, make, be meet, be occupied, bring (come) to pass, perform, practice, prepare, sacrifice, serve, be warrior, work (-man).” This truly remarkable word carries awesome meaning for every member of God’s Church who is determined to come and complete the greatest Work the world has ever seen! The fourth word will be seen momentarily.
2:5: “According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you: fear you not.”
Verse 5 adds more encouragement to the remnant, and becomes further proof that this is a group of true Christians with God’s Spirit. The ancient Jews returning from captivity did not have God’s Spirit. This passage destroys any lingering idea that this prophecy is describing “ancient Jews” (or modern Jews?!). These are people who already have God’s Spirit—“so My Spirit REMAINS among you.” Therefore, it cannot even be referring to people who are in some way coming to conversion, never mind those who are outright unconverted. Let’s speak plainly. “This people” have God’s Spirit—and are a “remnant” (remember the Hebrew means “holdover” or “surviving portion”) of many others who were once in God’s House.
God is also telling His people not to fear. This is similar to what Christ said in Luke 12:32: “Fear not, little flock.” A loving, gracious and merciful God knows He must provide tremendous encouragement and support to a group of people who just experienced the horrific desolation outlined in Haggai 1, but also the culminating event, which will have a great “shocking effect” on ALL who witness it.
In weeks to come, it will also become clear why God specially emphasizes that His special, now expanded “covenant” will continue with this people. For now, understand that the passage is written in code as though it applies to those who kept the Old Covenant (“came out of Egypt”)—but remember that ancient Israelites were NOT given the Holy Spirit. You have already seen MANY reasons this prophecy has to be talking about converted people in God’s spiritual House at the end of the age. In fact, the very next verses in context drive this point home—makes it impossible to misunderstand.
2:6-7: “For thus says the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come [referring to Jesus Christ’s Return]: and I will fill this House with glory, says the Lord of hosts.”
The period described is obviously the Day of the Lord—when heaven and earth will be shaken, alongside all nations of Earth! This obviously is the time just before the Return of Jesus Christ, Who will be coming to His ONE House. This is why you had better get over the idea that God’s people can be in MANY houses. Christ is not only returning to His one House, but He will be coming back to a House currently being neglected because, no matter their feelings or what leaders tell them, most today are OUTSIDE that House. The prophecy jumps forward a few years in time, speaking of earthquakes and the heavenly signs described in Revelation, because it is being said at the Feast of Tabernacles. I repeat: This cannot be a historical account, and you have just seen more proof. Haggai’s book is PROPHECY—no wonder it includes people who were away from God and His House for decades being refreshed on what that House is ultimately for—the place to which Jesus Christ returns! Verse 7 refers to Him returning to “fill God’s House with GLORY.” The rebellious, divided, disagreeing, competing, heresy-infested splinters of today—far from glorious—are also far from being ready to receive CHRIST’S glory.
2:8: “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, says the Lord of hosts.”
The Hebrew for “silver” by implication means “money.” “Gold” can also mean “precious metal.” This is an important message to God’s servants carrying out His end-time Work. God is saying that He controls (owns) vast financial resources and can provide them for His Work. In fact, He will do this in part simply because all of God’s tithes and offerings are going to one place. God is saying that He is going to redirect funds that are currently being stolen by leaders who will soon be removed from office. God will take care of the needs of His Church. Also realize that this message is to the remnant. Caught up much more deeply in the world, and in the everyday coveting going on there, they must be reminded that everything on Earth belongs to God. They must return to sacrificing for His Work as we all once did under Mr. Armstrong’s leadership.
2:9: “The glory of this latter House [obviously referring to God’s Church] shall be greater than of the former, says the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, says the Lord of hosts.”
This verse describes God’s Church far exceeding any previous physical temple, including Zerubbabel’s, which was finished in 515 BC. One last time: This becomes the single greatest proof—and Mr. Armstrong well understood this (you read his quotes)—that Haggai is a prophecy about the Church of God being ready for Christ’s Return at the end of the age. For a short time, now just ahead, enemies of God’s House (His Church) will be silenced. This respite given to the Church will be necessary to complete the great “short Work” (Rom. 9:28) of “prophesying again” (Rev. 10:11) foretold to occur at the end of the age. Besides the peace that God will give to His regathered Church, the passage also references the place where the greatest peace of all will originate—the kind that all nations long for—WORLD PEACE!
Those coming to understand the truth of this prophecy are facing or likely will face a growing level of persecution. An analogy is helpful here. This persecution could now be seen as wind in your face. It will grow louder and may blow harder until it almost feels violent. But realize that it will be SHORTLIVED. The wind will suddenly turn 180 degrees and be at your back. It will be a wind that helps push the ENTIRE CHURCH forward to finish God’s Work—when everyone is working together in the Temple. Patiently endure! Do not worry about who else agrees with you. Many more soon will.
Also, be careful of saying, “I want all of us back together,” but then blow your opportunity when God provides the path. Recognize that Satan will do everything in his power to overthrow your understanding of Haggai. The devil can never defeat God, but he can defeat individuals who permit him. Do not be among them!
Finally, explained briefly in a previous part, recognize that God would necessarily have to send a man to explain the things of Haggai. Who else is even attempting this—any of it? Can you name even one person? SOMEONE had to do it. And God would not choose—or ever use—a man who appointed himself.
Make yourself focus on, digest and COME TO GRIPS with the prophecies in Haggai. Examine—and prosecute—any resistant thinking! Do not be slipshod in matters of such colossal importance to YOU!
There are more verses to understand in Haggai 2. Directed to today’s ministry, but also related to the brethren, they will be covered in Part Four.