The World Tomorrow

True Church in Revelation 2 and 3

by Herbert W Armstrong


What's going to happen in the world from now? Is World War III imminent? Is it being started? What is going to happen? Catastrophic events are prophesied from here on. They're going to affect you. Now we've been going through an outline of prophecy and in the book of Revelation you find all of the prophecies of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation coordinated as to time sequence.

We found that the main prophecy begins in the sixth chapter, and there, when Jesus is opening the seals. He is the Revelator, and still, what is revealed to us, is merely symbol, and so we still can't understand. But Jesus is the Revelator, He is the one who reveals and who can make us understand. And so, just as Jesus Christ did reveal the meaning of parables in plain language to His disciples, so we find that He does reveal in plain language, the meaning of these symbols. And we found the key in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew.

Now there were the four horsemen, and first there was the white horse, that was the false preachers and false Christs, those saying that Jesus is the Christ, preaching Christ and yet deceiving the many. Then were to come wars, and all of these things once they start, were to continue progressively on to the Second Coming of Christ. The false preaching started even in the days of the apostles. The mystery of iniquity did already work, as the apostle Paul said in his day (II Thessalonians 2;7). But it has continued, and we find that the false preaching is to be intensified in these last days as it is mentioned in verse 11:

"...many false prophets shall arise [getting into the latter time now. And in verse 24 again] ...there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets [both false Christs and false prophets that] ...shall show great signs and [great] wonders..." (Matthew 24:11, 24)

But back here Jesus said; "...take heed that no man deceive you ...many shall come in my name, saying [that] I am Christ;" (Matthew 24:5)

Now there are to be both false Christs and false prophets. Then after that we're to come to World War. Wars were not the end, they were to continue progressively. But at the end of time we're coming to war of nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom in World War. Now we've already had the two World Wars and it is coming as a series, in different rounds. We're in the rest period between World War II and World War III now and everyone knows that World War III is coming.

Next are to come the famines and the pestilences and we've been going into that. That is the next thing now to happen, and then the Great Tribulation. But just before the Great Tribulation is going to be a flight of the people of God that are watching and praying always.

God Knows Our Works (PLAY FROM 03:32)

In the book of Revelation, in the second and the third chapters, you find the prophesies of the Church of God, the church that Jesus built. It was composed of human people, and they were human, they weren't perfect. And so in nearly every case, Jesus starts out, as He did to the church at Ephesus, which was the apostolic church, He said;

"I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience [He knew all of the good things about them, but then a little later, verse 4 He says, in Revelation 2 this is, and then verse 4]. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee because thou hast left thy first love." (Revelation 2:2, 4)

It wasn't perfect. And then again, the church at Smyrna, "I know thy works... [and so on. The church at Pergamos], "I know thy works [all the good things about them. But verse 14]. But I have a few things against thee... (Revelation 2:13, 14) And so it went in all of them.

Now we come down to the end of it, picturing the church as it is in our time, and we have three of these churches that carry on and live until the end. The first of those three, the Sardis church. That is a church that had the name that it was alive, and the Church of God. They had the name Church of God, and yet it says that "thou art dead". And of course speaking spiritually, it was dead spiritually.

"Be watchful, and strengthen the things [that] remain [and], are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God." (Revelation 3:2)

That is at the very beginning of the Sardis church. The good things aren't said there because this is a puny, weak, insignificant church that is spiritually dead, and Jesus said; "...repent... [or] I will come on [you] as a thief, and [you shall] not know [at] what hour I [shall] come." (Revelation 3:3 paraphrased)

When you read that my friends, that language ties in with what you will find in, let me see, the seventeenth chapter of Luke and the twenty-fourth of Matthew and other places, showing very well and very perfectly, that it is referring to the Second Coming of Christ. So there will be the latter generations of that church in existence at the time of the Second Coming of Christ.

Now next, however, came the Philadelphia church which does carry the mission of God to the world. Here is a church that, from a physical point of view and a physical power and strength, is the weakest of all of them. It's the smallest. They have only a very little strength, the church at Philadelphia. So He says;

"...These things saith he that is holy [that is Christ, and], he that is true [and] he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth; I know thy works [now here was a church again He could compliment on their works]: I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it..." (Revelation 3:7-8)

Now if you check through your Bible and how God opens a door. He opened a door for the apostle Paul to go to Europe and to preach the gospel. It is an open door, opening up the door to facilities, to methods, to opportunities to carry the gospel. Here is the church that carries the gospel of the kingdom that had been hidden from the world, that carries it to the world.

