Wednesday, July 19, 2017

God's Church Is in Its Second Temple Phase

The United Church of God, the Church of God Worldwide Association, many independent Churches of God, the Hebrew Roots and Messianic Jewish movements, and many individuals, are part of a phase in church history which can be likened to ancient Israel's Second Temple period. For former Worldwide Church of God members, it may seem small in our eyes, but the fact is that this effort to build the Second Spiritual Temple is destined for more glory than the First!

Don't believe me, believe your Bible

If you read my article entitled The Seven Churches of Revelation are American Sabbath-Observing Churches of God, you can see who I think the main characters are in this unfolding end-time drama of God's people. I am sharing my beliefs and opinions, which are subject to error and revision. I do not claim to know it all. But one thing I do know is to do what Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) said to do: "Don't believe me, believe your Bible."

The Radio / Worldwide Church of God was the church at Philadelphia

I have yet to give conclusive evidence of why I think the seven churches of Revelation are who I think they are, and it's kind of a daunting task. But, as usual, I want to focus on former Worldwide Church of God members, because I am one. The key to understanding this layout is that the Radio / Worldwide Church of God was the Philadelphian Church of Revelation Chapter Three. Most of us will be familiar with this concept, because this is what HWA taught, and, I believe, correctly so. Major earthquakes in "Philadelphia" have dispersed the brethren but many of us fled the city and are still alive.

If you backtrack from the WCG, you get the CG7, then the SDA's, then the SDB's

If you know who Philadelphia is, you can work backwards and forwards. Going back, Herbert W. Armstrong also showed us, correctly I believe, that the Church of God Seventh Day (CG7) is the church in Sardis. Regarding the identity of the churches before Sardis, I was clueless until I read the work of John D. Keyser. He showed me that, working further backwards, the church at Thyatira is the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDB), and the church at Pergamum is the Seventh Day Baptist Church (SDB). If you click on those links you can read Keyser's articles. My thanks to him. Coincidentally, as related in his Autobiography, these are the two of the three church organizations HWA considered before joining up with the CG7.

Note: I am not a Sacred Names or a Lunar Sabbath adherent 

I very much appreciate Mr. Keyser's work. However, he believes in a lunar Sabbath, with the seven-day count begins fresh at the beginning of each lunar month. I believe this is erroneous and that clearly the Sabbath day occurs every seventh day regardless of the lunar cycle. Mr. Keyser is a Sacred Names adherent, and I think the idea of the need to practice this is dispelled in the letter to Philadelphia, which states that "thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name" (Rev. 3:8). To Sardis, on the other hand, the church from which the Sacred Names movement sprang, our savior says, "thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead" (Rev 3:1). The Eternal has many names, and they reflect different facets of who he is. I do not believe that entering the Kingdom of God is a matter of pronouncing His name correctly, or having the correct username and password.

The end-time churches emerge in the New World after 1260 years in the "wilderness"

The end time churches begin with Seventh Day Baptists in England, immediately following the "Dark Age" period of 325-1585 AD, after which New World America opened up. The church went into hiding during this 1260 year period: "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days" (Rev. 12:6). There is no major identifiable public Church of God movement in the "Roman" world before them until you go back to the original seven churches in Aisa Minor. During the 1260 years, the churches were forced underground. So to identify the rest of the end time churches, I had to move forward from Philadelphia.

The Laodicean churches are post-WCG fiefdoms

The next issue to tackle was, who are the Laodiceans? Notice that in the King James version, this is the only church that is addressed in the plural: "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans" (Rev. 3:14). After surveying the landscape, I had to conclude that there is more than one church at Laodicea. I believe they are primarily branches of the WCG . But one thing I think they have in common is that they retain the latter-day WCG hierarchical pyramid-style structure of governance. They are like fiefdoms, with a ruler at the top.

The Laodicean is a like a prisoner of war

The letter to the Laodiceans clearly states this fact: "... 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" (Rev 3:17). The end-time American believed he was prosperous and free, but the reality is dawning upon him that he has been soundly defeated. He is like a prisoner of war. He is a slave to the Babylonian system and is dependent upon it.

