The God of the Bible always warns before He strikes. He makes clear His will and expects those who know it to obey it. He always uses a man to make His will known to the world. That man leads other ministers who follow his lead. The Scriptures speak of two men God had chosen to lead those who seek to fulfill His will. We will now examine a particular message both these men made available to the Lord’s people.
In the Old Testament we find the Almighty telling the Prophet Ezekiel (chapters 2,3) to eat a scroll that He had given him, then to make the message available to the House of Israel which had been defeated, enslaved then scattered throughout much of Europe some 130 years earlier. As if that task was not difficult enough, the Lord was giving this commission to a man who, along with the rest of the surviving Jews, was a slave being held in Babylonian captivity. There would be no way for the prophet to personally deliver God’s message to the ten northern tribes. Those Israelites, who, upon being scattered throughout Europe and the rest of the world, would become known as “the lost ten tribes of Israel” because they would settle among the Gentiles, lose their Israelite identity, take on Gentile characteristics and become known to the world and to themselves as “Gentiles.” These Gentilized Israelites were to receive Ezekiel’s message (what was written on the scroll) at the end of the age. Bible students know that “Israel,” the rebellious and stiffnecked people to whom Ezekiel’s message was to be delivered, refers specifically to the United States, Britain and the Jews of the Middle East in these end times. See Who and Where is Israel?
While Ezekiel’s message from God was to go to Israel in a general sense, another man of God would be told by God to eat a scroll and to make its message available to “spiritual Israelites” whom God identifies as His church–the church that would be in existence during “the last days” of the age. The Apostle Peter tells us that “the last days” began on the Day of Pentecost, 31 A.D. with the founding of the New Testament Church (Acts 2:16,17).
The God of the Old Testament, who would later come to earth as Jesus of Nazareth, told the Apostle John (Rev. chapters 1-3) to eat a scroll and to deliver the message it contained to the seven churches located along a Roman mail route in an area known today as the nation of Turkey. Bible students understand that these seven churches represent the seven eras (time elements) the church of God would pass through before His return to earth to establish His Father’s kingdom. Beginning with the first era, represented by the church of Ephesus, John’s (God’s) message described the spiritual condition of each era that would come on the scene, exist for a time, pass from the scene, then give way to the next era. The end of the world as we know it would come with the passing of the seventh (Laodicean) era, the era in which we are living today. Many of the people living during that era would witness the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (Mat. 24:1-34). Here He tells us that the generation that sees specific signs, commonly called the Great Tribulation, will be living in the “last days”–the end of the age. Those who know their God, His Word and the “signs of the times” know that the return of Jesus Christ is very near.
Let us take note of the characteristics of the two messages the two men of God were to “eat” then “speak” to the people of Israel generally (by Ezekiel-2:9-3:3), then to spiritual Israel specifically (by John-Rev. 10:9-11). Both messages were “sweet” to the taste initially, then “bitter” when digested. Initially, each group would receive its respective message with joy because it would be God’s written Word delivered to them (sweetness). However, when they learned that they would be required to obey those Words in order to receive eternal life they would reject the messages (bitterness). Anyone delivering God’s true gospel to the religious establishment today is experiencing a bitter reaction to his efforts.
Neither Ezekiel nor John would personally deliver their messages to Israel. That task was given to a man named Herbert W. Armstrong beginning in the early 1930’s as he spoke to the nations via radio and television, delivering Ezekiel and John’s messages to those with ears to hear and eyes to see. The message is today being delivered by a few God-ordained messengers whose task is simple–consume the Word of God and spread it throughout the world by the various means He has made available. Whether in direct ministry or in a supporting role upholding that ministry, the “meat” of God’s people is the same and is summarized in Matthew 24:14–to send the message of the kingdom of God to all nations. Then, Jesus promised, the end would come. L.J.