COG-UK asked, ‘Where is Elijah’?

Elijah in the wilderness


A past edition of Outreach, put out by the Churches of God, UK, had the following:

Where Is Elijah?

If Jesus is to return any time soon, then ‘Elijah’, according to some teachers, should be alive and kicking somewhere on earth…

John the Baptist reflected the life-style of the first Elijah—rough-hewn, godly, dwelling in the desert. He had the same message, to confront ungodliness, ‘…to turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God’ (v.16)—a mission he surely accomplished Matthew 3:5-6). A people prepared for the message of Jesus.

But ‘Elijah’ will also return ’…before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Jehovah’ (Malachi: 4:5). That day—the great ‘Day of the Lord’—is ushered in by the returning Jesus who said ‘…I will come again’. Elijah’s message will be a call to repentance, a return by mankind to the true God—a call heard worldwide. John, in Revelation, speaks of ‘…my two witnesses’ (ch 11:3ff), and their mission does indeed ‘prepare the way of the Lord’. They reflect both the work of both Elijah [eg drought] and Moses [eg plagues].

It will be an awesome time of tribulation upon those who continue unrepentant, unheeding of the call to turn to God. Their mission will end at the return of Jesus, when they will be glorified with Him, together with the rest of the ’firstfruits harvest’ (Revelation 11:3-12).

The above group has tended to maintain an affiliation with COGOM. COGOM has tended to take more of a hands off view on prophecy (and, in my view, misworded some of the above–Jesus ushers in the Day of the Lord, but He does this about a year before He returns).

Although people like the discredited Ron Weinland (see Concerns About Ronald Weinland’s Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God) and David Pack (see Why Not the Restored Church of God?) have claimed to be ‘Elijah,’ neither of them are.

Yet, the Bible does show that there will be an ‘Elijah’ who is alive before Jesus returns and that it is likely that he will be one of the two witnesses. And as Jesus is likely to return within the next couple of decades, it is reasonable to consider that he must be alive today.

Could he be one who has restored information on church history, doctrine, prophecy, and the reason that God created anything? Could he be one reaching people around the world with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God in nearly 100 different languages? Or has God not chosen to have him do much at this stage?

Was it Herbert W. Armstrong?


Did Herbert W. Armstrong ever think he might be Elijah?

Most definitely.

The late evangelist Raymond McNair admitted:

However, on occasion, Mr. Armstrong may have expressed some doubt in regard to his calling and ministry, concerning himself being the end-time “Elijah,” (McNair, Raymond.  Was Mr. Armstrong Who He Said He Was?  Ad in Connection’s section of The Journal, June 30, 2004).

Yes, HWA expressed some doubt. Herbert W. Armstrong admitted to Aaron Dean, his long-time personal aide (and Aaron Dean told me this personally on several occasions for over the past two decades) that he might not have understood the biblical passages on the Elijah correctly before he died, and that God could raise someone else up to fulfill the Elijah role. Furthermore, HWA specifically expressed doubt to the late evangelist Dibar Apartian (and who also told me). Dibar Apartian did not believe that HWA was the Elijah when we discussed this several times and he agreed with me about this.

Those with a WCG background might find the following quote from Herbert W. Armstrong of some assistance here as he wrote:

I have been asked “Are you the Elijah?”  And I say “No.” (Armstrong, Herbert W.  Congress of Leading Ministers Hears Defined and Reemphasized Spiritual Organization of Church.  Worldwide News, March 6, 1981, p. 10)

Also, in HWA’s sermon, given on the last day of Unleavened Bread in April 1985, HWA stated the following:

You know there is a prophecy about John the Baptist, while the prophecy is talking about Elijah.  But if you read in {HWA apparently meant “about”} Elijah {“in Malachi”} 3 and verses 1-5, it is talking, not  about  someone preparing the way for Christ’s first coming, but when Christ comes to set on the throne of the earth and remove Satan.  You read verse 1 and you can apply that to John the Baptist.  But you read on through verses 2,3,4, and 5 and you find its talking about the second coming of Christ.  The things He will do then, but He did none of those things that are in verse 2,3,4, and 5 when He came the first time.  Now John the Baptist did fulfill verse 1.  Even Jesus said so.  Jesus said that he had come in the spirit and power of Elijah.  Was he Elijah?  No he wasn’t.  They asked John the Baptist, ‘Are you Elijah?’  He said, ‘No I am not’.  He wasn’t a liar.  He knew the truth.  He was not Elijah.  Am I Elijah?  No, definitely not!  Now I met Elijah.  Elijah has come to me and announced that he was Elijah, but I showed him the way out of the office.  I did not believe him.