God wants us to be freed from Babylon so we can restore Jerusalem

Now for the good news. God is calling his people out of Babylon. That is where I believe we are now in the history of the end-time Churches of God. He is calling us back to Spiritual Jerusalem to restore the Second Spiriual Temple. I'm not going to pretend that I fully understand exactly what's going on, but I know the guidelines are laid out in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

The church at Ephesus is called to remember, return, and repent

So going forward from Laodicea, there are two churches left: Ephesus and Smyrna. I believe they are on the scene now. But just like the initial waves of captives migrated from Babylon to Jerusalem and then were diverted from focusing on the task at hand, so the Church at Ephesus has done likewise. God is calling each one of us to "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works" (Rev 2:5). This verse is a reflection of the call to repentance which opens up the book of Zechariah:
In the eighth month of the second year [of the reign] of Darius [the king of Persia], the word of the Lord came to Zechariah (the Lord remembers) the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, the prophet, saying, “The Lord was extremely angry with your fathers. Therefore say to the Jews, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts (armies), “Return to Me,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and I shall return to you. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Repent [that is, change your way of thinking] and return now from your evil way [of life] and from your evil deeds.”’ But they did not listen or pay attention to Me,” declares the Lord. “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But did not My words (warnings) and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, overtake your fathers? Then they repented and said, ‘As the Lord of hosts planned to do to us [in discipline and punishment], in accordance with our ways and our deeds, so has He dealt with us.’”’” (Zech. 1:1-6; Amplified Bible)

The Radio / Worldwide Church of God was analogous to Solomon's Temple 

There is a lot of information here, but let me give you an overall look at what I think is happening. The Radio/WCG was analogous to Jerusalem at the time of Solomon's Temple. HWA and his son, Garner Ted Armstrong, ruled the church like King David or King Solomon in a time of relative freedom and prosperity. If you examine the time chart in my Seven Churches post, it shows that HWA began his work in 1934-1935 AD, precisely 2520 years after the siege and captivity of Jerusalem in 587-586 BC. When HWA died, the bulk of the WCG were carried captive to Babylon. This is the full-blown Laodicean diaspora. 

The Internet was a game-changer that leveled the playing field of God's work 

The emergence of the Internet was a game-changer that made the Laodicean church structure somewhat obsolete. You no longer needed a centralized corporate effort to publish God's truth. Anyone with a personal computer and an Internet connection could be a David among corporate Goliaths! 

As the Second Temple movement was plagued by discouragement, so is the church at Ephesus

The captive Jews who returned to rebuild the Temple experienced opposition. Their work was frustrated, and as documented by the prophet Haggai, the people became preoccupied with building their own houses instead of rebuilding God's house. I think the real groundbreaking work in getting the truth out has been performed by the army of individuals who have taken it upon themselves to publish their findings online, many of which are incredibly insightful and revelatory. 

Smryna may not be a corporate entity, but a loose network of post-WCG Philadelphians 

I have not figured out exactly who the church at Smyrna is, but I believe it may be made up of the loose network of congregations and individuals like this. This was verified for me recently when I noticed something interesting about the history of ancient Smyrna. After an invasion, Smyrna had ceased to be a city, "yet lived on as a state composed of villages scattered over the plain and the hillsides around" (The Letters to the Seven Churches, Sir William Mitchell Ramsay; Pg. 270). 

There is a clear parallel between Philadelphia and Smyrna

Jesus addresses the letter to the church at Smyrna thusly: "And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive" (Rev 2:8). Likewise, as a city, Smyrna had died, and yet lived. This is why it's hard to put to pinpoint who the end-time church at Smyrna is, because it's a loose network of small post-WCG congregations and individuals. There are many parallels between the churches at Philadelphia and Smyrna. Neither church receives any rebuke from our Savior. Both contend with a "Synagogue of Satan," and a "crown" are mentioned in both letters. 

Stars and candles are clues to UCG's identity as the church at Ephesus 

There are clues about the Church at Ephesus being the UCG, and they are a little obscure, but here it is. UCG is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Names of cities and of individuals are the keys to identifying the seven end-time churches. Cincinnati is famous for Proctor and Gamble. Back in the nineteenth century P&G were known for "Star Candles." Jesus addresses this church like this: "Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks" (Rev. 2:1). I would say that is more than just a coincidence. You may think I'm grasping at straws here, but if you read it, the entire letter fits UCG. 

"Keys" and "crowns" are clues to the Radio/WCG's identity as the church at Philadelphia 

Likewise, a key to identifying the Radio/WCG as Philadelphia is focusing on the headquarters city, Pasadena, California. Pasadena, which overlooks the San Gabriel Valley, can mean "key of the valley" or "crown of the valley." The clues in the letter are, "These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David" (Rev 3:7), and, "hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (Rev 3:11). 

