By Herbert W. Armstrong
“And Now What? The Prophecies for the Immediate Future”
The birthright, once we received it, was stupendous, awesome—unequalled among nations or empires! But what have our peoples done with that awesome blessing?
They were still Israelites, even though they themselves knew it not! They were still rebellious, “stiff-necked,” stubborn!
Once the British peoples and the Americans—the “lost” Israelites now supposing they are Gentiles—found themselves basking in the pleasant sunshine of such wealth and power, they were less willing than their ancient forefathers to yield to their God and His ways. They felt no need of Him, now! It seems few ever turn to God until they find themselves in desperate need or trouble.
But after God had withheld the birthright 2,520 years, and then, when our peoples deserved nothing from God, He suddenly bestowed on us national blessings unparalleled in history—the unconditional promise to Abraham was kept! No longer is God obligated by His promise to continue our undeserving peoples in world prestige, wealth and greatness. Once we had been given such unrivaled position, it was up to us whether we should keep it.
So now back to Leviticus 26. We had previously covered verses 1 through 18. God said that if, for all these previous punishments, the Israelites would not listen to and obey Him, He would punish them the duration of 2,520 years. Then what?
If, after that 2,520 years of withholding the birthright, our people—with the birthright—still rebel, God continues, verse 19: “And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass.” God has already begun that!
I remember hearing President Theodore Roosevelt tell of his pride in that power—and how he used it when he was president. The Germans were sending a battleship steaming toward Manila Bay, threatening to take over the Philippines. The Philippines were then a United States possession. President Roosevelt sent the kaiser a terse note demanding that the German warship be immediately withdrawn.
“The kaiser didn’t know, then, that I meant it!” snapped Mr. Roosevelt. “So I sent another note. Only, I didn’t send this second note to the kaiser. I sent it to Admiral Dewey, in command of the United States Pacific fleet. It ordered the entire fleet to steam full speed toward the German battleship, and if it did not turn around and go back, to sink it!” said Mr. Roosevelt with emphatic force! In those days, before World War i, we had pride in our national power!
We have already lost it! God said, “I will break the pride of your power!” And He did!
Other prophecies reveal we are to have soon such drought and famine that disease epidemics will follow, taking millions of lives. When our heaven is as iron, our earth as brass, we will realize rain does not come down from iron, and an earth hard as brass is not getting rain, not yielding food!
Verse 20: “And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.”
But will America and Britain heed? They never have!
Then what? After all that, then what?
Verse 21: “And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.”
There again, as in verse 18, is that Hebrew word shibah. Actually, in the Hebrew in which Moses wrote, there are not the two Hebrew words, one meaning “seven” and the other “times.” There is just the one word, shibah.
As explained previously, the word is defined as “seven times,” and also as “sevenfold.” The “seven times” conveys duration of punishment. The “sevenfold” meaning of the same word conveys intensity of punishment.
But also, because of the very different sentence structure and because there cannot now be another 2,520-year withholding of what has now been bestowed, it is just as certain that the shibah in verse 21 refers to a sevenfold intensity of punishment. Notice, the wording in verse 21 is entirely different from verse 18. This time it is not worded “seven times more for your sins,” but “seven times more plagues.” The expression “seven times” in verse 21 is descriptive of plagues to be brought on them.
So now, if 20th-century Ephraim and Manasseh—Britain and America—refuse to turn to God in obedience—refuse to live the way that causes, retains, and increases blessings, God will punish them in a manner far more intense—and even strip entirely from them this colossal, unprecedented national blessing—returning them to captivity and slavery—as continuing verses of this prophecy show.
Do you think so great a fall could not come to so great powers as Britain and America? Do you say, “It can’t happen here?” Do you think the great God who was able to give them such unprecedented world leadership and power and wealth is not able to take it away from them and throw them, like their ancient forefathers, back into slavery?
You need to open your eyes to the fact that Britain’s sun already has set! You need to wake up to the fact that the United States, even still possessing unmatched power, is afraid—fears—to use it, just as God said: “I will break the pride of your power”; that the United States has stopped winning wars—that America was unable, with all its vast power, to conquer little North Vietnam! The United States is fast riding to the greatest fall that ever befell any nation!
The handwriting is on the wall!
You need, now, to understand the remainder of this prophecy of Leviticus 26—and also of Deuteronomy 28—and the many other prophecies relating to them and events soon to violently affect your life!
You need to look at the prophecies of Jesus, of Jeremiah, of Isaiah, and others describing how much more intense is to be the punishment God is going to lay on the British and American people.
For many prophecies warn us of a certainty that it will be trouble such as never happened to any nation or people!
Knowing our identity—knowing how the British and American peoples are identified in the prophecies—you need now to become aware of what is said about us in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Hosea, Amos, and the other prophecies—what Jesus foretold—as well as in these prophecies written by Moses!
And you need, also, to know why a just and loving God is going to punish His chosen people—people He chose for a glorious purpose they have refused to perform.
