Last January 4, 2014, the Pastor General of the Philadelphia Church of God, Mr. Gerald Flurry fainted while giving a sermon about a new revelation about Ezekiel. What could that message be about?
“Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and pourtray upon it the city, even Jerusalem: And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about. Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel.” (Ezekiel 4:1-3)
Let us consider what JFB Commentary wrote regarding verse 3:
“set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city – Ezekiel, in the person of God, represents the wall of separation between him and the people as one of iron.
As the JFB Commentary put it; there’s a “wall of separation between Him (God) and the people as one of iron.” God through the prophet Ezekiel prophesied of an IRON WALL that separates Him and Jerusalem in this . But who could Jerusalem be referring to spiritually speaking? More on that later.
First notice in verse 7 what must come to pass:
“Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it.”
It is prophesied that a SIEGE has to be fulfilled. Well, to help us better understand what happens during a siege; let us consider the following information about it:
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for “to sit”. Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low-intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static defensive position. Consequently, an opportunity for negotiation between combatants is not uncommon, as proximity and fluctuating advantage can encourage diplomacy. A siege occurs when an attacker encounters a city or fortress that cannot be easily taken by a coup de main and refuses to surrender. Sieges involve surrounding the target and blocking the reinforcement or escape of troops or provision of supplies, typically coupled with attempts to reduce the fortifications by means of siege engines, artillery bombardment, mining, or the use of deception or treachery to bypass defences. Failing a military outcome, sieges can often be decided by starvation, thirst or disease, which can afflict either the attacker or defender. Source: www.freebase.com/m/06p6g
Again as for the definition of a siege, it is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. Now let us consider the meaning of the word “attrition” in the dictionary:
1. A rubbing away or wearing down by friction.
2. A gradual diminution in number or strength because of constant stress.
3. A gradual, natural reduction in membership or personnel, as through retirement, resignation, or death.
4. Repentance for sin motivated by fear of punishment rather than by love of God.
5. Sorrow for sin arising from fear of damnation, especially as contrasted with contrition, which arises purely from love of God
Remember these definitions as we progress, for it is very critical in our understanding of the Ezekiel 4 siege. Also take careful notice as stated earlier that there are four points to consider during a military siege:
- Sieges involve surrounding the target and blocking the reinforcement or escape of troops or provision of supplies
- Typically coupled with attempts to reduce the fortifications by means of siege engines, artillery bombardment, mining
- The use of deception or treachery to bypass defences.
- Failing a military outcome, sieges can often be decided by starvation, thirst or disease, which can afflict either the attacker or defender.
Remember those four points as we go along. And before we continue any further, let us consider what outside onlookers say about the leadership of the Philadelphia Church of God. Even Ray Hibbard, publisher of Edmond Life and Leisure, has taken particular notice of the strength of its leadership:
“The Philadelphia Church of God is strong and has very capable leadership. Its members are confident in their beliefs. They certainly do not need me to defend them but we have a responsibility to let our readers know that they should not fear in any way this church on the northern border of Edmond or its membership. I hope you will attend one of their concerts and enjoy the music. I thank them for their service to our community and respect their religious freedom.” (From the Publisher column about the PCG in the December 11 edition)
Well actually, this strength has actually been set up by That Prophet, Mr Gerald R. Flurry: “And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about” (v. 2). According to Strong’s Concordance, the Hebrew word for “camp” is:
“machaneh; an encampment of travelers or troops; hence an army, whether literally of soldiers or figuratively:–army, camp, company, host.”
While JFB Commentary renders the word “battering-rams” this way:
“In Ezek. 21:22 the same Hebrew is translated ‘captains.’”
Whereas in the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (TSK):
“battering rams: or, chief leaders, Ezek. 21:22”
And with such terminologies like troops, army, soldiers, captains, and chief leaders, it does clearly indicate there is a warfare being involved. So the barrage of advertisements made by the PCG to counter the Fox25 report did perfectly fit into the frame. Again as Ray Hibbard noted,
“The Philadelphia Church of God is strong and has very capable leadership.”