This Second Temple is destined to be more glorious than the Philadelphian Temple 

I am attempting to establish that we are in a period in Church of God history which is analogous to the Second Temple period. The "house in it's former glory," cited in the passage below, must certainly be a reference to the Worldwide Church of God of Pasadena, and I am sure I'm not the first to state this. It may be encouraging to point out that although this present work may be small in our eyes, it is the temple that Jesus Christ will return to! 
‘Who is left among you who saw this house (temple) in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison? But now be courageous, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord, ‘be courageous also, Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and be courageous, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ declares the Lord of hosts. ‘As for the promise which I made with you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit stands [firm and immovable] and continues with you; do not fear!’ “For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Once more, in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. ‘I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the desirable and precious things of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory and splendor,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the Lord of hosts. ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and in this place I shall give [the ultimate] peace and prosperity,’ declares the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:3-9; Amplified Bible)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Revelation's Seven End-Time Sabbath-Keeping Churches of God

M45, The Pleiades, Seven Sisters or Seven Stars, depicting the Seven Churches in the heavens. 
Rotate it clockwise about 90 degrees, and it actually mirrors a map of the seven church cities in Asia Minor!

This is a very general overview of who I think the end-time seven churches of Revelation are, along with a framework of concepts I have acquired in the study of this subject. It's like a jigsaw puzzle. I have the picture on the front of the box to go by and I am still trying to fit all the pieces together. My hope is to continue to work on it until a clear picture appears. It's a work in progress. I do not claim to have all the answers.

Let's cut to the chase

Here is a general list of the seven end-time church groupings in chronological sequence of their inception:

Major Points
  • God's people should heed all seven letters
  • Seventh-day Sabbath observance is a perpetual sign or identifying characteristic of God’s people
  • God's church transcends time, place, and corporate affiliation
  • The Pleiades star cluster (aka Seven Sisters or Seven Stars) depicts the seven churches and the seven messengers
  • Obviously there are more than seven church of God groups at this end time, but there are a handful that shine brightest
  • Except for the scattered independent Smyrna remnant, the seven churches are (or were) sequential contemporaneous corporate American Sabbatarian organizations
  • The seven churches are churches, not necessarily just eras
  • Revelation 12 shows that God's church was hidden for 1260 years, from the fourth to the sixteenth century
  • The seven stars or “angels” of the churches are human messengers
  • These end-time Churches of God are a prophetic fulfillment of the House of Judah and emerge in New World America which is a prophetic fulfillment of House of Israel
  • The Philadelphian church was analogous to Jerusalem and the First Temple
  • The remnants of the church in Philadelphia are now in the prophetic Second Temple phase of their history
  • Ephesus is in one sense the eighth church, which symbolizes new beginnings
  • The Internet was a game-changer for the Churches of God
  • Ultimately, the seven churches make up one church of God
  • Unity among the churches of God is contingent upon all God's people getting on the same page

I'm going out on a limb 

It’s still a little unclear, but here is the list according to my current understanding. I am not going to be dogmatic about this, because my interpretation is subject to error, as is any. When we insist that our notions are a “thus saith the Lord,” we almost invariably end up with egg on our faces. "We see through a glass, darkly," and God will reveal more to us as time marches on.
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. (1 Corinthians 13:12; New Living Translation)
Why is it important to know who the end-time seven churches are?

It is important to know who the Churches are in this end time because the book of Revelation is addressed specifically to them. The letters are evaluations of the Churches and give you some general guidelines as to where you stand with Jesus Christ: what you may be doing well, what you may not be doing well, and how to resolve any outstanding issues. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2: 7, 11, 17, 29; 3: 6, 13, 22; NKJV). The Spirit repeats this seven times in two chapters. I would say that the emphasis applied to this admonition makes the letters important information for all of God's people, not to be casually brushed aside or dismissed.

God's people should heed all seven letters

Although I am getting specific about who's who in Revelation 2 & 3, I recognize that the attitudes and circumstances portrayed in the letters can apply to more than one church of God, and any church could exhibit a variety of attitudes portrayed in the letters among its membership. It says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev 2:7). That's plural. For example, one could be in a "Philadelphian" church and still have a "Laodicean" attitude.