The very fact of punishment implies correction. We need to understand that correction is applied to correct wrong ways harmful to us—to turn us around into right ways that will cause desired blessings! Understand! God punishes every son He loves (Hebrews 12:6).
Understand also human nature! Human nature wants to be good—to consider itself and be considered good, while it wants only to do evil. It wants the good result. But it wants to receive the good while it sows the evil. It somehow fails to grasp the truth that as we sow, so also shall we reap! It’s all a matter of cause and effect!
God’s punishment only reflects God’s love—turning us from causing evil results to the way that brings happy results! God is now about to stop us from bringing colossal evils on ourselves! God is not angry because we are harming Him—but because we are harming ourselves—whom God loves!
On beyond the frightful national calamities now descending upon us will come a blessing inconceivably greater than the national material birthright we have possessed.
We have to learn that material goods are not the source of happiness. I have often mentioned the many rich men I have known—men whose bank balances were full—but their lives were empty! Material prosperity is indeed desirable—but it is not the source of happiness.
After all, real happiness is a spiritual commodity! The birthright was only one of two major promises God made to Abraham. The scepter promise involved not only a dynasty of human kings. It need not have included them at all—had the Israelites retained and been obedient to God as their King. The scepter pointed primarily to Christ and spiritual salvation through Him.
Our peoples have basic lessons yet to learn. The true values are spiritual. Actually, God’s law is a spiritual law. It involves physical acts—but it is based on spiritual principles. And it requires God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in the mind to fulfill!
Punishment implies correction. Correction means a change of course. It means repentance—and repentance means turning around and going the other way!
Now, before I give you these sensational prophecies, understand why national punishment must come, and who needs the correction! Only those who are sowing evil need it—who are transgressing God’s right ways—God’s law! Those, and only those, who are bringing on themselves the evils that result from transgression.
And understand this: Although the nations as a whole are to be put through this unprecedented punishment, yet those individuals who yield to accept God’s correction without the punishment shall be protected from it! No one need suffer this intense tribulation!
After the national birthright had been withheld 2,520 years and then bestowed; after God gave our peoples that national power, and has now, because of our national rebellion against His laws, broken the pride of our power; after He shall have punished us with unprecedented drought and epidemics of disease in its wake, then if the British and Americans still continue in their evil ways—still refuse to repent and turn to their God—He warns: “… I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.” Read that in the Revised Standard Version: “… I will bring more plagues upon you, sevenfold as many as your sins” (verse 21).
What people do not seem to realize is that sin does bring upon the sinner the consequences of sin—the plagues of suffering. The Bible defines sin as the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4), and the law of God is a spiritual law (Romans 7:14).
Let’s understand this! I have said that money is not the source of happiness. Money can buy only material things or services. But there must be the spiritual content, as well as the physical, to happiness. Material things alone do not provide satisfying happiness. God’s law is a spiritual law. In other words, it is the way to peace, happiness, abundant well-being. Going that way is what God supplied to cause real happiness.
Conversely, then, can we not see that transgressing that way is to cause unhappiness, pain and suffering, emptiness, heartaches, fears and worries, frustrations? All these evils are caused by transgressing God’s law. The sinner is really plagued with these evils he brings on himself.
Now study again that 21st verse of Leviticus 26. Punishment is correction. To teach us the lesson we have failed to learn by experience, God is going to plague our peoples sevenfold more than our sins already have plagued us—sevenfold more punishment than we have brought on ourselves!
Or, as the Authorized Version says, “seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.” Sevenfold intensity of punishment—of correction!
Slavery once again!
Get the real meaning of this! Our sins have brought punishment. This punishment we have brought on ourselves. If we still refuse to learn the lesson, and be corrected for our own good, God says, “I myself will smite you sevenfold.” We have brought the consequences of sin on ourselves—now God will Himself bring on us sevenfold more intense punishment—punishment that is correction!
Now read on to verses 27-33 (RSV): “And if in spite of this you will not hearken to me, but walk contrary to me, then I will walk contrary to you in fury [the seven last plagues—Revelation 15:1], and chastise you myself sevenfold for your sins. … And I will lay your cities waste …. And I will scatter you among the nations ….”
God is going to keep multiplying chastening—correction—upon our peoples until they do turn from their evil ways—until they turn to the ways that cause peace, happiness, prosperity, all the good things!
How unthinkable!—that our Maker shall have to force our peoples to be happy, to have peace, to be able to enjoy prosperity, to yield, to accept—our own choice—eternal life in abundant well-being and joy for all eternity!
How unbelievable!—that human nature, desiring these blessings, has insisted stubbornly in going the way that cuts them off and causes punishment—correction—and then refuses to be corrected until it is multiplied in intensity sevenfold! Yes, sevenfold—three successive times!
How great is our God—and what love for our peoples He expresses, in patiently tolerating and correcting us until we accept His boundless blessings!
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