The book of James concludes with an electrifying prophecy. God has at last revealed its true meaning.
This prophecy tells us much about an end-time Elijah and some vital history of God’s Church.
“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17).
The epistle of James is for the end time. If you look at 1 Kings 17, you will see that the original Elijahprophesied about rain and drought—he didn’t pray for it. James is speaking about the end-time Elijah, who prayed about spiritual rain and drought. James is talking about a man who faced a different set of problems than did the original Elijah. In this verse, Herbert W. Armstrong prayed that it not rain—that there would be no revelation from God.
“And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (James 5:18).
This prophecy has been fulfilled during the Laodicean era of the Church of God.
Consider what this verse is really saying.
Mr. Armstrong fervently prayed that the spiritual rain—the revelation of God—would stop coming into God’s Church, and that it would begin again after 3½ years. In order to pray that, he must have recognized the rebellion in the Church—probably far more than we have realized. Why else would he pray that God would cut off His revelation and guidance until He raised up a new work?
Events prove that this prayer was answered. After Mr. Armstrong died, the Church suffered through precisely 3½ years of spiritual drought, and then we received rain.
The End of the Drought
Daniel 8:10-12 prophesy of a false leader in God’s Church being used by Satan in destroying God’s Work. The “daily”—the Work of God—was cast to the ground, and the truth was stopped because of transgressors in the Church. These rebels were causing difficulties for Mr. Armstrong before he died (they are described in Revelation 3:9 as “the synagogue of Satan”).
Verse 13 of Daniel 8 shows that the sanctuary (the Church) and the host (the angels supporting the loyal people of God) were both trodden underfoot! The work in God’s Church was replaced by a “mystery of iniquity,” or lawlessness. The very elect were crying out to God, How long before you cleanse the sanctuary? And in verse 14, God answers that it would be after 2,300 sacrifices—or 1,150 days. All of this is explained in our free booklet Daniel—Unsealed at Last!
This was the most traumatic time in God’s Church for God’s loyal remnant.
Mr. Armstrong died on January 16, 1986. After 1,150 days, or around March 11, 1989 (probably that exact day), God began revealing to me the truths contained in the book Malachi’s Message. In God’s eyes, it was at that point that the sanctuary was cleansed.
But look again at the prophecy in James 5:17-18.
Though the sanctuary was cleansed through God’s prophet, spiritual rain was not watering the Church immediately.
God reveals His truth to apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:5), but that truth doesn’t rain into the Church until His man speaks to the Church.
You can see the same pattern in Revelation 11:1. When God measures His temple, first He measures the altar—then He measures “them that worship therein.” To get His message to the people, first it must go to the altar, or the ministry, when God reveals it to His man. It takes time, then, for that truth to get beyond the altar and to reach the Church.