Seventh-day Sabbath observance is a perpetual sign or identifying characteristic of God’s people

If you want to find the Churches of God, you need to look for believers that observe the fourth commandment: people “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev 12:17). The fourth commandment is to rest and convene on the seventh day of the week, which we call Saturday:
Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ (Ex 31:13-17; NKJV)
Notice God uses the plural: “Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep,” referring not only to the weekly Sabbath, but to the annual feasts of Leviticus 23, and the land Sabbaths of Leviticus 25 every seven years.

God's church transcends time, place, and corporate affiliation

The church of God consists of those to whom He has given His Spirit. In the Greek the "church" is the ekklesia, those summoned and called out of this present world system into His family. Many of these called-out people have died, and await the First Resurrection. Those of us who are alive are spread all over the planet, and on the whole do not know each other. Some of us are affiliated with one of a multitude of formal church organizations large and small, and some of us have no formal affiliation at all. The Scriptures are very clear that God our Father has chosen us according to His prerogative alone, not according to any action we have performed:
He chose us in Christ [actually selected us for Himself as His own] before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy [that is, consecrated, set apart for Him, purpose-driven] and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to Himself as [His own] children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will -- to the praise of His glorious grace and favor, which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ] (Eph 1:3-6; Amplified Bible)
Read that again. There is a lot of information in there!

God didn't call us into His church because we were doing such a great job down here

The implication is that even before God formed the heavens and the earth as a place for us to live, he planned for our existence. We were pre-selected before we were even born. Therefore no one becomes a member of God's church on their own initiative or through personal merit. It's not like God looked down and said, "that individual is doing pretty well. I see qualities in him which I would find useful in My Kingdom. I think I will recruit him into My Church." No, God had it all planned out beforehand. Considering this, who are we to judge another's suitability for membership in the body of Christ?

Let's take a look at how Revelation is "kicked off"

The first vision that the apostle John records in Revelation introduces seven lampstands and seven stars:
I turned to see who it was that was speaking to me; and then I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the center of the lampstands some One resembling the Son of Man .... In His right hand He held seven stars .... (Rev 1:12, 16; Weymouth New Testament)
Then Jesus decodes that portion of the vision:
"The secret meaning of the seven stars which you have seen in My right hand, and of the seven lampstands of gold. The seven stars are the ministers of the seven Churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven Churches."  (Rev 1:20; WNT)
This sets the stage for the messages to the seven churches, which comprise the next two chapters. I believe the WNT captures the intent of the author, in that it renders the word angelos as "ministers," instead of the commonly used "angels." Several translations use the word "messengers."
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (Rev 1:3; NIV)
The implication is that John recorded the Revelation on a scroll, which was then passed around the circuit of seven churches, which were connected by trade routes, and the scroll was read to the congregations at "church."

The Pleiades: a picture of the seven churches and the seven stars?

The Pleiades is a blue cluster of seven to nine stars which are visible to the naked eye. They are known as the Seven Sisters in Greek mythology, which is interesting since God likens His churches to virginal women. But when we examine the Pleiades up close with a telescope, we see that it is made up of many additional smaller stars not visible to the naked eye, which contribute to its blue aura. God mentions this star cluster in a confrontation with Job: “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?” (Job 38:31; KJV). Do the seven churches and stars exert a sweet influence? Are they bound together?

Obviously there are more than seven church of God groups at this end time

These same two star groups are cited in Amos: “Seek him that maketh the seven stars [Pleiades] and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning” (Amos 5:8; KJV). Obviously there are more than seven groups which can be identified as Churches of God, but there are seven which shine brightest. The Churches of God range from large visible corporate fellowships down to small invisible groups which might meet in someones living room, and even isolated individuals.

Sequential contemporaneous corporate American Sabbatarian church groups

The first thing you might notice is that, except for the WCG which suffered a series of devastaing earthquakes, the groups listed are still with us today. They are contemporaneous. Most of them are corporate entities, except for some of the decentralized Smyrna churches. In this end time, they begin with the third of the seven churches, then circle around to the first and second churches. We can examine this perplexing circumstance later. The sequence is: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, 2, or, looking at it another way, 3, 4, 5, 6 ,7, 8, 9!

Revelation names seven “churches” but makes no mention of “eras”

Church eras is an concept popularized by C. I. Scofield, who looked at the history of apostate Christianity and divided it into church seven eras. The churches of God picked up on this and adapted it to themselves, proposing various interpretations. The fact is that there were seven contemporaneous churches of God at the time of the writing of Revelation nineteen centuries ago which lasted about three centuries, and in this end time there are seven prophetic contemporaneous church of God organizations or groupings beginning four centuries ago. So it is during only about 700 of the last 2000 years when the Churches of God have been shining brightly in this Roman Age.