For, He says; "...thou hast a little strength [yes, they have some strength but it's a little, they're small from a physical or a human point of view], and hast kept my word [they're faithful and they keep His word and they obey God], and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say [that] they are Jews, and are not [and it's speaking spiritually. He is a Jew, said the apostle Paul, who is one inwardly, and salvation is to the Jew first and then to the Gentile. And so it is merely referring to those that say they are Christians, when you get the real meaning of it, and] ...I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee." (Revelation 3:8-9)

God's Promise to Philadelphia (PLAY FROM 07:50)

Now listen to this:

"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I [will also] keep thee from the hour of trial [The word in the King James is 'temptation' but your margin will say 'trial,' and it's the time of great tribulation. I will keep you, then, from this time of the great tribulation] which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell [on] the earth. Behold, I come quickly [there again it is a church that is right near the end of this age and the Second Coming of Christ, and it is existing and doing its work before the coming of Christ, He says]; Behold, I come quickly hold fast to that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. [He] that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is [the] new Jerusalem..." (Revelation 3:10-12)

That for the church called the one of Philadelphia. Now here comes the last one of all.

"And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and [the] true witness the beginning of the creation of God;" Revelation 3:14)

That doesn't mean that he was the first thing that God created, or the first person, but it means that God created everything by and through Him, if you get the words of the Bible; that He was the beginning of the creation because He did begin it and it was begun through Him. Now, of this church God says;

"I know thy works that thou art neither cold nor hot [here is the lukewarm church]: I would [that] thou wert cold or hot [now here are people that know the truth, here are people that think that they have everything spiritually that they could want]. So then because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth [says Jesus Christ]. Because thou sayest [this is what the people of this church think; because thou sayest], I am rich, and increased with goods..." (Revelation 3:15-16)

In other words, spiritually rich, 'We have knowledge that the people have not had before.' You know at the end time knowledge is to increase and the wise are to understand but none of the wicked would understand. If these people were not people that were obedient to God and that had repented of their sin, which is the transgression of God's laws, of God's rule, God's sovereignty, they would not be His church. These are commandment keeping people or they wouldn't be called the Church of God in the first place.

But these are the lukewarm commandment keepers. These are the people that have known the truth. They are the people that realize that knowledge is being revealed today that was not known by the apostles. And just as Jesus said to them when they were just disciples, students or learners, He said; 'many of the prophets of old have desired to know, to have knowledge of the things that I am revealing to you, the things that you can know now.' (Luke 10:24)

And they could not know them, they were hid from them. Now technological and scientific, mechanical knowledge is being increased today, but also so is spiritual knowledge. And then in the twelfth chapter of Daniel the angel said this:

"Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried [it's a time of trial, yes and with the Great Tribulation coming we are certainly in that time]; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand [what's your Bible definition of wickedness? Sin - the transgression of the law of God (I John 3:4). But it said here]; but the wise shall understand." (Daniel 12:10)

Now what's the Bible definition of the wise?

The Beginning of Wisdom (PLAY FROM 11:38)

"The fear of the Eternal is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments:" (Psalm 111:10)

That's the one hundred and eleventh Psalm. So it is only those that keep the commandments of God that could have this knowledge. Now here are people who have this knowledge. Here are people that know things that the apostles couldn't know. Here are people that look down on the other people in the world. They look down on even popular churches, shall we say, that don't have all of the knowledge that they think that they have, and they say; "Well we're better than they are. We're spiritually rich and increased with goods," speaking of spiritual goods, in other words, knowledge, understanding. "We have the knowledge, we are very important because we have these things." And in their own conceits they have grown spiritually lukewarm.

They're not exactly cold, but neither are they very hot, they're losing out on zeal. They're not really doing the work of God at all.

"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment [which is always the symbol of the righteousnes of saints (Revelation 19:8), the righteousness of God, which is the righteousness that God gives to us through and by His love, His Holy Spirit, the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by His Holy Spirit. The very love that does and will fulfill His law - white raiment], that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear;" (Revelation 3:17-18)

Nakedness is always the symbol of sin, or rebellion against God. Now here are people who have the knowledge of the commandments of God and still they are not obedient, they are careless.

"...and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see [so they don't see as well as they think they do]. As many as I love [God says], I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." (Revelation 3:18-19)

Now He loves this church. They are His church but they are succumbing to this temptation to just become lukewarm, to just let down.

"Behold, I stand at the door [says Jesus Christ], and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him..." (Revelation 3:20)

And He is saying that to this church at the last end. Now my friends, there is the church that will not be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are coming to pass. There's the church that is lukewarm. There's the church that is not continually having its whole mind and heart in the things of God.