Does this sound like a fulfillment of the Ezekiel 4 prophecy like an impregnable fortress so to speak? “And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege.” (v. 8) As stated in the verse, “I (God) will lay bands upon thee”. This was the same situation as what the PCG has experienced during the court case which Mr. Flurry has prophesied in Ezekiel 3:25 in the context of the court case: “they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them:” Let’s read what Mr. Flurry wrote in 2004 after the court case battle against the Worldwide Church of God:
“But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them” (verse 25). Someone is putting bands upon us, after God gave us this watchman commission. This is speciﬁcally referring to what happened in the midst of our court battle. For a time, our message was stopped. We got bound up in court. We couldn’t reach the world with this message! “And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house” (verse 26). We weren’t a “reprover” for a while—because without Mr. Armstrong’s literature, we didn’t have anything to reprove with! At one point we were oﬀ television for several months. All we were able to do was talk and work within the house! Notice: God let this happen. I will make thy tongue cleave, He says. God closed our mouth! God shuts things down sometimes. He has His reasons—though we don’t see them all. Then read the inspiring conclusion: “But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house” (verse 27). God gave us victory! We received ownership of the copyrights of everything we were seeking. Armed with this arsenal of material, God instructs, Go back to your watchman work to the world! (Pastor General’s Report, October 21, 2004, Volume 1, No. 6, p. 1)
Upon careful consideration, there’s a big difference between the two verses: In Ezekiel 3:25, “they (the Laodiceans) shall put bands upon thee.” Notice also that God made Mr. Flurry dumb during that time. (Refer to the PGR Oct 21, 2004 for the full account)
While in verse 8, it is “I (God) will lay bands upon thee.” This time it is GOD HIMSELF who has laid the bands upon Mr. Flurry and He allowed him to put His own Church under siege through the rampart, captains and armies – administrators in God’s Church! This can be easily proven through what has transpired inside the PCG from this prophecy. Reading some excerpts from that same PGR under the CHURCH ADMINISTRATION section, will give us an overview of how the Ezekiel 4 siege was set up:
CHANGES TO MYSTERY OF THE AGES
by Stephen Flurry
The sentence we removed from our 2003 version is found on page 245 of the older one, where it said, “No prophets are mentioned as having either administrative, executive or preaching functions in the New Testament Church.” We removed that sentence from the 2003 version, not because we are doing away with Mr. Armstrong’s teachings, but because of what God has added to the Church since Mr. Armstrong died—the revealed truth that there is, in fact, a prophet guiding the Church today who also serves an administrative and executive position within the Church. God did not reveal this to Mr. Armstrong before he died, just as He didn’t reveal the speciﬁcs about the Laodicean rebellion—for obvious reasons…
Now we could have attempted to write another section to be included in Mystery of the Ages that would reﬂect this new revelation, but we felt it best to preserve the text as closely as possible to the original and simply strike that sentence and then let our other literature, like That Prophet, reﬂect the Church’s new teaching on the subject. In fact, the next time we print Mystery of the Ages, we will also cut a parenthetical phrase found on page 350 —one that we overlooked last year. Again, in reference to the position of prophet, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “of which there are none in God’s Church today since the Bible for our time is complete.” Again, there is a prophet leading God’s Church today. (ibid., pp. 3-4)
The first step in setting up the Ezekiel 4 siege prophecy is the representation of Jerusalem (verse 1).
If the prophet Ezekiel has to use a brick or a tile to portray Jerusalem, then what would represent Jerusalem in our time? Mr. Armstrong taught us that spiritual Jerusalem pictures God’s Church. The Apostle Paul even wrote: “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal 4:26). While according to Mr. Flurry, this city of Jerusalem is also a type of the three modern nations of Israel. Then it just shows that everything that happens in the portrayal of the Ezekiel 4 siege in spiritual Jerusalem shall be the exact same type that will happen to the modern nations of Israel – America, Britain, and the Middle East Jews.
