‘Independents’ ignore Zephaniah’s message

Imagined Depiction of Zephaniah (center) Speaking


“The prophet Zephaniah lived and wrote about 630 B.C.” (Armstrong HW. The Proof of the Bible, 1958) during the time of Josiah, king of Judah (Zephaniah 2:1). Some observe December 3rd in his honor.

God inspired the Prophet Zephaniah to write the following:

1 Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, (Zephaniah 2:1)

Although it has certain misunderstandings, the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary realized that the gathering together was intended for a religious group or assembly:

Zephaniah 2:1

Gather yourselves together – to a religious assembly, to avert the judgment by prayers, (Joel 2:16, “Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders,” etc.) (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

When are they to gather together?

2 Before the decree is issued, Or the day passes like chaff, Before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you, Before the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you! (Zephaniah 2:2)

The gathering is to take place well before the day of the Lord (which happens about 2 1/2 years after the Great Tribulation of Matthew 24:21 begins) and before some type of decree is issued.

Who does God want to gather together?

The end time Christians. Notice what Jesus stated and something the Apostle Peter wrote:

19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:19, NKJV)

9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10, KJV)

This is a peculiar people. These are people who the world does not desire. These are Philadelphian Christians.

How do we know that Zephaniah 2:1-3 is related to Christians? Because the decree is for the end time and because of what else God inspired Zephaniah to write:

3 Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. (Zephaniah 2:3a)

The above is a reference to Christians as they are to be the “meek of the earth” (Matthew 5:5) and to Philadelphians who “have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility.” These are Philadelphian Christians who understand that church leaders need to have integrity and be willing to be humble enough to accept the authority of a church led by a low-level prophet in the absence of a clear apostle (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11-15). They are humble enough to not think that they should remain ‘independent,’ as many who once were part of the old Worldwide Church of God, during this Laodicean time, have done.

Why does God tell them they may wish to be gathered together? So:

3…It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the Lord’s anger. (Zephaniah 2:3b)

Interestingly, the Hebrew words translated as Zephaniah means “Yahweh Hides” or “Yahweh Has Hidden” (Holy Bible: Vine’s Expository Reference Edition, p. 826).

Why have I written that Zephaniah 2:1-3 has to do with Philadelphian Christians?

For they are the only ones who will actually ‘gather together’ as they should.


Because it is they who will lead the final phase of the work and it is only to the Philadelphians that Jesus promises to protect from the coming hour of trial, also referred to as the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord:

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,

‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘ (Revelation 3:7-13)

Notice that the Philadelphians are doing the work of God, have kept God’s word, have not denied Christ’s name/authority, and are persevering in the truth.

Yet, other churches around at the end, such as the remnants of Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) and Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) are not promised that protection. Nor are the many Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-22)–even if they are somehow gathered together–as they have gathered together in places that Jesus did not wish them to.

Are not all real Christians going to be protected?

No. The Book of Revelation is clear that after the Philadelphians are persecuted (cf. Daniel 7:25a; 11:29-36), they will flee to a place of protection, while the rest of the true Christians will not flee and then be subject to severe persecution:

13 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:13-17)

What kind of decree will be issued?

A decree that may allow those who are gathered together and who listen to it an opportunity to be protected (Zephaniah 2:1-3). A decree that the Philadelphians will listen to and flee.

When is a decree to be issued? After an event that Jesus told of that He tied to the writings of the Prophet Daniel:

15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), (Matthew 24:15)

14 “So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), (Mark 13:14a)

What did Jesus say happens next?

16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:16-21)

Notice also:

5 Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say:

“Blow the trumpet in the land;
Cry, ‘Gather together,’
And say, ‘Assemble yourselves,
And let us go into the fortified cities.’
6 Set up the standard toward Zion.
Take refuge! Do not delay!
For I will bring disaster from the north,
And great destruction.” (Jeremiah 4:5-6)

The decree to ‘gather together’ will be repeated in the area of Judah just before the time of great destruction.

Why a decree?

Apparently, to make it easier for people who read what Jesus said to better be able to understand that Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 and Daniel 9:27b and Daniel 11:31 had been fulfilled.

By whom will the decree be made?

The Bible says:

7 Surely the Lord God does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
8 A lion has roared!
Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken!
Who can but prophesy? (Amos 3:7-8)

The prophet may make the decree personally and/or pass it on to another authority in the church to make.

Which is the only Church of God in the 21st century to teach all of this?

The Continuing Church of God.

If you are not with the group that is leading the final phase of the work will you really be able to flee if you wait until the last moment? While that may be remotely possible for some, remember that God inspired Zephaniah to admonish God’s people to ‘gather together…before the decree is issued.’

Most will discount this and many will scoff. Most COGs do not have any they consider to be a prophet, and those other than the CCOG who claim to, have prophets that have been proven to be false (e.g. PCG, CGPFKG, TPM).

Furthermore, I read a post sometime back from a CCOG scoffer who picked at the very idea that one should suggest that a COG is Philadelphian and those part of such a COG will have to be subject to being protected in a place of safety.

He and many others do not realize how important Jesus taught paying attention to world events and prophecy is. Notice something Jesus taught:

34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)

Notice Jesus said to watch and pray ALWAYS. He was referring to prophetic matters. THIS CAME FROM JESUS, BUT MANY SCOFF AT PROPHECY for differing reasons (cf. 2 Peter 3:1-7)–yet being a prophetic scoffer is a mistake (cf. 2 Peter 3:8-9).