In the twenty-first chapter of Luke, which is Luke's version of this same prophecy of Jesus that we've been following in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew. He said here many things that are going to happen; "...these be the days of vengeance [when], all things ...written [shall] be fulfilled" (Luke 21:22). Coming to our time now, and the time ahead when Jerusalem shall be surrounded by armies, "...then know that the desolation thereof is nigh" (verse 20). And then is going to come a time of flight;

"And they shall fall by the edge of the sword [speaking of our people and our nation here, literally], ...shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." (Luke 21:24)

Then after that will come the heavenly signs, " the sun, ...the moon, and ...the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring." (Luke 21:25)

Now that's right after the Great Tribulation. Now, in concluding this prophecy, Jesus says, as you find recorded in verse 36:

"Watch ye therefore, and pray always [in other words, don't be lukewarm, but you had better be really hot, spiritually, and in your zeal for the things of God and the work of God], that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all [of] these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." (Luke 21:36)

Now to this church that I just read to you about, the one that has little power but has kept the faith, and for whom God opens the door, and which does go through the door and does do the work of God with their little strength, but in the very great power of God. To them, He says;

"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I [will also] keep thee from the hour of temptation [or Great Tribulation. This is a correct translation of that, the meaning of the Greek words] which shall come upon all the world." (Revelation 3:10)

So my friends, there are the portion of God's people, the part of the church that shall escape. Now you also find a part of them in the sixth chapter of Revelation that are to be martyred. They will not escape and they will not be accounted worthy to escape and be taken to a place of safety. And the Great Tribulation will be ON THEM! And for the very elect's sake, because many of them will begin to repent, those days shall be shortened, and otherwise no flesh should be saved alive on earth.

Now, we really come down now to the time of the Great Tribulation. And you know, if I would go into this thoroughly, we would be, I think, a whole year in giving you the difference between the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord and the things concerning it.

Why is it, my friends, almost no-one understands about it? You hear everybody almost, that knows anything about the Bible, or that proclaims or teaches anything about the Bible, speak of the Great Tribulation. But why then does so few of us then understand? You know nearly everybody takes it for granted that the Great Tribulation is the Day of the Lord. In other words, that the Great Tribulation is the time when God is going to punish the world for its evil and its iniquity, and when God is going to send great plagues down on the earth.

The False Rapture Theory (PLAY FROM 17:42)

And so some have invented this rapture theory. They say that the church, meaning all who just profess Christ, but who aren't having any works of any kind, because they're forbidden to have that and they're being told that you must not have any works. But Jesus, back here, was saying to these churches, "...I know thy works," all the way through. And it is,"...he that overcometh" as Jesus said, "...and keepeth my works."

"...he that overcometh [verse 26 of chapter 2 in Revelation; he that overcometh], and keepeth my works unto the end, to HIM will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron;" (Revelation 2:26-27)

Those are the ones. We have to keep His works. Well most of them think that just the whole professing body of people that profess the name of Christ are going to be caught up in the air in a secret rapture and that Christ is coming here to the earth secretly. There won't be any noise. There won't be any SHOUT. There won't be the voice of the archangel; there won't be any trump of God. There isn't going to be anything like that, so they believe.

Now is that the time when the dead in Christ rise with Him or not? Because at the time the dead in Christ rise and the time that the living in Christ are changed, " a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," when "...this mortal puts on immortality" (I Corinthians 15:52-53). And when the living do not precede the dead and when the dead in Christ rise first, and the living in Christ are changed and rise to meet Him in the air, that my friends, is the time when Jesus comes with a loud shout, with a voice of the archangel and with the trump of God, with a terrible noise.

And yet they seem to believe that that is the time when Jesus will come quietly and He isn't going to make any noise. And He is going to snatch away His bride, as they say. Now they have some very clever catch phrases. That is when He is going to come for His church and then either a year later, three and a half years later, seven years later or a thousand years later, depending upon what kind of doctrine you believe. Then He's going to return again in a third coming, and that time they say He comes with His saints.

My friends, you can't find a word of that sort of thing in your Bible. It just isn't there. Now where they are confused, in the very beginning of all of this Babylon and this confusion, comes from confusing the Great Tribulation with the time of the plagues, or the Day of the Lord. Now the Great Tribulation is the time of the wrath of Satan the devil. Now let's read it. Let's go right through it. The Day of the Lord is God's wrath, they are two different times, and something divides them.

Now we find here in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew in verse 9, after these beginning of travail, or tribulation, or time of sorrows, at the time of the famine and the great epidemic of disease, the pestilences and so on.

"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye [speaking nationally of our people] shall be hated of ALL nations..." (Matthew 24:9)

We already are but we don't seem to realize it and that hatred is going to grow.