The Dark Ages: The 1260-year gap in Church of God history

The churches of God were effectively out of the public eye for 1260 years. Yes, there were people of God out there, but in general the practice of the true faith was outlawed in this Roman world, in which Israel has been under the sway of the Daniel’s Fourth Beast. Jesus himself verifies this in John’s vision of the woman Israel of Revelation 12: “Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (verse 6).

Using the day for a year principle, we get 1260 years from roughly 325, the time of the Council of Nicaea when Passover observance was outlawed in favor of the pagan Easter, to 1585 when, with the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, England became free of Catholicism. During this time the light of God’s candlesticks were not illuminating the Roman world. Another notable 1260 year period is from The Council of Laodicea in 363-364, when Sabbath observance was outlawed in the Empire, to 1623-4, when many Sabbath keepers were migrating to America following the Mayflower Compact of 1620.

The “angels” of the churches are human messengers

The Greek word that “angels” is translated from, angelos, is used in the New Testament to describe both spirit angels and human messengers. In Revelation chapters one through three, John is essentially taking dictation on a scroll and is instructed send it to the angels of the seven churches. Strong's Lexicon defines angelos as “a messenger; especially an “angel”; by implication, a pastor:—angel, messenger.” John’s scroll is to be distributed to the seven churches and read aloud to their congregations, presumably by their leaders. “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches” (Rev 1:11; NIV). Each letter is addressed to the human messenger of that church. Many translations, including the Weymouth New Testament, agree: “To the minister of the Church in Ephesus write as follows…. ” (Rev 2:1). With some study, we can narrow down who some of these messengers of the end-time churches are.

End-time Churches of God (House of Judah) emerge in New World America (House of Israel)

Many of you reading this should be familiar with the concept of Anglo-Israelism: that the English speaking peoples are descendants of Israel through his son Joseph, and then through Joseph’s sons Ephraim (British Empire) and Manasseh (USA). 2520 years after the nation of ancient Israel split into the House of Israel (Northern Kingdom) and the House of Judah (Southern Kingdom), they began to “reunite” in England and then in the New World, America.

The chart below demonstrates the relationship between ancient Israel and the end-time Churches of God. When God cursed Israel, its duration was to be seven times: "... if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins" (Lev 26:18). "Seven times" is 2520 years. A prophetic year is 360 days. Using the day for a year principle, a time is 360 years. Therefore, seven prophetic times is 7 x 360 years = 2520 years. History shows that the when curses on the House of Israel (Northern Kingdom) were complete, they resulted in blessings for America. When curses on the House of Judah (Southern Kingdom) and Jerusalem were complete, they resulted in blessings for The American Churches of God.

Curse for Ancient Israel Blessing for Churches of God 2520 Years Later
931 BC Israel divides into Northern Kingdom (House of Israel) and Southern Kingdom (House of Judah) 1588 Spanish Armada defeated by Britain, beginning era of Sabbath toleratence. SDB forms and migrates to America. Israel (America) and Judah (Churches of God) begin reunification.
745 BC Assyria invades Israel, forcing them into tribute 1776 Declaration of Independence
740 BC Assyria again invades Israel. Reuben, Gad and half tribe of Manasseh taken captive. 1781 Articles of Confederation pave way for Bill Of Rights and freedom of speech & religious expression. Manasseh reunited.
718 BC Assyria besieges Israel and takes more captives. Northern Kingdom terminated. 1803 Louisiana Purchase. America doubles in size. America doubles again over next century.
677 BC Assyria invades Judah. Remainder of House of Israel taken captive 1844 Following the Great Disappointment, Adventists James & Ellen G. White accept Sabbath and begin SDA. Later Gilbert Cranmer splits from Ellen G. (Jezebel) and forms CG7.
604 BC Babylon takes tribute from Jerusalem 1917 Andrew Duggar publishes Bible Home Instructor, compiling CG7 doctrines
597 BC Babylon conquers Jerusalem 1924 Evangelistic push doubles size of CG7
587 BC Babylon besieges Jerusalem 1934 CG7 minister Herbert W. Armstrong and wife Loma begin Radio Church of God broadcast, resuming food supply to Jerusalem
586 BC Jerusalem falls to Babylon. First Temple destroyed. 1935 HWA publishes The Plain Truth, commencing rebuilding of First Temple
ca. 526 BC Second Temple construction halted  1995 Second Temple construction resumes:  UCG formsHebrew Roots / Messianic Jewish  / Independent CoG Movement explodes, and the Internet is modernized for widespread public use