But to what specific group does Jerusalem refer to? Let us read from Micah 1:
“(W)hat are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem?”(v. 5)
Here is what Barnes Commentary wrote regarding this verse:
Are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem? – Jerusalem God had formed to be a center of unity in holiness; the tribes of the Lord were to go up there to the testimony of Israel; there was the unceasing worship of God, the morning and evening sacrifice; the Feasts, the memorials of past miraculous mercies, the foreshadowings of redemption. But there too Satan placed his throne. Ahaz brought thither that most hateful idolatry, the burning children to Moloch in the valley of the son of Hinnom (2 Chr. 28:3). There (2 Chr. 28:24), he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem. Thence, he extended the idolatry to all Judah (2 Chr. 28:25). And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers.
We must remember that Jerusalem was Judah’s CAPITAL – its HEADQUARTERS. According to the above commentary, everything that was done in Jerusalem was just extended to the other cities of Judah – even the idolatry. Again who is the house of Judah in this end time? Here is what Mr. Flurry wrote:
Isaiah 22:20-25 contain an end-time prophecy that God has revealed a great deal about to us – about Eliakim. Verse 21 says the man who fulfills this role “shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.” There is a spiritual and physical application to these scriptures, but we look mainly at the spiritual today. The “house of Judah” here is the faithful Church of God. You could say it is “the house of the Jews” WE ARE JEWS – SPIRITUAL JEWS! And this man is a father to Judah.” (Royal Vision, July-August 2012, p.6)
MR. FLURRY EMPHASIZED THAT THE “HOUSE OF JUDAH” IN SPIRITUAL APPLICATION REFERS TO THE PCG! Mr. Armstrong even wrote about this distinction between the house of Israel and the house of Judah:
Judah retained the city of Jerusalem, its capital, and the territory known as Judea. Israel occupied the territory north of Judea. Samaria became its capital city, and the house of Israel often is called “Samaria” in prophecy. This, too, is a vital “key” to understanding prophecy. “Samaria” never refers to the Jews in prophecy—but always the 10 tribes, the house of Israel. We want to impress, here, that Israel and Judah are not two names for the same nation. They were, and still are, and shall be till the Second Coming of Christ, two separate nations. The “house of Judah” always means “Jew.” This distinction is vital, if we are to understand prophecy. Because most so-called Bible students are in ignorance of this basic distinction, they are unable to rightly understand prophecy! (The United States and Britain in Prophecy, pp. 69-70)
So in principle, to rightly understand prophecy specifically during this last end, whenever we read of the spiritual house of Judah in scriptures concerning prophecy in this end time, we can apply it directly to the PCG who resides in the INNER COURT, whereas, spiritual Israel will have to be the Laodicean groups in the OUTER COURT. (Rev. 11:1-2) This distinction, according to Mr. Armstrong, is vital if we want to understand prophecy. Now, when we apply Jerusalem spiritually, does this mean that the HEADQUARTERS of the Philadelphia Church of God which is in Edmond, Oklahoma is its counterpart in this end time? Again, Mr. Flurry taught us that in spiritual application, the PCG is the spiritual house of Judah, therefore, it is just right to say that the PCG Headquarters in Edmond, Oklahoma is the spiritual Jerusalem that is being referred to in the Ezekiel 4:1 prophecy. That being the case, this Ezekiel 4 siege in spiritual Jerusalem is a SIGN that God has given us in verse 3 for the house of Israel (the birthright nations, America and Britain) –to show us that the fulfillment of her physical siege is just around the corner (Ezekiel 5).
The second step as stated in verse 2 is to set up the elements of a siege:
“And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it…”
The word “cast” from Strong’s means,
to spill forth blood, a libation; …also figuratively to expend life, soul, complaint, money, etc.