"...then shall be great tribulation [verse 21, Matthew 24], such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be. And except those days [should] be shortened, there should no flesh be saved [alive].” (Matthew 24:21-22)

Now verse 29: "Immediately after the [great] Tribulation of those days [now that's after, the tribulation is over, God is intervening for the elect's sake]. Except those days be shortened, no flesh should be saved alive, but for the elect's sake... [they are in it]." (Matthew 24:29, 22)

And verse 24: "...there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets [that] shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, IF it were POSSIBLE, they [would] deceive the very elect." (Matthew 24:24)

And then again, God is going to send His angels at the time of His second coming of Christ, and He is going to gather the ELECT out of their GRAVES and from the four corners of the earth to meet Christ in the air. They, my friends, are the elect. And for the sake of some of those who had grown lukewarm and who had not been taken to a place of safety. And that taking them to a place of safety is right here on this earth and it isn't any rapture up to heaven at all.

Here we have, after that is over;

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken." (Matthew 24:29)

Now do you find that over here in the sixth chapter of Revelation? Of course you do, because over here in the sixth chapter of the book of Revelation is the main prophecy. And that is only Jesus' explanation in plain language.

The Seven Seals (PLAY FROM 22:40)

Now here is the first horse, which is the false preachers and the false Christs. And the second seal, the red horse is the war that climaxes finally in world war. The third seal, Jesus explained and interpreted for us, is the famine. And the fourth seal, the pale horse, pestilence or disease. Now next comes the opening of the fifth seal, and here it is, see if this isn't the Great Tribulation.

"...and I saw under the altar the souls of them that WERE slain for the word of God [they are already at this time martyred. They are not living now, they are dead. They were slain for the word of God] and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying [just like Abel's blood crying from the ground] How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (Revelation 6:9-10)

They knew that vengeance, or judgment is God's. They knew about the judgment on this power that is called, in your seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of Revelation, the Great Whore. They knew that over here, you read about where her name is Babylon. And in the eighteenth chapter, verse 4;

"Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of HER plagues." (Revelation 18:4)

They knew that these plagues were coming on her. And in eighteenth chapter Revelation, verse 8;

"Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God [which] JUDGETH her." (Revelation 18:8)

His judgment's on her, and when this whole thing is begun and the vision of John in the seventeenth chapter, the angel comes, one of the angels that had one of the seven last plagues or the vials of the seven last plagues, "...and talked with me saying... Come hither; I will shew ...thee the JUDGMENT' of the [this fallen woman here] that sitteth upon many waters:" (Revelation 17:1)

And then again in the eighteenth chapter, in the tenth verse;

"Standing afar off [the merchants of the earth, and so on, and the great men; standing afar off] for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas [the], great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour is thy JUDGMENT come." (Revelation 18:10)

That's God's judgments. Now these saints knew about it. It's all written ahead in prophecy. Now here are the ones that were slain for the word of God and they know that His judgments are coming at the time of the second coming of Christ, and so they are wanting to know how long before the second coming of Christ. Just like the apostles said; "...Tell us when shall these things be and ...the sign of thy coming and the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3)

Well now here these people are asking the same thing:

"...How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto everyone of them [that's the righteousness of saints again]; and it was said [to] them that they should rest yet a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were [now they were already killed, and they're told to rest yet a little season until their brethren, there are other saints, there are other Christians; that shall be killed as they were] shall be fulfilled." (Revelation 6:10-11)

A martyrdom of saints. Now when this Great Tribulation comes, Jesus said, He said: "...[they shall] deliver you up to be afflicted and [they] shall kill you" (Matthew 24:9). That's the time of Great Tribulation. Now there's the Great Tribulation my friends, and the saints are in it. And that was the very next thing that you see back here in Revelation 6.

Alright, now what is going to happen immediately after the Great Tribulation? Here comes verse 12.

"And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal [here comes the next, the sixth seal], and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood [here are the signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars. The next verse]; ...the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken [with] a mighty wind." (Revelation 6:12-13)

Now what? What is going to happen next?

"And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains [that's all of the mighty and the leaders and the great men of the earth], and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man [that includes everybody now], hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And [they] said to the mountains and [to] the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb:" (Revelation 6:14-16)

Where is the state setting? What are they seeing as the heavens depart as a scroll? You find the state setting back here in the fourth and fifth chapters and John saw it in his vision, is God Almighty, the Father sitting on His throne in heaven and Jesus, the Lamb of God at His right hand. And they are looking up and seeing that majestic, that mighty spectacle with His face shining like the sun in full strength, His eyes as flaming fire;

"And [they] said to the mountains and [the] rocks, FALL on us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of HIS wrath [the Day of the Lord, the day of the wrath of Jesus Christ, the Lord; the great day of his wrath] is come, and who shall be able to stand?" (Revelation 6:16-17)

Then what is going to follow? The signs in the heavens, the sun, the moon and the stars, and THEN the Day of God's wrath, the time of the plagues. Turn real quickly, my friends, back here to Joel and the second chapter and the thirty-first verse.

"The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and [the] terrible day of the Lord."