Those with a WCG background might find the following quote from Herbert W. Armstrong of some assistance here as he wrote:

Those called into the Church were called not merely for salvation and eternal life, but to learn the way of God’s government and develop the divine character during this mortal life in the Church age …

Also Malachi 4:5-6 pictures the Elijah to come at the very end of the Church age (Mystery of the Ages. 1985, pp. 201, 349).

And when was the “Church age” supposed to end according to Herbert Armstrong’s old church? Notice:

God has set before us an open door and no MAN can shut it. God can shut it, and He will when the work is finished and the Philadelphia Church goes to a place of safety. …The Laodicean Church is not going to be worthy to escape to a place of safety. When it is too late, they will find that the Church of Philadelphia has gone to safety (What Is the “LAODICEAN CHURCH”? Good News August 1959 Vol. VIII, Number 8).

Now since the Church age has not ended, and the Day of the Lord has not yet come, then it follows that Elijah was to come on the scene publicly after this was written.

HWA, himself, wrote:

Jesus shall come, SOON NOW, to RESTORE ALL THINGS! He did NOT restore all things when he first came. John the Baptist did not “restore all things.” But the one who was to “restore all things” just before the “day of the Lord” and preparing the way for Christ’s second coming, was YET to come, in the future, as Jesus said. Now what are the “all things” to be RESTORED? “Restitution” means restore to a former state or condition (Armstrong HW.  Brethren & Co-Worker Letter, August 24, 1982).

Note that HWA states ONE (Elijah) comes just before the day of the Lord—an event that still has not occurred, hence some additional restoration beyond what HWA did is needed–and this has been happening in the Continuing Church of God. CCOG has restored more than any COG in the 21st century and under the human leadership of Bob Thiel it continues to do so. In time, God will make the final Elijah clear to all willing to see (this is NOT saying that he MUST be Bob Thiel–but we believe it will be a leader in CCOG).

In that same a co-worker letter dated August 24, 1982, HWA wrote:

Now why, then, was Elijah YET, in the future, to come – just before the “day of the Lord?” Verse 11, Jesus said to “restore all things”…Have WE, through this Work, RESTORED anything? Indeed we have! We have RESTORED the TRUE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST–through us JESUS CHRIST has already begun RESTORING the KNOWLEDGE of what had been taken away–the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. Through us the living Christ has been preparing for his SECOND COMING for the PURPOSE of RESTORING ALL THINGS!…It is the living JESUS CHRIST who had been ACTUALLY DOING the Work. He has used YOU and me as his INSTRUMENTS! WHAT A PRIVILEGE AND JOY!

Note how many times HWA used the expressions ‘we’, ‘us’, and ‘you’–in the context that helped fulfill the Elijah role. As stated earlier, it was HWA’s original position that the Philadelphia Era of the COG was the fulfillment of the Elijah role. It was clearly still his position in 1982 that he himself was not the only possible one to fulfill an Elijah role. And while HWA says that the Philadelphia portion of the COG restored many things (and apparently will restore ALL THINGS under the direction of its final leader), he never stated that there was nothing else that needed to be restored. Amongst other items, there were items on church history and end time prophecy that HWA did not restore that are now being restored.