As we go deeper into the actual account of the fulfillment of the Ezekiel 4 siege around the world, we can see its fulfillment in this end time that indeed some have spilt blood, some became “molten images” (previously discussed about Habakkuk 2:18) as the word “libation” suggests, just “to spend life, soul, complaint, money, etc.” Now in order to build the fortification structure, the PCG has to make some alterations on what was written on Mystery of the Ages regarding Church administration by removing any thought or idea that limits the “administrative, executive or preaching functions” of a prophet in the New Testament Church. Then build on that premise by supporting the new structure through ordination of new ministers to fortify spiritual Jerusalem’s (PCG’s) perimeter around the world. There was even a sermon titled, “PROPHESYING AGAIN Part 4” given by Mr. Flurry on 2004, in which he discussed a change in the administration of God’s government during that year. He said that “it’s still God’s government, but different administration.”
“…set the camp also against it, and set battering rams (chief leaders) against it round about.”
The final element of that Ezekiel 4 siege set up is then explicitly described in verse 3: “Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel.” As discussed earlier, the construction of God’s house does signify the siege of Jerusalem (i.e., economic in nature); and Mr. Flurry wrote in his Haggai booklet that “GOD’S HOUSE IN EDMOND IS A SIGN OF WHEN GOD BEGAN TO SHAKE THE NATIONS!” (p. 12); and that construction is also the fulfillment of the house that was built by the two women who carried the ephah (Zech. 5:9-11); It is also connected to the Ezekiel 24 siege that involves the death of That Prophet’s wife since they have the same date. (vv. 2, 16). So this is all just one vision, which means, the SIEGE involves the two women that carried the ephah – spiritual Israel (Laodiceans) and spiritual Judah (Philadelphians) inside spiritual Jerusalem even in God’s house!
“Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel.”(Ezek. 4:3)
This Ezekiel 4 siege is to be a SIGN for the house of Israel (for the Laodiceans, spiritually speaking and for the birthright nations – America and Britain)
“Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days” (vv.4-6)
One might ask, isn’t it that Israel has already been in captivity? Why did the prophet Ezekiel still have to bear their sins? Spiritually speaking, isn’t it that spiritual Israel (Laodiceans) has also already been in captivity? So why did the son of man (Mr. Flurry) have to bear both the sins of the house of Israel (the Laodiceans) and the house of Judah (the Philadelphians)? Because they BOTH co-exist INSIDE the Philadelphia Church of God! (Zech. 5:9-11).This is the reason God Himself has to besiege it (Ezek. 4:8). Lange’s Commentary adds:
“Jerusalem in a state of siege represents the covenant-people, as a whole, straitened and oppressed by the powers of this world, as the instruments of God’s just displeasure. And the prophet being appointed to bear, during its continuance, the iniquity of the people, with stinted and foul provisions, points in another form to the same visitation of evil only with a more particular respect to the cause from which it was to spring; and the penal character it should wear.”
What then is the “cause from which the siege was to spring”? Ezekiel 4:4-6 gives us the answer: the iniquity of the house of Israel pictured by the 390 years and the iniquity of the house of Judah pictured by the 40 years. (This subject is explained here) The portrayal of the Ezekiel 4 siege is to be a SIGN to the house of Israel of the impending physical siege that is to happen to physical Jerusalem – which as we shall see later has recently happened even to America. For emphasis, let us first consider: Before the actual physical siege of physical Jerusalem in this end time, there has to happen a spiritual siege of spiritual Jerusalem – inside God’s own Church even the PCG’s Headquarters in Edmond, Oklahoma! The construction of God’s house, the Armstrong Auditorium is a part of the SIGN of that spiritual siege. (More on this subject is explained here)
“Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city” (Ezek. 4:3)
The symbolic IRON WALL is also a big part of that sign. Mr. Flurry even confirmed in his Opening Night Message for the 2013 Feast of Tabernacles:
“WE’RE BUILDING A WALL AROUND THIS CHURCH TO PROTECT US.”