The Seventh Day Baptist Church had its beginnings in late 16th-century England 2520 years after Israel’s split following the reign of Solomon, and 1260 years after the Council of Nicaea. Israel’s split started to heal when God started to raise up Sabbath observing believers (Judah) in England (Israel). Due to persecution though, they began fleeing to America (Israel) in the 17th century. Modern Israel and Judah are true to ancient form. America generally continues in her pagan observances while the Churches of God at least observe the weekly Sabbath. The Radio / Worldwide Church of God,  is analogous to Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, the capitol city of Judah, and initiated the widespread practice of feast observance in the Churches of God.

The remnants of the church in Philadelphia are now in the prophetic Second Temple phase of their history

Ephesus (“8th Church”) and Smyrna (“9th Church”) have two things in common: they both sprang up when the Internet exploded on the scene, and they are analogous to the Second Temple, whereas the Worldwide Church of God was analogous to the First Temple, known as Solomon’s Temple. The implosion of the Worldwide Church of God was akin to the Babylonian captivity. Many people in the WCG went back into pagan observances which they had formerly come out of. The appearance of the United Church of God in 1995 signaled the return of captives from spiritual Babylon to rebuild the fallen temple 2520 years after work was halted on the original Second Temple in about 530-529 BC. I have yet to really nail down that exact year, but it's close. This shows just how significant the UCG is in Church of God history.

Ephesus is in one sense the eighth church, which symbolizes new beginnings

In this end time God raised up His Churches, starting with Pergamum (SDB), the third of the Seven Churches listed, and then went around the circuit, moving on from the seventh church of the Laodiceans (WCG Daughters), and straight back to the first church at Ephesus (UCG/COGWA), which then in a sense becomes the eighth church. Eight is a number which represents renewal, regeneration, new beginnings, and the infinite. The UCG differs significantly from the churches of the Laodiceans in that it is ruled by a Council of Elders, whereas the latter churches are ruled by one individual at the top of the pyramid, so to speak.

I will use the example of a Monopoly board to explain this concept. Imagine you are going around the board and you land on Boardwalk, and erect several hotels. Boardwalk can be likened to Laodicea. It's the last property on the circuit. When your next turn comes, you roll the dice, pass Go, collect $200, and land on Mediterranean Avenue, where you erect more properties. Mediterranean Avenue can be likened to Ephesus. It's the first property on the circuit, and yet it comes after the last property on the circuit. It's a starting over and a new beginning.

The Internet Was a Game-Changer for the Churches of God

The church at Ephesus and the Internet emerged at exactly the same time, around 1995. It leveled the playing field. Now anyone could freely publish his material worldwide without need of an organization. The impact is still being felt as the traditional Churches of God struggle to stay relevant.

Prophecy is meant to be interpreted

Some say “that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Pet 1:20; KJV), and they are absolutely correct, but let’s quote that verse in context:
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet 1:19-21; NKJ)
This scripture is misused to assert that no individual should attempt to interpret prophecy. This is a misapplication of this scripture. What Peter is saying is that prophecy does not originate with the prophet, but with the Holy Spirit.  The Amplified Bible suggests the word “origin” as an alternative to “interpretation.” Prophecy in the Scripture is not of any private origin, it is inspired. God leaves it to us to interpret, for us to discover its correct application. An honest reading of Peter’s statement verifies that prophecy is certain, that it is good to pay attention to it, and that the prophets were not expressing their own opinions, but the Holy Spirit was using them as a mouthpiece. Peter is not telling us to not interpret prophecy.

Unity throughout the Churches of God is contingent upon all members getting on the same page

As has been said about the current independent movement in the Church of God: We're all in the same book. We're just not all on the same page. There will be unity among the Churches of God when we all decide to be ruled directly by God and Jesus Christ. It's as simple as that. That means rejecting erroneous ideas and concepts of men, regardless of who they are. It requires a rare form of humility, which is the willingness to admit when we are wrong and that we don't know it all. We need to show love toward all of God's people, and discard any feelings of exclusivity and superiority which may exist in our particular church organizations. Please, let's leave competition and rivalry on the playing fields and the battlefields.

A call to unity among all the churches of God
... Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. (Eph 4:2-6; New Living Translation)