Jesus realized that if people did not pay attention to prophecy and pray always, they would not properly take the steps to “be counted worthy to escape all these things.” Yes, God uses prophecy as a motivator for people. Remember that God used Jonah to warn Nineveh (Jonah 3:1-4) and they repented (Jonah 3:5-9), and they did not get the punishment they were going to get then (Jonah 3:10).

Jesus specifically told the Laodiceans, in a prophecy, that they needed to repent (Revelation 3:19) or face consequences (Revelation 3:14-19, and that they would be rewarded for doing so (Revelation 3:20). The Laodiceans are Church of God Christians “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17).

Many COG groups no longer officially teach the idea of “church eras,” and various ones also teach against it (though many are silent about them). Those that are unwilling to accept the idea of church eras, have tended to misunderstand Jesus’ teachings to the seven churches and will, unless they change, not accept the related truths today. Many do not realize that not teaching church eras was one of the first changes in doctrine implemented by the Tkach Administration after the death of Herbert Armstrong (see The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?).

Of course, the old Worldwide Church of God clearly did teach church eras. Notice one related quote from the late Herbert W. Armstrong:

“Greetings, everybody! This afternoon I want to speak on the mission of the Philadelphia Era of the Church, this Church today in comparison to the first era of the Church, the Ephesus Era of the Church. It’s been seeming more and more to me, as the years go by, that the Bible was written primarily for the Philadelphia Era of the Church…Today’s mission of the Church you will find in Matthew 24:14. And this gospel of the kingdom…that is the same gospel that Jesus preached…shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”(Armstrong HW. Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era, December 17, 1983)

The Continuing Church of God has the same mission and the same commitment to fulfilling Matthew 24:14 that Herbert Armstrong advocated. Matthew 24:14 is a PROPHETIC MESSAGE and it does tie in with world news and the condition of the world.

Although many Laodiceans do believe in church eras and do believe they should watch events related to biblical prophecy, sadly, they have compromised and accepted compromised leaders who, unless they repent, will not know when the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21) will begin. This is documented in the article The Laodicean Church Era. Sadly, most lack the motivation and humility to make the necessary changes.

Notice also the following from the old Worldwide Church of God:

“Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger,” cried the Prophet Zephaniah (2:3).

A sermon-on-the-mount-type character is required. If you develop such Christlike character, the chances of your escaping the great tribulation are very good.

God’s anxiety for the physical welfare of His people is recorded by the Prophet Isaiah: “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold [here is the reason for hiding], the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity …” (Isa. 26:20-21).

Notice that verse 21 ties right back into the Christian’s prophetic responsibility: watching significant world events individually (and warning the world as a Church) as well as praying to be worthy to escape the punishments of God on this sick and dying world.

Watch! (Schroeder JR. Christ the Revelator. Good News, 1975)

The old WCG taught that Zephaniah had to do with being protected, yet few teach that today.

Since no later than 2007 (see Will Many Not Expect The End?) I have written that Zephaniah had to do with Philadelphians being ‘gathered together’ so that they would be protected from the coming trial that will hit the earth.

We in the Continuing Church of God “have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19, KJV).”

Should we not be “exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25)?

We in the Continuing Church of God boldly teach the need for Philadelphians to be ‘gathering together’ today. Will you heed God’s instructions as the Prophet Zephaniah was inspired to write? Would you possibly like to be protected? If so, will you ‘gather together’?

A new, and related YouTube video, is available: Zephaniah’s ‘Gather Together’ Prophecy.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory. There is also a video on the subject: Might Petra be the Place of Safety? Here is something related in the Spanish language: Hay un lugar de seguridad para los Filadelfinos. ¿Puede ser Petra?
This is PETRA! This is a 1962 Good News article by the late Dr. Hoeh.
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2018, 2019, or 2020? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Is this the time of the Gentiles? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord? Who are the 144,000? Here is a version of the article in the Spanish language: ¿Puede comenzar la Gran Tribulación en 2016 o 2017? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon videos: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives and Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020? A shorter video is: Can the Great Tribulation begin in 2018?
Elijah: Past and Prophesied Information about the original Elijah and some information about the Elijah-related prophecies.
The Elijah Heresies Does the Bible teach that there will be a future Elijah? Must it be Herbert W. Armstrong?
How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God There are many false prophets, yet many overlook what the Bible teaches about how to recognize a true one. How can Christians determine who is a true prophet? This article contains a scripture-based checklist to assist with this determination.
How to determine if someone is a true prophet of God This is a sermon on YouTube addressing a subject that most in the Church of God do not seem to have looked into very much. It discusses scriptures and dispels some improper assertions that some associated with the COG have made about prophets in this time.
Why Be Concerned About False and Heretical Leaders? There have been many false leaders–here is some of why you should be concerned about them.
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation. There is also a version in the Spanish language: Las Siete Iglesias de Apocalipsis 2 & 3.
1. The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc.
2. The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.
3. The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church.
4. The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition.
5. The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and COG-7th Day.
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots. They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent.
The Final Phase of the Work What is the final phase of the work? Who will lead it? Do you have the courage to support it? Here is a related YouTube video titled The Final Phase of the Work. The written article has been translated into Spanish La Fase Final de la Obra.
Leading the Final Phase of the Work Matthew 24:14 teaches “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come ” will be fulfilled and RCG is not the group doing this. Who is leading the final phase of the work? What did Herbert Armstrong and the old WCG teach about that and about prophets? Does Bob Thiel meet the criteria that the Bible and the old WCG set? What is the proof? What has the Continuing Church of God been doing? This is a sermonette length video.

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