That could very well be the prophesied IRON WALL of Ezekiel 4. But what could that WALL be pertaining to in spiritual terms?
set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city — Ezekiel, in the person of God, represents the wall of separation between him and the people as one of iron: and the Chaldean investing army. His instrument of separating them from him, as one impossible to burst through. – JFB Commentary
He was ordered to build little forts against this portraiture of the city, resembling the batteries raised by the besiegers, (Ezek. 4:2). Between the city that was besieged and himself that was the besieger he was to set up an iron pan, as an iron wall (Ezek. 4:3). – Matthew Henry Commentary
A wall – That it may resemble a wall of iron, for as impregnable as such a wall, shall the resolution and patience of the Chaldeans be. – Wesley Commentary
As we shall see later, we will know exactly what the WALL really symbolizes. So this wall has to be of an iron strength structure that is impregnable. We must remember that it was the prophet Ezekiel who has set up the siege, so it is also true that his type in this end-time, i.e., That Prophet, was the one who has set up the spiritual siege by placing those elements of a siege surrounding spiritual Jerusalem (PCG) – troops, armies, captains ready to destroy by the sword those who would rebel against their own brand of government (they implement God’s government but they use their own human nature like King Saul)– and these armies as they are guided by their own carnal human nature will be as a portraiture of “the Chaldean investing army. (God’s) instrument of separating them from him, as one impossible to burst through.” So during that spiritual siege, God’s people around the world would have indeed suffered injustice, with no compassion and no mercy from their besiegers – the spiritual Chaldean investing army. And God has allowed all of these things to happen even inside His very own Church – the Philadelphia Church of God!
The result of that impenetrable IRON WALL SEPARATION was the “NO CONTACT POLICY” that was implemented to all the Philadelphia Church of God members around the world by the very leaders of God’s own Church portraying the spiritual Chaldean besiegers. NOBODY was allowed to communicate outside of the PCG perimeter fence: young and old, women and children were to be summarily punished or slaughtered, should they try to reason out and climb that iron wall just to reach That Prophet. But little do they know that Mr. Flurry was the one who besieged the Church and God allowed him to do so. (Ezekiel chapter 4) (Read the December 10, 2005 PGR for the “no contact policy” that was implemented.)
Notice that the judgment of who stays in the Church and who is to be put out lies on the shoulders of the ministry. But what if the minister shall abuse this God given authority and use rather their own carnal human nature in their judgment, instead of using God’s Holy Spirit, what could possibly happen? The result would be the prophesied Ezekiel 4 siege! An IRON WALL separation has to be expected. In order to survive this spiritual siege, some people in God’s Church have chosen to become a part of the RAMPART and show their allegiance to the besiegers rather than TURN to God for help – the ministry has become their source of strength (“horn of your altars” – Jer. 17:1, 5). And as for those who were put outside the PCG fence, they found shelter in other WCG and PCG splinter groups and even the website, Exit Support Network (ESN) to seek refuge and find some answers, because God has broken the staff of bread in the Philadelphia Church of God:
“Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment: That they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity.” (Ezek. 4:16-17)
Notice that God Himself has broken “the staff of bread in Jerusalem.” Although there is still bread and water which are symbolized as God’s word and His Holy Spirit during the spiritual siege, yet it is given only BY WEIGHT and BY MEASURE, and this makes the people in God’s Church “astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity.”
God purposely intended that spiritual siege to take place even inside His very own Church to be able to bring all of His people individually to TURN to Him for true justice, mercy and compassion, and not to any other groups nor to any puny man. Now, looking from God’s perspective, has the PCG done something wrong to deserve such a predicament? Because she remembered not her last end.
“Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. …For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.” (Isaiah 28:14, 21)
Again, the PCG ministry in Edmond, Oklahoma is spiritual Jerusalem – the capital and headquarters of the spiritual Jews. Mr. Gerald Flurry is “a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah” (Isaiah 22:21). Do you think this is not a prophecy for us, the spiritual house of Judah? God is doing a very strange work, and He is bringing to pass His very strange act. Actually, He is distressing Ariel, the lion and altar of God – the Philadelphia Church of God (Isaiah 29:2).
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