Furthermore, it should be noted that a careful reading of another one of HWA’s articles supports the idea that the Philadelphia era will need to have something else be restored. HWA wrote:

This very WORK OF GOD for our day is foretold in the prophecy of Revelation 3:7-13. But there it is revealed that we, today, are a people of but little strength – little power (verse 8)! – within ourselves though we have faithfully KEPT GOD’S WORD! The impact of this WORK OF GOD today is going out only through the power of God! Are you having your part in this very WORK OF GOD? But – let’s face it! – WE DO NOT HAVE WITHIN OURSELVES, AS GOD’S INSTRUMENTS FOR HIS WORK TODAY, ANYWHERE NEAR THE POWER OF GOD THAT ACTIVATED THAT ORIGINAL FIRST-CENTURY CHURCH! For that very reason, the living Christ says (verse 8), He has opened to us the gigantic door of MASS COMMUNICATION! The magnified power of the microphone and the printing press. Yet that is only physical, mechanical power! The REAL POWER that makes God’s Work vital and alive is the Holy Spirit of God! (Armstrong HW. Christians Have Lost Their POWER! Plain Truth, Jun 1958).

The Greek word translated as strength, dunamis, which HWA refers to as power, is the same Greek word that is normally translated as ‘miracle’ or ‘miracles’. Thus, Revelation 3:8 shows that the Philadelphia Church will have some type of miracles, and although I agree with HWA’s position that the initial power/miracle had to do with electronic media, I also agree with him that the old WCG did not have, “ANYWHERE NEAR THE POWER OF GOD THAT ACTIVATED THAT ORIGINAL FIRST-CENTURY CHURCH.” Thus, HWA acknowledged, howbeit indirectly, that the power of God had not been fully restored to his WCG. And it should be noted that dreams and gifts of prophecy were given to the first-century church (Acts 2:17-18) and thus, according to his own writing, there should be these type of occurrences at the end. One group in the 21st century has that (see Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God and How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God).

The Elijah’s restoring of “all things” means that he is to be restoring information that the true Church of God once understood, but later must have lost or misunderstood.

The problem is that just as many would not hear Elijah’s or John the Baptist’s messages, relatively few will pay much attention to the end time Elijah as well.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

The Elijah Heresies Does the Bible teach that there will be a future Elijah? Must it be Herbert W. Armstrong? Two related sermons are available Elijah: Prophecies and Heresies and Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong, and CCOG.
Elijah: Past and Prophesied Information about the original Elijah and some information about the Elijah-related prophecies.
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN: Why Did God Create Anything? Why Did God Make You? This free online book helps answers some of the biggest questions that human have, including the biblical meaning of life. Here is a link to three related sermons: Mysteries of God’s Plan, Mysteries of Truth, Sin, Rest, Suffering, and God’s Plan, and The Mystery of YOU.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
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. Here is a related article in the Spanish language ¿Por qué estar preocupado acerca de falsos y heréticos líderes?
Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18? Does any church have the confirmed dream and prophetic signs of Acts 2:17-18? Should one? Here is a link in the Spanish language: ¿Tiene la CCOG confirmadas las señales de Hechos 2: 17-18? Here is a link in the French language: Est-ce que l’Église Continue de Dieu confirme les signes d’Actes 2:17-18? A related sermon in the English language is also available: 17 Last Days’ Signs of the Holy Spirit.
Church of God Leaders on Prophets Have there been prophets throughout the church age? Are any supposed to be around in the last days? What have COG leaders stated or written about prophets? Here is a link to a related sermon: Church of God Leaders on Prophets.
How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God There are many false prophets. How can Christians determine who is a true prophet? There is also a sermon-length video titled How to determine if someone is a true prophet of God. Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Cómo determinar si alguien es un verdadero profeta de Dios?
The Dangerous Rise of Preterists Has the Great Tribulation finished? What was the view of early Christians? Why is the preterist view dangerous? A related sermon video is titled Preterism: You’ve Gotta Be Kidding…Right?
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.
Herbert W. Armstrong, the Philadelphia Church, & the Mantle Herbert Armstrong claims God had him raise the Philadelphia up. Are there reasons to believe that the Philadelphia mantle in now within the CCOG? Here is a link to a related sermon: Herbert W. Armstrong and the Philadelphia Mantle.
Who Are The Two Witnesses? What is their job? What does the Bible reveal? What has the Church of God taught on this subject? Might even Roman Catholic prophecies give some clues here? A related sermon is available: Prophecy and the Two Witnesses. Here is a related link in Spanish/español:¿Quiénes son los dos testigos?
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.

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